Art History (BA)

Department Website

Program Description

Once described by New York Times art critic John Russell as the best undergraduate department of art history in the country, the art history program at NYU was established to provide a rigorous and wide-ranging education in the many facets of the history and theory of art, a mission that its faculty continues to enthusiastically embrace. Students become familiar with global art from antiquity to the present. The department offers courses in ancient, medieval, Renaissance, baroque, modern, contemporary, East Asian, South Asian, Islamic, Latin American, African, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian, and Native American art, treating not only painting, sculpture, architecture, and photography but also graphic media, manuscript illumination, the decorative arts, and aspects of urban design. The department is one of the few undergraduate programs in the country with extensive offerings in conservation and museology. A myriad of museums, galleries, and local architectural sites make New York City the ideal place in which to study the visual arts on site and in the flesh. Beyond New York, art history courses are offered at NYU's study away sites, such as Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Madrid, Paris, and Prague.

The department offers majors and minors in art history and in urban design and architecture studies. Since an education in the history of art can be enhanced by a firsthand understanding of its making, our majors are encouraged to minor in studio art through the Steinhardt School. The department publishes its own student journal (Ink & Image), and has an honors program which culminates in the writing and oral defense of a senior honors thesis.

Art history graduates have proven exceptionally successful in securing positions in museums, commercial galleries, auction houses, and nonprofit organizations. Those who go on to undertake graduate study typically pursue careers as curators, conservators, and academic art historians at the university and college level. Students majoring in urban design and architecture studies are well prepared for graduate study in architecture, urban planning, and historic preservation.

Graduation with Departmental Honors

Students may graduate with departmental honors in art history or in urban design and architecture studies by successfully researching and writing a senior thesis. This represents the culmination of the work for the major and provides excellent preparation for graduate school. To be eligible for the honors program, students must have a GPA of 3.65 or higher at the conclusion of the junior year, both overall and in art history or in urban design and architecture studies. A student wishing to write an honors thesis must apply for admission to the program via the department’s NYU Classes site in early March of the junior year. For a complete description of all the honors thesis requirements, please visit our departmental NYU Classes site for honors-track students.

Work toward the senior thesis consists of two 4-credit honors courses (ARTH-UA 801 Senior Honors Thesis I and ARTH-UA 804 Independent Studies) focusing on research methods and writing, accompanied by regular meetings with the supervising professor. The completed thesis, at least 30 to 40 pages in length, is read by a committee of three faculty members, including the supervising professor. The committee meets with the student for a thesis defense at the end of the academic year. Satisfactory completion of the thesis, in the committee’s judgment, earns an honors degree. These two honors courses may replace the two electives required for the major.


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