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Department of Art and Design

Courses For Non-Majors

Interested in taking art and design courses but aren’t a major? there are many options available to GVSU students. (Read more)

Art History

The study of art history explores how societies and individuals have used the visual arts to convey the ideas and values that were important to them.

Art History

A major or minor in art history provides you with an expansive framework to explore the arts and visual culture. Through the examination of historic and contemporary works produced around the globe students engage with questions of context, interpretation, and how these concepts have changed over time. Through the study and practice of art history you’ll approach the arts as complex and dynamic agents that reflect as well as shape cultural ideas and values. Students benefit from a supportive faculty, diverse course offerings, and a flexible curriculum that works with each learner’s educational and professional goals. You can also expand on classroom experiences through study abroad, internships, and undergraduate research opportunities. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged and art history students regularly graduate with a second major or minors from other programs at GVSU. In the art history program you’ll learn discipline specific skills along with transferable ones including critical thinking, informed analysis, adaptability, resilience, as well as effective written and oral communication, the foundations for any career. This integrated approach provides graduates with a global outlook and a respect for context, qualities essential in our changing world.

Students may pursue a BA in Art History or Art History Minor


The art history rooms include lecture and seminar spaces designed for small classes and active learning. Faculty often broaden opportunities for students by moving outside the classroom with visits to archives, architectural sites, campus collections, and regional museums.

Art History Curriculum

  • ART 221: Survey of Art History I
  • ART 222: Survey of Art History II
  • ART 322: Goths to Gothic: Medieval Art
  • ART 323: Rethinking Renaissance Art
  • ART 327: Art Since 1945
  • ART 380: Topics in Art (courses with a history emphasis)
  • ART 399: Readings in Art History-Senior Thesis
  • ART 420: Asian Art
  • ART 421: Surrealism
  • ART 422: Art and the Worlds of Islam
  • ART 423: Animals in Art
  • ART 425: Depicting a Nation: 19th Century American Art

Art History Alumni

Our program is quite young, but alumni have attended MA and PhD programs devoted to museum studies, historical administration and public history, as well as art history. Students have pursued advanced degrees at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Eastern Illinois University, George Mason University in Virginia, Northeastern University in Boston, the University of Denver, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and The Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

After completing their advanced degrees, alumni have gone on to work in collections management, art co-ops, archival collections, as well as pursued curatorial work in galleries and museums. Many of our graduates have chosen not to pursue graduate study putting the transferrable skills stressed in the program to good use as they pursued careers in technology, publishing, arts practice, and teaching English overseas.

All Alumni Websites

Degree Requirements for a BA or a Minor in Art History

For information on Degree Requirements for a BA in Art History or an Art History minor, please refer to the Advising page by clicking here.