PhD in Visual Arts

Find answers to your questions about Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Visual Arts programs here. Continue reading for information on curriculum, program availability and career options for graduates. Schools offering Acting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Common are Visual Arts Ph.D. Programs?

Ph.D. programs are fairly common; however, doctoral programs in art history are more common. Some schools have art history programs that concentrate on the practice and creation of art. These programs might be beneficial if you plan on teaching art at the university level. Many visual arts programs focus on art education. Some schools offer programs in visual studies. Visual studies programs can be similar to visual arts programs, but they tend to take a more cultural and theoretic approach to visual arts and art history.

Common Courses Art law, museum administration, technology in visual arts, research methods, public art forums
Degree Concentrations Art history, art education, visual studies
Learning Environments Programs are offered in traditional classroom settings
Possible Careers Art gallery curator, journalist, teacher, professional artist

What Courses Will I Take to Earn a Ph.D. in Visual Arts?

Doctoral programs often have a loose curriculum so that you can work with your advisor on developing a field of study that is interesting to you. Your curriculum usually revolves around a dissertation. Many schools divide up their requirements by assigning a minimum number of hours to core studies and individual practice in the artistic medium of your choice. A Ph.D. program typically takes between 3-5 years to complete. Some courses you may be able to choose from include:

  • Museum administration and education
  • Development of public art forums
  • Technology in visual arts
  • Visual arts instruction and research methods
  • Art history focusing on various time periods and geographic locations
  • Museum and art law

Are There Online Programs Available?

Online doctoral programs in visual arts are very rare. Most visual arts programs require you to complete studio hours and share your art with peers, instructors and advisors. As a result, many schools choose not to make this program available online, especially at the Ph.D. level. However, they may become more available in the future.

What Can I Do with My Degree?

You might go on to teach visual arts at the university, college, elementary or secondary level. Depending on your specific area of interest and expertise, you could teach painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpting, photography, mixed media art or art history. You could also work at a museum or an art gallery as a curator. You might become a professional artist. You may even be interested in a journalism career, reporting on the arts for a newspaper or magazine publication.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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