History of Art

Department majors acquire a broad understanding of the history of art in several chronological (ancient to contemporary) and geographical areas: Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America, South and Southeast Asia, China and Japan. Additionally, majors practice a range of art historical methods and interpretive strategies, and are encouraged to locate the history of art within allied humanities fields and the applied arts by taking courses in history, literature, history of architecture, and fine arts. The study of foreign languages, especially as it pertains to study abroad opportunities, is strongly encouraged.

minor in Visual Studies is another option for undergraduates interested in an interdisciplinary approach to art history.


The History of Art major requires the completion of a total of 10 courses, according to the following criteria.

  • ARTH 1100 - Art Histories: An Introduction (required, offered every fall; taken preferably in the freshman or sophomore year)
  • VISST 2000 - Introduction to Visual Studies (required, offered every spring)
  • ARTH 4101 - Proseminar (required, offered every fall; taken preferably in the junior year)
  • ARTH 2xxx (at least one course at the 2000-level)
  • ARTH 3xxx (at least one course at the 3000-level)
  • ARTH 4xxx (at least two courses at the 4000-level)
  • Three additional ARTH electives at the 3000-level or higher 

Students must receive a grade of B or higher in ARTH 1100 - Art Histories: An Introduction to qualify for the major. If students have not taken ARTH 1100 by the spring of sophomore year, they must complete a 4000-level tutorial course and receive a grade of B or higher in order to qualify for the major. A grade of B- or higher is required of all other courses to receive credit toward the major.

Sample classes

  • ARTH 2200 The Classical World in 24 Objects
  • ARTH 2600 Introduction to Modern Western Art, from the Age of Revolutions to the Age of Capital
  • ARTH 3566 Art and Architecture of the Pre-Columbian Americas
  • ARTH 3651Women in New Media Art
  • ARTH 4233 Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology
  • ARTH 4520 Reading Race in Early Modern Art
  • ARTH 4816 Modern Chinese Art


All information below is based on the 2022 First-Destination Post-Graduate Survey. Lists are not exhaustive; rather, they are a sampling of the data. If you would like more information, please email as_careers@cornell.edu

What can you do with a degree in History of Art?

Graduate school:

In 2022, many history of art majors embarked on graduate school journeys. They pursued various advanced degrees, with the majority dedicated to their JD and MA. Their graduate field interest ranges from law to history of art and arts & cultural management.

These ambitious individuals have chosen to continue their education at prestigious institutions like King's College London, New York University, The Courtauld Institute of Art, and the University of Pennsylvania.


The majority of history of art graduates entered sectors in business/industry, financial services, and retail.

Where 2022 History of Art Graduates Work

Employer Job Titles
Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Lending Specialist
bG Gallery Gallery Coordination Associate
Capsule Auctions Auction Associate
Hypebeast Associate Editor
L'Oreal USA Marketing Associate
Peter Freeman, Inc. Gallery Assistant
Serge Sorokko Gallery Art Consultant