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First-Year Focus

Welcome, 1st year students! Interested in majoring in Art History? Read on!

Why Study Art History?

Art history provides an excellent opportunity to develop the essential skills and talents that lie at the core of a good liberal arts education, including informed and critical reading, writing, and speaking. To these, it adds a particular attention to critical looking, building core skills in analyzing how the visual and physical qualities of buildings, images and objects can be used to communicate. In art history, we study the art and architecture of cultures around the world and across the millennia. We take a variety of approaches to our objects, but focus on understanding their aesthetic and historical significance as well as their social relevance. We ask how people make meaning in visual terms and, in turn, how we read and understand a world that is largely presented to us as visual information. Since Chicago is fortunate enough to boast a large number of world-famous museum collections and some of the world’s most extraordinary architecture, many of our classes emphasize on-site study and field trips.

With its broad historical, cultural, geographic, and methodological range, art history satisfies the expectations of burgeoning specialists while it also offers an excellent formation for those who intend to specialize in other areas. While many of our majors go on to careers in museums, galleries, arts reporting or academe, many others have successfully brought the skills honed in art history classrooms to the worlds of business, law, medicine and international relations. You can see some of their achievements on our Undergraduate Alumni Spotlight page.


AP Credits

Our department awards 1 Art History credit towards the major or minor for students who receive a score of 5 on the Art History Advanced Placement Exam. This credit transfers to count for 1 single 200-level class, of which 2 are required for the major and/or minor. 

The Art History AP exam does not transfer towards any of the required Foundational Disciplines.

Good Classes for First-Years

There are no placement exams for first-year students and you are welcome to enroll in whatever class you’d like, with the proviso that it is best to start with a 200-level course with a broad area of focus.

Right Image: Art and the Place of Nature in Modernity students at the South Side Community Art Center, October 8, 2022.


You can take a look at our major and minor requirements, but if you have questions about our major and our courses, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Jesús Escobar at Professor Escobar processes all Declarations of Major and Minor so you need to make an appointment to see him if you want to join us as either a major or minor.

For general information about advising in Weinberg College, visit the general Weinberg advising page.

Header Image: Professor Yuthika Sharma's Introduction to Asian Art students view Chinese, Japanese, and Indian Buddhist antiques in an object study session led by curators Colin Mackenzie and Madhuvanti Ghose at the Art Institute of Chicago, March 10, 2022.