Art History Program

BA in Art History

General Information - What We Do

Art historians study artistic monuments and other material objects in their historical, social, and technological contexts. Through such investigations, students earning the BA in Art History and Archaeology develop skills of visual perception and analysis as ways of exploring how images can express identity, share information, and shape everyday life. This integrative approach to cultural traditions draws readily on other disciplines like art, archaeology, anthropology, classics, film studies, gender studies, history, languages, literature, music, philosophy, and religion.

The undergraduate program supports students pursuing academic studies in art history, drawing on coursework offered by the Art History program and by archaeologists in the Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies. A double or dual major allows students to combine their interest with work in other programs in the School of Visual Studies (such as Art, Digital Storytelling, or Film Studies), other departments in the College of Arts and Science (for example, English, Geology, or History) or other academic units (for example, Business or Journalism). Many students majoring in other programs also complete the undergraduate minor in art history and archaeology.

While the BA is not a vocational or professional degree, undergraduate majors gain a broad foundation in the liberal arts that is readily adapted to future goals. Recent graduates of the program have gone on to careers in art galleries, civic arts organizations, cultural heritage offices, historical archives and museums, journalism, library and information sciences, secondary education, and fine arts conservation. Students wishing to pursue specialized research and college-level teaching continue their studies at the masters and doctoral levels.

Requirements for the BA in Art History

The Art History major requires a minimum of 30 credit hours and must include:

  • ARHA 1110 and ARHA 1120 (6 hours)
  • At least four courses at the 3000 level or above (12 hours), including at least one course in each of three distribution areas (Ancient, Medieval to Baroque, and Modern) and at least two courses at the 4000 level (6 hours).   
  • Two elective ARHA courses at any level (6 hours) including internship, independent study, and study abroad
  • One 4000-level course taken during the last 45 hours functions as the capstone

Requirements for the Minor in Art History

A minor in art history and archaeology requires 15 hours of credit within the Department of Art History and Archaeology. Nine of the 15 hours must be at the 3000-level or above.

Departmental Honors in Art History

Departmental Honors is intended for students who have a commitment to future professional activity in art history, who wish for a deeper research experience, and who have a record of excellence in departmental coursework. Ideally, the honors candidate uses this experience as a stepping stone to graduate study in art history or a closely related field. Since the time requirements for departmental honors can be considerable, students are strongly advised not to seek honors in other programs while completing honors in art history and archaeology.


3.3 or above cumulative total GPA
3.6 departmental GPA
Successful completion of one 4000-level ARHA course

Departmental Honors is a one-semester program that consists of researching and writing an honors essay. The student undertakes this during their senior year while enrolled in ARHA 4999, Honors Reading and Research, in conjunction with a faculty adviser.

The student should apply for departmental honors the semester prior to taking ARHA 4999 by writing a proposal on the subject of their essay.  Essays can expand upon papers written for previous courses or can be based on new research.  Both options are workable, but the faculty supervisor will determine the project's exact parameters.  No faculty member is obliged to direct any project and should only agree to direct those students whose accomplishments meet their expectations for honors work.  Students who are unable to find a supervisor will need to explore other options.  The honors essay should be of substantial length, incorporate significant individual research, and engage with theoretical, historiographical, and methodological perspectives appropriate to the topic at hand.  Completing these requirements to the faculty's satisfaction will earn the student departmental honors.