Graduate Student Admissions

The department offers a non-terminating M.A. degree and a Ph.D. degree. Applicants who already have an M.A. degree in art history will be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program. Applicants who do not have an M.A. degree in art history will be admitted to the combined M.A./Ph.D. program, and must complete 32 units of coursework and a thesis or comprehensive exam before being advanced to Ph.D. status. The department does not admit students for a terminal M.A. degree.

The department seeks applicants with an avid intellectual curiosity, demonstrated potential for outstanding original research, and a concrete sense of professional direction. Students will be expected to make rapid progress toward a degree and complete their studies with distinction. All applicants should have a background that includes broad experience in the humanities and social sciences, training in the study of historical content, and experience of independent research and interpretation. A B.A. in art history is useful but not a requirement for admission, although well-developed skills in visual thinking and analysis are essential. It is also desirable that applicants begin their graduate study already knowing how to read the languages appropriate to their chosen area of study.

The department offers some level of funding to most graduate students through teaching and research assistantships, museum internships, and departmental and University fellowships (see Funding). Our advanced students have an exceptionally strong record of winning competitive national and international dissertation travel and writing fellowships, including the National Gallery/CASVA, Henry Luce, Fulbright-Hays, Kress, Paul Mellon, the Jane and Morgan Whitney and the Chateaubriand (see Awards).

Applicants must complete the electronic application form and pay the application fee by December 15th, 11:59 PM to be considered on-time applicants. Follow all instructions on the electronic application website, which will ask you to upload the following:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Statement of Personal Achievements/Contributions
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Official Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended. Before matriculation can occur, receipt of official paper transcripts must be received by Department and Graduate Division (one copy for each).
  • Sample of Written Work. This should be art historical in nature. There is no length requirement. (Note: Writing sample should be uploaded with application as supplemental document and submitted by December 15th)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE General Test Scores that must be within the past five years. These are electronically sent to our Graduate Division by ETS.

Applicants are considered for Fall Quarter only.

The faculty consider the Statement of Purpose to be one of the most important parts of the application. The statement should describe your preparation, academic interests and professional goals. The most useful Statements are idea-driven: they present your intellectual portrait, an account of the issues you now find engaging, and of the character of study you envision for yourself in graduate school. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact directly professors whom they envision as prospective advisors prior to submitting their applications.

The writing sample should be a substantial essay, ideally an honors thesis or seminar paper, that demonstrates your potential for advanced and creative work in the discipline. Note that students applying for direct admission into the Ph.D. program should submit their M.A. thesis.

Letters of recommendation are most helpful when they speak analytically of the applicant's achievement and potential in art or architectural history, or in related fields. The best letters emphasize recent academic work, and come from recommenders who know your work in some depth. Letters from professors are generally far more effective than those from counselors, family friends and former employers. It is the applicant's responsibility to communicate with those submitting recommendations to ensure that they are submitted in a timely manner.

You will also find it useful to consult the UCSB Graduate Division webpage for prospective graduate students . If you have further questions about the application process, don't hesitate to contact us!

Dr. Jenni Sorkin
Graduate Advisor
Current Students 2020-2021

Dr. Volker Welter
Graduate Admissions Advisor
Incoming Students 2020-2021

Erin Rooney
Graduate Program Advisor