The Ph.D. program in Visual Studies, administered by the faculty of the Department of Art History, offers students the opportunity to pursue a doctorate in the cultural analysis of visual artifacts and experiences. With a commitment to theoretically rigorous inquiry, Visual Studies synthesizes methodological insights from a wide variety of disciplines and interdisciplinary fields, including art history, archaeology, architectural history, design history, and environmental studies. The program leads to a Ph.D. in Visual Studies. 

Interested in applying to our program? A complete application includes the following materials must be submitted by the deadline of December 1:

  • A Statement of Purpose describing your intellectual interests and reasons for seeking a Ph.D. Your statement should also address how the Visual Studies program and faculty can support and further your academic goals and research.
  • A Personal History statement describing your educational history, accomplishments, and anticipated career path. This statement should convey the events, opportunities, challenges, and obstacles that have helped shape your academic identity and pursuit of a Ph.D. 


  • A Writing Sample demonstrating your abilities and strengths in academic writing, research, and thinking. Your sample should be approximately twenty pages long.  
  • Transcripts from all institutions attended since high school, including undergraduate and graduate.  


  • Three Letters of Recommendation, preferably written by faculty with whom you have worked.


  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores from international applicants for whom English is not their first language or applicants who have earned their degree(s) at institutions for which English is not the primary language of instruction. 


  • GRE scores are not required.

Beyond the requirements of the university's application, the Program in Visual Studies expects a sample of academic writing from all applicants. For applicants who hold the B.A., this sample typically will take the form of a polished undergraduate research paper or senior thesis of a minimum of 20 pages; for those with an M.A., you may choose to include a selection of 20 pages of the Master's thesis, the limit does not include the bibliography and images.

Applicants should follow and meet all eligibility requirements as stated by the UC Irvine Graduate Division.