PhD, Art History and Latin American Studies

A Joint Program of the Art History Program of the Newcomb Art Department and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies

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Tulane is one of the few universities in the United States with the faculty, library, and other resources to support a strong PhD program in Latin American art (see list of relevant faculty). The art history program is of very high quality, the Latin American library is one of the finest in the nation, and the Stone Center is one of the most prominent centers for Latin American studies in the country. Demand for PhDs with expertise in Latin American art is growing, as colleges and universities across the country add non-Western and Latin American specialists to their art departments. The joint PhD in Art History and Latin American Studies addresses this demand by drawing on Tulane's strengths.

The joint PhD program unites a disciplinary grounding in art history with the breadth and comparative perspective of Latin American Studies. The program in Art History provides the strong disciplinary foundation graduates need for careers in teaching, research, and museum work in art history. The Program in Latin American Studies provides more comprehensive knowledge of Latin America and encourages a comparative perspective within Latin America and between Latin America and other areas of the globe. The program encourages study in such related fields as anthropology, history, languages, literature, and culture of Latin America, as well as comparative work with cultures outside of Latin America (e.g., Europe, Africa). This unique, ideal degree requires a range of art history courses and teaching proficiency in the art history survey courses as well as interdisciplinary breadth in Latin America.

Summary of Curriculum

Coursework and distribution requirements: 54 credits + dissertation

  • 18 courses, MA thesis or equivalent, + dissertation
  • 10+ with Latin American content
  • 6+ in Latin American art history
  • 5+ in non-Latin American art history
  • 2 electives
  • Latin American core seminar and art history method and/or theory

A primary and a secondary concentration are required

  • Primary at 7 courses
  • Secondary at 4

2 languages, including Spanish or Portuguese, one passed the first year, the second one passed the third year

Qualifying Examinations

Format is determined by the Examination Committee. In general, they consists of 3-6 hour written test/s for the primary concentration/s and 2-3 hour written tests for the auxiliary concentrations. Test concludes with a one-hour oral examination.

Ideal progression through the program of a student coming with a BA (5 years stipend eligibility)

YearFallSpringTeaching Responsibilities
13 courses4 courses, 1st language examRPA with LAST (Required LAST Core Seminar in Fall semester)
24 courses3 courses, MA thesisRA with Art History (required LAST Pedagogy Course in Spring semester)
34 courses2nd language exam, Qualifying examsTA (teach) the LAST 1010/1020 cycle in LAST
4Apply for grants, Dissertation researchDissertation researchRA/TA (teach) in Art History according to Art Departments needs
5Dissertation researchDissertation researchRA/TA (teach) split between Art History and LAST
6Dissertation writingDissertation writing 

Ideal progression of a student coming with a non-Tulane MA, bringing 18 transfer credits (4 years stipend eligibility – between 12-18 transfer credit hours)

YearFallSpringTeaching Responsibilities
13 courses, 1st language exam4 coursesRPA with LAST (Required LAST Core Seminar in Fall semester)
24 courses1 course, 2nd language exam, Qualifying exams, Prospectus developed, Advance to candidacyRA with Art History (required LAST Pedagogy Course in Spring semester)
3Apply for grants, Dissertation researchDissertation researchTA (teach) the LAST 1010/1020 cycle in LAST
4Dissertation researchDissertation researchRA/TA (teach) in Art History according to Art Department needs
5Dissertation writingDissertation writing 

Ideal progression of a student entering program with MA in Art History/LAST from Tulane
(3 years stipend eligibility – up to 30 transfer credit hours)

YearFallSpringTeaching Responsibilities
14 courses1 course, 2nd language exam, Qualifying exams, Prospectus developed, Advance to candidacyRA with Art History (required LAST core Seminar in Fall semester, required LAST Pedagogy Course in Spring semester)
2Apply for grants, Dissertation researchDissertation researchTA (teach) the LAST 1010/1020 cycle in LAST
3Dissertation researchDissertation researchRA/TA (teach) in Art History according to Art Department needs
4Dissertation writingDissertation writing 


The program is small and selective, accepting only one or two highly qualified applicants each year. Successful applicants must demonstrate an ability to work in a critical and imaginative fashion and to conduct original, clearly articulated research that will advance the frontiers of knowledge. Prospective students should submit their application to the joint PhD program through the online application portal for relevant information on the application process and the link to the online application system.

Along with the School of Liberal Arts graduate program application form, applicants submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and an MA thesis or two substantive research papers, at least one in English. Applicants may also submit a CV/resume. The GRE is not required.  International applicants whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores as part of their application. The application deadline is January 10 for admission in the fall.

Students may enter the program in one of four ways:

  • directly with a BA
  • coming to the program with an MA conferred by another university
  • transferring to the program with an MA conferred by another Tulane department
  • progressing from the MA programs in Art History or Latin American Studies at Tulane.

A six-person faculty committee (convened by the Director of the Program) evaluates applications. Members of this admissions committee include the Graduate Coordinators in Art History and Latin American Studies and faculty (two from Art History and two from Latin American Studies) with whom the candidate will potentially work. Applicants who are coming from Tulane's MA programs in Art History and Latin American Studies must be able to secure the support of two faculty members who will agree to direct the applicant’s studies if accepted to the program.

Transfer Credit

Students with a Tulane MA in Latin American Studies or Art History may apply up to 30 credit hours of relevant work toward the PhD. Students transferring from other Tulane departments or coming with an MA from another university may transfer up to 18 hours of relevant work.

Coursework and Distribution Requirements

The PhD requires 54 credit hours (including an MA thesis or equivalent) in addition to the dissertation. Of these, at least 30 hours must have a Latin American content, including at least 18 hours in Latin American art. Other Latin American courses can be taken in departments such as Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Spanish and Portuguese; the School of Architecture; and Latin American Studies special offerings. Fifteen credit hours must be in art history pertaining to areas outside Latin America. The remaining credit hours are electives; they may be in art history and/or Latin America, but they may also pertain to other areas relevant to the student's work (e.g., European history, Medieval thought, writing systems, architecture). The Latin American Studies core seminar is required, as is a course on art historical method and/or theory. All courses must be at the 6000 and 7000 levels.

Students must develop a primary concentration (e.g., pre-Columbian, colonial, or modern) and a secondary one. The second concentration may be within Latin American art (e.g., pre-Columbian, colonial, or modern), or it may cover a comparative area (e.g., modern Latin American art paired with modern European art, or colonial Latin American art paired with medieval and early modern European art). Twenty-one semester hours (7 courses) must pertain to the primary concentration, and 12 semester hours (4 courses) must pertain to the secondary concentration. These courses may be in Art History or other disciplines with Latin American content. For example, a student with a primary concentration in pre-Columbian and a secondary concentration in colonial would take 7 art history and anthropology courses with a pre-Columbian content, and 4 courses with a colonial content in art history, history, or literature.


A good working knowledge of two languages is required, one of which must be Spanish or Portuguese. Students are expected to pass their language examination in Spanish or Portuguese during the first year of study. The required level of competence corresponds to “intermediate” on the scale of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL). The second language should also be pertinent to the student's work. German is strongly recommended, as are relevant indigenous languages (e.g., Yucatec or Kaqchikel Maya, Nahuatl, or Quechua). The examination in this second language should be taken in the second year. Students are encouraged to develop additional language competencies as needed by their research fields. In order to gain competence in what is commonly known as a Less Commonly Taught Language (such as Portuguese, Nahuatl, Kaqchikel Maya, Yucatec Maya, Quechua, etc.), the Stone Center offers a variety of options to graduate students. Yucatec Maya and Nahuatl are taught during the regular academic year at Tulane. Another option is summer study through Tulane (Kaqchikel Maya in an intensive 6-week course in Guatemala) or other Latin American Studies programs around the United States, supplemented by continuing study on one's own. The Stone Center offers Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Fellowships to qualified graduate students to attend these programs.

Faculty Committees

The Director of the Program guides the student in assembling and convening Examination Committees and Dissertation Committees. The Examination Committee, which oversees the student's qualifying examinations, is composed of four members: two professors from Art History and two with relevant expertise from other departments. Once the qualifying examinations are successfully completed, the student decides on his/her Dissertation Committee, in consultation with the dissertation advisor and the Director of the Program. This three-person committee is usually drawn from the four-person examination committee. Additional members--from within Tulane or from other universities--may also be added to the Dissertation Committee if appropriate.

Qualifying Examinations

General qualifying examinations are designed to evaluate a student's subject mastery, scholarly competence, and analytical ability. These examinations are tailored for each individual's particular academic and professional aspirations, theoretical and methodological needs, and field of research. They are designed to demonstrate students' abilities to place their own research into context.

Qualifying examinations should be taken no later than the first semester after the completion of all coursework requirements. A year before they are to be taken, the student meets with the Graduate Advisors in Art History and Latin American Studies to form the Examination Committee (see Committees, above). This committee determines the format of the exam, reviews and approves the reading lists compiled by the student, compiles the examination questions, and judges the responses. Ordinarily three of these four committee members later serve as the student's Dissertation Committee.

Once the Examination Committee is appointed, students prepare for the examinations by compiling professional bibliographies and critical reading lists in their primary and secondary concentrations. These bibliographies are reviewed in-depth with each committee examiner who will suggest modifications and additional readings as appropriate. The committee members will inform the students of the parameters and scope of their questions well in advance of the examination.

The specific format of the exam is to be determined by each Examination Committee. In general, examinations include three to six hour written examination/s for the primary areas of concentration (there can be two areas, e.g., pre-Columbian art and colonial art), and two to three hour written examinations in each of the secondary areas of concentration, with questions drawn from art history and other pertinent disciplines (e.g., archaeology, history). These written examinations are followed by an oral examination administered by the entire committee; the latter takes the form of an one-hour general discussion.

Qualifying examinations are administered during the regular academic year and must be completed within the space of one calendar month.


Before the beginning of the semester following the Qualifying Examination, students should decide which three members of their Examination Committee will form their Dissertation Committee. This is accomplished in consultation with the Dissertation Director and the Graduate Advisors in Art History and Latin American Studies.


Within three months of completing the Qualifying Examinations, students should present a Dissertation Prospectus. The prospectus constitutes the first formal synthesis of the research project that culminates in the Dissertation. Students should use it to organize and structure the content of the proposed research, to describe how and where it will be conducted, to analyze its feasibility and specific methodology, to define the importance of the topic as a unique contribution to knowledge, and to create a timetable for completion. Students prepare the Dissertation Prospectus in close consultation with the dissertation chairs, the Graduate Advisors in Art History and Latin American Studies, and the other members of the Dissertation Committees.

Funding for Research

Small summer research grants are available by competition from the Stone Center to help students begin to formulate their research topics. However, students must seek outside funding to support the field, museum, and archive research for their dissertations. The Graduate Advisors in Art History and Latin American Studies and the members of the Dissertation Committee can help identify sources of support and advise on the preparation of applications. Since many application deadlines occur in the early fall, doctoral students are advised to begin their applications in the summer.

Advancement to Candidacy

Once the doctoral student has successfully completed all required coursework, language examinations, the Qualifying Examinations, and the Dissertation Prospectus, s/he must apply officially for Admission to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The Graduate School has copies of the form, which must be signed by the Dissertation Director.

Dissertation Defense

Well before the deadline for submission of the Dissertation to the Graduate School, candidates must successfully complete a final examination for the PhD degree. The examination, called the Dissertation Defense, consists primarily of an oral defense of the Dissertation, but can be extended at the discretion of the Dissertation Committee to include course material or any other relevant material. The Defense is a thorough critical discussion of the Dissertation and its conclusions. Because the Dissertation Committee frequently requests final revisions to the Dissertation during the Defense, the candidate should schedule the Defense to allow time for these revisions before the Graduate School's deadline for submission for graduation.

The Dissertation Committee may invite other interested and appropriate faculty to be present at the Defense. The Defense will not be waived unless the candidate, with the approval of the Graduate Advisors in Art History and Latin American Studies, can establish a case of extreme hardship, which is subject to review and approval of the Dean. 

Financial Aid

Financial aid will be available in the form of fellowships, teaching assistantships, and tuition waivers. The standard financial aid package for students entering with an MA is four years of funding. For those entering the PhD program from the BA, up to five years of funding may be awarded. As a condition of their fellowships, doctoral students who have not yet advanced to candidacy will serve as Teaching Assistants or Research and Project Associates each semester they receive funding. Teaching Assistants will help faculty with their courses (grading exams, offering discussion sections, and the like). Once students have advanced to candidacy and are doing dissertation research and writing, they will themselves offer one course per semester as Instructor of Record (adjunct faculty). These courses will usually be LAST 1020 (a survey of the culture of Latin America) alternating with ARHS 1010 or 1020 (Survey of the History of Art I or II).

Sample Coursework

Sample of coursework for a PhD student with a primary concentration in Colonial Latin American Art and a minor concentration in Medieval and Early Modern European Art

Latin American Art courses (6+):

  • ARHS 6720 Seminar in Aztec Arts (Boone)
  • ARHS 6730 Seminar in Mexican Manuscript Painting (Boone)
  • ARHS 7710 Colonial Art of Latin America (Boone)
  • ARHS 6830 Religious/Sacred Images in Latin America (T. Reese)
  • ARHS 6960 Latin American Cities (C. and T. Reese)
  • ARHS 7760 Latin American Art, 1900-50 (Anagnost)
  • ARHS 7770 Latin American Art Since 1950 (Anagnost)

Art History courses (non-Latin American) (5+):

  • ARHS 6900 Approaches to Art History (staff)
  • ARHS 6720 Medieval Pilgrimages (Flora)
  • ARHS 6510 Amsterdam and the Global Dutch Golden Age (Porras)
  • ARHS 6810 Seminars in the History of Art (staff)
  • ARHS 6650 Postmodern Foundations: Art since 1980 (Plante)
  • ARHS 6876 Interracial Themes in Western Art and Visual Culture (Bagneris)

Latin American courses (non-art) (4+):

  • LAST 7000 Core Seminar in Latin American Culture (Huck)
  • HISL 6740 The City in Latin America (García)
  • HISL 7610 Into the Archive (Lane)
  • HISL 6770 Modern Mexico (MacLachlan)
  • SPAN 6220 Colonial Latin American Literature I (Charles)


  • ANTH 7210 Conquest and Colonization (Masquelier)
  • HISE 6330 Imperial Spain (Boyden)

Relevant Faculty

Art History

  • Adrian Anagnost, contemporary art, modern Latin American art
  • Mia L. Bagneris, African diaspora in the Americas, race and representation
  • Holly Flora, Medieval, Early Christian and Byzantine, early modern Italy
  • Michelle Foa, 19th-century Europe
  • Leslie Geddes, Italian Renaissance and Baroque
  • Barbara E. Mundy, Pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin America, Mexico
  • Michael Plante, American, 20th-century, contemporary
  • Stephanie Porras, European Baroque
  • Thomas Reese, Colonial Latin America, urbanism, 20th-century architecture
  • Fan Zhang, Asian art and material culture


  • William Balée, ethnobotany, ethnoecology, Brazil
  • Marcello Canuto, Mesoamerican archaeology, Maya
  • João Gonçalves, cultural anthropology, Cuba and Brazil
  • Robert Hill, cultural anthropology, ethnohistory, colonial, Maya
  • Adeline Masquelier, cultural anthroplogy, religion, medicine, gender
  • Judith Maxwell, language and linguistics, Maya
  • Tatsuya Murakami, archaeology of Mexico
  • Jason Nesbitt, South American archaeology, Peru
  • Nicholas Spitzer, folklore
  • John Verano, Bio-anthroplogy, Peru
  • Marc Zender, Mesoamerican indigenous languages and writing systems, Maya archaeology


  • Carol McMichael Reese, Argentina, Mexico, US, architecture and urbanism

Classical Studies

  • Allison Emmerson, Greek and Roman art and architecture
  • Suzanne Lusnia, Roman imperial art and architecture


  • Vicki Mayer, Mexican Americans, mass media, cultural citizenship
  • Mauro Porto, media and politics, Brazilian TV


  • Melissa Bailes, British Empire and colonialism, British West Indies, digital humanities

  • Felipe Smith, Caribbean and African American literature


  • Rosanne Adderley, Caribbean, formation of African Diaspora culture, Atlantic slave trade
  • James Boyden, Hapsburg Spain, Renaissance and Reformation, early modern Atlantic world
  • Guadalupe García, 19th and 20th-century Latin America, urban studies, race and ethnicity
  • Kris Lane, Colonial Latin America, Andes
  • Jana Lipman, U.S. foreign relations, history of empire, Cuba, Caribbean
  • Justin Wolfe, Central America, race and ethnicity

Latin American Studies

  • James Huck, Mexican politics and foreign relations, U.S.-Latin American relations
  • Edie Wolfe, modern Latin American art


  • Daniel Sharp, ethnomusicology, Brazil


  • Katie Acosta, gender, sexuality, race & ethnicity, immigration, feminist methods
  • Stephanie Arnett, sociology of education, Mexico
  • David Ortiz, political sociology, social movements

Spanish and Portuguese

  • Rebecca Atencio, Luso-Brazilian literatures and cultures, post-dictatorial Latin America
  • Idelber Avelar, post-dictatorial culture, Southern Cone and Brazilian literature and culture
  • John Charles, colonial literature of Latin America
  • Christopher Dunn, Cuba, Brazil, cultural studies, African Diaspora studies
  • Antonio Gómez, Latin American literature and film
  • Yuri Herrera-Gutiérrez, Mexican literature and cultural studies
  • Marilyn Miller, New World and Trans-Atlantic studies, colonial and postcolonial literatures
  • Tatjana Pavlovic, 20th-century Spanish and Latin American literature and cinema
  • Fernando Rivera-Díaz, Andean literature
  • Maureen E. Shea, Latin American literature, Guatemala, women’s testimonios

If you have any questions regarding admission into the graduate program, please check our Graduate Admissions page and our Frequently Asked Questions section.

Applications should be submitted through this link:

For other questions about the program requirements or application process, please contact Professor James D. Huck, Assistant Director for Graduate Programs,

Read about our Graduate Students in the News

[revised June 20, 2023]