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Application FAQs

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The general application process is outlined in our Application Procedures page.

My Undergraduate/Master's degree is in a field other than Art History. Do you consider applicants with non-art history degrees?

A degree in Art History is not a requirement for entrance into the Ph.D. program in Art History at Northwestern. However, we ask that applicants without prior art history degrees seriously consider the appropriateness of their training and background. Students who have related degrees in the humanities (for instance, a major in French for someone whose area of interest is in 19th century French art) might be perfectly suited for our program. Other students whose degrees are less related might consider applying elsewhere for an M.A., or even a second B.A., in Art History before applying to our program.

I have completed my M.A., or part of my M.A., at another institution – does your program accept transfer credits?

After completing four quarters in good standing, students may petition their advisor and the DGS for the transfer of up to three course credits towards the Ph.D. for graduate work conducted at another university. Based on the student's program, the advisor will determine, in consultation with the DGS, which, if any requirements these credits will satisfy (i.e. major field or breadth requirements). Transfer credits may not be used for any course within the three-part Critical Theories and Practices sequence. We do not accept transfer credits from partially completed M.A. degrees.

Do I need to fill out my entire application online? Can I send anything via email or mail?

Our entire application can be filled out online via the CollegeNET online application page. Please submit all materials, including writing samples and electronic copies of transcripts, online.

Where should I send my transcripts?

Transcripts will only be submitted electronically during the application process. If a student is admitted and enrolls, only then must he/she submit official hardcopies of all transcripts before beginning classes.

The file size of my writing sample is too large to upload, what should I do?

If your file size is too large, chances are you need to compress the PDF. This article outlines four different ways you can do so. Please make sure your writing sample still conforms to the maximum allowed length of 30 pages (in total).

Does the 30-page limit on the writing sample include the bibliography and images?

Yes, the entire writing sample must be 30 pages or less. This includes the bibliography and images. Excerpts from larger papers are allowed.


Do you have a minimum GRE score or GPA?

We do not require a GRE score.

Do all international students need to submit a TOEFL score? Are there any other tests I need to take before applying?

International students who do not need to submit TOEFL scores are those for whom English is a first language, and those who have earned a four-year Undergraduate Degree or a two-year or longer Master's degree from an accredited institution whose language of instruction is English. International applicants who need to take a TOEFL for admission must also take the SPEAK test by the end of their first year of study in order to qualify for a TA-ship. To be considered valid for Fall 2024 admission, TOEFL scores must be no older than September 2022.

What is your institutional code for submitting my GRE or TOEFL scores?

GRE school code: 1565

TOEFL school code: 1565

Department code: 2301

Do you consider late applications? What if my GRE or TOEFL scores don't reach you by December 1?

Because of the volume of applications we receive, we cannot extend our deadline or review incomplete or late applications. It is the applicants' responsibility to ensure that all portions of their applications reach us by December 1. The Graduate School recommends that applicants take the GRE or TOEFL at least three months prior to the departmental application deadline. It is primarily for this reason that we encourage applicants to submit the bulk of their applications online. If you are concerned that you application is incomplete, please contact

I am an international student and our grading and/or testing system works differently from the grading system of the US– what should I do?

For any questions regarding the grading or testing systems of international universities, please speak to Alex Smith at who will best be able to answer your questions.


General Program Requirements for the doctoral program can be found here.

How are graduate students in your department funded?

All of our graduate students are guaranteed funding for five years through a combination of University Fellowship and Graduate Assistantship. Funding includes tuition, a living stipend, and health insurance. Most graduate students begin to apply for outside funding beginning in their fourth year of study. It is important for graduate students to build up a record of grants and fellowships early in their academic career.

How long is your program? Is it full time? Do I live in Chicago for the duration?

Generally, graduate students earn their Ph.D.s in an average of seven years. The program is full time; up to their fifth year, graduate students receive a living stipend either from their University Fellowship or their Graduate Assistantship. All students are expected to be in residence for the first three years of study—after their third year, students are encouraged to seek outside funding, which generally takes them off campus. Students are required to take a minimum of 18 graded courses during their time in residence.

What is your Language Requirement?

Languages in which you are to demonstrate proficiency are selected by you and your advisor in relation to your plan of study. Besides traditional languages, if related to your research, computer programming languages may also count. You must demonstrate proficiency in at least one foreign language relevant to your research project by the end of Spring in your first year. For most students, proficiency in a second language is also required and must be completed by the end of Spring in your third year. In some circumstances, such as in Medieval Studies, additional language competency may be required after the third year.

In some cases, with justification, you may petition the DGS for permission to postpone demonstration of either language proficiency until September of the following year.


Can I contact current faculty or graduate students?

If you are interested in learning more about the program in a general information session with the Director of Graduate Studies Prof. Krista Thompson, you are welcome to register for any of the dates below.

General Information Session 1, October 11, 9–10am CDT

General Information Session 2, November 8, 12–1pm CST

General Information Session 3, November 29, 6–7pm CST

Our faculty have collectively decided to not speak to individually with potential candidates until the interview stage in an effort to create an equitable admissions process. We recommend that you engage the work and writing of those faculty—both in Art History and beyond—with whom you are most interested in studying. Upon admission, there will be ample opportunity to speak with faculty and other members of our community. 

For all administrative and application questions, please contact

I can't find any faculty on your website that focus on the area I am interested in pursuing. Should I still apply to the program?

Although we encourage all qualified applicants to apply, it is very important that graduate students have a faculty advisor who is able to guide their research. Applicants whose research interests are unrepresented by our faculty should strongly consider applying to a program that better serves their interests.

I am interested in working with a member of the faculty who is visiting, adjunct, or emeritus. Should I still apply?

At the end of the first year, students select an advisor in their major field, presumably the dissertation director. Only tenure line faculty can serve as a student's primary advisor. If you are interested in working with a visiting or adjunct faculty member, please keep in mind that this person will most likely not be at Northwestern University for the duration of your studies. If you are interested in studying with an emeritus faculty member, please know that emeritus faculty do not serve as advisors to graduate students, and are not present on campus. Applicants should have a good idea of which tenure line faculty member they would like to serve as their advisor.

The faculty member with whom I am interested in working is on leave this year, or will be on leave next year - can this person still serve as an advisor?

Faculty leaves rarely last for more than one year, so on leave faculty members will most likely be back on campus in your first or second year at Northwestern. We encourage students to apply regardless of faculty leave status.

Are there any faculty who will not be taking students in the 2023-24 admissions cycle?

Prof. Hannah Feldman will not be taking any students for the 2023-24 admissions cycle.


I still have a question not covered here or in the Graduate Student Handbook. Whom should I contact?

We highly recommend attending a virtual general information session about our graduate program hosted by the Director of Graduate Studies Prof. Krista Thompson. To register, click on the date below of the session you with to attend.

General Information Session 1, October 11, 9–10am CDT

General Information Session 2, November 8, 12–1pm CST

General Information Session 3, November 29, 6–7pm CST

For all administrative or application questions, please email