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Art History/Theory/Criticism (VA26)

The major in art history, theory, and criticism is designed both for students who desire a broadly-based education in the humanities and for those who plan to pursue a career in an art-related profession. By combining art historical and critical study, the program promotes in the student an awareness of the cultural traditions which have shaped their intellectual outlook and provides a framework for informed judgment on the crucial issues of meaning and expression in contemporary society. Art History honors available for qualified students.


Major Curriculum Sheet:

Please note, the department is implementing changes to the curriculum, be sure to select the appropriate curriculum sheet below. Contact an academic advisor if you are not sure which version of the curriculum you should follow.

For Students Declared Fall 2021 and Later

For Students Declared Fall 2016 to Spring 2021

Students with the major declared prior to Fall 2016 need to contact an academic advisor for the appropriate curriculum sheet.

What specific skills will this program teach students?

  • Critical thinking and analytical tools for addressing theoretical and interpretive problems
  • Historical skills in the analysis and interpretation of art in society
  • Skills in written and oral communication
  • Visual and cultural literacy
  • Ability to carry out independent, scholarly research, utilizing evidence and logical argumentation

What is this program preparing students to do after graduation?

  • Graduates will be prepared to apply for art history, theory, and criticism graduate study at the M. A. and/or Ph.D. levels, in order to qualify for careers in college and university teaching in Departments of the History of Art, as well as educational careers at the community college, high school, K-12, or preparatory academy level
  • Pursue careers in museums and museology in curatorial, administrative, and educational/research positions
  • Pursue graduate and professional training and credentials in art writing, scholarship, journalism, and research
  • Further their specialized study and careers in areas of architectural history, interior and architectural design, architectural heritage and preservation, urban studies and urban and community planning
  • Pursue professional/graduate education and careers in Arts Administration, Business, and International Business and Marketing
  • Pursue professional studies toward Law and Legal Specialization in Arts Law, Legal Compliance, Cultural and Intellectual Property Law
  • Graduates pursuing careers and graduate study in such areas as international studies, political science, and other social science, public policy, and public administration disciplines may seek careers in a variety of fields of governmental and public sector service that focus on arts and heritage policy and the management of public heritage sites
  • Graduates wishing to pursue medical school, psychology, and therapeutic health degrees may seek educational credentials and careers in art therapy as a clinical practice in child psychology, disability therapy, and mental illness, visual imaging and data in medical diagnostics, environmental and facility design for medical clinics

What resources, software, tools, etc are utilized in this program?

Enrolled students have access to:
  • The full UC San Diego Library collections, including the Arts and Architecture collections which includes physical and digital access to images, films, audio, architecture, public art, performance, installation and urban development
  • Computing equipment (a laptop, desktop, tablet or similar computing device) for word processing, data storage, and use other scholarly resources
  • Access to digital photographic devices (a digital camera and video tools, etc) for fieldwork and photo documentation of works of art and architecture
  • Access to creative and visual media software such as Adobe Creative products
  • Writing manuals such as The Elements of Style and the Hodge’s Harbrace College Handbook, or art history textbooks, such as Art History’s History or Gardner’s Art Through the Ages

What are the Faculty recommended resources?

  • Visits to museums, art galleries, photo galleries, heritage and archaeological sites, art performance events, etc., that may be in your area
  • Familiarizing yourself with library resources at your school or public library that focus on art and architecture
  • Viewing available documentary films and videos that may be available online or broadcast media that deal with periods and schools of art
  • Visiting or volunteering at an archaeological dig or historical site, or enrolling in school programs or summer programs that permit you to be exposed to art, architectural heritage and history
  • Taking high school or other courses in art history-related topics such as U. S. or world history, cultural anthropology, women’s studies, gender/LGBT studies, Latina/o studies, etc.
  • Studies and travels abroad, exposure to diverse communities in the U. S. and other nations, foreign language classes, taking part in arts and cultural events of communities different from your own

Additional information you should know about this program!

  • Art history, theory, and criticism is an interdisciplinary field of knowledge cross-connecting art with a wide range of humanities and other disciplines. It is closely allied to fields such as history, and has branches that also reach outward to psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, and other social sciences.  Even technical and biological science fields intersect with art history in such areas as the study of optical perception, data visualization, art therapy in psychological practice.  Art history relates to public learning, heritage, museology, business, law, and public policy, journalism, and media production, as well as K-12 teaching and higher education.
  • Art history is an excellent major for undergraduate studies focusing on the humanities and the goals of a liberal arts education. Such humanities and liberal arts studies are intended to provide students with broad exposure to many areas of knowledge. Their goal is to shape a well-informed, intellectually versatile individual who will move forward into life and a chosen career path as an adept thinker, creative individual, and enlightened citizen of our nation, our state, and our world.
  • As a historical discipline, art history supplies students with informed perspectives on the present, past, and future directions of history and the influence of ideas and institutions in society. As an area focused on creative expression, art history explores the lives of artists and other influential, innovative, and creative individuals in our own and other times.  Also of value are the unique insights the study of art provides for understanding diversity at home and abroad. Art history’s international frameworks is ideal for careers and life goals focused on meeting the challenges of a global community.  The B. A. degree in art history, the art history minor and double-major degree plans offer vibrant  ways of experiencing the heritage, diversity, and promise of the world’s cultures, with perspectives that are valuable for further study in Visual Arts and many other fields of endeavor.