Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Cultural Art History

The Warnborough College PhD in Cultural Art History encompasses art from all the ages

  • Interested in artistic motive?
  • Understand the relationship between culture and art throughout history?
  • Do you know the importance of a Roman mosaic or the significance of DaVinci?
  • Ready to broaden your humanistic background?
  • Want to heighten your understanding of the dimensions of multiculturalism?

If the answer is yes, the Warnborough Cultural Art History PhD could be exactly what you are looking for! 

The realm of art transcends the boundaries of time, place, religion, politics, economics and culture.

Art is where cultural, creative and historical characteristics are expressed–in timeless works that ultimately belong to us all. Cultural Art History more fully explores the cultural cross-fertilization of traditions manifested in works of art—and the influences underlying their production. In addition, Cultural Art History explores the ongoing fascination for and importance of works of art—over time—from multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives. Art history has never been more significant in the broad cultural fabric.

The doctoral program in Cultural Art History is designed for learners who intend to develop professional careers in cultural art history. It will also hone a student’s analytical, critical, research and writing skills, and is therefore a useful qualification for various professions.  These include:

  • teaching, most likely at the college level
  • law, program development
  • museum and gallery work
  • art dealership
  • art therapy
  • fine arts
  • travel and tourism
  • research
  • art criticism, creative writing and journalism.

Graduate learners typically work with their mentors to combine modules into customized programs, suited to their goals for graduate study. Read the complete graduate 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 the knowledge and skills you need to develop. They will also give you ideas on areas you may wish to pursue most aggressively, in your graduate program.

The Cultural Art History PhD. program will offer learners contact with diverse art historical methods.  It will survey the major periods of American, Western European and Eastern artistic traditions.  Alongside this, it will examine other artistic traditions, forms, genres and perspectives— while concentrating on an area of specialization. Issues and special topics and problems are an important facet of graduate study.  Graduate learners will be expected to achieve a detailed understanding of their chosen cultural art historical area.

Students may also choose to embark on a research-only program.

Cultural Art History learners can participate in our annual Conference on the Arts.

Doctoral candidates will be required to pass a minimum of 160 ECTS credit, in courses/equivalents at the 500 level or above.  At its discretion, the College may require a doctoral candidate to take more than the minimum number of modules required for the doctoral degree, if the student does not have a thorough background in art history. Cultural Art History PhD candidates are welcome to take any of the modules offered in the Cultural Art History program. However, they may not count any credits earned in 100 – 400 level modules toward their PhD requirements. See full module list here.  Because of the enormous flexibility of the WCI program, learners may work with their mentors to structure their program in the context of their individual interests, and professional and academic goals. Read the complete module descriptions for information as well as ideas.  The Cultural Art History PhD is comprised of:

160 ECTS credits:5 compulsory modules: 40 credits (8 credits each)

9 elective modules: 112 credits (8 credits each)

Dissertation: 48 credits

The following modules are compulsory: (5 modules, 8 credits each, total of 40 credits)

  1. CAH501 Library Methodology
  2. CAH502 Conducting Research in Art History
  3. CAH503 Critical Writing in Art History
  4. CAH 504 Theory and Interpretation
  5. Choose one from the following modules
    • CAH505 The Business of Art History OR
    • CAH600 Museum Practices

The following modules are elective: (9 modules, 8 credits each, 72 total of ECTS credits)
A Choice of 2 Module selected from CAH 801 through CAH 815
A Choice of 5 Modules in the major area of art historical emphasis (Western or non-Western)

A Choice of 2 Modules selected from any of the Special Topics options related to your chosen area of expertise
A Choice of 2 Modules specifically designed by your mentor, with your input, related to your subject matter but of an interdisciplinary nature
A Choice of 2 Modules outside of the major area of study (Western, non-Western, or topical)

See full module list here.

The area and subject of the dissertation should, to a considerable extent, govern the choice of modules/areas of focus in the PhD program. Students will work closely with their mentors, instructors and the University in designing their programs and choosing an appropriate dissertation topic. See more information.

Oral Examination

After the acceptance of the dissertation by the College, an oral defense (viva voce) may be required. Upon satisfactory completion of all requirements, students will receive the Cultural Art History PhD. There are no other exit points in the program. Students will receive credit for modules successfully completed.

Learners may be exempt from certain modules (modules) in the curriculum, based on prior modules taken, and/or a demonstrated knowledge of art history and related disciplines. Modules taken at any time during the learner’s career may be counted, if they fulfill appropriate requirements.

Elective modules are selected from a wide range of options. Learners may be exempt from elective module pre-requisites, based upon their previous module work and experience, and demonstrated research and writing skills.

This program is offered via distance learning.

Individual programs can be structured in module formats; can be project/research directed, or can combine these options. At the doctoral level, learners are expected to be highly self-motivated and capable of independent work. All learners are also required to actively participate in and contribute to the Warnborough Online Management System (LMS).

The Canterbury Arts Conference is sponsored by Warnborough College Ireland each year, and students are actively encouraged to participate in this. It is a great opportunity to present research or workshops, and to meet other like-minded contacts.

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. You may also contact Jill about the Warnborough programs she leads at

For more information please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page or contact Dr Jill Kiefer or The Warnborough Team!