Art History & Theory

Pursue a career as an art professional

The Bachelor of Science in Art History and Theory is a professional degree based on a curriculum historically developed in conjunction with the studio Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs at Alfred University. It is designed to encourage you to develop an understanding of artistic developments in the Western and global historical contexts, to provide you with the critical and theoretical tools necessary to pursue a career as an art professional, and to prepare you for the pursuit of graduate studies in the field.


Campus Locations

Main Campus - Alfred, NY


Art History & Theory (BS)


Art History & Theory Art History

Why Art History at AU?

Scholes Library

An unparalleled collection of ceramic art, science, engineering, and technology, as well as extensive holding in photography, sculpture, art history, glass art, electronic media and other areas of art and design.

Ceramic Art Museum

The recently constructed Alfred Ceramic Art Museum on the Alfred University campus is an expansive teaching and research facility whose study collection affords hands-on appreciation of cutting edge, contemporary pieces, historical pieces, and everywhere in between.

Summer Credit Courses

Stay at the head of your class or just enjoy your summer that much more by immersing yourself in further study of Art History. Participate in summer credit courses offered in the School of Art and Design. Classes are offered on-campus and on-line.

Multi-Faceted Learning

Become an art historian and theorist with knowledge of the visual arts grounded in substantial studio experiences as well as extensive academic learning and research. You'll also have extensive exposure to a combination of fundamental theoretical and applied research techniques in art.

Setting a Solid Foundation

Art History plays a formative and sustaining role in the development of the modern concept of art. We believe that art history enriches and deepens your involvement with art by providing you with necessary critical and analytical skills and a strong foundation for learning.

BS Degree Courses:

Art/Design History and Supportive Courses: 42 credit hours

  • ARTH 120-129 Foundations in Art History (Non-Western)
  • ARTH 130-139 Foundations in Art History (Ancient-Baroque)
  • ARTH 140-149 Foundations in Art History (Modern Contemporary)
  • ARTH 211 Issues and Debates in Contemporary Art
  • PHIL 283 Philosophy of the Arts I
  • ARTH 300-level 4 Junior Art History Courses: Non-Western, Ancient to Baroque, Modern to Contemporary
  • ARTH 400-level 2 Senior Level Art History Courses
  • ARTH 460 Art Historiography and Methodology
  • ARTH 499 BS Thesis in Art History and Theory

Studio: 24 credit hours

  • ART 101 & 102 Foundations
  • ART 200 level Two Sophomore-level studios

General Studies: 16 credit hours

  • ENGL 101 & 102 Writing I & II
  • Humanities (as defined under the BFA requirements)

Electives: 40 credit hours

  • Foreign Language (especially French or German)
  • Academic courses (as defined under the BFA requirements, above)
  • Additional Electives (selected under advisement)

Total credit hours for the BS in Art History and Theory: 122

Students must also complete:

  • The University Global Perspective requirement
  • The University Physical Education requirement

The University Global Perspective required credits could be taken within the required academic and/or Art History requirements. If a student completes the University Physical Education Requirement by taking two activity courses, the total number of credits to graduate to 126.

Note: additional PE activity credits (100-level PHED, EQUS) may not be used toward any degree

The BS degree in Art History and Theory is a professional degree program based on a curriculum historically developed in conjunction with studio BFA and MFA programs. It is designed to instill an understanding of artistic developments in the Western and global historical contexts, to provide students with the critical and theoretical tools necessary for functioning as art professionals, and to prepare them for the pursuit of graduate studies in the field.

The faculty of the School and the Division of Art History believe in the necessity of anchoring historical and theoretical knowledge with material practice. Consequently, admission to the program requires the submission and review of a portfolio that will assure the candidate’s ability to withstand the rigors of both academic and studio education.

Art History and Theory majors are required to earn a minimum grade of B- for the 300 and 400 level courses in Art History needed to fulfill the required core credits toward the degree major.

In the first year, Foundations in Art History consists of a series of half-semester courses taken in three categories: Non-Western, Ancient to Baroque and Modern/Contemporary. We believe that all courses at all levels of university education serve as points of access to motivated students. Foundation courses introduce students not only to the history of various periods and places but also to basic methods of doing research and writing about art.

At the sophomore level, students are required to take Issues and Debates in Contemporary Art, a course built around presentations of and discussions around issues relevant to the contemporary art world.

The minimum art history requirement for the BFA degree can be fulfilled with the successful completion of two additional courses at the junior and senior levels. Students in upper division classes study the history of art in a more focused manner by examining works organized according to a specific culture (African, Pre-Columbian), time period (Eighteenth-Century, Renaissance), movement (Modernism, Impressionism), topic (Women in Art) or medium (Ceramics, Photography).

This minor provides a broad base of knowledge about art as it relates to history and culture, exposes students to a variety of theoretical and methodological issues and helps them develop critical and analytical skills that can be applied to art making.

The art history minor is available to BFA students who have successfully completed Art History Foundation required courses (ARTH 100-level requirement and ARTH 211). Sixteen additional credits in art history at the 300 and 400 level are required to complete the minor.

The Art History minor is also available to students in other colleges/schools at the University with the permission of the Division Chair.

Faculty / Staff


The Art History facilities include smart classrooms and seminar rooms and a research space in Harder Hall. The curriculum is enhanced through opportunities provided by the three distinct exhibition spaces within the School of Art and Design as well as the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum. The Scholes Library offers an extensive collection of materials and a digital image database.

Similar Programs

If you're interested in pursuing the Art History & Theory degree at Alfred University, you may consider adding a minor to your plan of study or double majoring in the following related programs:

We'll Help You Find the Answers

Gerar Edizel profile picture

Gerar Edizel

School of Art and Design
Michele & Martin Cohen Endowed Deanship

All Undergraduate Programs