Art History & Art Conservation

Department of Art History & Art Conservation

Ph.D. in Art History

Apply to the program: Click here to begin the application process.

Application Deadline: 10 January of each year
(Notification of admission is by mid-March) 


For admission to the Ph.D. program, an Honours B.A., or its equivalent, and an M.A. with an "A" grade in the primary courses, are required. Normally, both previous degrees should be in Art History; however, the committee will also consider degrees in a related subject (such as Art Conservation, Classics, Cultural Studies, Film, Fine Art, History, Literary Studies, etc.). In all cases, the Art History Graduate Committee will examine the record of courses taken by applicants in both their graduate and undergraduate programs in order to establish that they have sufficient preparation in the History of Art. The application process includes both online and offline elements listed below. Successful applicants will be chosen by the graduate committee, and will receive an offer of admission from the School of Graduate Studies. 

  • Proof of reading knowledge of one language other than English, normally in the form of a test passed at the M.A. level is required at the time of application. 
  • A writing sample (e.g. art history essay), submitted to the Graduate Assistant
  • current CV must be sent as electronic copy directly to the Graduate Assistant.   
  • A brief "Statement of Purpose" (500-600 words), outlining the applicant's specific area(s) of research and career goals. This should include a statement of why they believe the Department of Art at Queen's is an appropriate place for their doctoral studies. This must be submitted as part of the online application.
  • Two current academic letters of reference from scholars familiar with the applicant's academic record and performance, must be sent either electronically through the online application process or alternatively as hard copy to the Graduate Assistant.
  • All official academic transcripts must be sent to the attention of the Graduate Assistant.

Please visit the School of Graduate Studies website for further information regarding the Application Process

Graduate Assistant 
Art History
Ontario Hall, Room 316
Queen's University
Kingston, ON, Canada, K7L 3N6



Image of an art history graduate seminar on a trip to the Notman Photographic Archives, McCord Museum, Montreal with curator Hélène Samson

Carolyn Dowdell, Ph.D. candidate, at the Mosaic Museum, Istan, Turkey


Language Requirements

Reading knowledge of one language other than English and if necessary, a minimum of one additional approved language related to the area of thesis research.

Degree Requirements

The requirements are set according to the general Requirements for Degree Programs specified in the Graduate Calendar. Students in the Art History Ph.D. program are required to complete three term-length courses at the 800 level, one of which must be outside the candidate's special area of interest and another with their thesis supervisor; then they prepare for the Doctoral Field Essays to be examined in Comprehensive Exams. After the successful completion of the Doctoral Field Essays and Comprehensive Exams, students take a Research Seminar with their supervisor and prepare a Thesis Proposal for submission to the Art History Graduate Committee.

Evidence shall be required of a reading knowledge of those languages other than English which are deemed necessary for a candidate's particular field of study as determined by the Graduate Committee; this must be demonstrated prior to submission of the Thesis Proposal. Once the committee has approved the Thesis Proposal, research for the doctoral thesis officially begins. Completed theses are submitted to the School of Graduate Studies for oral examination by committee. Residency and other requirements, as specified in the General Regulations, also apply. The program should be completed in 4 years.


Students normally register in two art history seminars each term, in addition to any language courses that may be needed. Selection of courses shall be made in consultation with the supervisor or Graduate Coordinator. Requirements are:

  1. Completion of the three required term-length courses at the 800-level
  2. The Field Essays consisting of ARTH 904 and ARTH 905
  3. The Research Seminar (ARTH 908)


  • Year 1:
  • 3 half courses at the 800-level (2 in one term, 1 in the other)
  • Pass any needed language requirements
  • Establish topics for the Doctoral Field Essays by the end of the Winter term
  • Read for Doctoral Field Essays over the summer
  • Year 2:
  • Prepare Doctoral Field Essays and study for Comprehensive Exams in the fall
  • In the Fall term or in January - Submit Doctoral Field Essays and take Comprehensive Examinations
  • Winter term - preparation of the thesis proposal, submitted and approved by the end of the term (before May 1st)
  • Summer - begin dissertation research/ prepare for traveling to do on-site research
  • Year 3:
  • Dissertation research, begin writing, often on-site
  • Year 4: 
  • Finish writing and defend the thesis


After successfully passing the Comprehensive Examinations, students register in ARTH 908 (Research Seminar) directed by their thesis supervisor(s) and read in the area of their thesis research in order to define a topic. The student then submits a Thesis Proposal to the Art History Graduate Committee. Proposals are normally presented at the end of the term following completion of the comprehensive Field Essays. Students must have completed any language requirements, as determined by the supervisor and Graduate Committee, before submitting the proposal. After the Thesis Proposal has been approved by the Art History Graduate Committee, research for the doctoral thesis (ARTH 999) shall officially begin. Several Bader Fellowships are available every year for doctoral research abroad. The completed thesis, which can follow a traditional format, or manuscript, project, or portfolio format, shall be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies. Students must obtain the publication "General Form of Theses" from the School of Graduate Studies. Once it has been passed by the Oral Examining Committee and any required changes made, the thesis must be submitted electronically to QSpace, and up to 2 hard copies may be sent to be bound. The student may graduate at the next convocation.


The School of Graduate Studies and Research at Queen's University offers graduate students four years of guaranteed funding ($18, 000 per year). The funding package may be comprised of Queen's Graduate Awards, Teaching Assistantships, and named internal fellowships, which are awarded by the department on a competitive basis.  

Upper-year Ph.D. students may be awarded a teaching fellowship. Employment as teaching assistants helps to familiarize students with the skills and duties of a teaching career; teaching fellowships, competitively awarded usually after completion fo the Comprehensive Examinations, allow students to design and teach their own course.

Students are urged to seek outside funding and students with at least an 80% overall average must apply for SSHRCC or OGS in order to qualify for Queen's funding after their first year. Several Bader Fellowships (up to $30,000) for doctoral research in Europe may be awarded annually to students who have completed course work and language requirements, successfully completed their Comprehensive Exams, and had Thesis Proposals approved.

The amount of the Fellowship is $22,000 for students holding external awards (SSHRCC or OGS), and $30,000 for students without external support.


Image of an art history graduate seminar on a trip to the Notman Photographic Archives, McCord Museum, Montreal with curator Hélène Samson

Johanna Amos, Ph.D., carried out research for a year in Europe on Jane Morris, with Morris embroideries and a dress that may have been worn by Morris, funded by SSHRC and a Queen's Bader Doctoral Award.

Hear about the program from current students and recent graduates - watch our video


Supervision of the Graduate Student's Program

Students planning to apply should contact a potential supervisor or the Graduate Coordinator. For detailed information see the graduate calendar.