GRADUATE PROGRAM IN VISUAL STUDIES
Gateway; (949) 824-1124
Bridget R. Cooks, Director
Faculty / Courses
The graduate program in Visual Studies, administered jointly by the faculties of the Department of Art History and the Department of Film and Media Studies, offers students the opportunity to pursue a doctorate in the cultural analysis of visual artifacts and experiences. Visual Studies synthesizes methodological insights from both component disciplines in order to examine the social practices of visual representation and visuality itself. The program leads to a Ph.D. degree in Visual Studies. While the program (in certain instances) grants an M.A. to students en route to their Ph.D., it admits only those students intending to complete their doctorate at UCI.
In addition, an emphasis in Visual Studies, described later in this section, is available to Ph.D. and M.F.A. students in all departments at UCI.
The program is open to students applying with either a bachelor's or a master's degree, and applicants must meet the general requirements for admission to graduate study at UCI. A recent sample of academic writingsuch as a representative undergraduate paper, or the master's thesis or a major research paper written at the master's levelshould be submitted with the application packet.
The deadline for application is December 15, and the program accepts applicants for admission for the fall quarter only. Additional information is available from the Director of the Visual Studies program.
All students are required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language and are strongly encouraged to develop competence in a second. Students consult with the Director and/or their principal advisor(s) to determine the appropriate language on which the student will be tested, based on their interests and program of study. Advisors, moreover, may require the demonstration of reading knowledge in additional languages according to the scholarly demands of the student's specific field. All language requirements must be satisfied before students are awarded a master's degree or, if they enter with an M.A., before they are advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.
Beyond the core series (Visual Studies 290A-B-C), students are required to complete an additional 11 courses for a total of 14 courses. Out of this total, at least 10 courses (including the core series and Visual Studies 297) must be within the program in Visual Studies, and at least two courses are to be from outside the Visual Studies discipline. In order to establish a level of expertise in one conventionally defined discipline, students must take (among their 10 courses noted above), at least three courses that have a strong component of art history or at least three courses that have a strong component of film studies.
Students admitted with an M.A. in a related field may petition the Visual Studies Graduate Committee to have some of their course requirements waived and advance early; such petitions will be considered in close consultation with the primary advisor and on a case-by-case basis (though all students must take the core sequence). Under normal circumstances, up to two courses may be waived. A maximum of four courses may be waived, in which case no more than two waived courses may count as required Visual Studies courses. The petitioned courses must be reviewed and approved first by the Visual Studies Graduate Committee and thereafter by the Graduate Division. Students wishing to waive course work must petition by the end of the fall quarter of their first year in the program. While students may accrue units for University Teaching (Art History 399 or Film and Media Studies 399), Reading for the Preliminary Examination (Visual Studies 298A), and Prospectus Research (Visual Studies 298B) these do not count toward the required number of courses.
MASTER'S PAPER AND M.A. DEGREE
In the winter quarter of their second year, students admitted without an M.A. in a related field will enroll in Visual Studies 296 for the purpose of expanding and developing a seminar paper into a Master's paper under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The Master's paper is an essay of near-publication quality, approximately 30 pages in length. In addition to the advisor, two additional readers from the Visual Studies faculty will assess the Master's paper and the student's overall academic performance. The committee will assess whether or not the student has satisfied all requirements for the M.A. Those students who have satisfied the M.A. requirements, but whose committees assess their work as not meeting the standards for Ph.D. study, will receive a terminal M.A. degree.
By the end of the second year, students must reach agreement with one of the program's professors to serve as principal advisor. During the fall quarter of the following yearin most cases, the final quarter of standard course workthe student will work informally with the principal advisor who will supervise one examination field; two additional faculty members supervising examination fields, at least one of whom must be a member of the Visual Studies faculty; a fourth member from the Visual Studies faculty who will not supervise an examination field but will participate in the oral examination; and a designated "outside" member who must be a member of the UCI faculty but cannot hold either a primary or joint appointment in Visual Studies, Art History, or Film and Media Studies. Except in extraordinary circumstances (to be adjudicated by the program's Graduate Committee), students are required to include at least one member from Art History and one from Film and Media Studies among the three faculty members supervising the examination fields.
The student and principal advisor define three fields to be examined by the faculty. The fields should combine historical breadth and some variety in media. Over the course of the following two quarters, students normally enroll in eight to twelve units per quarter of Reading for the Preliminary Examination (Visual Studies 298A) during which time they prepare reading lists in close consultation with their principal advisor and field supervisors, and complete the reading of those lists. The examination takes place near the end of those two quarters of study, normatively at the end of the academic year. Submission and approval of the M.A. paper is a prerequisite for enrolling in Visual Studies 298A (Reading for the Preliminary Examination) for students entering the Visual Studies Program without an M.A. Normally, the M.A. paper submission should be completed by spring quarter of the second year.
The first part of the examination consists of a written component, in which the student is called upon to respond to questions posed in the three examination fields. The student's written responses are circulated to all committee members. An oral examination follows, normally within two weeks, and consists of questions prompted both by the student's reading lists and by the written examinations. Based on the student's written and oral performance, the committee will determine whether the student has successfully passed the examination. If the committee is not satisfied with the student's performance, it may also decide to reexamine the student on one or more fields after a specific interval. Except in extraordinary circumstances, no student will be given more than two chances to pass any given section of the examination.
When students have completed their exam readings, they enroll in four to twelve units per quarter of Prospectus Research (Visual Studies 298B). In the winter quarter after students take their exams, they are required to take Visual Studies 297, a writing practicum in which they draft a prospectus that defines the scope, approach, and rationale for a proposed dissertation and begin research on the dissertation. Advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree is contingent upon successful completion of this course, subsequent approval of the prospectus by the dissertation committee, and satisfaction of all language requirements. The dissertation committee meets with the student in the spring quarter following successful completion of Visual Studies 297 to review the prospectus and the progress of the student, and determines whether to recommend advancement at that time. The normative time for advancement to candidacy is four years. Once students have advanced, they may enroll in Dissertation Research (Visual Studies 299).
The student and the principal advisor consult to determine the composition of a doctoral committee of three members including the principal advisor, which then must unanimously approve the prospectus before the student proceeds with the dissertation. The doctoral committee, on the basis of the candidate's past academic performance and proposed dissertation topic, may require additional course work or other forms of preparation for the dissertation. The doctoral committee, under the direction of the principal advisor, supervises the student's research program and ultimately approves the dissertation. The normative time for completion of the Ph.D. program is seven years, and the maximum permitted is eight years.
GRADUATE EMPHASIS IN VISUAL STUDIES
In addition to the doctoral program in Visual Studies described above, the Program in Visual Studies also offers an emphasis in Visual Studies available to Ph.D. and M.F.A. students in all departments at UCI. Satisfactory completion of the emphasis is certified by the Director of Visual Studies and is noted in the student's dossier.
Admission to the Program
Students must first be admitted to, or currently enrolled in, a Ph.D. or M.F.A. program at UCI. Applicants must submit to the Director of Visual Studies a summary of prior undergraduate and graduate course work related to Visual Studies, institutions attended, and major(s), together with a brief statement of purpose, including career objectives, areas of interest and research, record of research, teaching, professional accomplishments, and/or creative work. Lack of prior course work does not preclude admission, so long as a compelling statement of research interests, congruent with the emphasis, makes the case. Admission to the emphasis is on a rolling basis. The Director tracks students' progress toward fulfillment of the emphasis requirements and meets with students to advise them on a program of study, as required.
Minimum course work for the graduate emphasis in Visual Studies consists of four courses: Visual Studies 290C and three additional elective Visual Studies seminars.
For doctoral students, the qualifying examination and dissertation topic should incorporate Visual Studies as a central concern. One area of the Ph.D. qualifying examination should be on a Visual Studies topic, and one member of the candidate's qualifying examination committee and dissertation committee is normally a member of the Visual Studies faculty. There are no requirements concerning qualifying examinations or theses for M.F.A. students.
Graduate Courses in Visual Studies
(Schedule of Classes designation: Vis Std)
Graduate students may also enroll concurrently in any upper-division lecture course with the approval of the instructor.
290A-B-C Foundations of Visual Studies. A three-quarter series that examines canonical texts and explores current directions in the two disciplines that constitute Visual Studies at UCI (Art History and Film and Media Studies), as well as in Visual Studies as an emergent field in its own right.
290A Art History: Theories and Methods (4)
290B Film and Media Studies: Theories and Methods (4)
290C Visual Studies: Theories and Methods (4)
294 Getty Consortium Seminar (4). Special graduate seminar offered at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, involving faculty and graduate students from the five graduate programs in Art History or Visual Studies located in southern California (UCI, UCLA, UCR, UCSB, and USC). May be repeated for credit as topics vary.
295 Graduate Seminar in Visual Studies (4). May be repeated for credit as topics vary.
296 Directed Reading (4). Directed reading on a specific topic agreed upon by student and instructor. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. May be repeated for credit as topics vary.
297 Writing Practicum (4). Offered winter quarter each year and taught in a workshop format. Assists students with the preparation and revision of the dissertation prospectus so that they may advance to candidacy. Prerequisites: Visual Studies 290A-B-C. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only.
298A Reading for the Preliminary Examination (4 to 12). Directed reading in preparation for the preliminary examination. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only. May be repeated for credit. Formerly Visual Studies 298.
298B Prospectus Research (4 to 12). Research and writing of the dissertation prospectus. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only. May be repeated for credit.
299 Dissertation Research (4 to 12). Research and writing of the dissertation. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only. May be repeated for credit.