About the Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. 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, 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 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 a legacy collection of over 450,000 slides, an ever growing collection of digital images, and offers access to ARTSTOR and Archivision licensed digital image collections.

Generous funding for students is available beyond the five-year financial package of a $28,000 annual stipend and tuition waivers offered to incoming full-time students. The Department of Art History offers funding for travel to libraries, archives museums, and conferences in the U.S. or abroad, as well as supports students in their research and language study.

Furthermore, fellowships are available to enable students to work closely with curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Menil Collection, and graduate students at Rice have the opportunity to gain experience through teaching assistantships and mentored teaching opportunities.

In addition to departmental, university and local research and teaching opportunities, our graduate students are successful in gaining major national and international fellowships and positions, including dissertation research and writing fellowships from the Fulbright-Hayes Program, the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Terra Foundation for American Art; internships and fellowships at, for example, the Museo Nacional del Prado, the Harvard Art Museums, and the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston (Mellon Director's Initiative Fellowship); and regular participation on panels at national and international conferences.

Rice University offers an exciting intellectual community with outstanding music recitals at the Shepherd School of Music, lectures by world-renowned scholars, 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 Studies. 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.