Art History

Major Description

Art History gives students the ability to interpret art as a record of social and personal experience, to assess complex and conflicting arguments critically, to understand and to interpret a diverse range of artistic traditions. Students acquire a broad education that will allow them to advance in a wide variety of careers, including (but not limited to) the arts, business, law, and education. An art history major also prepares students for graduate study in the field, which can lead to a career as
a university professor or in a museum. There are two ways to major in art history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Students may work toward either a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the College of Fine and Applied Arts or a Bachelor of Arts degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The B.F.A. program is a degree in art and art history, and requires more studio and design courses. The B.A. program requires more extensive study in the humanities. Both majors have a Senior Honors Program that is strongly recommended to qualified students. This program offers seniors the opportunity to work closely with a member of the faculty researching and writing a scholarly paper over the course of two semesters.

Courses That Introduce the Major:
  • ARTH 110—Introduction to the History of Art and Visual Culture
  • Any upper-level (200-400) courses for a more focused introduction
    • ARTH 242—Art Since 1940
    • ARTH 250—American Art
    • ARTH 257—History of Photography

Students may also enroll directly in upper-level courses for a more focused introduction.

Possible Career Opportunities:

Studying art history can lead to careers in museums and galleries, in education, art librarianship, the management of visual resources for universities and arts institutions, and conservation. The broad education provided by an art history degree serves as preparation for a wide variety of careers, including the arts, business, law, and education.

No
  • Ability to communicate through the materials used to create works of art
  • Analytical thinking
  • Creativity/inventive skills
  • Discipline and perseverance to build skills in different techniques by working and reworking art
  • Research and writing skills to combine visual analysis of works of art with in-depth research
  • Visual Analysis
  • Author
  • Art Lawyer
  • Curator
  • Curatorial Researcher
  • Documentary Researcher
  • Conservator
  • Critic
  • Grant Writer
  • Educational Coordinator
  • Independent Producer
  • Publisher
  • Lecturer
  • Librarian
  • Museum Director
  • Visual Resource Librarian

Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree.

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:
  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • For Art's Sake: For Art's Sake is an organization serving lovers of art at UIUC. Anyone interested in art history, art theory, film studies, architecture history, new media, criticism, etc. is welcome, regardless of background or major. We are happy to act as educators for those new to art history and as a community for seasoned historians. We will provide a space for intelligent, insightful conversation as well as activities to extend and practice your understanding of art.
    • Montage Arts Journal: Our purpose is to publish a yearly journal of exceptional undergraduate work in prose, poetry, art, and drama.
    • Society for Art History and Fine Art: Builds bridges between undergraduate students in art history and fine arts.
Further Information:

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Art History.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Art History.  These organizations include Association for Art Historians and College Art Association