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The University of Minnesota's Doctoral Program in Art History reviews applications once a year for entry into the program for fall semester only. Your application must be completed by December 15
Given our commitment to supporting our active graduate students, and in light of the extraordinary challenges of COVID-19, the Department of Art History is currently evaluating its plans for Fall 2021 admissions. We encourage prospective applicants to contact their prospective faculty advisor(s) and to continue with the preparation of their materials, but to do so advisedly. No applications should be submitted prior to December 1, during this phase of reevaluation.

Applicants with the necessary preparation holding a BA or an MA are equally encouraged to apply to the PhD program and every incoming class normally consists of students with both backgrounds. All students will earn an ‘in-process’ MA after their second year review. If you have completed an MA or graduate work at another institution, you may be able to apply up to 40% of your coursework towards your UMN coursework requirements, contingent on approval by the Director of Graduate Studies. This will allow you greater flexibility during your funding period.

The University of Minnesota uses a paperless application system. All application materials, including unofficial transcripts, are to be submitted online via the University of Minnesota Graduate School's online application. Admission decisions will also be communicated to the applicants using this system.

For more information on graduate admissions at the University of Minnesota, check the Graduate School Office of Admissions. Information on undergraduate admissions is available from the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

Application Checklist

  1. Applicants should communicate with their potential advisor prior to applying. The faculty member's willingness to serve as advisor is essential for acceptance. Contact information for faculty can be found here.

  2. University of Minnesota Online Graduate Application. This web page provides important links for prospective applicants, including a link for starting or resuming your online application.

  3. Application Fee. Please check with the Graduate School Office of Admissions for the current rate. To request a waiver to the application fee, please fill out this short form.

  4. Transcripts. Include transcripts from every post-secondary institution attended, including study abroad programs and community colleges. If the institution uses a non-traditional grading system, include any available information that would allow for comparison to an A-F grading scale. Include current and prospective course registration information, if available. Unofficial transcripts or academic records should be uploaded directly to the online application. Please do not mail in paper copies of your transcripts; there is no need for official transcripts or academic records for initial review. If you are admitted, the University will then request official copies of this material. More information about transcripts and credentials.

  5. TOEFL Scores. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores are required for international students by the Graduate School. The minimum acceptable score on the paper exam is 550; the Internet based exam is 79 total (21 writing, 19 reading); the computer based exam is 213.

  6. Personal Statement. This, along with your writing sample, is the most important part of your application. Please provide a statement outlining your interest in pursuing a PhD in Art History.  Outline as specifically as possible the proposed area of study within the discipline of art history. Indicate the faculty member(s) with whom you are interested in working. Describe the general research interests you intend to pursue and explain how the department and university can support these goals. Give the committee a sense that you are conversant in the scholarly debates in your intended field and the larger discipline of art history.  Indicate immediate educational and long-range career objectives. You may also wish to include other information, such as any undergraduate research experience, internships, or other experiences you may have had to document your preparation for advanced study in your chosen field. Personal statements should be no more than 1,000 words.

  7. Letters of Recommendation. Solicit three letters of recommendation from individuals best able to comment on your potential to succeed in an academic graduate program. Letters from art history instructors or supervisors are most suitable. Letters from business supervisors often do not provide sufficient indication of graduate study potential. Letters must be submitted electronically through the online application. Applicants are strongly encouraged to follow-up with recommenders to ensure timely arrival of the letters of recommendation.

  8. Writing Sample. Include one substantial research paper (10+ pages), preferably in the area of art history. There is no page limit and you may submit an entire BA or MA thesis, but we would suggest submitting a shorter, denser paper with a tighter argument over a longer work. If one substantial paper is not available, submit two smaller research papers. The work will be evaluated for the skill and promise it demonstrates in the areas of research, writing, and critical analysis. You may upload your paper(s) under the "Writing Sample" portion of the online application. 

  9. Resumé/ C.V.. Include an up-to-date record of your scholarly preparation (post-high school), as well as any additional professional and/or personal experiences that are especially relevant to your future graduate training in art history. Please include links for publications, podcasts, exhibitions, etc. 

  10. OPTIONAL: Diversity Statement. Enrolling and graduating a diverse student body is central to the University of Minnesota's mission. Although we do not require it, the Art History department regards the Diversity Statement as an opportunity to understand how your personal experiences connect to your scholarly mission. This statement would identify the distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would contribute to your graduate program and to the education of fellow students. Alongside information supplied elsewhere in your application, this statement may be used as a basis on which to nominate you for on-campus scholarships, such as the Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) fellowship. However, you will not be disqualified from any scholarship, including the DOVE, if you opt against including this statement with your application.

  11. OPTIONAL: Additional Writing Sample. For some applicants, traditional art historical writing does not best reflect their past experience or future trajectory. Moreover, the discipline enables many other genres of writing: art criticism, creative writing, public-facing educational writing, etc. You may include one additional writing sample, beyond the required traditional research-based paper, to round out your application. 

  12. OPTIONAL: Extenuating Circumstances Statement. If you would like to provide an explanation of circumstances that contributed to your test scores or GPA, please do so.

Please note that the Department of Art History does not require GRE scores. If an applicant submits scores, they will be redacted from the file prior to evaluation.