Originally predicated on principles rooted in formalism and the connoisseurial practice of Paul J. Sach’s Museum Course, otherwise known as the “Fogg Method,” graduate education in the history of art and architecture at Harvard University has changed considerably over the years to keep pace with the times and to reflect innovation in research, scholarship, and teaching in the arts and humanities. Today, the Department prides itself on its intellectual diversity and rigor, with a large faculty offering courses on monuments and materials from around the globe which are studied from a variety of methodological perspectives.
During their first two years, the coursework undertaken by Ph.D. candidates permits them to focus on their chosen area of specialization while also requiring them to take advantage of the breadth of graduate education, both in and beyond the Department. In their third year, students work as teaching fellows and prepare for their comprehensive exams, which in turn serve as a foundation for future dissertation research. All students in the Department receive internal or external funding which permits them to travel during their fourth year and to conduct research in museums, libraries, collections, archives, and in situ. A dissertation completion fellowship, usually taken after one or more additional years of writing and research, allows students to complete their dissertations in the seventh or eighth year. In addition to fellowship support, advanced graduate students offer instruction in our undergraduate tutorial program.
The Department prides itself on its close mentoring of graduate students and offers various additional forms of support, as does the University itself, whether in the form of summer tuition waivers for language study or internships that enable students to work closely with curators at the Harvard Art Museums, staff of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, or at other collections across the University, which themselves provide an unparalleled array of resources for research. A crucial strength of the program is the Fine Arts Library whose holdings of printed books, visual images, and special collections exceed one million items.