The PhD in Art History program at Rice University trains students for academic research and teaching, curatorial positions, and other careers in the visual arts. Students have the opportunity to learn not only from the faculty members in the Department of Art History, but also from affiliated professors in other disciplines and from the collections and curators of Houston’s museums, who are our educational partners. Working from a range of theoretical positions, our faculty includes specialists in the art of the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, whose research and teaching covers periods from antiquity to the present. As members of a department defined by a vitally important subject rather than a single methodology, our faculty brings a disciplinary breadth and depth to the study of art.
The Department of Art History’s selective program encourages interdisciplinary coursework and research through collaborative links between the department and its seventeen affiliated faculty who serve as curators in Houston or who teach visual and material culture in other departments at Rice. Our program also benefits from the rich visual culture of Houston. The Menil Collection has exceptional holdings in ancient, Byzantine, African, and modern and contemporary art. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has an encyclopedic collection of global art that includes Bayou Bend, with its collection of American decorative art and painting; the Blaffer Collection of Old Master paintings and prints; the Latin American collections and the affiliated International Center for the Art of the Americas; and an outstanding collection of modern and contemporary works.
The Fondren Library at Rice University has over five million books, including more than 150,000 titles in art history. The library contains an additional 275 art and art history journals, plus access to online journals. Furthermore, the nearby Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, houses another 85,000 titles, and the Menil Collection several thousand more. The department's Visual Resources Center has over 450,000 slides and an ever growing collection of digital images, and offers access to ARTSTOR and Archivision licensed digital image collections.
Generous funding for students is available. The Department of Art History offers tuition waivers, stipends as well as funding for travel to libraries, archives, museums, and conferences in the U.S. or abroad.
Fellowships are also available to enable students to work closely with curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Menil Collection. Graduate students at Rice also have the opportunity to gain experience as teaching assistants.
Rice University offers an exciting intellectual community with outstanding music recitals at the Shepherd School of Music, world renowned lecturers, and innovative research centers, including the Humanities Research Center, the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and the Chao Center for Asian Art. The highly acclaimed Rice University Art Gallery offers several contemporary installations each year. The Department of Art History maintains significant links with the museums of Houston, including a shared lecture series with the Menil Collection and a joint postdoctoral program with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.