Accelerated Degree: MA+PHD

MA-PhD Combined Program in Art History at Binghamton University


The combined MA-PhD program in Art History is a two-stage program that provides the opportunity for a graduate student to complete a MA degree while working towards a PhD degree. This combined program allows applicants who have a MA degree in another related field (such as a Master's of Education or a Master's in Museum Studies) or qualified students with BA degrees to apply directly to the PhD program. This fast-track program does not require a MA thesis and entails fewer credits than the two separate degrees combined.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 12 graduate-level courses (48 credits) must be completed with regular letter grades and a gradepoint average of B or better, in addition to required registration for dissertation research and preparation. The Art History Graduate Committee may require additional coursework as a condition for admission.

ARTH 500: Theory and Methods of Art History (req. in 1st year)

4 credits

Graduate courses in art history and related subjects (500/600 level); at least four courses (16 credits) must be taken with different faculty members in art history, including associated and visiting faculty.

ARTH 699 - dissertation registration, as required to maintain registration
after admission to candidacy.

44 credits


1 or more

(For courses outside the department and independent studies, students
submit a petition to the graduate committee.)

48 credits

Language Requirements

MA-PhD students must pass two examinations demonstrating an ability to read research literature in the student's areas of interest in at least two appropriate languages of scholarship in addition to English. Work in certain fields may require additional languages. One language examination must be passed before the MA is awarded and before the student is formally admitted into the PhD program.

NOTE: Students may seek a waiver of one or more of the language requirements by petitioning the Graduate Committee in writing, and providing appropriate documentation of their competency in the language(s) in question.

Master's Comprehensive Examination

The Master's Comprehensive Examination has been incorporated into the mandatory seminar on Theory and Methods. All students are required to pass ARTH 500, Theory and Methods, with a grade of B or better. At the discretion of the Art History Graduate Committee, students failing to achieve the required grade may be asked either to repeat the course or, in exceptional cases, to redo the examination assignment.

Master's Qualifying Paper

The master's qualifying paper is required only of students in the MA-PhD track; this qualifying paper substitutes for a master's research thesis (as required for the regular MA track). The qualifying paper should be a revised and properly formatted version of a paper written for a graduate art history course at Binghamton. The formally approved dissertation supervisor and one other departmental faculty member chosen in consultation with the student read, approve, and offer comments on the qualifying paper. The departmental Graduate Committee reviews the evaluations of the two readers, along with evaluations of coursework solicited from other faculty members who have taught the student at the MA level. The multiple evaluations give the Graduate Committee an overall picture of the student's progress and enable the Committee to decide if the student should continue on to the PhD program or instead complete the program at the MA thesis level. The student must submit the qualifying paper for approval by the beginning of the second semester of the second year in order to be eligible to be considered for the PhD program. If the qualifying paper is approved, the student will be awarded a MA degree and will be given PhD status. A copy of the approved qualifying paper should be submitted to the department for the student's file. If the student is directed out of the MA-PhD track, the student will be advised on how to complete the semester with a master thesis.

Dissertation Committee

The student must choose a dissertation supervisor by the beginning of the second year. In conjunction with the student's supervisor, who chairs the committee, the student chooses two additional members from Binghamton University's graduate faculty, at least one of whom must be a member of the Art History faculty. In extremely rare cases, off-campus specialists in the subject area may be invited to serve, though no honorarium can be offered for such services. This committee is then appointed by the Art History Graduate Committee, who must also approve any subsequent changes.

Dissertation Proposal

The Dissertation Proposal is a description of the proposed research project that serves as the basis for the dissertation. The student must submit a formal, written proposal for dissertation research on an approved topic, outlining in detail the problem, method of inquiry, and relevant literature on the subject. The three-member dissertation committee must accept this proposal. The committee must include the supervisor as chair, and at least one additional member from the art history faculty.

As directed by the supervisor, the Dissertation Proposal should contain the following:

  • Title Page: Based on the template in the Graduate School Handbook. (1 page)

  • Signature Page (1 page)

  • Abstract: A one-page summary of the aims, purpose and content of the proposed dissertation. (1 page)

  • Proposed Table of Contents: The Table of Contents of the proposed dissertation itself. (1 page)

  • The Proposal: The dissertation proposal should be between 25 and 30 pages long. It should map out the scope and approach of the dissertation project, address the frameworks and sources to be used, and locate the project within the context of the relevant literature in the field. (25–30 pages)

  • Proposed Schedule of Work: A timetable of research, travel, fieldwork and writing, to completion. (Up to 1 page)

  • Proposed Sources of Funding: A list of prospective external funding sources for the project. (Up to 1 page)

  • Bibliography: Not more than 20 to 25 pages, broken down into:

    • Primary Sources

    • Secondary Sources (divided into works consulted in writing the Proposal and works yet to be consulted)

  • A signed copy of the Proposal must be deposited with the department after successful completion of the examination.

PhD Comprehensive Examination

Students must pass a Comprehensive Examination before a committee designated by the Art History Graduate Committee. This examination will focus on: i) the circulated dissertation proposal; ii) professional knowledge and practice, based on a familiarity with broad methodological and historiographical questions in the discipline, as demonstrated by syllabi and/or proposals in the student's chosen professional field, as agreed with the chair of the examining committee.

Doctoral students (who entered the program in or after Fall 2010) are required to pass the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations within 18 months of completing coursework. Students who do not meet this deadline will receive a grade of U (unsatisfactory) for ARTH 698 until the examination has been passed. In clear cases of extenuating circumstances, students may file a petition for an extension.

Dissertation and Defense

When the final draft has been accepted by the student's supervisor and committee, the dissertation is defended in an oral examination that is open to the public and is conducted by the student's dissertation committee and an outside examiner, appointed by the vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. The final dissertation must be submitted electronically in accordance with Graduate School regulations (with a hard copy required by the department). An acceptable dissertation demonstrates the student's ability to handle significant problems in the history of art, architecture, visual culture or the built environment in a critical and scholarly manner and makes a contribution to the discipline.