Home < Degrees < Art History

Art History

Administrative Unit:Art History
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:M.A., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.A., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor
Named Options:Architectural History (Ph.D.)

Faculty: Professors Andrzejewski, Buenger, Cahill, Casid, Chopra, Dale, Drewal, Geiger, Marshall, Martin, Phillips (chair); Associate Professors McClure; Assistant Professors Brisman, Li, Pruitt


The Department of Art History offers programs leading to the master of arts and the doctor of philosophy in art history with emphasis on African and African diaspora art, American material culture and vernacular architecture, ancient  art and archaeology of the Mediterranean world, Chinese art and archaeology, Japanese art, medieval European art, Byzantine and Islamic art and architecture, early modern European art 19th-century art and print culture, modern and contemporary European and American art and visual culture.  The department encourages the study of the global history of art, and material and visual culture while investigating works in all media from a wide range of periods and a variety of world cultures.

Students enjoy close interaction with their mentors and profit from superb resources for interdisciplinary research. Faculty members have international reputations in their specialties, regularly receive prestigious awards, lecture widely, and serve on major professional boards. Graduates of the department teach at the postsecondary level or pursue careers in museum and curatorial professions, private galleries and auction houses, library or archival work, architecture and historical preservation, and conservation.

The department is housed in the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building with the Chazen Museum of Art, which has a broad historical collection with several areas of particular strength, an active acquisitions program, and facilities to host major traveling exhibitions and exhibition courses. Graduate students use these collections for research and publishing projects. They may also have the opportunity to work on exhibitions in special classes or as project assistants. The building is also home to the Kohler Art Library, which contains an excellent collection of published materials and full range of periodicals. The department possesses a large image collection and access to ArtStor.


While students may pursue a stand-alone M.A., those who wish to pursue a Ph.D. should apply directly to that program. Admission to either program is offered to applicants who have an outstanding undergraduate record of academic achievement.  The successful applicant typically presents both a compelling statement of purpose for graduate studies and an advanced research paper.  To be considered for admission, applicants must have taken the GRE recently (within five years of their application deadline).  To be competitive in some subfields, applicants should have training in at least one foreign language.  Applicants are encouraged to contact prospective faculty advisors for more details.  Non-native English speakers must present TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Admission to the Asian M.A. track (Chinese or Japanese art) is offered to applicants who have similar qualifications and training, but with an East Asian emphasis and demonstrated skills in the East Asian language appropriate to the intended field of specialization.  

Financial Aid

Financial aid is normally reserved for students in the Ph.D. program. The university offers fellowships and scholarships for which graduate students in art history may compete. The department awards the Margaret Davison Shorger Fellowship for the study of Italian art, the Charles C. Killin Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in East Asian Art, and the Chipstone/James Watrous Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in American Material Culture. Research travel is also supported by the Shirley L and Dr. William Fritz Mueller Art History Graduate Student Fund and the Ray Reider Golden Art History Fund, and the Joan Mirviss Fund for Japanese art. The department awards travel grants for students delivering papers at major conferences and annually appoints five to six graduate students as teaching or project assistants. Individual faculty may also offer one- or two-semester project assistantships in connection with specific research projects. In addition, the department nominates candidates for fellowships administered outside the department and the university.

For more information: Department of Art History, 232 Elvehjem Building, 800 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706-1479; 608-263-2340; arthistory@ls.wisc.edu; www.arthistory.wisc.edu.