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Art History Major Guide for 2015-2016

What is Art History?

Art History is a discipline within the Humanities that examines the history of works of art in the broadest possible context. Study involves the investigation of the world’s monuments and images from a variety of perspectives, ranging from physical investigations of the works of art themselves, to biographical inquiries into the lives of artists, to examinations of the social, political and historical contexts within which works of art are made. Works of art in all media (painting, sculpture, architecture, graphic media including printmaking, drawing and photography and time arts) are of interest to the art historian.

Career Opportunities in Art History

The B.A. in Art History prepares the student for a variety of post-graduate experiences. These range from continued study in the discipline in graduate school, leading to careers in college and university teaching and research as well as curatorial work in museums, to entry-level positions in museums and galleries. As a well-rounded program of study, the major can also lead to the pursuit of corollary disciplines, such as archaeology, restoration and conservation, anthropology, religious studies, art education and criticism. Moreover, this is a program of study with an emphasis on detailed visual analysis, writing and oral work, skills that can also lead readily to studies in law and business.

Salary Trends in Art History

Because this is a program of study that leads in so many different directions, it is difficult to generalize about entry-level salaries. However, at the present time the median salary for positions in museums and galleries for candidates with a B.A. is about $32,000. Positions for candidates with graduate training begin around $35,000 for those with an M.A. in the History of Art, but can be as high as $50,000 on completion of the Ph.D.

High School Preparation

In general Art History is not a discipline taught in high school curricula. Students interested in the undergraduate major are advised to pursue language studies beginning in high school. German is a key language for the study of Art History; French and Latin are also useful and may be more readily available in high schools. Experience in studio art can also be beneficial as early preparation for a major in Art History. Exposure to works of art is essential. Visit your local museum often and then read about the works you have seen. When traveling encourage your family to make museum visits a part of your plans.

How to Major in Art History

The Art History major requires 12 hours of prerequisite course work. These required courses are Art History 172 ( Western Art: Ancient through Medieval), Art History 173 (Western Art: Renaissance to Contemporary), Art History 183 (Asian Art) or Art History 162 (Art of Africa, Oceania and Pre-Columbian America), and a studio art elective. Each of these courses constitutes 3 hours of course work. Students interested in the Art History major are advised to try to complete the 9 prerequisite hours in Art History within the first three semesters of course work or as soon as possible. In addition to the 12 hours of prerequisite course work, the B.A. in Art History requires 30 hours of upper-division course work in Art History. Students are required to take at least one course in four out of five areas: Medieval/Early Renaissance; High Renaissance/Baroque; American; 19th and 20th Century European; and Non-Western.

After completing at least 9 hours in Art History, 3 hours of which must be upper-division, students are required to complete Art History 375: Seminar in Art History I. After completion of ARTH 375, majors are required to take ARTH 402, Seminar in Art History II. The total number of prescribed credit hours for the major is 42.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Majors in Art History are encouraged to travel to see works of art as much as possible. For this reason, study abroad for a year or a semester is highly desirable.   Many majors opt to pursue internships in galleries and museums in Knoxville and around the world. Pursuit of these special opportunities requires careful planning in order to also complete the Art History major in a timely manner.

Highlights of Art History

The Art History major at UT offers a number of unique opportunities. Our program is unusual among undergraduate programs because we have faculty members in American, European, and Asian Art. With a total of five full-time faculty members, students find that they receive close attention from the faculty. There are ample opportunities for individualized study and independent study with our faculty members, each of whom is a respected member of the international community of scholars in the History of Art. The curriculum includes Honors courses at the entry level as well as Honors by Contract at every level. The Ewing Gallery of Art on campus and the Knoxville Museum of Art offer important resources for the major as well. There is a Student Art History Association (SAHA) that serves to form a community for the majors within the School of Art.

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“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education web site ( or the Ready for the World web site ( for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities. Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad.  The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. For first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog.

For More Information

School of Art Office
213 Art & Architecture Building


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

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