PhD in Visual Studies

Couch tied in a knot by Bietz.

We are not currently accepting applications for Fall 2019. To add your name to our mailing list for future information, please contact us.

The PhD program in Visual Studies is a advanced program for motivated, independently-minded scholars invested in critical discourses that analyze and challenge the social norm.

This program offers a study of visual culture with a particular emphasis on the late 19th, 20th and 21st centuries integrating art history, histories of the image, and critical theory with alternative perspectives rooted in sexuality studies and gender. Students can take courses in any department or program at UB for credit. This course of study is research focused in consultation with advisers. There are only a few required courses—an introduction to visual studies/critical theory and another course that analyze art in the context of social change.

Graduates of the program will be well prepared to work in a range of related disciplines including art history, studio art, performance studies, American studies, curatorial/museum work, critical theory, art writing.

Program Plan

72 credit hours total. If entering with an MA or MFA, must complete an additional 40 credit hours. Only one or two courses of prior coursework will be accepted with approval by the program director.

Required Core Courses: 9 credit hours

  • VS 501 Intro to Visual Studies (3)
  • VS 505 Tactics of Praxis (3)
  • VSXXX Critical Theory requirement (3)

Directed Electives: 45 credit hours

  • 9 credit hours must be VS 595 Independent Study-advanced Reading
  • 36 credit hours should be interdisciplinary. Each course must be approved by the program director by letter for the file.

Dissertation Guidance: 12-18 credit hours

A minimum of 12 hours must be comprised of VS 695 Advanced Research and VS 700 Dissertation Guidance. The remaining 6 credits may be dissertation guidance or approved electives.

  • VS 695/700
  • VS 695/700
  • VS 700 or elective

For more information


Contact Us

Matthew Kenyon image.

226A Center for the Arts

Phone: (716) 645-0535

Director, Graduate Program
Assistant Professor
Department of Art
College of Arts and Sciences
Nicole Pizzutelli.
Nicole Pizzutelli

230A Center for the Arts

Phone: (716) 645-0537

Assistant to the Chair, Student Programs
Department of Art
College of Arts and Sciences

230A Center for the Arts

Phone: (716) 645-0537