Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Fine Arts (Studio Arts or Photography)


  • Serious about the fine arts and wanting to take this further?
  • Have a revolutionary methodology to research and share with the world?
  • Want to explore possibilities beyond being a museum curator or gallery owner?

The Warnborough PhD in Fine Arts is a rigorous but conscientious program that can turn concepts on their heads and ideas into practice.

The doctoral program in Fine Arts leading to the Ph.D. degree is designed for learners who intend to develop and pursue professional careers in the arts that will require and combine a expertise in both Studio Art and Art History. The Ph.D. program will qualify the graduate as a professional artist and art historian, and will provide a structured but flexible environment in which future artists and arts professionals may develop and realize their potential, in the chosen area(s) of studio specialization and art historical interest.

The Ph.D. in Studio Art or Photography qualifies the graduate to work as a professional in numerous arenas, depending upon the graduate’s area(s) of expertise. Professional opportunities might include fine arts, graphic arts, illustration, fashion and interior design, advertising, teaching, curatorship, art history, art criticism and art theory. Ph.D. recipients are also qualified to work in a variety of employment capacities in arts administration, program development, travel and tourism, as well as in museums, galleries and a host of arts organizations.
The PhD in Fine Arts is particularly useful for students of the following disciplines: Art Therapy, Art Education, Arts administration, Media Studies, History, Theology, Psychology and Social SciencesHowever it can also be useful to those who would like to pursue careers such as: Advertising, Fashion, Journalism and Design.

Wide latitude, a great degree of flexibility, and numerous avenues of experimentation are available to doctoral candidates.  Learners will be expected to achieve and demonstrate a high level of proficiency in their declared major areas. Candidates for the Ph.D. degree will be evaluated on the basis of their ability to effectively render works that articulate unique and well thought out creative visions, executed with skill and artistry—and discussed in critical, theoretical terms.

Doctoral candidates must demonstrate their ability to discuss their work critically, and to formally prepare and present their work for presentation in both exhibit and dissertation formats.Doctoral candidates must complete 160 ECTS credits, which includes the design and development of an exhibit and completion of a doctoral dissertation. Final projects must be consistent with Warnborough College Ireland guidelines.

The doctoral program comprises 6 compulsory modules, 8 elective modules, a Qualifying Exhibit, and a dissertation. Learners may mount their exhibit at a gallery, and are required to mount an online exhibit. Candidates are strongly encouraged to participate in the annual Warnborough College Conference for the Arts.

14 modules: 112 credits (8 credits each)
Project/Exhibit: 16 credits
Written Component: 32 credits

The following modules are compulsory: (6 modules, 8 credits each, total of 48 credits)

1) ART 501 Studio Methods, Practices and Procedures
2) ART 502 Critical Terminology for Art Studio Majors
3) ART 512 Designing and Executing an Exhibit
4) ART 504 Cultural History of Art for Fine Arts Majors
5) ART 505 Topics in Critical Analysis

6) Choose one from the following module:
ART 507 Drawing: Theories and Practices
ART 510 Three-Dimensional Design: Theories and Practices

The following modules are electives: (8 modules, 8 credits each, total of 64 credits)

1) A Choice of 1 Module selected from CAH 801 through CAH 815
2) A Choice of 3 Modules in or directly related to the major area of fine arts emphasis
3) A Choice of 3 Modules in or directly related to the major area of art historical
emphasis, selected from CAH (Cultural Art History) modules 500 Level or above
 A Choice of 1 Module outside of the major area of fine arts or art historical
emphasis (8 credits)

See full module list here.

Upon satisfaction of all requirements and submissions required, students will be awarded a Warnborough Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree Fine Arts, in either Studio Arts or Photography.

Learners can work with their mentors to combine courses into customized programs, suited to their interests and capabilities. Read the complete module descriptions for information as well as ideas! Think of them as a set of guidelines, rather than a set of rules. The descriptions will give you a sense of areas in which to proceed, at the graduate level, and professionally.

Learners may be exempt from certain modules and their equivalents, based on prior courses taken, prior professional experience, ongoing program performance, art portfolios, and/or publication and presentation resume. Modules taken at any time during the learner’s career may be counted, if they fulfill appropriate requirements. By the time of graduation, a learner must have achieved a minimum grade-point-average consistent with the policies of Warnborough College Ireland.

Elective courses are selected from a wide range of options. Learners may be exempt from elective module pre-requisites, based upon their portfolio, previous course work and experience, and/or demonstrated proficiency in the program.

Because of the enormous flexibility of the WCI program, learners may work with their mentors to structure their programs in the context of their individual interests, talents and professional and goals.

This program is offered via distance learning. Doctoral candidates will therefore be expected to complete a substantial and significant body of work outside of the virtual learning environment.
Students in the program may work independently or in the group studio setting. Independent work will be expected of all graduate students.
On-site and virtual modules will be taught in atelier style. All graduates will be required to submit a professional portfolio and written works, as per standards established by the art department and Warnborough College, and to complete program projects. In addition, students will be required to participate in a graduate exhibit.

Dr. Jill Kiefer is a teaching artist and arts historian. She is the Director of What About Art? — an organization devoted to bringing Art to Everyone. Jill has developed and implemented comprehensive academic and lifelong learning programs at prestigious institutions in the USA and abroad. She was a member of the graduate faculty of the Humanities Dept. of Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, and also taught for Pasadena City College, Glendale College, Westwood College, the Palos Verdes Art Center and the University of New Mexico. She has received a number of “Best Faculty” awards. Jill was a Federal Title V Grant Recipient four times for her work in Hybrid Learning, and she is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi—the oldest and most selective academic honor society in the USA, dedicated to the recognition and promotion of academic excellence in all fields of higher education. Jill is the Director of Warnborough’s Master’s and Doctoral programs in Fine Arts, Cultural Art History, Humanities, and Film, Radio, TV and Media Studies. A published writer and artist, Jill has an impressive and extensive resume. To learn more about her, please visit You may also contact Jill about the Warnborough programs she leads at

For more information, please check the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact Dr Jill Kiefer or The Warnborough Team!