Graduate Student Admissions

The Department of History of Art & Architecture prepares students for graduate work leading to careers as historians and critics of art and architecture, as museum and gallery professionals, and to work in arts administration and historic preservation. The Department offers degrees in all periods and media from Ancient to Contemporary, including African, Chinese, Islamic, and Latin American art, with particular strengths in early-modern and modern/contemporary art, and architecture and urban history. The majority of faculty have extensive expertise in museum history, theory, and practice, as well as strong interests in theory and field research, including archaeological field work. The program is supported by an excellent Arts Library, Image Resource Center, Architecture & Design Collections, and Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

The department offers a non-terminating M.A. degree and a Ph.D. degree. Applicants who already have an M.A. degree in art history will be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program. Applicants who do not have an M.A. degree in art history will be admitted to the combined M.A./Ph.D. program, and must complete 32 units of coursework and a thesis or comprehensive exam before being advanced to Ph.D. status. The department does not admit students for a terminal M.A. degree.

The department seeks applicants with an avid intellectual curiosity, demonstrated potential for outstanding original research, and a concrete sense of professional direction. Students will be expected to make rapid progress toward a degree and complete their studies with distinction. All applicants should have a background that includes broad experience in the humanities and social sciences, training in the study of historical content, and experience of independent research and interpretation. A B.A. in art history is useful but not a requirement for admission, although well-developed skills in visual thinking and analysis are essential. It is also desirable that applicants begin their graduate study already knowing how to read the languages appropriate to their chosen area of study.

The department offers some level of funding to most graduate students through teaching and research assistantships, museum internships, and departmental and University fellowships (see Funding). Our advanced students have an exceptionally strong record of winning competitive national and international dissertation travel and writing fellowships, including the National Gallery/CASVA, Henry Luce, Fulbright-Hays, Kress, Paul Mellon, the Jane and Morgan Whitney and the Chateaubriand (see Awards).

Application Requirements

  • Online Application Link opens in a new window
  • Statement of Purpose, Personal History and Diversity Statement, and Resume or CV (submitted in online application)
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (submitted online)
  • Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended (submitted online)
  • As a means of fostering inclusivity and access, we no longer require GRE scores
  • Sample of written work that is art historical in nature (50 pages maximum). Those with an M.A. in Art History: submit a copy or a chapter of M.A. thesis (Note: writing sample should be uploaded with application as supplemental document and submitted by December 15)
  • TOEFL scores 550 Paper-Based Test (PBT), 80 Internet-Based Test (IBT) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Overall Band score of 7 or higher (If applicable. See How to Complete the Online Application: Exam Scores Link opens in a new window for details.)
  • Final/Official transcripts will be required for all applicants who are admitted and have indicated their intent to enroll at UC Santa Barbara by submitting a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR). UC Santa Barbara reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admissions process, and rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between uploaded and official transcript(s) are found

Deadlines: Fall Only - December 15, 2023 (by 11:59 PM PST).

Emphases: Ancient Mediterranean Studies (AMS; via Internet Archive) Link opens an external site; Medieval Studies Link opens in a new window; Feminist Studies Link opens in a new window  (Ph.D. only). See individual Department websites for additional information

Specializations: N/A

Departmental Statistics: View Statistics Sheet Link opens in a PDF reader

Program Job Placement: View Job Placement Sheet Link opens in a PDF reader

The faculty consider the Statement of Purpose to be one of the most important parts of the application. The statement should describe your preparation, academic interests and professional goals. The most useful Statements are idea-driven: they present your intellectual portrait, an account of the issues you now find engaging, and of the character of study you envision for yourself in graduate school. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact directly professors whom they envision as prospective advisors prior to submitting their applications.

The writing sample should be a substantial essay, ideally an honors thesis or seminar paper, that demonstrates your potential for advanced and creative work in the discipline. Note that students applying for direct admission into the Ph.D. program should submit their M.A. thesis.

Letters of recommendation are most helpful when they speak analytically of the applicant's achievement and potential in art or architectural history, or in related fields. The best letters emphasize recent academic work, and come from recommenders who know your work in some depth. Letters from professors are generally far more effective than those from counselors, family friends and former employers. It is the applicant's responsibility to communicate with those submitting recommendations to ensure that they are submitted in a timely manner.

You will also find it useful to consult the UCSB Graduate Division webpage for prospective graduate students Link opens in a new window. If you have further questions about the application process, don't hesitate to contact us!

Dr. Claudia Moser
Graduate Advisor
Current Students 2023-2024 Link opens in the default email client

Dr. Richard Wittman
Graduate Admissions Advisor
Incoming Students 2023-2024 Link opens in the default email client

Hunter Clark
Graduate Program Advisor Link opens in the default email client