Art History Requirements
Art history explores the historical meaning of art, architecture, and visual culture in all parts of the world from antiquity to the present. It analyzes visual objects through their form, technique, design, historical context, and ideological function. It also studies individual artists or makers, cultural institutions, audiences, and intercultural exchanges. It is inherently interdisciplinary, often requiring theoretical engagement with fields such as anthropology, philosophy, critical theory, political science, history, literature, film, performance, theater, and area studies.
The study of art history develops skills of informed and critical looking, reading, speaking, and writing. Thus, while it offers specialized knowledge of the visual world for those who want to pursue careers in the art world, academia, and the practice of art and design, the major is also excellent for any student seeking a solid foundation in the liberal arts. With its broad historical, cultural, geographic, and methodological spectrum, it offers an excellent background for students who want to specialize in areas such as law, medicine, business, international relations, politics, and education.
The Art History degree requires 45 credits in art history, visual art, and cognates; a minor in a non-art secondary area, and the General Education requirements including a foreign language (French or German recommended). A BA in Art History is recommended for those planning to do graduate work in the humanities or enter professions that require a broad overview of visual culture. Careers in museums generally require at least a master’s degree. Careers in college and university teaching and research require a PhD.
Majors continuing on to graduate school are encouraged to do the following over and above the basic requirements for the major:
- Maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above.
- Confer with your advisor early on to discuss academic plan.
- Develop a greater depth in a given area, beyond what is required.
- Attain reading competence in at least one foreign language.
- Spend a year abroad.
- Remember that in any graduate school application, you will be expected to produce evidence of strong research and writing skills, as in a paper from an upper level course or an Honors thesis/project.
- Be aware that the components of a serious application to graduate school include not only your transcript and GRE scores, but also three letters of recommendation from faculty members, a writing sample, a well-informed statement of purpose, and indication of foreign language skills.