Program Overview:

Undergraduate Art History Major

Art history explores the historical meaning of art, architecture and design. The study of art over time enables students to develop acute visual sensibilities and finely honed skills of critical looking, thinking, speaking and writing. Art history offers students a solid basis for a lifelong understanding of art as well as a foundation for other disciplines, including history, literature, philosophy, music, politics and law.

Chicago is home to a significant number of world-famous museum collections and some of the world’s most extraordinary architecture. Courses in the major capitalize on the location, emphasizing on-site study and field trips in Chicago. The University LibraryDigital Collections, and the Block Museum of Art provide foundations for collaboration and research on campus.

Program Goals

Graduates will be able to:

  • Describe and analyze works of art and architecture
  • Understand the cultural contexts from which art has emerged
  • Demonstrate chronological knowledge of a variety of artistic traditions and their movements
  • Develop skills of visual, verbal and written literacy, analytical insight and investigation, critical reading and reasoning, synthesizing of information and material, visual observation and research, writing and persuasive presentation
  • Use the interdisciplinary scope of art history to connect with other areas of study such as history, philosophy, literature, music, gender studies, languages, cultural studies, anthropology, religion and new technologies

Program Requirements

Students are required to complete 45 units. The degree program includes major requirements, distribution requirements, and electives.


Choose from two degree programs for this major:

Bachelor of Philosophy – 45 units

  • The bachelor of philosophy (BPhil) is conferred by the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. To earn the BPhil degree, students must complete a total of 45 units (courses), including a writing requirement, two years of study in a foreign language (or demonstration of equivalent foreign language proficiency), distribution requirements, a major and electives. Foreign language proficiency may be demonstrated by completion of a second-year language sequence with a grade of C or better at an accredited college or university. Minors are optional.

Bachelor of Science in General Studies – 45 units

  • The bachelor of science in general studies (BSGS) is conferred by the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. For the BSGS degree, students must complete 45 units, including a writing requirement, distribution requirements, a major and electives. Minors are optional.

Major Requirements

3 200-level art history courses

9 300-level art history courses, with at least:

  • 1 ancient-medieval art
  • 1 Renaissance-Baroque art
  • 1 modern art
  • 1 non-Western art
  • 1 seminar (ART HIST 390)

1 studio art course

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Distribution Requirements

English - 2 units

  • ENGLISH 111 or 205
  • ENGLISH 113

Humanities – 4 units

  • 4 courses from the following areas: art history, classics, comparative literary studies, English literature, foreign languages (up to two units), history, music history, philosophy, religion, and some courses in African American studies, foreign languages with literature, gender studies, performance studies, radio/television/film, Slavic languages and literature and theatre.

Social Sciences – 4 units

  • 4 courses from the following areas: anthropology, economics, history, linguistics, political science, sociology, and some courses in African American studies, gender studies, psychology and statistics.

Science – 4 units

  • 4 courses from the following areas: astronomy, biological sciences, chemistry, earth and planetary sciences, engineering, geography, information systems, mathematics, physics and some courses in anthropology, psychology, radio/television/film and statistics

Modern Foreign Language (BPhil degree only) – 6 units

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Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil)

  • Up to 15, depending on transfer credits

Bachelor of General Studies (BSGS)

  • Up to 21, depending on transfer credits.