The art history major is designed to provide students with a solid background in the history of art. The histories of painting, sculpture, architecture, design, the graphic arts, photography, and occassionally film are examined in relation to such contextual issues as religion, politics, society, gender, economics, philosophy, and culture.
Majors begin with foundation survey courses in the history of art and architecture. Majors then take more specialized courses in art history. Twelve credits of electives in the major allow students to concentrate in areas of particular interest. The program culminates with a writing-intensive undergraduate seminar.
Students who pursue the Bachelor of Arts in art history will acquire a thorough humanistic education that involves writing, speaking, and participating in group discussions, as well as developing a facility in at least one foreign language. Majors are also encouraged to pursue a study abroad experience. The major provides students with a solid liberal arts background and is an excellent preparation for the further study of art history or other humanities degree in graduate school.
With a B.A. in art history, graduates have found employment in museums, galleries, publishing, arts agencies, visual resources, libraries/archives, archaeology, historic preservation, and historic sites. The two most common careers for art historians are teaching at the college level or working in a museum (as a curator, registrar, director, etc.). These careers typically require graduate degrees.
Undergraduate majors who are seriously considering future graduate study in art history can enhance their prospects by developing a strong facility in one or more foreign languages, having a study abroad experience, and obtaining some direct experience, such as interning in a museum or gallery, participating in an archaeological dig, volunteering or working at a historic site, etc.
After a student’s first semester of study, any undergraduate who is in good standing at Penn State (with a grade point average of at least 2.0) can declare Art History as his/her major. Please visit Christine Cooper in the Art History Office (240A Borland Building) to fill out the appropriate paperwork.