The Ph.D program in Visual Arts accepts only applicants seeking a Ph.D degree. Prior to matriculation, students must have obtained a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in art history, or another field such as (but not limited to) history, literature, anthropology, or philosophy. Applicants to the Art Practice concentration should have a Master of Fine Arts degree prior to matriculation. Click here to read Professor Grant Kester's essay discussing the Art Practice concentration, The Contest of the Faculties: Doctoral Art Education in a Research University. 

You will find general information on UC San Diego graduate study and application procedures at the Graduate Division’s web site under Admissions.

UCSD has an online, web-based application process. There are 2 required steps for Ph.D applicants: 

1)The Graduate Application for Admission to UC San Diego.

a.Statement of Purpose – Helpful guidelines for preparing your Statement of Purpose may be found at Statement Guidelines.

b.3 Letters of Recommendation – Your recommenders should be the people who both know your art capabilities the best, and can best discuss why you are prepared and would be successful in rigorous academic studies at the graduate level.

c.GRE scores Request to send your scores on the GRE website. Our school code is 4836 and the department code is 2399. Information about the exam, test centers, and test dates can be found on the GRE webpage. Please make arrangements to take the test no later than November.

d. Application fee (non-refundable) $105 US Citizens and Permanent Residents and $125 for International applicants


2)The  UCSD Visual Arts Portfolio is required and must be submitted electronically. You will need to provide the URL to your online Portfolio in your Grad Apply application. Please click here for detailed information about the UC San Diego Visual Arts Portfolio.

a.Writing Sample – This may be a senior honors thesis, Master’s thesis, or other research or critical paper, preferably in art or media history.

b.Art Practice Concentration applicants only

                                                              i.      Artist Statement – The artist's statement should aim to explain, justify, extend, and/or contextualize your body of work. It should attempt to place your work in relationship to art history, theory, and the contemporary world. The statement serves to show that you are conscious of your intentions, aware of your practice and its position within art parameters and of the discourse surrounding it. Therefore not only does it describe and place, but it indicates the level of your own comprehension of your field and making.

                                                            ii.      Uploads – Your Portfolio should best showcase your research abilities and most accomplished current/recent projects. This may include images, photos, media files, and URLs.  There are additional technical guidelines on the Portfolio web site.

International Applicants: Please see special instructions by visiting the “International Application Requirements” page

·         The TOEFL exam is required of all international students whose native language is not English

·         Official transcripts that are not in English must be issued in the language of instruction and accompanied by certified English translations. Please click here for additional information.

·         Applicants who have earned degrees abroad must have earned the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. UC San Diego accepts WES (World Education Services) ICAP evaluations as verification of the degree earned.

·         We recommend that you look into any outside fellowships, grants and loans for which you may be eligible early on, so that you have an opportunity to meet their deadlines.


Application submission timeline:

The application for admission will open in Grad Apply on September 1, 2017.

The deadline for applicants to create a Visual Arts Portfolio is, December 1, 2017.

The deadline to submit all application materials is December 112017.

We admit students for Fall admission onlyDo not send any hard copy application materials, transcripts or portfolio items as they will not be reviewed.




Financial Aid

Generous funding packages are possible for highly qualified students. Upon recommendation of the department, several types of financial aid are available: full or partial remission of fees and tuition, fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and readerships. Graduate students are eligible for one or a combination of the different forms of financial support.


M.A. Degree

An M.A. degree may be awarded to continuing Ph.D. students upon successful completion of the following: (1) at least twelve four-unit courses, including VIS 204, Re-Thinking Art History, and two seminars from the group VIS 210–219; (2) a three-hour written examination in a designated field of emphasis; (3) one language examination; and (4) an M.A. thesis. The M.A. is not automatically awarded; students must apply in advance to the Ph.D. graduate advisor and in accordance with university procedures, no later than the first two weeks of the quarter in which they expect to receive the degree. Students interested in an M.A. only are not admitted to our program.


If you are planning a campus visit, please email with “CAMPUS VISIT” on the subject line of your email and include your full name and phone number, and a preferred time. You will be meeting with the Graduate Coordinator and may take a self-guided tour around the campus. Please feel free to contact individual faculty members via email if you wish to meet with them separately.


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