Visual Studies engages in the histories, meanings, and implications of the image, art work, representation, and their media. Interdisciplinary and theoretically rigorous, Visual Studies is committed to the investigation of cultural productions of seeing, picturing, and knowing, from the past to the present day. We welcome students who wish to explore new and innovative lines of inquiry into the visual, while working closely with their academic communities and faculty mentors.

Students who are admitted into the program, whether with BAs or MAs, enter directly into the PhD program in small cohorts and with multi-year funding packages. We strongly recommend prospective students contact and speak with faculty members with whom they are interested in working before applying.


Coursework and Program Requirements

Students complete fourteen courses before taking their oral examinations and advancing to candidacy at the end of their third year. These courses include three method and writing practicum seminars, as well as eleven electives chosen from Visual Studies and other fields of study. During coursework, students have the opportunity to encounter a wide range of theoretical and thematic approaches, including studies in race, diaspora, and migration, gender and sexuality, materiality and the environment, medicine and science, design and the museum, to archival and archaeological practices, postcolonial and decolonial approaches.

Because of Visual Studies’ interdisciplinary nature, students are required to take a number of electives in other departments and programs. Thus, through coursework it is possible to concurrently earn an interdisciplinary Graduate Emphasis or Specialization in areas such as Critical Theory, Feminist Studies, Asian American Studies, Ancient Iran and the Premodern Persianate World, and Latin American Studies, among others. Visual Studies is also proud to be one of the founding members of the School of Humanities' Black Studies Cluster, which offers students additional programmatic and funding support.



Students admitted into the program receive five-year funding packages which cover tuition, stipend, and health insurance through a combination of fellowship, teaching assistantship, and research assistantship support. Once admitted, students may pursue further funding opportunities for research, conference travel, and language studies through Graduate Division, the School of Humanities, the Humanities Center, and other campus centers and programs.



Students benefit from our location near Los Angeles and the rich cultural institutions and offerings of southern California, such as the Getty Museum and Research Institute, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Disneyland, San Diego Museum of Art, Museum of Latin American Art, UCI Special Collections, and Huntington Library and Museum, among others. Graduate students also have the opportunity to take classes from other nearby UCs through the UC intercampus exchange program.


Prospective students interested in the Film and Media Studies PhD Program can find more information here:


The application deadline is December 15.