Art History

The Art History program encourages observation and direct, interpretive engagement with the visual arts. Curriculum spans ancient to contemporary art, with significant emphasis on research and writing. Students become skilled in utilization of narrative qualities and rhetorical persuasiveness as related to art historical writing and dialogue with art objects, spaces and performances. Through research-based courses, students cultivate connections between the studio arts and other fields of inquiry, intertwining visual, historical analyses with philosophical hypotheses and theoretical, political debates.

What can I expect to learn in the Art History program at GW?

Art History students have a range of degree options that offer a variety of alternatives for studying the visual and creative arts and for developing visual literacy and critical thinking skills. All students in Art History receive training that hones their critical analysis, research and writing skills. The curriculum at the undergraduate level covers a range of historical, theoretical, geographic and transcultural topics.

What is the Art History community like at GW?

With easy access to Washington, D.C.'s bountiful cultural resources, the Art History program encourages the pleasures of direct, interpretive engagement with the visual arts. At the graduate level, students have the option to concentrate in museum training and can take advantage of the many opportunities to experience and study works of art first-hand at the various museums and galleries in the area. Students also have the chance to meet and interact with a number of leading art professionals through seminars taught by local curators and the program’s robust visiting artist and scholars lecture series.

What is the Art History learning community like at GW?

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History curriculum covers ancient to contemporary art, with significant emphasis in developing research and writing skills. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the rich resources of the D.C. area through courses and internships with the area’s world-class institutions. 

Related Majors, Minors, and Concentrations

BA with Dual Major in Art History and Fine Arts; Dual BA in Art History

Combined degrees are hybrid programs that allow students to pursue two goals at once. At the undergraduate level, the Dual Fine Arts and Art History major offers a path to link scholarship and creative practice. The program is similar to a double major, with focused study in art history, theory and studio areas.

Two BA/MA programs allow committed students to develop strong foundations while completing a bachelor's degree along with the opportunity to shorten the time period and associated costs required to complete an MA program. The program offers two options for combining undergraduate/graduate degrees. The BA/MA in Art History allows advanced students to progress to further study in the field, while the BA in Fine Art/MA in Art Therapy program combines a liberal arts education in the Studio Arts and Psychology as preparation for graduate work in Art Therapy.

What can I do in the Art History field?

Art History majors develop skills that are applicable to a wide variety of careers. These skills include strong written skills, critical thinking and analysis, and expertise in art objects, spaces and performances. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in galleries, museums, foundations, academic institutions and companies, securing positions at the National Gallery of Art, the Phillips Collection, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, CulturalDC, and the Smithsonian Institute.