Ph.D. Program in Art History

Entrance into the Ph.D. program is limited to the best qualified applicants. A minimum CGPA of 3.3 or the equivalent, i.e. 75%, is required.

Program Requirements

Required Courses

ARTH 600 Advanced Pro-Seminar (3 credits)

ARTH 701 (written and oral examination) (0 credits)

PhD Thesis Research and oral defense (on a topic approved by the supervisor and ratified by a second reader).


The student takes ARTH 600 Pro-Seminar (3 credits) and 4 complementary graduate-level courses (12 credits); one of these 4 complementary courses can be taken outside of Art History at McGill or at another university in Montreal. The student also takes ARTH 701 to prepare for and complete the comprehensive exams and dissertation research and writing units as required.

All courses taken outside of Art History require the approval of the Graduate Program Director, in consultation with the supervisor and the professor teaching the seminar. And any exceptions regarding these requirements for ARTH 600 Pro-Seminar or complementary seminars demand approval of the Graduate Program Director in consultation with the supervisor.

Please note that courses in studio practice cannot be counted among the Art History credits for the Ph.D program.

Language requirements for the Ph.D. degree: more information.

PhD students who have selected the Graduate Option in Gender and Women's Studies are required to take 9 credits (within the total credits that are required for the PhD degree); WMST 601 AND WMST 602 are required plus one 3-credit complementary Art History course related to gender and women's studies. All course selection must first be approved by the supervisor/graduate program director.

Typical Timeline

Year 1

Fall: ARTH 600 Pro-Seminar, 2 graduate seminars.

Winter: 2 seminars, and begin preparing bibliography for the comprehensive examination.

Year 2

Comprehensive exams ideally will be completed by the end of September.

Submit PhD proposal (usually comprised of an approximately 10 page synopsis and discussing of existing literature, a chapter outline, and a bibliography) to supervisor and second reader by the beginning of the second (Winter) semester.

Thesis research and writing.

Years 3-4

Thesis research and writing.



The graduate course titles in the McGill calendar are rather general, as professors tend to explore different topics each year in keeping with recent research developments in their fields and in the discipline. To give you a more accurate idea of the types of seminars we offer, here is a list of some recently offered topics:

Print and Popular Culture
Art and Politics in France
Theories of Writing
Images, Ideograms, Aesthetics
The Disenchantment of Vision in Early Modernity
Early Modern Visual Culture: Making Publics / Producing Spaces
Art and Medicine in Nineteenth-century France
Creating Time(s): Contemporary Art and the Post-Optical Investigation of the Image
Landscape and Empire: Colonialism, Geography and British Imperialism

Comprehensive Exams:

For information on taking the Comprehensive Exams, follow this link.


The thesis topic is developed in consultation with the student's supervisor. Detailed information about the preparation, formatting, submission and examination of the thesis can be found on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies web site:

Mandatory Progress Tracking

Each year, the student and their supervisor meet with the Graduate Program Director (or designate) to track their individual progress in the program. Progress tracking forms are filled in and kept on record by the department. Detailed information about progress tracking can be found on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies web site: