Structure of the PhD Program
First-semester students all enroll in a methodologically oriented Proseminar, as well as seminars and graduate lecture courses. Adventurous breadth in art history is encouraged, and there is ample opportunity for coursework in related departments.
After the first year there is also a steady exchange of advanced students with our sister institutions in the metropolitan area, particularly the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. Each semester at least one course, and often several, are taught in New York museums. Columbia PhD students may take courses at fellow institutions through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium.
Columbia believes in the training of teachers and offers unparalleled opportunities for experience at all levels. After their first year students are considered Fellows in Teaching. In the second and third year, most work as teaching assistants in the larger undergraduate courses.
Normally, coursework lasts three years and culminates in an oral examination in the spring of the third year, when the MPhil degree is awarded. At this point the program is flexible and admits travel for research, or a combination of teaching and research at Columbia. Many students spend between one and three years pursuing dissertation research outside the United States.
At the most advanced level, after the oral examinations and the MPhil degree, students can be appointed preceptors in the Columbia Core Curriculum, which involves both a highly organized training program and unusual independence as teachers in a small seminar setting.
Time to degree should be no more than seven years. The final step in acquiring the degree is the dissertation defense, which allows constructive feedback from faculty outside the department as well as from art historians within it.
The distribution requirements for the particular MPhil program and the requirements for the major and minor fields should be considered when selecting courses.
Other First Year Requirements
Apply for MA degree.
Deposit MA qualifying paper. Two examiners must read and sign off on the MA qualifying paper.
Pass at least one language exam.
Students do not have any service assignment in the first year.
Specific courses and language requirements may vary slightly by MPhil program. Consult MPhil program descriptions in the Bulletin for requirements.
Most MPhil programs require a minimum of five seminar courses for E-credit and allow up to three lecture courses to be counted for R-credit.
Other Second Year Requirements
Pass second language exam.
Teaching or curatorial fellowship assignments.
Second-year students are encouraged to begin formulating dissertation topics and optional bibliographies for oral exams.
In the summer following the second year, students are encouraged to investigate possible dissertation topics by travelling to archival resources, museums, and to meet scholars in the field.
8-9000-level independent research projects related to a student's prospective dissertation topic may count towards the seminar requirements of the MPhil program.
Other Third Year Requirements
Take oral exam. Students must complete coursework and all other MPhil requirements before sitting for the oral exam.
Apply for fellowships.
Pass additional language exam(s) as appropriate (see MPhil program requirements.)
Teaching or curatorial fellowship assignments.
Students are encouraged to schedule the presentation of a dissertation topic to a committee of three faculty (defense of proposal no later than 7th semester.)
Teaching Fellowship (Art Hum or Barnard) or Departmental dissertation fellowship.
Departmental dissertation fellowship or Teaching Fellowship or external funding (e.g., CASVA.)
CU or external dissertation funding. A Teaching Fellowship may be awarded if positions and funding are available.
Dissertation funding or teaching position as awarded.
Complete and defend dissertation.
Extensions beyond seven years require approval.
All recipients of a Columbia University Fellowship, whether pre-MPhil or dissertation-stage, must apply for funding from external sources as well. Consult the fellowship web site, look for email notices, and visit the GSAS fellowship database for application information.
All departmental fellowship awards including teaching positions are competitive. Applications for Departmental fellowships are due in early March. Interviews for teaching positions take place in April. Other CU fellowships (e.g., Whiting, Reid Hall, CU Travel) have February deadlines and many external sources of funding have autumn application deadlines. All students in the fourth year and beyond must submit the Report on Dissertation Progress each spring semester.