The PhD program in Visual Studies draws from a number of disciplines to explore the meanings, practices, and processes of looking and imaging across historical periods and diverse cultures. Visual Studies is inclusive and broad-ranging in its methods and approaches as well as its objects of inquiry, which include African American and African Diasporic visual cultures; the art and archeology of the ancient and medieval Persian/Iranian worlds including Islamic Central and South Asia; Asian and Asian American art, photography, and cinema; Latin American and Latino/a/x visual cultures; contemporary art and exhibition histories; and film, television, and digital media.

UCI offers one of the premier graduate programs in Visual Studies, with core faculty drawn from the departments of Art History and Film & Media Studies. Our particular theoretical strengths include archaeological, architectural and environmental theory, cultural studies, critical race theory, feminist and queer studies, museum studies, postcolonial theory, and digital technologies. In addition, our graduate students may choose to supplement their Visual Studies degrees with interdisciplinary graduate certificates in Ancient Iran and the Premodern Persianate WorldAsian American StudiesChicano/Latino StudiesCritical TheoryFeminist Studies, or Latin American Studies, among others. Visual Studies is also proud to be one of the founding members of the School of the Humanities' Black Studies Cluster, which offers additional programmatic and funding support for VS students working in this area.

Our location near Los Angeles gives students access to the rich cultural offerings and research institutions of southern California, such as the Getty Center and Getty Villa, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Art, UCLA’s Film & Television Archive, and the Huntington Library, among other institutions.

We admit all students, with BAs or MAs, directly into the PhD program in small cohorts with multi-year funding packages. We encourage prospective students to review our faculty profiles and contact the faculty members who work in their potential areas of interest before applying to learn more about their teaching and advising.
The annual admissions deadline is December 1.  Graduate Division Website