Art History Advising Guide
The Art & Art History Department
What is Art History?
Art history is the study of art and architecture created in both the past and present by artists, architects, and craft persons from various cultures ranging from antiquity to the contemporary world. The field of art history goes beyond the basic memorization of artist’s names and dates, by exploring the social historical context in which the art was produced as well as by examining the desired meaning and impact the artist or architect intended to have on the viewer. What constitutes as art can range from traditional fine art (such as paintings and sculptures), new media in today’s popular culture, or archaeological artifacts. Art and architecture is made for a variety of reasons from a variety of different materials; it can be a reflection of the artist’s life, a culture’s religious beliefs, or a source of political propaganda. The art historian seeks to interpret and understand art and architecture by using a variety of methods including learning about artists' lives, and attempting to understand the societies in which the art was produced. In addition to learning the social, historical, cultural, and aesthetic significance of the visual arts, students in Art History acquire knowledge of critical analysis, interpretive skills, research, communication, and creativity.
Art History Degrees in the Art & Art History Department
The Department of Art & Art History is unique in offering two degrees in Art History, a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Both degrees are designed to prepare the student to pursue careers in a variety of fields including traditional art historical fields such as museums, galleries, and auction houses. In addition, it provides an advantage for entry into a variety of professional fields such as law, medicine, and business, which is especially important given the increasing demand by professional schools that applicants have a broad intellectual background.
There are several areas of specialization available to a student majoring in Art History for both the BA and BFA degrees, including Ancient (3500 BC-500 AD); Medieval (1-1300 AD); Renaissance, Baroque, Eighteenth Century (14th to 18th centuries); Modern (19th and early 20th century), and Contemporary (1965-Present). While students may choose an area of specialization, they will be required to take at least one class in all five areas of study.
Bachelor of Arts Degree:
The BA degree offers the student a degree with a greater breadth of knowledge by giving the student the opportunity to minor in a field of study in other areas of the humanities, science, or business. Students who plan to pursue a graduate degree in Art History, Classical Archaeology, Religious Studies, Museum Studies, and Education benefit from a degree in Art History. The BA also provides a sound academic background for students who intend to pursue graduate or professional degrees such as law, business, marketing, and medicine where observation and critical thinking skills are a must.
Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree:
The BFA is designed for students who are interested in the practical application and production of art. The BFA allows students to further focus their studies in a specialized field of art history culminating in an undergraduate thesis, as well as engaging in a secondary concentration in an area of studio art. Students going into art education, art therapy, art preservation, and art restoration, or who want to explore their artistic side often pursue this degree.
Areas of Study:
Careers for Art Historians:
While art historians go into a variety of jobs, the most common are those associated with Museums such as Museum Curator, Museum Registrar, and Archivists. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “employment of archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The need to store information in archives and public interest in science, art, and history, will continue to spur demand for archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators.”
Other careers to consider with an art history degree:
- Antiquarian Book Trade
- Artist Representative
- Estate and Art Appraiser
- Preservationist and Conservationist
- Antiques Dealer
- Consignment Director at Auction Houses
- Art Lawyer
- Freelance Collection Manager
- Architectural Conservation
- Art Librarian
- Freelance Writer
- Teaching (at all levels of education)
- Art Advisor
- Arts Organization Consultant
- Local, State, and Federal Governmental Agency Jobs
- Includes historical preservationists, archivists, curators, and registrars
- Visual Resource Curator
In addition many art history majors go on to work in business, marketing, and law.
The B.A. program requires completion of the general education requirements in the College of Arts and Sciences, requirements for a minor, and enough elective courses for credit hours to total 120. At least 30 hours of courses numbered 300 or higher must be taken at this University, including a minimum of 15 hours of upper-division art courses. Two courses must be designated writing credit (W) courses, at least one of which is in the art program. A minimum of 39 hours in art history and studio courses is required. All students must complete the core requirements and those listed under one of two concentrations, art history or art studio.
Core Courses: 15 hours
- ARH 103, Art History I
- ARH 123, Art History II
- ARH 344, Contemporary Art
- ARS 123, Two-Dimensional Design
- ARS 124, Three-Dimensional Design
Art History: 24 hours
In addition to the core requirements, 24 hours in art history courses including ARH 492 Seminar, ARH 493 Methodology of Art History, and at least one 300 or 400 level course in each of the following areas:
- Ancient Art - ARH 304, ARH 306
- Medieval Art - ARH 312, ARH 415
- Renaissance Art and Baroque Art - ARH 322, ARH 324, ARH 326, ARH 330, ARH 332, ARH 335, ARH 434
- Modern Art - ARH 340, ARH 345, ARH 346. Seminar and Special Topics courses may be used to satisfy area requirements.
Language Requirements in Art History: 6 hours
While the department does not require language training beyond the General Education requirement (6 hours), we strongly encourage art history majors, particularly those planning graduate study, to pursue foreign languages beyond what is required by the College. French and German are the preferred languages because they are required by most M.A. and Ph.D. programs in art history.
- Written composition: EH 101 and EH 102
- Oral communication: CA 110
- Fine Arts - Art History: ARH 103, ARH 123, ARH 344, and two elective Art History courses
- Humanities: One approved course in literature (EH 215, EH 216, EH 225, EH 226, EH 235, or EH 236)
- History, Social and Behavioral Sciences:
- HY 101-102 or HY 135-136 and two approved 100/200 level courses in Anthropology, Economics, Geography, International Studies, Political Science, Psychology or Sociology (AN 100, AN 101, ECO 215, ECO 216, GEO114, GEO 115, IS 100, PSC 130, PSY 120, PSY 250, SY 109, SY 112)
- Natural Sciences and Mathematics:MA 110, 112, or higher level course and two courses in laboratory sciences (AN 210, BLY 101, BLY 102, CH 101, CH 103, CH 131 or CH 141, CH 132 or CH 141, GEO 101, GEO 102, GY 111, GY 112, PH 101, PH 104, PH 114 or PH 201, PH 115 or PH 202)
Art Core Requirement: 24 hours
- Drawing: five courses including ARS 121, ARS 122, one or two 200 level courses, and at least one 300 or higher level drawing course, or ARS 326
- Design: ARS 123 and ARS 124
- Methodology of Art History: ARH 493
Students with a primary concentration in Art History must complete six hours of ARH 498: Senior Thesis. The thesis is to be taken over a two semester period during the student's senior year.
Primary Concentration in Art History:
A primary concentration in Art History requires 30 hours in Art History to include ARH 492 or ARH 480, ARH 408 (6 hours), and at least one course in each of the following areas:
- Ancient Art - ARH 304, ARH 306.
- Medieval Art - ARH 312, ARH 415
- Renaissance Art and Baroque Art - ARH 322, ARH 324, ARH 326, ARH 330, ARH 332, ARH 434.
- Modern Art - ARH 340, ARH 345, ARH 346. ARH 290 Special Topics, ARH 390, Special Topics, and ARH 492 Seminar, may be used to satisfy area requirements.
Secondary Studio Concentrations:
Fifteen hours in studio areas. Secondary concentrations are available in Ceramics, Glass, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture and Interdisciplinary. Interdisciplinary Secondary consists of 9 credits in one area and 6 credits in any combination of the other areas.
Requirements for a Double Primary Concentration:
In lieu of a secondary concentration, students may complete a second primary concentration. This will require course work in excess of the 120 hours minimum required for the B.F.A. and may delay time to graduation. To complete a Double Primary Concentration, students must complete Primary Concentration requirements in two separate areas including Senior Thesis or Senior Portfolio where applicable.
Visual Arts Highlights
The Department of Art & Art History boasts over 25,000 sq. ft. of dedicated studio space and two 60 person lecture halls in its own complex built around a central courtyard. The Department offers concentrations in ten areas and an MFA program in Creative Technologies and Practice. Among the offerings, Animation and Glass are particularly noteworthy in that they are the only programs of their kinds in the state. The Department also houses an exhibition space and maintains a visiting artist program through which internationally recognized artists and scholars conduct lectures, demonstrations and workshops.
The Department of Visual Arts offers numerous Art Scholarships such as:
Gordon B. and Martha Kahn Endowed Scholarship
Freshman/ Sophomore Scholarship
Robert Snell Art Scholarship
The Visual Arts Scholarship
There are a number of student organizations within the department of visual arts: Art History Association, Glass Club (Jaglass), Graphic Design Student Association, Photography Association, Object Association, South Paw Press - Printmaking Student Organization, Oracle Fine Arts Review, and Student Art Association.
Students can have internships at the Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile Art Council, Alabama Contemporary, History Museum of Mobile, Pensacola Museum of Art and Oakleigh House.
The Art & Art History Department and its student associations are actively involved in the Mobile community. The Art History Student Organization has volunteered at the Mobile Museum of Art, Art Soup (a benefit for the homeless), and The Bragg-Mitchel Mansion, among others. They are also frequent attendees of Mobile’s Art Walk. The Art & Art History Department offers a variety of art demonstrations and lectures both to the university and Mobile communities.
Study Abroad Opportunities
The Department of Art and Art History at the University of South Alabama hosts a two-week study abroad experience every summer at various locations around Europe. The trip location changes annually with recent locations including Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain. During the two-weeks spent abroad students are able to visit some of the most iconic art museums and archaeological sites in the world, including the Uffizi, the Vatican Galleries, and Pompeii in Italy; the Prado and the Alhambra in Spain, and the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The program is guided and courses are taught by USA Art and Art History faculty. Up to six credit hours may be earned in studio art and/or art history courses with some work required prior to and after the trip.
Following an academic plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years.
To see a sample academic plan for the BA in Art History, please click here. To see a sample academic plan for the BFA in Art History, please click here. Degree plans provide only a suggested schedule; make sure to meet with your academic advisor to find the actual schedule that is right for you.
For additional degree information, visit the undergraduate bulletin.
For More Information
For more information on these programs, contact the department of Art & Art History chair, Susan Fitzsimmons, at (251) 461-1441 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find us on campus at:
Art & Art History Department
Visual Arts Building (VAB), Room 172
Mobile, AL 36688
*The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other majors, please refer to the USA bulletin or contact the department/College directly.