PhD in World Arts

Degree Details

The PhD in World Arts will prepare practitioners to be qualified teachers and researchers who are involved in service on a national and global level. Graduates will be able to contribute positively to the challenges of understanding the local arts of communities around the world and develop new theories and constructs to better support the use of those art forms and practices. Their advanced training will enable them to address current challenges and gaps in research, preparing them to respond with creative solutions to opportunities and changes in the contexts they encounter.

PhD in World Arts graduates will be able to…

  1. apply the major theoretical concepts of World Arts to real-world problems.
  2. analyze and discuss the formal characteristics of artistic genres.
  3. contribute to the development of applied theory in World Arts.
  4. relate and apply current standards in World Arts to activities in training, mentoring, and consulting for communities, organizations, and schools.

Persons interested in this program should apply for Graduate Admission to DIU and complete the PhD in World arts program entry requirementsFor more information, contact


The PhD in World Arts is made up of three phases. In the first phase, students complete qualifying courses and a qualifying exam. In the second phase, students compete 24 graduate credit hours of doctoral coursework, language requirements, and a candidacy exam. In the final phase students research, write, and defend their dissertation.

Phase 1: Successful completion of four required MA-level Qualifying Courses and a passing score on the Qualifying Exam. In addition, students will be allowed to take any of the following Phase 2 doctoral courses before taking the Qualifying Exam:

  • WA6370-IN Multidisciplinary Perspectives on World Arts
  • WA6380-IN Advanced Theory of Ethnodoxology
  • WA6390-SL Research & Communication for World Arts

Qualifying Courses

Applicants seeking admission to the PhD in World Arts program must have successfully completed the following four courses before taking the Qualifying Exam at the end of Phase 1, although they may apply to the program before the courses are completed. These four courses also function as part of the core requirements for the MA in World Arts:

Qualifying Exam

In order to finish Phase 1, PhD students must take the PhD Qualifying Exam, which is similar to the Comprehensive Exam for the MA in World Arts. The goal of the Qualifying Exam is to demonstrate strong knowledge of the topics learned in the general core requirements at the MA level. Passing the Qualifying Exam requires a higher score than the Comprehensive Exam does for master’s level students. Doctoral students who have already achieved a passing (doctoral level) score on the Comprehensive Exam while in the MA in World Arts program at Dallas Int’l will not be required to take the Qualifying Exam.

Phase 2: Successful completion of a total of 24 graduate hours of doctoral coursework, fulfillment of the foreign language requirement, and a passing score on the Candidacy Exam.

Foreign Language Requirement

The PhD in World Arts requires proficiency in two languages that are not the student’s first language. The student must demonstrate oral and written expertise in one language, and either written or oral expertise in a second language. (English is considered a foreign language for students whose first language is not English.) Written proficiency will be measured by a 300-word translation test. Oral ability will be determined by a 15-minute exam consisting of the student, a qualified speaker of the language, and a credentialed linguist to evaluate. For their second language, students completing language classes at an accredited university with a grade of B or better will be exempt from the language exam.

Candidacy Exam

The Candidacy Exam is an intensive oral exam at the end of Phase 2. The purpose of the exam is to evaluate the student’s knowledge and ability in researching and presenting World Arts topics, both orally and in a professionally written form. The student will submit an application to take the Candidacy Exam at least one month before the exam, along with a substantial research or “candidacy” paper of publishable quality.

The student’s Candidacy Committee will be appointed by the department chair and will consist of at least three World Arts faculty and the Dean of Academic Affairs or a designated representative. During the Candidacy Exam, the student will, 1) be examined orally on the learning outcomes of the PhD program and related coursework, and 2) present the findings of the candidacy paper for evaluation by the committee. The Candidacy Committee will vote to pass or fail the student and will send a written report to the student indicating the student’s performance on each of the exam’s two areas (PhD learning outcomes, candidacy paper). In the case of a failure, the student may retake the Candidacy Exam no sooner than three months after the first exam. If the student passes, he or she will be designated as a “doctoral candidate” and proceed to Phase 3 of the doctoral program. A second failure to pass will result in termination from the PhD program, although the student may elect to pursue an MA in World Arts or a graduate Certificate in World Arts. 

Phase 3: Approval of a dissertation proposal, followed by the successful defense of a dissertation. The research and writing of the dissertation may not be less than three semesters and 24 graduate credit hours of WA7391 (Dissertation).

Dissertation proposal

The student must submit and present a dissertation research proposal to their dissertation committee. The student will form a doctoral dissertation committee and name a dissertation adviser. The committee must consist of at least the student’s adviser, another faculty member from CEWA, and one faculty from another department or another institution. Once the committee is formed, the student will prepare an annotated bibliography, which will form the basis for a literature review, and submit it to the committee along with a dissertation proposal. The dissertation proposal is a 5 to10-page document that summarizes the topic, research gap, methods, and anticipated results. After receiving written feedback, the student will meet with the committee to discuss the research plan and the committee will vote to approve or not approve the dissertation proposal. Upon approval, the student will proceed to dissertation research and writing. If the proposal is not approved, the student must submit a revised proposal no sooner than six months after the first submission. 

Dissertation research & writing

After the dissertation proposal has been accepted, the student will engage in dissertation research and writing, working closely with their dissertation adviser and meeting with the assembled dissertation committee at least once each term, either in person or by distance. The purpose of these meetings is to provide evidence of advancement in the student’s research and to receive input and direction from the committee members. The dissertation must be completed no sooner than two semesters after the semester in which the dissertation proposal is approved. It is expected that the research and writing of the dissertation will be completed within three years of achieving candidacy status. If the dissertation defense has not occurred in this time period, the student may petition for a maximum two-year extension. The candidate will not be awarded a PhD if the dissertation is not successfully defended within five years after reaching candidacy.

Dissertation defense

The dissertation defense is arranged by the student in coordination with the members of the student’s committee. The defense must occur no sooner than four weeks after the committee has received a defense draft of the dissertation. The dissertation defense is a formal presentation of the student’s dissertation research. During the dissertation defense, the committee will ask the student any question regarding the dissertation, and then vote to unconditionally accept, conditionally accept, or not accept the dissertation. Only the latter requires another formal dissertation defense.  There is no required waiting period for a second dissertation defense. A second “fail” for any candidate defending the same doctoral dissertation is final and will require termination from the program with “all but dissertation” (ABD) status.  The dissertation adviser will be responsible for reviewing the final submission copy of the dissertation before it is submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs, after which time the student graduates from the program.

Course Offerings for PhD in World Arts