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2020-2021 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Bachelor of Arts in Art History

The art history major at Grand Valley State University offers students a broad-based knowledge of visual culture, its social and historical contexts of production as well as an introduction to theoretical approaches. The major uses an interdisciplinary model, which offers students opportunities for intensive study within the Department of Visual and Media Arts while allowing them to select from courses offered in other departments across the GVSU campus.

Requirements for a Major in Art History

All art history majors will earn a B.A. degree. Students are required to complete 39 credit hours in art history and studio art courses. Students will also meet the general education requirements, including third semester language proficiency.

Foundations Courses

There are six credit hours required. All art history majors are required to take two introductory courses to provide them with an overview of the chronology and methods of the discipline of art history.

Distribution Courses

There are 15 credit hours required. Art history majors are required to take classes covering a range of historical periods and cultures. Students take two courses in Ancient through Early-Modern Art as well as two courses in Modern and Contemporary Art categories for a total of 12 credit hours. In addition, one course is required from the World Art category for an additional three hours toward the distribution requirements.

Ancient through Early-Modern Art

Choose two courses:

Modern and Contemporary Art

Choose two courses:

World Art

Choose one course:

Studio Requirements

There are six credit hours required. Select two courses:

Capstone and Senior Thesis

There are six credit hours required. After completion of other art history requirements, students take a Capstone seminar, which offers them a discussion-intensive classroom experience. During their final semester, students complete a senior thesis with the assistance of their academic advisor.

Art History Electives

There are six credit hours required.

Distribution of General Education Requirements

Students are strongly encouraged to work closely with their advisors and create individual study plans appropriate to their area of interest in the major. These courses allow students to enrich their understanding of the cultural contexts for art production. Students may combine these courses to meet other requirements in the art history and general education programs. Some possible fields of exploration include sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, literature, music history, theater history, and languages.

Suggested Order of Coursework for a Major in Art History

Year One

Fall Semester:

Winter Semester:

Year Two

Fall Semester:

  • Two art history distribution courses (6 credits)
  • Third semester foreign language (4 credits)
  • One studio elective (3 credits)
  • One general education elective (3 credits)

Winter Semester:

  • Two art history distribution courses (6 credits)
  • One Issues course (3 credits)
  • Two general education electives (6 credits)
  • Complete the second SWS course

Year Three

Fall Semester:

  • One art history distribution course (3 credits)
  • One art history elective (3 credits)
  • One Issues course (3 credits)
  • One studio elective (3 credits)
  • One general education elective (3 credits)

Winter Semester:

  • One art history elective (3 credits)
  • Four electives: general education/additional art history/second major/minor (15 credits)

Year Four

Fall Semester:

Winter Semester:

  • Complete senior thesis requirement (3 credits)
  • Four electives: general education/additional art history/second major/minor (12 credits)

Click here for the program description.



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