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, spatial and environmental 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. While the program (in certain instances) grants an M.A. to students en route to their Ph.D., it admits only those students intending to complete their doctorate at UCI.

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; Asian and Asian American art; Latin American and Latino/a/x visual cultures; contemporary art and exhibition histories; and the art, architecture and archaeology of ancient Iran and the Persian world, including Islamic Central and South Asia.

Our particular theoretical strengths include archaeological, architectural and environmental theory, cultural studies, critical race theory, design, feminist and queer studies, museum studies, and postcolonial theory. In addition, our graduate students may choose to supplement their Visual Studies degrees with interdisciplinary graduate certificates in Ancient Iran and 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. Prospective students interested in the Ph.D. Program in Film and Media Studies can find more information here.

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 Huntington Library, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, and the San Diego Museum of Art, among other institutions. Graduate students from UCI and UCLA regularly take classes at the other institution through the UC intercampus exchange program.

We admit all students, with B.A.s or M.A.s, directly into the Ph.D. 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.  Please visit the Graduate Division website for further details and the application portal.