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An Art History graduate can look forward to a career in museum curation, art advising, art law and enforcement, corporate consulting, appraising and more.

Art History students study the history of the visual arts in their cultural and social context. Students learn to describe, analyze, and interpret the form and content of works of art and become familiar with art history theory, methods of analysis and art criticism.

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The major is a part of the School of Art, Design and Art History, an academic unit within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The Art History major is intended for students who wish to study the history of the visual arts, including the cultural and social context in which they were created. It is the mission of the art history program to educate students with a global perspective on the arts.

Western art history is emphasized, coupled with opportunities to study the art of select non-Western traditions. Students majoring in art history will develop a general knowledge of the principle monuments and artists of all major historical art periods. Students also will:

  • Become acquainted with the art history of non-Western cultures.
  • Locate unfamiliar works within major style periods and cultures.
  • Describe, analyze and interpret the form and content of individual works of art in relation to the cultures from which they originate.
  • Recognize major art media.
  • Understand at least three major historical periods of art in detail.
  • Become familiar with art history theory and methods of analysis and criticism.
  • Research and write about significant artists, artistic events, periods and artistic concepts.

The art history program encourages majors and minors to participate in internship opportunities at museums, galleries and other art related settings, and it provides up-to-date information about jobs and graduate programs in art history and related fields. Visiting scholars, campus art exhibitions, trips to major museums and the JMU Study Abroad program provide students with opportunities to study and apply their art history knowledge outside the classroom. Upon completion of the art history major, students will have been exposed to a broad background and knowledge of the opportunities for graduate school and employment. The art history program also advocates cross disciplinary education and actively supports students who double major with other disciplines.

For further information, visit the School of Art, Design, and Art History website.

Art History
  • Degrees Offered: 
    • B.A.
  • Concentrations: 
    • Museum Studies
  • Minors: 
    • Art History


Declaring the Major

New Freshmen and Transfer Students
Students should declare the art history major when they register for orientation.

Currently Enrolled Major Changers 
Current students wishing to declare or change a major, minor or pre-professional program must complete a request through MyMadison. Additional department specific information will be available when that academic plan is selected. Follow all directions and steps necessary to execute your request.  Once all necessary steps are completed, the department will either approve or deny your request or contact you for additional information.

For additional assistance making this request, view the Change/Declare a Major/Minor tutorial in MyMadison or on the tutorials website.

Other Declaring Information 

Admission to the Major

Admission to the Museum Studies Concentration in Art History

The museum studies concentration consists of history and theory-oriented classes that will introduce students to the role and function of museums in society. While the concentration is academic and not vocational, it offers students valuable hands-on experience beneficial for admission into graduate school and entry into the competitive market of art-related professions. 

In addition to the requirements for the Art History major, the Museum Studies concentration requires 15 credit hours (five courses), three credit hours of which may count toward both the Art History major and the Museum Studies concentration. 

To be eligible to apply for admission, students must have a GPA of 3.3 within the minimum of nine credits in art history (ARTH) and General Education art history (ARTH) courses. The program will consider grades from any new transfer student who has earned JMU approved credit for an art history course taken at another institution provided the student submits a transcript 

Students may apply to the concentration in the fall or spring semester but no later than the last day of the course add registration deadline. Visit the Registrar's website for deadlines.

Progressing in the Major

Students must remain in good academic standing with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0.

Graduation cap

Career Planning

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