The Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA) offers a PhD in philosophy and art theory designed for artists, curators, and creative thinkers. The Institute is headquartered in Portland, Maine. Our mission is to operate a school of graduate studies providing education in philosophy, aesthetics, art theory, and similar disciplines related to the visual arts. The mission includes the provision of doctoral studies to holders of the MFA or the master's degree in a related field, the conferring of PhD degrees, and otherwise providing education and training related to the arts.
Traditionally the MFA has served as the terminal degree for studio artists. This degree has trained studio artists in the skills necessary for successful art practice and has prepared artists for teaching in college and university studio art programs. However, there is a strong sense among today's artists and educators that training beyond the MFA and similar degrees would benefit many artists, architects, curators, and creative scholars, especially those who grapple with issues surrounding contemporary media and culture. The Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts's pioneering curriculum---fusing distance learning with intensive residencies---allows working art professionals to pursue rigorous advanced scholarship without having to interrupt or abandon their teaching careers, art practice, or other professional responsibilities.
Insofar as the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts offers to creative practitioners a PhD in philosophy, aesthetics, and art theory, it addresses an important opportunity for contemporary art and culture. The measure of this opportunity can be summed up in terms of The Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts's primary learning goals. These include the nourishment and cultivation of the ability to speak and write critically and philosophically about the relationship between the history of ideas and art in general; The ability to teach university-level courses on subjects dealing with the relation of philosophy and art—such as courses in aesthetics, art theory, and critical theory; The capacity to situate oneself in the history of ideas and culture in terms of one's creative practice and/or field of inquiry; And lastly, The Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts's overarching learning goal is to nourish and cultivate an ethos of inquiry that encourages creative thinkers to conceive new systems of knowledge.