Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements

PhD degree requirements


The doctoral program admits qualified applicants who wish to continue beyond the master's level in one or more areas of current faculty strengths. Students coming to Binghamton's doctoral program from other university degree programs must have either a master's degree in the history of art, architecture or visual culture or a degree in a cognate discipline with training that links effectively with one of the department's areas of specialization. Students coming from other fields may have to supplement the minimum course requirements with additional art history courses to carry out their programs of study. The program's rigorous interdisciplinary nature also requires that students remain in residence in the area until they have finished their coursework.

Course Requirements

A minimum of eight graded graduate-level courses (32 credits) must be completed with regular letter grades and a grade point 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. Students who have not taken the required graduate-level seminar ARTH 500: Theory and Methods as part of their master's degree must also include this in their doctoral program; others may be required to do so by the graduate committee, through the director of graduate studies. Students must petition the graduate committee for a waiver for this course.



ARTH 500. Theory and Methods (required in first year).


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.

1 or more

Total minimum number of credits


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

Foreign Language Requirements

Doctoral 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.

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.

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 Manual. (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)

  • 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:

    • I. Primary Sources

    • II. 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; and 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 enter the program in or after Fall 2010) are required to pass the PhD 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.