Virginia Tech

Learn from the Past

The study of Art History develops the student’s ability to place a work of art in its historical, cultural, social and political contexts by developing both analytical and visual skills. While an undergraduate concentration in art history many lead directly to graduate studies and a career in teach and scholarly research, there are numerous opportunities in museums, galleries, auction house and publishing companies. The Program offers a 42-credit major and an 18-credit minor in art history.  There is no portfolio requirement for art history.


The program is oriented toward the history of western art, although courses are frequently offered on non-western topics.  The foundation for the study of art history in SOVA is a two-semester survey of the history of art.  At the intermediate level there are fourteen courses offered on a regular basis, ranging from ancient Egyptian art and architecture to Art Since 1900, and including archaeology, arts of China and Japan, and the history of graphic design.  Upper-level courses are designated as special topics courses.  In recent years they have ranged from the Seven Wonders of the World to Japanese prints to the History of Photography to the Preservation of Historic Interiors.

The major in Art History is a 42-credit degree.  In addition to the two semester Survey of the History of Art (2385-86), the student is required to take five courses at the 3000-level.  The five courses are chosen from a list of four historical categories, ensuring that the student studies art and architectural history over a broad historical range.  In addition, majors are required to take Topics in Criticism and Methodology (Art 4484) and three upper-level topics classes (Art 4384).

To provide a broader context for the history of art, majors are also required to take a History course and a Humanities course (focusing on broad cultural and historical periods). To ensure some ‘hands on’ experience, they are also required to take either Art 1204 (Principles of Art and Design) or Art 1404 (Basic Drawing).  The Program encourages students to take advantage of opportunities to study abroad and to serve as interns in cultural organizations, especially museums and historical sites.

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