PhD in Art and Visual Culture

Admission to the Ph.D. program requires either an M.A. in art history, visual culture or curatorial studies or an M.F.A. or M.V.A. with an average of at least 80% (A-). Students with equivalent qualifications in relevant visual fields such as film or media studies may also be considered. Students must submit a completed application form, a statement of their research interests, and samples of their work. In the case of art history students this will likely be a sample term paper, thesis chapter or publication. In the case of studio students this would consist of photographic, video or digital documentation of their studio practice as well as a writing sample. Applicants do not have to secure a supervisor in advance of submitting an application, but they should include sufficient information about research plans to enable the program to identify possible supervisors. All applicants must also arrange for the submission of two letters of reference.

Documentation Required

• To support your application, you must upload one unofficial academic transcript from each post-secondary institution attended. If the transcript and degree certificate are not in English, a certified translation must also be included. (Non-English transcripts from institutions within Canada do not require a translation.) If you are offered a spot in our program, you will be required to submit to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies hard copy official transcripts from each postsecondary institution attended.

• Two letters of reference.

Applicants are required to enter the names and contact information (including e-mail address) of their referees into the online application. Once the application is processed, the referee will receive a request via e-mail to complete an electronic recommendation form on the applicant's behalf. A link to the form will be included in the e-mail. The referee will receive a reminder in two weeks if the recommendation is not received. The applicant will receive an e-mail when Western receives the referee's letter of recommendation.

• A well considered statement of intent regarding the applicant's work in art history and visual culture, or visual arts. The statement of intent should outline your background preparation for the PhD and indicate how you view the direction of your work. Also consider how Western's program could facilitate your goals. Suggested length of 1000-2000 words.

• English Proficiency Test
All applicants whose first language is not English should be aware that the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or its equivalent must be taken before applying to the University. The TOEFL is waived for applicants whose first language is not English who have already successfully completed a university degree at a university in an English speaking country. IELTS is also acceptable.

• Current CV

For art history-based applications:

Two samples of written work, normally essays or articles in your area of study.

For studio-based applicants:

One writing sample of at least 2000 words.

Twenty images (digital format) representing, as far as possible, a body of work, accompanied by a list indicating date, title and medium; or items that illustrate multidisciplinary work (e.g. performance) such as video, audio, digital works, photographs, etc., accompanied by a description of the work.

Guidelines for Submitting Digital Images:

• Supporting materials (including statement of intent, writing sample, CV, images, videos, etc.) must be submitted through SlideRoom after November 1. Do not send materials to the department.

• Access to SlideRoom will open November 1st.  Applicants may upload images (jpg, png, gif) or video (mov, wmv, flv, mp4), music (mp3) and one PDF document. For good image quality and fast upload, your image files should be sized around 1024 x 768px @ 72 dpi.  Please keep video files under 120MB each and 2 - 3 minute clips.  Our SlideRoom portal offers additional instruction for submitting your work. For technical assistance, contact

• SlideRoom will allow you to log in and edit your portfolio as much as you like; however, once you click on the submit button, you will no longer be able to make changes. REMEMBER you must click the submit button if you want us to review your portfolio, unsubmitted or pending portfolios will not be reviewed. A $12 USD fee will be charged at the time of submission. Please note that there are several programs listed at our SlideRoom portal; it is very important that you upload your images into the correct program that you are applying for.

• Occasionally, art history applicants do submit visual material (for example, curatorial images). If this is the case, please submit images through SlideRoom.


Meet PhD Candidate Ruth Skinner