Best Art History Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Art History programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Art history is the study of the history of art. Art historians seek to understand the development of art over time, and to identify the influences that have shaped the course of art history. Art history degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in the arts, including museum curation, art conservation, and art criticism.

Art history degrees offer a broad overview of the history of art, covering topics such as the history of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Students in art history degree programs learn about the different styles of art that have developed over time, and about the major artists and movements that have shaped the course of art history.

How to Choose the Right Art History Program

When it comes to choosing the right art history bachelor’s degree program, there are a few key factors that prospective students need to keep in mind. These include the cost of the program, the location of the school, the time it will take to complete the degree, and the specializations offered.

The cost of an art history degree can vary depending on the institution, so it is important to do your research and find a program that fits your budget. Location is also a key factor to consider, as it can affect the ability to gain internship opportunities and network for jobs after graduation. The time it takes to complete the degree can also be a deciding factor, especially for students who are looking to enter the workforce as soon as possible. Finally, prospective students should research the different specializations offered by each program to find one that best fits their interests and career goals.

Best Bachelor’s in Art History Programs

The best programs for Art History ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Trinity University
San Antonio, TX

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Trinity University is a rigorous program that trains students in the history of visual culture. Students in the program learn to analyze and write about art, and to think critically about the world around them. The program prepares students to be engaged, critical, and creative citizens.

The program curriculum includes coursework in art history, economics, and history. Students also have the opportunity to study abroad, to participate in service-learning, and to conduct research. Honors programs are also available.

Rank 2
Boston University
Boston, MA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Boston University’s Metropolitan College is a part-time, interdisciplinary program that prepares students for careers in the arts and cultural sector. The program combines study in the humanities and social sciences, and provides students with a broad-based education in the liberal arts. Students in the program will gain an understanding of the historical implications of art objects and artistic movements, and will be exposed to important art and artistic movements from around the world. The program is taught by experienced faculty who are active in research and have substantial professional achievements in areas such as art history, English and American literature, history, and philosophy.

Rank 3
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from University of Washington is a program that is focused on the study of art and visual culture. The program is designed to help students develop skills that will allow them to be lifelong users of visual, verbal, and written literacy. Additionally, the program aims to help students understand how visual images and material culture can communicate information and define cultures.

Rank 4
Seton Hill University
Greensburg, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Seton Hill Universityhelps student develop a knowledge and understanding of the visual imagery created throughout the course of history. At Seton Hill, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including the Seton Hill Arts Center, and benefit from the school’s Apple Distinguished School status, which includes a MacBook Air laptop for all full-time freshmen.

Rank 5
George Washington University
Washington, DC

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from George Washington University is a great choice for students interested in studying art in a culturally rich environment. The program provides students with opportunities to learn about art through coursework, museum visits, and exposure to contemporary art galleries. Students will learn to apply visual and historical analyses to artworks, as well as incorporate relevant theoretical and methodological approaches to research. The curriculum covers a wide range of art history, with specific areas of focus in Renaissance, Islamic, South Asian, American and Modern and Contemporary art.

Rank 6
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from University of Colorado Boulder emphasizes the study of the major artistic traditions of the world in a historical and theoretical context. Students explore varied methodologies, as well as artistic media and techniques. The BA degree allows students to complete various artistic coursework, including studio art, history of world art, global art and visual culture, and U.S. art across cultures.

Rank 7
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History & Museum Studies from University of San Francisco is a great choice for students interested in a career in the art world. The curriculum combines art history and museum studies, giving students the skills they need to thrive in the art world. Students in the program complete two semester-long internships, giving them real world experience to strengthen their resume. The program also teaches students important research and writing skills.

Rank 8
Carlow University
Pittsburgh, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Carlow University is a degree grounded in the study of contemporary art and critical theory, focusing on the cultural and visual dimensions of social justice, as well as curatorial and museum studies. Students will cultivate skills in visual literacy, critical thinking and writing, explore curating as a form of activism, and learn about undergraduate research and exhibition development.

Rank 9
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Arizona State University is an online degree that allows students to study art from different cultures, time periods, and geographies. The curriculum culminates in the study of research methods and a seminar focused on research and writing.

Rank 10
Seattle University
Seattle, WA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Seattle University explores how art and visual culture shape the ways we see history. In this program, students learn to visually analyze and write about art using Seattle’s museums and galleries and to integrate these encounters with their critical study of scholarship from a variety of perspectives. Recent courses include: Robots, Machines and the Body in Avant-Garde Art, Latin American Baroque Art, and Art and Place in the American West.

Rank 11
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from University of Oklahoma uses collections and exhibitions to study the creation, reception, and institutionalization of the visual arts from ancient to contemporary times.

Rank 12
Florida International University
Miami, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Florida International University is designed to introduce students to the methodologies and subjects of Art History from around the world. The 120-hour program provides professional education to prepare students for careers as art professionals or for further graduate study. The degree compliments the university’s BFA degree program in art and provides significant interaction between artists and historians.

Rank 13
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, VA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University is a liberal arts program that focuses on the scholarship, theoretical perspectives, and research methods of the history of art. The program includes courses on cultures, historical periods, and regions, as well as opportunities for directed research projects and museum internships. This curriculum provides students with the best possible background for future graduate work in art history.

Rank 14
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from San Francisco State University gives students a well-rounded education in the field. The 36-unit degree offers a variety of courses, allowing students to gradually focus their studies. The program takes advantage of the Bay Area’s rich cultural resources, galleries, and museums, and students are encouraged to gain hands-on experience through an internship.

Rank 15
Saint Cloud State University
Saint Cloud, MN

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Saint Cloud State University is a program that focuses on the study of art in its historical and cultural contexts. Students in the program will examine the genre, design, and style of major works of art, including paintings, sculpture, and architecture, as well as contemporary media and cultural practices. The program has a global and contemporary focus, and also includes coursework in related fields such as film history or anthropology.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Art History Program

Students in a bachelor’s degree program in art history can expect to take a variety of courses that cover different aspects of the field. These may include classes on the history of art, art criticism, and the philosophy of art. Students will also likely take courses that focus on specific periods or styles of art history.

In addition to coursework, students in a bachelor’s degree program in art history may be required to complete an internship or a thesis project. Internships provide students with the opportunity to gain practical experience working in an art museum or gallery. A thesis project involves extensive research on a topic of the student’s choice and usually culminates in a presentation.

Overall, a bachelor’s degree in art history provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a career in the field. However, students must possess at least some natural ability for creativity, writing, and communication.

Common Art History Courses

A typical art history degree program will offer a broad range of courses that cover different periods and styles of art. Students will often take a mix of lower- and upper-level classes, with the latter becoming more specialized as they progress through the program. The following is a list of five courses that are often found in an art history degree program.

Renaissance Art

This course covers the art of the Renaissance period, with an emphasis on the major artists, styles, and developments in Italy. Topics include the influence of the classical tradition, naturalism, perspective, portraiture, and the development of landscape painting. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze and interpret the major artworks of the Renaissance period and explain the impact of the Renaissance on the development of Western art.

Modern Art

This course covers the period of art history generally referred to as Modern Art, roughly dating from the mid-19th century to the present day. The course will survey the major movements, styles, and artists associated with Modern Art, with a focus on understanding the socio-historical context in which the art was produced. Students will also learn to critically analyze and interpret works of Modern Art. Upon completion of the course, students should have a solid understanding of the major movements, styles, and artists of Modern Art, as well as the ability to critically analyze and interpret works of art from this period.

Contemporary Art

This course covers the development of art from the 1970s to the present day. Students explore the work of major artists, movements, and styles associated with Postmodernism and the internationalization of art. Emphasis is placed on the relationship between art, technology, and society. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze and interpret the work of major contemporary artists and movements and explain the relationship between art, technology, and society.

Art of the Ancient World

This course covers the art of the ancient world from the Prehistoric period through the fall of the Roman Empire. Emphasis is placed on the study of selected cultures and their art in social, political, and religious contexts. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze and interpret selected artworks from the ancient world.

Art and Architecture of Asia

This course surveys the art and architecture of Asia from prehistoric times to the present day. Emphasis is placed on the relationship between art, religion, and society in various Asian cultures. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze and interpret the art and architecture of Asia within its cultural context.

Career Options for Art History Graduates

Graduates of art history programs work in a variety of industries, including museums, galleries, and auction houses. They may also work in fields such as education, publishing, and marketing.

Art Gallery Manager

An art gallery manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of an art gallery. This can include a wide range of duties, from hanging artwork and planning exhibitions to keeping the gallery clean and organized, handling customer inquiries, and managing finances. Art gallery managers may also be responsible for promoting the gallery and its exhibitions, both online and through traditional marketing and PR channels.

Art Consultant

Art consultants work with individuals and businesses to select and purchase art that meets their needs and budget. Art consultants may work with private clients, such as homeowners or corporate executives, to select art for their homes or offices. They may also work with businesses, such as hotels or restaurants, to select art that creates the desired atmosphere. In some cases, art consultants may also appraise art collections or advise clients on how to care for their art.

Art Museum Curator

Curators are responsible for the care and presentation of collections of art and artifacts. They work with artists, collectors, dealers, and the public to develop exhibitions and educational programs, and they conduct research on the items in their care. Curators typically specialize in a particular type of art or artifact, such as paintings, sculpture, furniture, textiles, or pottery. They may work for art museums, history museums, zoos, aquariums, or other cultural institutions.

Art Dealer

Art dealers buy and sell works of art. They may specialize in a particular type of art, such as paintings, sculptures, or prints, or they may deal in a wide range of artworks. Art dealers typically work for art galleries, although some may also work for auction houses, private dealers, or museums. Their job is to find works of art, assess their value, and then sell them to collectors, investors, or other interested parties. In order to be successful, art dealers must have a keen eye for detail and a deep knowledge of the art market.

Art Historian

Art historians study the history of art and architecture, usually with a focus on a particular time period, region, or artist. They often work in museums or galleries, where they may conduct research, write or give tours, or develop and oversee exhibitions. Art historians typically have a deep knowledge of the history of art and architecture and the ability to communicate that knowledge to others.

Insights From an Art History Graduate

Melany Rivers is an Art Curator at the Museum of Modern Art. She has a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles. Melany has over 20 years of experience in the art industry.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Art History degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Melany Rivers: I made the most of my Art History degree program by taking advantage of the resources my school had to offer. I took advantage of the career center and the internship opportunities that my school provided. I also networked with people in the industry and made sure to keep up with the latest trends in the art world.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in an Art History career?

Melany Rivers: I would say that a successful person in an Art History career is someone who is passionate about art, has a good eye for detail, and is able to think critically. I would also say that it is important to be able to work well with others, as a lot of art careers involve working with a team.

ClimbtheLadder: Was there anything about your Art History program that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

Melany Rivers: I actually didn’t know what to expect going into my Art History program. I just knew that I loved art and wanted to learn more about it. I ended up loving the program and learning so much more than I ever could have anticipated. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in art!


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