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Detailed information on the rules and regulations governing the Rackham School of Graduate Studies  may be found in the Policies & Procedures section of the Rackam website. Contact information for all Rackham offices can be found here.

Applications for admission to the Graduate Program in the History of Art are reviewed by the departmental Graduate Admissions Committee. The committee makes admission decisions for domestic students and makes recommendations to the Rackham School of Graduate Studies for international students. Admission decision letters are sent directly by the Department to applicants from late February through the month of March.

The number of admissions that may be offered each year is limited by the Department's facilities and to some extent by the University's resources. In recent years the percentage of applicants accepted has ranged from 5%-10%. Competition for places in the program is thus keen, and many well-qualified applicants cannot be offered admission.

The selection process aims to find students who not only have excellent qualifications and are likely to succeed in the doctoral program, but who also have interests and goals well-matched to the strengths of the faculty and resources of the program. Toward this end the Graduate Admissions Committee reviews applications with attention to a variety of considerations. Criteria that weigh heavily in the committee's deliberations include the applicant's academic statement of purpose, prior language preparation, letters of recommendation, the overall quality of the applicant's academic record, and the writing sample.

Not all successful applicants to the program have an undergraduate degree in art history. If some of the applicant's training in art history has occurred outside the classroom, the statement of purpose should give an account of that training. The department does not require that students complete a certain undergraduate curriculum prior to successful application. Instead, each applicant's background is individually evaluated based on the professional goals and intellectual interests shown in the statement of purpose. Normally, prior to admission, a student will be expected to have taken at least one course in some combination of at least four cultural areas (African, Chinese, European/American, Near/Middle Eastern, Japanese, South/Southeast Asian) and/or chronological areas (Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, Modern). Otherwise strong applicants who lack such breadth may be offered admission, but they will be expected to meet the distribution requirements outlined above during their first four terms in the program.

It is the Department of the History of Art's policy not to comment on specific admissions decisions. The factors that affect decisions to admit or reject applicants are the nature of the proposed project (as articulated in the academic statement of purpose) and its fit with the work of relevant faculty members, language preparation, letters of recommendation, GPAs, and the writing sample(s).  Financial need is not a consideration, as we admit only full-time students who are funded by the department.

For complete Rackham admissions information, please see the Rackham Graduate School admissions website.

For funding information, please click here.

Submitting Application Materials

Submitting Application Materials:

Effective October 7, 2020 the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test is no longer required for entry into the PhD program.

Rackham Graduate School requires that official electronic or paper transcript/documents be sent to Rackham only after an offer of admission is made. They must be submitted by the end of the first term of enrollment. Official transcripts/documents are required from all institutions which the student received or will receive Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional and Doctoral degrees. Transcripts from community/junior colleges, for non-degree and study abroad coursework will not be reviewed by Rackham. Unofficial transcripts will not be processed. Scanned images of official transcripts that are uploaded into the online application will be considered unofficial.

Admitted applicants who are submitting paper transcripts/documents from degree-granting institutions should have them sent to:

Rackham Graduate School

Attn: Transcripts/UM ID# or DOB (mm/dd/yyyy)

915 E. Washington Street

Ann Arbor MI 48109-1070, USA                               



Academic Statement of Purpose: Please include your specific field of interest at the top of your Statement of Purpose.  The Statement of Purpose should be a concise, well-written statement about your academic and research background, your career goals, and how Michigan's graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives. Please limit to two pages. Single or double space, your choice.

Personal Statement: The Personal Statement should be a concise, well-written statement about how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is not an Academic Statement of  Purpose, but a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree. Please limit to 500 words.

Admissions Conduct Code: The Admissions Conduct Code questions are part of the online application process. You will be prompted to provide the necessary information and your response will be submitted electronically. There is no need to follow-up with paper copies.

Letters of recommendation:  Three letters of recommendation.  we are unable to accept additional letters. Please make sure that you register three recommenders when you fill out the online application even if you don’t yet know who the third will be.  If you only enter one or two and click submit you will be unable to go in the ApplyWeb system and enter a third later.  We recommend that you enter a placeholder name which you will be able to go in and change in ApplyWeb under Review Your Activity.  If you or your recommenders will be submitting letters of recommendation by paper, include this Letter of Recommendation form with your submission.  Please have these letters sent directly to the department via US Mail.

Writing Sample of your choosing - Writing samples must be limited to no more than 35 pages of double-spaced pages including images and all bibliographic references. 

Transcripts - Uploaded transcripts are considered unofficial, however uploaded images of transcripts allows the admissions committee to review your complete application in a timely manner. When uploading transcripts, please include both front and back pages of the transcript(s). Only transcripts sent to Rackham Graduate School from the degree granting insitution are considered official.

Note:  All credentials submitted for admission consideration become the property of the University of Michigan and will not be returned in original or copy form