History of Art Degree Requirements


Strong undergraduate training in art history or a cognate discipline such as history, classics, literature, language, or film studies; reading knowledge of languages relevant to the student's proposed art historical subfield is strongly advisable prior to application. Applicants are required to submit a sample of scholarly writing and research. The submission of scores in the aptitude test of the Graduate Record Examinations is optional. Please see How to Apply under the GSAS home page for additional information about the application process. Students are enrolled in the Ph.D. program (we do not offer terminal M.A. degrees).

Language Requirements

  • Candidates for the M.A. must demonstrate proficiency in one modern language.
  • Candidates for the Ph.D. must demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages. Proficiency is demonstrated by passing written translation examinations prepared by the department and taken under the supervision of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students will also be expected to master additional languages that may be required for their dissertation research. 
  • A student may petition to substitute either or both language exams with the completion of two semesters of coursework in a relevant language. Courses must be at the intermediate level or above, and the student must receive a final grade of 3.3 or high in each semester. This option requires approval from the Director of Graduate Studies and the student's primary advisor. 

Program and Examinations for the M.A.

  • Six courses or units of independent work in art history;
  • Language examination as noted above;
  • an M.A. thesis, and a written examination to test the candidate's ability to place the thesis topic in a larger context;
  • The M.A. is prerequisite for the Ph.D. program.

Program and Examinations for the Ph.D.

  • Language examinations as noted above;
  • Six courses or units of independent work above the six required for the M.A., some courses may be taken in other departments at Bryn Mawr, at the University of Pennsylvania, or, by special arrangement, at Princeton and other area institutions;
  • Written and oral Ph.D. preliminary examinations in four discrete fields, selected by the student with departmental consultation and approval;
  • Departmental approval of a dissertation proposal;
  • A dissertation presenting an original thesis corroborated by primary research and defended orally before a committee of scholars.