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2019-2020 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog


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 (6 credit hours)

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

Distribution Courses (15 credit hours)

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 (6 credit hours)

Select two courses from the list below:

Capstone and Senior Thesis (6 credit hours)

After they have completed their 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: 6 credit hours

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

Freshman Year, Fall Semester:

Freshman Year, Winter Semester:

Sophomore Year, Fall Semester:

  • Two art history distribution courses Credits: 6
  • Third semester foreign language Credits: 4
  • One studio elective Credits: 3
  • One general education elective Credits: 3

Sophomore Year, Winter Semester:

  • Two art history distribution courses Credits: 6
  • One Issues course Credits: 3
  • Two general education electives Credits: 6
  • Complete the second SWS course

Junior Year, Fall Semester:

  • One art history distribution course Credits: 3
  • One art history elective Credits: 3
  • One Issues course Credits: 3
  • One studio elective Credits: 3
  • One general education elective Credits: 3

Junior Year, Winter Semester:

  • One art history elective Credits: 3
  • Four electives - general education/additional art history/second major/minor Credits: 15

Senior Year, Fall Semester:

Senior Year, Winter Semester:

  • Complete senior thesis requirement Credits: 3
  • Four electives - general education/additional art history/second major/minor Credits: 12

Click here for the program description.



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