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We look for students who are highly motivated, independent, and who articulate in their statements of purpose a coherent and focused course of study that fits with the expertise of our faculty. We expect applicants to have demonstrated skills in research and writing, as well as a required minimum GPA of 3.0. 

Your statement of purpose should describe your research interests, explain your academic goals and what you wish to accomplish, and how your prior schooling, work experience, and/or background has prepared you to undertake graduate studies.

Your personal statement should discuss your personal academic path; family, cultural, economic, and/or social experiences which have shaped you, challenges and opportunities relevant to your academic journey, and any other personal factors leading you to pursue a doctoral degree. Personal history statements are not required but are included by nearly all applicants.  Good statements are highly recommended because they give faculty readers a clearer picture of who you are and a stronger understanding of why you want to pursue a doctoral program in Visual Studies.

Beyond the university's application requirements, Visual Studies expects all applicants to submit a sample of academic writing. For applicants holding a BA alone, this sample typically takes the form of a polished undergraduate research paper or senior thesis of around twenty pages; for those who hold an MA, they may choose to include up to twenty pages or so drawn from their master's thesis, not including the bibliography or images. Your sample should demonstrate your research, writing, and analytical skills.

A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for admission into the Visual Studies program. GRE scores are not required for admission.

Graduate students in the School of Humanities are typically admitted with financial aid packages providing five years of support in addition to in-state fees, tuition, and health insurance. This five-year package usually consists of one year of fellowship and several years of teaching assistantships. Funding is not guaranteed after the fifth year but it is possible to find further funding in the form of TAships or graduate student research (GSR) positions. Once admitted, students may also apply for additional research, language, and summer support through the School of Humanities and Graduate Division; further UCI funding information can be found on the Division of Graduate Studies website.

Normative time to advancement to candidacy is three years. Normative time to the PhD degree is six years, and maximum time to degree is seven years. 

No, Visual Studies only admits students who intend to complete the PhD through our program at UC Irvine. Students seeking a terminal master’s degree should not apply.

No, students must attend full-time and in-person. Domestic students who are not California residents are required to establish California state residency during their first year. Without it, they will have to pay non-resident supplemental tuition and fees (NRST). International students also receive tuition and fee remissions during their period of guaranteed funding. More information for international applicants and NRST can be found here:

All graduate applicants, except those who have earned an undergraduate or master's degree from institutions using English as the sole language of instruction according to the World Higher Education Database, are required to demonstrate English proficiency for admissions consideration. If English was not the sole language of instruction listed or if no language is listed at all, the waiver does not apply, and the applicant is required to take and pass an approved English proficiency test (TOEFL or IELTS). For admission, a minimum TOEFL score of 80 is needed, or for IELTS, a minimum score of 7 overall and no less than 6 on any individual mode is required.

In the case of applicants with a BA or MA from an accredited U.S. institution, the TOEFL exam may be waived.

Visual studies alumni have jobs in university departments and programs of visual studies, art history, media studies, communications, film and women’s studies, as well as in museums and curatorial departments, publishing, and higher education administration. Visual Studies alumni have also developed careers in private industry.


Contact Visual Studies

3000 Humanities Gateway
Irvine, CA 92697-2785