The School of Humanities
The Department of Art History offers a wide range of courses in European, American, Latin American, Asian, and Middle Eastern/Islamic art history. The major in art history is structured to expose students to the chronological, geographical, and methodological breadth of the field of scholarship.
Upon completing the BA degree, a student majoring in Art History will be able to:
For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BA degree with a major in Art History (HART) must complete:
Additionally, undergraduates may not take HART courses at the 500 level or above.
The Art History major offers two areas of specialization:
AREAS OF SPECIALIZATIONStudents must complete a total of 10 courses (30 credit hours) as listed in the requirements for one of the Art History areas of specialization. Note that the course lists to satisfy each requirement can be found below the specialization requirements.
Art History Specialization To satisfy the requirements for the Art History Specialization, Art History majors must complete 10 courses (30 credit hours) as listed below.
History of Architecture SpecializationTo satisfy the requirements for the History of Architecture Specialization, Art History majors must complete 10 courses (30 credit hours) as listed below.
Ancient-Medieval (Pre-Modern) Courses
Renaissance–18th century (Early Modern) Courses
19th century–Present (Modern through Contemporary) Courses
Outside European and American Traditions Courses
History of Architecture Courses
At Least Two Areas Between Pre-Modern, Early Modern, and Modern Through Contemporary Fields Courses
This specialization is reserved for those accepted into the Art History Honors Program. Students apply (via the undergraduate art history advisor) no earlier than spring of the sophomore year and no later than spring of the junior year, and once accepted, they will be assigned to a faculty mentor. Financial assistance is available for honors students to conduct research between their junior and senior years.
To remain in the Honors Program, students must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.3 or higher and receive an A or A- in both semesters of the Senior Thesis. Students who maintain a grade point average of 3.7 or higher and who receive an A in both semesters of the Senior Thesis may be awarded high honors by vote of the department. If students are not able to maintain the requirements of the honors program, they can still graduate with the art history major or the specialization in History of Architecture.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE HONORS PROGRAMStudents are required to complete at least 12 courses (36 credit hours) as listed below.
It is strongly recommended that majors in art history acquire proficiency in at least one foreign language. In addition, art history majors are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities provided by museum internships, study abroad programs, and travel fellowships.
With approval from the departmental undergraduate advisor, a maximum of four courses may be taken outside of the department and applied to the major as transfer credits or study abroad course credits. No advanced placement credits may be used to satisfy major requirements.
*NOTE: Internally, the university uses the following abbreviations (4-digit codes) to identify the Art History undergraduate degree and major. The following is a quick reference:
Course Catalog/Schedule - Course offerings/subject: HARTDepartment Description and Code - Art History: HARTDegree Description and Code - Bachelor of Arts degree: BAMajor Description and Code - Major in Art History: HART
Upon completing the PhD degree program in Art History, students will be able to:
For general university requirements, see Graduate Degrees.
Only applicants who intend to receive a PhD will be accepted into the program. The Department of Art History does not have an MA program, although during the course of the program an MA degree will be awarded after students have achieved candidacy and are in the process of completing the doctorate (see Schedule, below).
Entering students will each be assigned a faculty advisor, as appropriate for the intended field of study. (That faculty member will remain the advisor unless the student later chooses someone else as the principal dissertation advisor.)
The advisor will play the key role in working with the student from beginning to end on course selection, master’s research paper topic, topics for qualifying exams, and the dissertation subject and will be in charge of monitoring the student’s progress before and after advancement to candidacy. The director of graduate studies also will be available to offer advice to students in the program.
Beyond the courses to be offered by these regular and affiliated faculty of the Department of Art History, students will be encouraged, when appropriate, to take other graduate courses at Rice that are important for their field of research. Of the courses listed in the schedule below, up to three may be taken outside the department, as approved by the student’s advisor.
A summary of the program requirements:
Courses—Satisfactory completion of at least 30 hours of graduate coursework (500 level). One of the courses will include HART 590 Methods in Art History, to be taken in the fall of the first year. At least two of the courses taken must be in areas judged by the faculty advisor to be outside the student’s main field of interest, and at least half of the classes taken must be seminars. Because jobs in the field often call for teaching expertise in more than one area, students are encouraged to acquire breadth of knowledge in both their coursework and the topics covered in the qualifying exams.
Substantial research paper—In the second year, one course each semester is required (HART 690 and HART 691) towards a substantial research paper. This paper may be an exploration of a possible dissertation topic or area.
Reading knowledge of foreign languages—Reading knowledge of one foreign language must be demonstrated before the beginning of the second semester, and a second demonstrated before the beginning of the third year. For those studying American or European topics, French and German are required, or a language necessary for the student’s doctoral work (e.g., Spanish or Italian) and then knowledge of French or German. For those studying a non-Western topic, knowledge of a language in the primary area of study is necessary, plus French or German. Reading knowledge of one language must be demonstrated by the end of the first semester, and knowledge of the second language must be demonstrated by the end of the second year. Students are able to take advantage of the regular foreign language courses at Rice, and we will work with the director of the Center for the Study of Languages to ensure that students are aware of the language courses at Rice offered specifically for graduate students. The two language examinations will be administered as follows. The student’s advisor will select a book or set of articles in the target language that is close to the student’s interest. The student will have one hour with a dictionary to complete the translation. The exam will be graded by the appropriate language department.
Teaching and research opportunities—In order to strengthen the job prospects of our students, there will be an opportunity to serve as teaching assistant or tutorial instructor, or for team-teaching or teaching classes. For those not engaged in classroom teaching, there also will be a chance to serve as research assistants for professors. As part of the program, all students will be expected to be a teaching assistant, tutorial leader, teacher, or research assistant for at least two semesters, and for as many as four semesters as an option. This will typically happen during the third or fourth year.
Qualifying exams, with a written and oral component—The qualifying exams will be taken at the end of the fall semester of the third year and cover topics in student’s major field of study and secondary fields, as agreed upon with the student’s advisor and based on the student’s interests and intended area of study for the doctoral dissertation. Passing the qualifying exams is necessary for continuation in the program into the dissertation phase. The exams will consist of two three-hour written exams and two one-hour oral exams to follow up on the material tested on the written part. The examining committee will consist of three persons: the principal field examiner and two other field examiners.
Doctoral thesis and defense—After a student has passed the qualifying examination, the student will work with a dissertation thesis committee composed of three members, approved by the department’s graduate committee; the chair of this committee will be the student’s departmental advisor, who must be part of the art history faculty; the second reader also comes from within the department; and the third reader must be from outside the department. As soon as the thesis committee approves the student’s dissertation prospectus, the student must file a petition for approval of candidacy for the PhD with the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS). The term “PhD candidate” refers only to persons so certified by the GPS office. The university requires that students pursuing the PhD must be approved for candidacy before the beginning of the ninth semester at Rice.
PhD candidates must present an original piece of scholarly work in the form of a dissertation, equivalent to a publishable book, as the final step in completing the degree. Dissertations may be written on any subject that falls within the supervisory competence of a permanent member of the department, and the prospectus is approved by the student’s advisor and a vote of the student’s committee. After such a vote, the advisor will sign the student’s application for admission to candidacy.
Schedule—The program is designed to be completed in five years. However, certain fields in which the acquisition of foreign languages typically presents a hurdle (e.g., the study of non-Western art) might necessitate the expectation of a sixth year in the program.
The schedule for a student in the program would be:
Year 1: Six courses (three each semester), one to include the theory and methods seminar in the fall of the first year. The student must pass one language exam in the fall semester.
Year 2: Four courses (two in the fall semester, two in the spring) and an independent study course each semester for preparing a substantial research paper, to be completed by the end the spring semester and read by the student’s advisor and one other faculty member or affiliated faculty, chosen by the advisor. Students must pass the second language exam by the end of the spring semester.
Year 3: Independent study in the fall in preparation for the written and oral qualifying exams, taken in December.
In the spring semester, the student will prepare a prospectus for the doctoral dissertation; the advisor and the rest of the thesis committee will review the prospectus and approve the topic by mid-April. At that point, the student will advance to candidacy. The MA will be awarded at that time.
During the third year, students will have the option of serving as teaching assistant, tutorial instructor, teacher, or research assistant. Students in the third and fourth years are encouraged to apply for outside funding that will assist them with travel costs and other aspects of their thesis research.
Year 4: Dissertation research and writing. During the fourth year, students will have the option of serving as teaching assistant, tutorial instructor, teacher, or research assistant, unless this has happened in the third year.
Year 5: Dissertation research and writing. There will be a public thesis defense at the end of the fifth year (or sixth year, if necessary).
For updated information, please go to arthistory.rice.edu.
Houston is fortunate to have some of the best art collections in the United States. The department enjoys a strong and ongoing relationship with the local museums, in particular the Menil Collection and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The department offers opportunities for students to study with local museums, galleries, and alternative art spaces by way of internship courses, summer internship working opportunities, fellowships, or collaborative events. The collections and special exhibitions of local museums are often the focus of class lectures and research papers in art history.
The department sponsors the Katherine Brown Distinguished Lectures in Art History, which bring leading scholars to Rice to speak on a wide variety of topics. The department also hosts occasional symposia and lectures in collaboration with other departments, presenting the ideas of top scholars, critics, and artists.
The Department of Art History houses the Visual Resources Center, which currently holds a broad and extensive collection of slides and digital images related to the arts for teaching and research, serving both the department and the university at large.
Exhibitions and related activities organized by the Rice University Art Gallery enrich the university and the Houston community. The Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts mounts several art and photography exhibitions each year and sponsors Rice Cinema, a public alternative film program.
Descriptions and Codes Legend
Note: Internally, the university uses the following abbreviations (4-digit codes) to identify the Art History graduate degree program. The following is a quick reference:
Course Catalog/Schedule - Course offerings/subject code: HARTDepartment Description and Code - Art History: HARTDegree Descriptions and Codes - Master of Arts degree: MA - Doctor of Philosophy degree: PhDDegree Program Description and Code - Degree Program in Art History: HART
The official course offerings, including course descriptions, for Art History can be found in Rice's Course Catalog.
To view the most recent course schedule for the 2016-2017 academic year, see Rice's Course Schedule.
For additional information regarding Art History, see the department's website: http://arthistory.rice.edu/.