Since its inception, the defining task of IDSVA has been to undertake the question of the artist-
philosopher, not as an object of philosophical contemplation, but rather as a way of opening up the
very possibility of doing philosophy, and perhaps more importantly, a way of being in the world.

~ Michael Smith, 2012 IDSVA Graduate


The Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts provides doctoral studies in PHILOSOPHY, AESTHETICS, and ART THEORY to visual artists, and to architects, curators, and scholars who approach their work as a creative practice. The IDSVA course of study is made up of three interrelated academic programs: Topological Studies, Seminars, and Independent Studies. Each of these programs focuses on the historical relation between art and ideas. Over the three year course of study, the programs overlap and intersect, illuminating from three blended perspectives the ever shifting, ever volatile relations between art and ideas.

The coursework blends distance learning with intensive residencies at Spannocchia Castle in Tuscany, the Venice Biennale, Paris, New York City, Berlin and Providence, Rhode Island. With completion of the course of study, students take qualifying exams. The dissertation takes on average an additional two years to complete. Total time to complete the degree is about five years.

IDSVA students work directly with internationally renowned artists and thinkers. One self-designed independent study and one seminar course per semester comprise the three-year curriculum. Independent studies are faculty directed. Seminar courses commence in residency and continue online. Online coursework and independent studies are pursued through fall and spring semester and include regular one-on-one faculty/student conferences, study group discussion and collaboration, and project research conducted through IDSVA’s virtual library. Core Faculty members serve as advisors. Each student works with the same advisor throughout their program of study. Students have a scheduled meeting with their advisor during residencies and on an as-need basis. The faculty meets in committee twice annually to review each student’s progress and makes recommendations to the advisor where appropriate.

Click on the image to view our Topological Studies Presentation:

Topos Cover Page


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