University of Rochester

Undergraduate Program in Art History

Art History/Visual Culture is a field of study in which the information and methodologies of many fields come together. The discipline of art history/visual culture involves the analysis of the work of art itself—understanding its form, and why and how we make use of it. It is also the investigation of its historical context and mode of production. These inquiries can lead in many different directions involving economic, social and gender issues; problems of patronage and taste; and questions of exchange, reception, conservation, and restoration. Art historical studies draw upon adjunct areas of study such as cultural and intellectual history, psychology, literary criticism, religion, philosophy, sociology, archaeology, and the history of science. The history of art/visual culture is an ideal field for a student who wishes to aquire a general cultural background, to develop analytical and writing skills, and to sharpen critical sensibilities.

Major in Art History

For those who wish to major in Art History/Visual Culture, the Department offers a variety of approaches structured around each student's individual interests and career plans. Students construct their studies with the aid and direction of the Department advisor and a faculty sponsor, following three areas of concentration:

  1. Studio Theory and Practice
  2. History and Theories of Art
  3. Visual and Cultural Studies

These are common areas that respond to the various ways student wish to explore art and visual culture. They provide guidelines that allow students to combine courses from different departments into an individualized major within the Department of Art and Art History.

  • Requirements for a student majoring in art history/visual culture:
  • Any three 100-level introductory courses in the major. Suggested introductory level courses include:
    • AH 100 Introduction to Visual and Cultural Studies
    • AH 101 Introduction to Art History
    • AH 137 Introduction to Modern Architecture
    • AH 103 Ways of Seeing (various topics)
  • Four 200/400 level program courses, one of which may be an independent study or internship.
  • One Sophomore/Junior Seminar, AAH 209 Writing on Art.
  • One Senior Seminar, AH 398, which is offered every autumn.
  • One course in studio art.

Study abroad during a fall or spring semester in the University's European Arts Internship program is encouraged for majors and non-majors alike. In Europe, there are opportunities to work in institutions, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of London, and internships can be arranged in Paris, Brussels, Bonn, and Madrid.

In addition, the Department offers an Art New York semester, which includes an internship and coursework as well as intensive exposure to art history/visual culture and contemporary art-making in New York City's museums, galleries, studios, and cultural institutions.

Requirements of Honors in Art History:

A student wishing to be considered a candidate for honors in art history/visual culture must meet the following requirements before applying:

  • Have a grade-point average of 3.5 within the major.
  • Have completed the introductory courses and at least three courses in the student's program, or have demonstrated proficiency in a number of related courses in the field.
  • Have completed a 300-level or higher art history/visual culture course or have otherwise demonstrated competence in the area of study of the proposed honors project.

To apply, a student must submit to the Department an honors project proposal, the subject of which has been mutually agreed upon (signed) by the student and his/her chosen faculty advisor early in the junior year. Following the acceptance of the proposal by the Department, the candidate must fulfill the following requirements.

  • A minimum of twelve credit hours beyond the major requirements, with the following distribution:
    • Four credit hours in a 300-level seminar in art history.
    • Four credit hours in AH 393, senior project (the honors course).
    • Four credit hours in a course given outside the Art and Art History Department (e.g., in the History Department) that is related to the honors project. This is intended to provide a broader and deeper understanding of the period or area of the honors project and normally will be a 200-level course selected in consultation with the honors faculty advisor and taken in the spring semester of the junior year or fall semester of the senior year.
  • Completion of a distinguished essay approximately thirty-five pages in length. This may be a seminar paper further researched and suitably expanded, or it may be the direct product of AH 393 (senior project). In addition to the student's project advisor, a second reader (selected together by the advisor and the student) will evaluate the essay.
  • Maintenance of a 3.5 grade-point average within the major.
  • Submission of two complete copies of the essay, one of which will be preserved by the University.

Requirements Graduation with Distinction:

Grade point average is calculated only from the required major courses. Transfer grades and study abroad grades (unless given by the University of Rochester) are not computed. Levels of distinction are rated by a mininum GPA as follows:

  • With Distinction: 3.5
  • With High Distinction: 3.7
  • With Highest Distinction: 3.9

Minor in Art History

A minor in Art History provides an introduction to the field and advanced level of study in a defined area. Individual programs can be designed in consultation with the advisor for art history.

  • A minor consist of five courses:
  • Two or Three 100-level courses from the group listed above for majors.
  • Two or three 200-level program courses.

Independent Study in Art History

  • Topic for exploration must not be available within the regular offerings of the Department (schedule conflicts are not a rationale for Independent Study).
  • Faculty director must have relevant expertise in topic area and be willing to supervise the student and to sign a contract stipulating agreed upon requirements.
  • Students must be in their junior and senior year and they must have previously completed a sufficient number of art history courses.
  • The semester must result in a research paper or equivalent project at an advanced level of achievement.

More Information

Undergraduate Advisor for Art History:
Grace Seiberling (585) 275-4169

Frequently Asked Questions