Design, Environment and the Arts (History, Theory, and Criticism), PhD

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Are you interested in the philosophy and methodology of interdisciplinary research in the areas of architecture, design and art history? Are you interested in learning the skills to function successfully as an independent scholar? Join us today and start your explorations.

The history, theory and criticism concentration within the PhD program in design, environment and the arts focuses on the theoretical dimensions of architectural, design and art histories including critical discourse in the design or art disciplines. The program offers classes and research across many cultures, geographies and time periods, as well as many approaches and methodologies within the art history program.

At A Glance

Design, Environment and the Arts (History, Theory, and Criticism), PhD

Plan of study

The Plan of study is the required curriculum to complete this graduate level program.

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Application procedures and requirements

Application period

September 15, 2018 to January 15, 2019

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Paying for College

Teaching and Graduate Assistantships

Assistantships are appointed each term to a select number of graduate students who are excelling in The Design School. Learn more about teaching assistantships including eligibility and application details.

Financial Aid

Learn more about your financial aid options.

Degree requirements

Required Core (6 credit hours)
EPD 700 Research Methods (3)
EPD 710 Current Research in Design (3)

Required Concentration (15 credit hours; choose five courses)
APH 515 Current lssues and Topics (3)
APH 590 Reading and Conference (3)
APH 598 Special Topics (3)
ARS 501 Methodologies and Art History (3)
ARS 506 Critical Studies in Roman Art (3)
ARS 514 Monasteries, Madonnas and Manuscripts (3)
ARS 533 The Pre-Raphaelites (3)
ARS 574 Studies in Japanese Art (3)
ARS 575 Approaches to Chinese Painting (3)
ARS 584 Internship (3)
ARS 585 Women in the Visual Arts (3)
ARS 591 Seminar (3)
ARS 598 Special Topics (3)
ARS 790 Reading and Conference (3)
EPD 790 Reading and Conference (3)

Electives or Research (21 credit hours)
EPD 792 or ARS 792 Research (12)
three 3-credit-hour courses at the 500 to 700 level as agreed upon by faculty mentor

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
EPD 799 or ARS 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional Curricular Requirements
A foreign language exam is required in order to show reading knowledge of two foreign languages as demonstrated by the exam administered by the School of International Letters and Cultures (or equivalent) during the program or by a "B" or better (scale is 4.00 = "A") in a reading course such as a 400- or 500-level special topics course (example: ITA 494 or FRE 598 for reading knowledge). These credits do not count toward the degree total unless taken at the 500 level or above and approved by the faculty mentor as a concentration course.

When approved by the student's supervisory committee, this program allows 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master's degree to be used for this program.

Admission requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a master's degree, in any field, from a regionally accredited institution. Examples of appropriate fields include art history, architectural history, design history or fields in the humanities, such as history or literature; archaeology and anthropology may also be considered. Students without graduate experience in the history of art, history of architecture and history of design may be asked to fulfill deficiencies.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. GRE scores
  4. abstract of proposed research
  5. personal statement
  6. letters of recommendation
  7. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency.

Applicants must submit to Slideroom ( a personal statement, abstract of proposed research, and contact information for three references. It is required that these be submitted in addition to the Graduate College application requirements.

Mission of the programs

The PhD Program prepares students to become public intellectuals and transformative practitioners in shaping the environment at all scales – from the design of cities, buildings and landscapes, to interiors, products and graphics, to the arts.

Goals of the program

The PhD Program has two goals:

  • To educate people who will pursue academic paths or assume leadership roles in professional design, environment and art practices, the public sector and the nonprofit sector.
  • To educate people who will emphasize sustainability, innovation, community building, cultural and contextual awareness.
  • PhD interdisciplinary experience opportunities

    The PhD in Design, Environment and the Arts Program in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts strongly believes in the benefits derived from an interdisciplinary experience while at ASU. Consequently, the PhD Program developed several academic connections with other programs at the university. Such connections provide our PhD students with enviable opportunities for interdisciplinary studies and research. For example, many courses offered in these programs are both relevant and available to PhD students. Furthermore, faculty members from these other programs can participate as members of a student's dissertation committee, although they cannot serve as chairs

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    What to expect during the PhD program?

    Students within the PhD program will follow a specific sequence, including concentration and specialization coursework, the successful completion of the comprehensive exams and prospectus, research and dissertation coursework, and finally, the successful completion of the dissertation defense

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    Selecting your mentor

    The faculty of The Design School and School of Art participate in offering the degree. Faculty from disciplines outside of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts may participate in the program if appropriate to the interdisciplinary nature of the student’s research interest.

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    Current PhD students

    You will find abstracts of paper presentations made by some of our current students at national and international meetings/seminars/conferences.

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    Frequently asked questions

    Please find a list of frequently asked questions related to the PhD program

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