Program Vision

The Visual Studies Ph.D. at UC Santa Cruz is an interdisciplinary program designed for students with diverse academic backgrounds from across the arts and humanities who wish to pursue a graduate degree focused on the social and cultural production of human vision and on the distinctive roles played by art and artifacts in societies from around the globe. Faculty research areas include cultural production in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific Islands.

The program employs a wide range of visual evidence for examination, without being constrained by traditional hierarchies of art or art history. Fine arts, architecture, photography, film, performances, utilitarian objects, and popular entertainments all are primary source material for scholars in the field.

The flexibility of the program allows students to work closely with their advisor and the director of graduate studies to craft a personalized course of study that advances their intellectual and professional goals.

Core Faculty [more]

Martin Berger
Raoul Birnbaum
Elisabeth Cameron
Carolyn Dean
T.J. Demos
Maria Evangelatou
Jennifer González
Stacy Kamehiro
Boreth Ly
Derek Conrad Murray
Albert Narath
Kyle Parry


Program Learning Outcomes
PLO 1: Core Knowledge. Students will demonstrate mastery of the history of visual culture theory and methods by being able to describe and analyze the internal and external criticisms, debates, and reformulations of the field, both historical and current.

PLO 2: Research. Students will demonstrate the ability to use research methods and analysis appropriate for carrying out their independent and original research.

PLO 3: Pedagogy: Students will demonstrate the ability to plan curricula and learning programs, to express ideas clearly and explain them to others, and to assess student work fairly and accurately.

PLO 4: Scholarly Communication. Students will demonstrate effective communication skills in presenting research findings in oral and written forms.

PLO 5: Professionalism. Students will demonstrate professional preparation including the ability to write grants, to submit publications to journals and presses, and to participate in professional organizations and conferences.


Application Timeline
Applications for 2018-19 will be accepted from October 1 - December 15, 2017. For official information about the application process, please visit UCSC Graduate Admissions.

For additional information, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator at