Why study the history of art?

The study of the visual arts in their historical contexts enriches our understanding of human creativity and the human condition. It provides students with the cultural literacy and critical thinking, research, and communication skills that are relevant for a variety of careers, including in art museums, galleries, and collections, as well as schools, universities, publishers, and archives. The study of art history can also provide the foundation for a career in other professions such as business, law, media, or government.

Undergraduate Admission

Admission to KU

All students applying for admission must send high school and college transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Unless they are college transfer students with at least 24 hours of credit, prospective students must send ACT or SAT scores to the Office of Admissions. Prospective first-year students should be aware that KU has qualified admission requirements that all new first-year students must meet to be admitted. Consult the Office of Admissions for application deadlines and specific admission requirements.

Visit the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for information about international admissions.

Students considering transferring to KU may see how their college-level course work will transfer on the Office of Admissions website.

Admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Admission to the College is a different process from admission to a major field. Some CLAS departments have admission requirements. See individual department/program sections for departmental admission requirements.

History of Art Programs

Bachelor’s degrees with majors in the history of art are offered in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (B.A. and B.G.S.) and in the School of the Arts (B.F.A.). See Bachelor of Fine Arts in History of Art in the School of the Arts Department of Visual Art section of the catalog for B.F.A. requirements.

Requirements for the B.A. or B.G.S. Major

1. Foundation Courses: (9)9
History of Western Art: Ancient Through Medieval
History of Western Art : Ancient Through Medieval, Honors
History of Western Art: Renaissance to Contemporary
History of Western Art: Renaissance to Contemporary, Honors
and either
Introduction to Asian Art
The Visual Arts of East Asia
2. Breadth Courses: Complete one course at or above the 300 level in each of the following six categories: (18)
A. Art between 400-1400: European, Mediterranean, or Near Eastern3
Special Study in Medieval Art: _____
Early Medieval and Romanesque Art
Gothic Art
Medieval Manuscripts and Early Printed Books
Late Medieval Art in Italy
Special Study in Medieval Art: _____
B. Art between 1300-1600: European, Mediterranean, or Near Eastern3
Italian Renaissance Art
Special Study in Islamic Art, 14th-17th Century: _____
Special Study in Renaissance Art: _____
Prints and Printmakers
The Italian Renaissance Home
Renaissance Art in Italy: The 15th Century
Renaissance Art in Italy: The 16th Century
Michelangelo
Special Study in Islamic Art, 14th-17th Century: _____
Northern Renaissance Art
Special Study in Renaissance Art: _____
C. Art between 1600 and 1700: European3
Baroque Art in Europe
Special Study in Baroque Art: _____
Northern Baroque Art
Italian Baroque Art
Southern Baroque Art
Special Study in Baroque Art: _____
D. Art between 1700 and 1900: European or American3
American Art
European Art 1789-1848: Gender and Revolution
Art in France 1848-1900: Modernisms
Special Study in 18th/19th-Century European or American Art: _____
Special Study in 18th-19th Century European or American Art: ______
American Art
American Art to 1860: Inventing a Nation
American Art 1860-1900: Gilded Age
E. Asian Art before 1900:3
Special Study in Asian Art Before 1900: _____
Japanese Prints
Buddhist Art of Korea
Ceramics of Korea
Art and Culture of Japan
Art and Culture of China
Art and Culture of Korea
Art and Culture of Japan, Honors
Art and Culture of China, Honors
Art and Culture of Korea, Honors
Chinese Painting, Honors
History of Japanese Buddhist Art
Special Study in Asian Art Before 1900: _____
Early Chinese Art
Chinese Sculpture
Buddhist Scriptures in Chinese Painting
Chinese Painting
Japanese Prints
Buddhist Art of Korea
Ceramics of Korea
The Art of Buddhism
Japanese Painting
Japanese Sculpture
F. Art after 19003
Special Study in 20th/21st-Century Art: _____
Modern Korean Art and Culture
History of Photography
Modern and Contemporary Visual Arts of Japan
Special Study in 20th/21st-Century Art: _____
European Art, 1900-1945
Art Since 1945
Art From 1945 to the 1980s: Modernism to Post-Modernism
Contemporary Art
Modern Sculpture
History of Photography
American Art 1900-1945: Rise of Modernism
Kansas Art, History, and Popular Culture
Modern and Contempoary Visual Arts of Japan
Japanese Artistic Encounters with Europe and the United States
3. Complete an art history course (3 hours) approved for Goal 6 in the KU Core. (The Goal 6 art history course may also fulfill one of the breadth requirements above, in which case an elective course should be taken for the final 3 required hours of art history.) (3)3
4. Art history elective (0-3 hours; see number 3 above). (0)
Total Hours: (30)30

Note: HA 100/HA 300 is a 1-semester survey of Western art history intended for non-majors and does not count toward the 30 required hours in art history. A student who takes HA 100 or HA 300 and then decides to major in art history must then also take either HA 150 or HA 151 (or both). A student who already has credit in either HA 150 or HA 151, however, should not take HA 100 or HA 300.

Major Hours & Major GPA

While completing all required courses, majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade-point average minimum standards:

Major Hours
Satisfied by 30 hours of major courses.

Major Hours in Residence
Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours of KU resident credit in the major. 

Major Junior/Senior Hours
Satisfied by a minimum of 12 hours from junior/senior courses (300+) in the major.

Major Junior/Senior Graduation GPA
Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator.

A sample 4-year plan for the BA degree in History of Art can be found here: History of Art, or by using the left-side navigation.

A sample 4-year plan for the BGS degree in History of Art can be found using the left-side navigation.

Departmental Honors

The department invites art history undergraduate majors to apply for graduation with departmental honors. They must meet the following criteria:

  1. An overall grade-point average of at least 3.25 and an art history grade-point average of 3.5 at the time of declaring intention to seek honors.
  2. In consultation with the departmental honors coordinator and with approval from a supervising professor, declared intention of seeking honors no later than the time of enrollment for the final undergraduate semester.
  3. Enrollment in HA 498 Honors Essay and full participation in a concurrent art history graduate seminar (numbered 700 or above) for which the student must write a substantial, original research paper to be submitted to the supervising professor as an honors essay.
  4. Approval of the honors essay by the supervising professor and 2 other faculty members who, as a committee, certify to the departmental honors coordinator that the student has successfully completed the requirements to earn honors.