Jul 15, 2024  
2024-2025, 2nd ed. General Catalog 
2024-2025, 2nd ed. General Catalog

Art History, BA

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The Art History program teaches students to think critically about art and visual culture. In addition to preparing them for careers in the museum and gallery world as well as graduate work in Art History or related fields in humanities, the program offers training in research, writing and critical thinking that will serve them in many professions. Students are given an introduction to western and non-western art before taking more specialized courses that focus on the art and culture of particular regions, periods or themes. Students will gain familiarity with critical theory, historical methodology and research using print, online, and electronic sources. Professors work closely with students to hone their writing, critical thinking and research skills and enable them to cultivate and express their own ideas about art and visual culture.

Many of the courses required for the degree have prerequisites. Consult course descriptions for details.

Note: Reading comprehension of at least one foreign language is essential for Art History majors. Students are advised to develop competence in French, German, Italian, and/or Spanish; however, the prospect of eventual specialization may make other languages advisable in particular instances.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Students will develop a global knowledge of art history across time periods and places. They will be able to utilize appropriate vocabulary, concepts, and theories while discussing major artists, movements, and objects. 
  • Students will gain understanding of diverse cultural and historical contexts from various ideological perspectives. 
  • Students will develop skills in critical thinking, analysis, and visual literacy in order to articulate cultural, historical, and political meanings of art and visual culture. 
  • Students will understand the relationship of art and visual culture to historical and cultural power structures including class, gender, race, politics, and sexuality.

Degree Requirements

See the “Degree Requirements ” in the University Catalog for complete details on general degree requirements.

General Education Requirements (48 units)

See the “General Education ” requirements in the University Catalog for information on General Education requirements. Some major requirements may double count for GE requirements.

Requirements for the Major

Foundation Courses / Freshman and Sophomore Years (12 Units)

Lower-Division Studio/Language Courses (5-8 lower-division units)

Core Courses / Junior And Senior Years (15 - 20 Units)

Period Courses: Students must complete requirements A, B, and C

A) One upper-division course from three of the five categories listed below (three courses total):

B) Modern/Contemporary

One upper-division course required:

C) Non-Western

One upper- or lower-division course required:

Recommended Electives for All Art History Majors (7 - 12 Units)

In consultation with the advisor, the art history major will choose additional language courses and/or upper-division courses from any of the following:

  1. A, B and C above; and Gallery and Museum Methods (ARTH 494 ).
  2. Special topic courses (ARTH 480 ).
  3. Course in a related field outside the Art Department with approval of the faculty and the department chair. Examples include but are not limited to:

Capstone Experience (4 - 6 Units)

All students must complete a senior project consisting of the following:

  1. ARTH 490 - Seminar in Visual Art and Culture  (4 units). Students must complete two papers in upper-division courses before being admitted to the pro-seminar.
  2. Senior Thesis: With prior approval, students may write a scholarly paper overseen by two art history faculty. The student receives assistance in preparing this paper by enrolling in one of the following courses:


Minimum total lower-division units: 11

Minimum total upper-division units: 32

Minimum total units in the major: 43

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