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3rd Cycle in the Arts

This is an international database of 3rd cycle awards in the European Higher Arts Education Area, developed within the Creator Doctus project (2018-2021), to identify possible examples of practice in developing and supporting artistic research.


Vilnius Academy of Arts (VAA), Vilnius, Lithuania



Research Policy & Strategy

Vilnius Academy of Arts (VAA) aims to build on its established reputation in the field of creative arts education and pursue artistic research at an internationally significant level. With this aim in mind, it strives to achieve international recognition for the outputs of its research projects and to produce outstanding graduates. At a national level, the Research Council of Lithuania assesses the research outputs of staff – these may take the form of scholarly monographs and articles; conference papers; participation in ‘scientific’ projects. The institution is working towards improving the qualifications of academic staff and developing the international scale of its doctoral programme, believing this to strengthen and develop VAA’s research culture. The Institute of Art Research within VAA plays a leading role in guiding expertise.

Awards Offered

DA Fine Art (Contemporary Art)

DA Design

Degrees are validated by the institution itself.





Doctoral submissions are internally assessed by 2 reviewers prior to a final public defence in front of a jury of 5, including at least 2 external examiners.

The external examiners must include staff associated with the relevant partner institution and up to one independent artist of international standing.

3 members of the jury must be artists and 2 must be scientists, and all members of the jury must operate at a level equivalent to that of ‘Professor’.

Forms of Output

Exhibition, portfolio, design concepts and models, documentation of art and design work or process. Publication in a profession or peer-reviewed context.

Thesis (30.000-40.000 words) + Summary in other Language (~5000 words).

Programme Structure

4 years full-time (8 Semesters)

1 year upgrade to those holding ‘Art Licenciate’ (pre-2012)

Students follow a programme structured around the allocation of 240 ECTS credits:

Studies (40) / Artistic-Creative Practice (100) / Research Work (100)

‘Studies’ is comprised of 3 foundational research methodology seminars, and elective options in ‘Cultural Studies’ or ‘History, Theory and Criticism of the Fine Arts & Architecture’.

Additionally, Ethics lectures are given during the first year of study.

Progress is assessed twice a year by the Doctoral Studies Committee.

Students present their research to their peers and supervisors once a year.

Students are expected to participate 2-3 times during their programme of study in the annual DA exhibition.

Undergraduate & Masters Research

BA students are expected to explain their work in writing, but not to evidence research in this way.

MA students take a research methodologies course as well as developing a research plan and producing a thesis related to their artwork. This is tutored separately to practice.

Qualification Framework

National with references to Florence principles

Quality Assurance & Enhancement

This is being addressed in tandem with the development of the programme.

An external assessment of 3rdcycle provision was conducted by the Lithuanian Research Council in 2017 and evaluated at the highest level.


Students work with 2 supervisors: one is concerned with practice and the other with theory (‘research’).

Staff are allocated 60 hours per year in relation to supervision of each component (practice/theory) of a DA.


Staff engaged in 3rdCycle supervision are expected to be researchers and practitioners employed as Associate Professors or Professors, Senior or Chief Researchers. They may be assisted by researchers with doctoral degrees and practitioners holding Licenciates or doctoral degrees.

There are 14 Research Fellows associated with the Institute of Art Research (some of whom supervise 3rdcycle students.

There are 42 staff supervising 3rdcycle students, of whom 27 have doctoral degrees themselves.

All staff have 50% of contracted time set aside for research and/or practice, and may apply for competitively allocated Sabbaticals every 5 years.

Student Admissions

Prospective students provide a research plan and proposal of 5000 words alongwith a portfolio.

Subsequently, candidates are invited to interview with the Doctoral Committee.

There are currently 19 DA students in Fine Art, and 16 in Design.

The first 3rdcycle award was made in 2015, and to date, there have been 11 successful DA completions in Fine Art, and 8 in Design.

Student Funding

Every student receives a state scholarship.

1-2 students each year receive EU funding administered by the Lithuanian Research Council.

Student Support

VAA is part of a consortium of 3 institutions involved in organising the Nida Doctoral School which provides a one week intensive summer school at Nida Art Colony.

Students receive support to travel; opportunities to present work in academy galleries; attend lectures and presentations given by visiting staff; participate in residencies e.g. Nida Art Colony.


3rd Cycle in the Arts

This is an international database of 3rd cycle awards in the European Higher Arts Education Area, developed within the Creator Doctus project (2018-2021), to identify possible examples of practice in developing and supporting artistic research.