Art and Art History

The Department of Art and Art History offers the bachelor of arts in art history and in studio, and the bachelor of fine arts in studio arts. Requirements for the bachelor's in art history are currently under review.

The undergraduate degree in art history emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

  • the major artistic monuments of the world in a historical context;
  • varied methodologies used to study art historically; and
  • artistic media and techniques.

In addition, students completing the degree in art history are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

  • relate individual monuments to their historical and cultural context by identifying technique, style, and subject matter;
  • interpret historical and critical information about works of art, artists, and related issues; and
  • organize and communicate concepts and data pertaining to the history of art effectively in written and oral form.

The undergraduate degree in studio art emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

  • the significance of the major monuments in art history, with an emphasis on contemporary art;
  • at least one discipline of studio art;
  • related critical issues in studio practice; and
  • a wide range of stylistic approaches.

In addition, students completing a degree in studio art are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

  • analyze their own works of art in terms of form and content;
  • interpret the work of others;
  • execute ideas in one or more artistic media;
  • demonstrate artistic ability and technical proficiency in one chosen medium; and
  • communicate in verbal and written form the particular conceptual and perceptual attitudes and stances of their own artistic production.

Course codes for these programs are ARTS, ARTF, and ARTH. 

Bachelor's Degree Program(s)

Bachelor of Arts (Art History)

(39 credit hours in the major)

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours 

  • ARTS 1010 and 1020 Introduction to Studio Art—6
  • ARTH 1300 and 1400 World Art Studies 1 and 2—6
  • ARTH 4919 BA Art History Seminar—3
  • 3000-level art history courses—9
  • 4000-level art history courses—9
  • ARTS or ARTH electives—6

Distribution Requirements: Complete at least six hours at the 3000 or 4000 level in each of three areas: Ancient and/or African/American/Asian/Australian, Medieval and/or Early Modern (a.k.a. Renaissance and Baroque), and Modern and/or Contemporary. Students must take at least one course in African, American, Asian, or Australian art at the 3000 or 4000 level. 

Graduating in Four Years with a BA in Art History

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress toward a BA in art history, students should meet the following requirements:

  • Declare the major by the beginning of the second semester.
  • By the end of the third semester, complete lower-division studio courses, lower-division art history courses, and two classes in upper-division art history.
  • By the end of the sixth semester complete up to 32 credit hours in the major.
  • Final semesters not to exceed 45 credits toward the major.

Bachelor of Arts (Studio Arts) 

(39 credit hours in the major)

A major in the Department of Art and Art History with a minimum of 30 hours of ARTS/ARTH and/or transfer credit hours and successful portfolio review are required for the admission into the BFA program. 

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours

  • ARTS 1010 and 1020 Introduction to Studio Art—6
  • ARTH 1300 and 1400 World Art Studies 1 and 2—6
  • Two 2000- level courses in area of emphasis—6
  • Any two upper-division art history courses—6
  • Upper-division studio emphasis (minimum)—12
  • ARTS or ARTH electives—3

Graduating in Four Years with a BA in Studio Arts

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress toward a BA in studio arts, students should meet the following requirements:

  • Declare major by the beginning of the second semester.
  • Complete ARTS 1010 and 1020 Introduction to Art, two level-1 studio classes, and lower-division art history courses by the end of the third semester.
  • Complete 30–36 credit hours in the major by the end of the sixth semester.
  • Final semesters not to exceed 45 credits in the major.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Studio Arts) 

(63 credits toward the major)

Students must present and pass a portfolio review to be eligible for the BFA degree (a minimum of 30 credit hours is required).

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours 

  • ARTS 1010 and 1020 Introduction to Studio Art—6 
  • ARTH 1300 and 1400 World Art Studies 1 and 2—6
  • Two 2000-level studio courses in area of emphasis—6
  • Any two upper-division art history courses—6
  • Upper-division studio emphasis (min.)—18
  • ARTS or ARTH electives—18
  • ARTS 4117 BFA Seminar—3

NOTE: BA/BFA candidates must complete 12 upper-division hours in the major on the Boulder campus.

Required Studio Courses for Studio Arts Majors

  • Painting and drawing majors must take any sequence of courses culminating in ARTS 4002 Drawing 4 or ARTS 4202 Painting 4. 
  • Ceramics majors must take ARTS 4085 Ceramics 4 and ARTS 4095 Special Topics in Ceramics. 
  • Printmaking majors are not required to take ARTS 1003 and may register for ARTS 3403, ARTS 3413, and ARTS 3423 as sophomores.

Graduating in Four Years with a BFA in Studio Arts

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress toward a BFA in studio arts or divisional studio arts, students should meet the following requirements:

  • Declare the major by the beginning of the first semester, freshman year.
  • Complete ARTS 1010 and 1020, ARTH 1300 and 1400, 9 credit hours of lower-division studio, two 2000-level courses, and one lower-division or upper-division studio or art history course by the end of the third semester (27 credit hours).
  • Apply for the BFA in the fourth or fifth semester, with a minimum of 30 hours in the major.
  • Complete up to 48 credit hours in the major by the end of the sixth semester.
  • Final semesters not to exceed 66 credits toward the major.

Honors

Students may graduate with departmental honors. Those interested in pursuing this program should contact the Honors Department and/or the Department of Art and Art History honors representative as early as possible. The minimum GPA requirement is 3.300 overall and 3.500 in the major. Students may take Studio or Art History Honors Thesis to complete individual work.

Program Fees

Each course in the department has a program fee calculated at $75 per lecture or seminar course and $225 per studio course.

Special Programs

The CU Art Museum. The CU Art Museum is a cultural gateway to the University of Colorado Boulder, facilitating engagement with larger societal issues through a greater understanding of the arts in a global context. The CU Art Museum is committed to enhancing understanding and appreciation of the visual arts within the academic community and among regional, national, and international audiences. It provides access to art of the highest quality through exhibitions, publications, and related educational events that reflect diversity, critical thinking, and creative research. The museum also facilitates student training in museum practices. As a collecting institution, the CU Art Museum promotes the excellence, preservation, scholarly interpretation, exhibition, and growth of its comprehensive permanent collection, which includes artworks from numerous time periods, artistic traditions, and cultures. The new 25,000-square-foot CU Art Museum contains five galleries including permanent collection galleries, changing exhibition galleries, and a video gallery. The CU Art Museum also includes a collections study center, allowing students, faculty, and researchers the opportunity to schedule appointments to view, research, and study works in its permanent collection. 

The CU Art Museum’s Permanent Collection. The Permanent Collection of the CU Art Museum contains over 6,000 works of art. The collection includes works from numerous time periods and cultures including ancient Greek pottery, Roman Glass, ancient Iranian pottery, Southwestern and South American santos, Southeast Asian pottery, African sculpture, Old Master works on paper, British 18th century prints, 19th and 20th century American prints and paintings, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, 19th century photography, Pop art, Minimalist works on paper, and modern and contemporary ceramics, sculpture, works on paper, paintings, photography, video, and new media art. 

Visiting Scholar Program. This program is organized to explore the discipline of art history—its cultural connections, methodological pursuits, and its changing nature—by focusing extensively on the research and insights of individual academic experts. Three to five highly regarded art historians and/or art critics speak at a public lecture, presenting current research and published papers. During their week-long visit they work closely with students enrolled in the Visiting Scholar Seminar.

Visiting Artist Program. Artists of national and international reputation interact with graduate and advanced undergraduate students and discuss their studio work at seminar meetings. Artists present a public lecture during their visit, providing continuous input of significant developments and a comprehensive view of contemporary issues in the arts.

Visual Resources Center (VRC). The mission of the VRC is to provide and facilitate access to images, imaging, and related information resources for teaching and research in the Department of Art and Art History. This includes: 1) a departmental image collection and support for other important image resources; 2) resources, training, and support in digital imaging and image presentation software; and 3) equipment for use in creative work, documentation, and classrooms within the department. The digital image collection contains works by faculty, MFA thesis recipients, visiting artists, and other contemporary and historical works. Digital imaging resources include slide and flatbed scanning stations, with training available in digitization standards and best practices. VRC equipment includes laptops, data projectors, digital SLR cameras, video cameras, tripods, and other equipment for use in the department. The VRC also circulates its collection of DVDs containing lectures and interviews from the department’s Visiting Artist Program. More information is available at cuart.colorado.edu/resources/vrc.

Concurrent Bachelor's/Master's Program

Concurrent BA/MA Degree in Art History

This program is open only to students enrolled in the BA art history degree program at the University of Colorado Boulder.

It is expected that the BA/MA program be completed within five years. Both degrees, BA and MA, are awarded simultaneously upon meeting all the requirements for each degree. Six credits (two courses) may be shared between the two programs: 1) one course outside the Department of Art and Art History, at the 3000 level or above; 2) ARTH 6929 Theories of Art History.

There is a formal application process with letters of recommendation, statement of intent, transcripts, GRE scores, and a writing sample, as required for the two-year MA program. Students must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.00 and a GPA of 3.60 or above in the major of art history at the time of application. They take the GRE and formally apply to the graduate program during the second semester of their third (junior) year and begin taking graduate courses in the first semester of their fourth (senior) year. By the end of the fourth year, students must complete the language requirement of at least three progressive semesters at the college level or above, in a language appropriate to their studies. 

During the second semester of their senior year, students should select a thesis advisor from among the art history faculty. This faculty member will direct the student’s thesis and chair the student's mid-program review committee. Students will be evaluated through a mid-program review during the last two weeks of April of their senior year. This is the equivalent of the first year review in the two-year MA program. It focuses on a review of student course work and performance, on selecting the major and minor areas of study in preparation for the comprehensive exam (see below), and on selection of a thesis topic.

Students will register for thesis hours during the second semester of their fifth year, pending successful completion of the comprehensive exam and approval of their thesis abstract. They will take the comprehensive exam during the first week of the second semester of the fifth year. Upon the successful completion of their comprehensive exam, they will obtain approval of their thesis abstract from their thesis committee (“pre-thesis review”) by the end of the second week of the second semester of their fifth year.

In all other details, the graduate portion of the BA/MA program is identical to the two-year MA program, as stipulated above.

Concurrent BA/MA Degree in Film Studies

Only currently enrolled University of Colorado Boulder students may be considered for admission to the program. Transfer students must complete at least 24 credit hours as a degree-seeking student before applying to the program. Students enrolled in this BA/MA program cannot pursue a double major or double degree of any kind. Students must have a minimum overall undergraduate GPA of 3.300 and have completed all MAPS deficiencies. 

The application deadline is the second Monday in October, in the fall semester of the applicant’s junior year. Admission to the program occurs during the second semester of the junior year. Admitted students will secure the sponsorship and advisory commitment of a film studies faculty member at the rank of assistant professor or higher. They will also submit a one-page prospectus detailing a possible research topic for an MA thesis. In addition, they must successfully complete a writing assignment in the form of a 10–12 page analytical/theoretical or historical argument paper on a film determined by the faculty.

Students start taking graduate-level courses during their senior year and in the second semester of their senior year they go through a mid-program review. In the first semester of the fifth year, they fulfill their theory and critical methodology requirement by taking ARTH 6929 Theories of Art History and will also take two ARTF courses with a critical focus. They will also present and get approval of their thesis prospectus, constitute their thesis committee and fulfill 3 of the required thesis hours. During the second semester of the fifth year, they will take three ARTF critical focus courses, and fulfill the remaining 3 hours of thesis credit. Students will complete and submit their theses (in fulfillment of all graduate college requirements) by the end of the fifth year. Once the principal advisor has accepted the thesis, the final requirement will be an oral examination focusing on its subject matter.

It is expected that the BA/MA program be completed within five years. Both degrees, BA and MA, are awarded simultaneously upon meeting all degree requirements. Six credits (two courses) may be shared between the two programs.  

Graduate Degree Program(s)

Graduate Study in Art and Art History

The master of arts degree is offered in art history, and the master of fine arts degree is offered in creative arts. In addition, two concurrent BA/MA degree programs are offered: one in art history and the other in film studies, in collaboration with the Film Studies Program. The department, in conjunction with the Leeds School of Business, offers a dual degree program in which both MBA and MFA (or MA) degrees are awarded.

Master of Arts Degree (Art History)

Prerequisites. The following are required for admission to the graduate program:

  1. A baccalaureate degree from an approved college with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00.
  2. A score of 500 or higher on the verbal section and an average score (approximately 50 percent below) on all other sections of the old version of the Graduate Record Examination or the equivalents thereof in the new version of the GRE (153 on the verbal). 
  3. A broad general background in history, literature, and philosophy.
  4. An extensive background in art history.
  5. Applicants to the master’s program in art history are asked to write a 750 to 1,000 word essay in Part II, number 6 on the application form. Applicants are also required to provide a writing sample of approximately 10–20 pages. Typically, this is a paper submitted for an undergraduate class.

Duration. It is expected that the MA program be completed within two years.

Examinations. The comprehensive exams are given during the second year of study to measure graduate student knowledge of art history at the master’s degree level. The exams consist of essay questions.

Degree Requirements: Plan I (Thesis Option) 

A minimum of 30 semester hours must be completed, of which 21 must be completed in residence on the Boulder campus. Requirements and regulations include:

Courses

  • ARTH 6929 Theories of Art History must be taken during the first semester. This course may be taken twice for up to 6 credit hours.
  • ARTH 5949 Visiting Scholars Seminar must be taken during the second semester when offered. Students are encouraged to repeat this course.
  • At least one 3-credit, 5000- or 6000-level course in four of the following areas of art history: medieval, early modern and Renaissance, art of the Americas, Asian art, modern art, contemporary art, and critical theory/museology. When available, ancient art may constitute an area.
  • At least one 3-credit, 3000-level or above course in a department outside the Department of Art and Art History, which supplements the major or minor areas of specialization.
  • Comprehensive exam (see below).
  • ARTH 6959 Master’s Thesis: 4–6 credit hours (see below).
  • No more than 9 hours of independent study credit may be applied toward the MA degree.
  • Pass/fail courses do not count toward the MA degree.
  • ARTH 5087 Selected Topics courses do not count toward the MA degree.
  • A limit of 9 hours of transfer credits may be applied toward the MA degree.
  • Students are encouraged and expected to attend undergraduate lecture courses as needed to prepare themselves for graduate seminars and for the comprehensive exam.
  • Language requirement (see below).

Degree Requirements: Plan II (Project Option)

Same requirements as above with the following exceptions:

  • A minimum of 36 semester hours is required.
  • The project replaces the thesis.

Advisor. Upon admission, students are assigned a faculty advisor. Students should remain in close contact with the advisor as regards course registration and program requirements. At the end of the second semester of full time study, students should select a thesis advisor (or project advisor) from among the art history faculty.

First Year Review. During the last two weeks of April, students are evaluated during the first year review. It focuses on a review of student course work and performance, on selecting the major and minor areas of study in preparation for the comprehensive exam (see below), and on selection of a thesis topic.

Comprehensive Exam. This exam is given to measure the graduate student's knowledge of art history at the MA level. It consists of essay questions pertinent to the student’s major and minor areas of study. It is given once per year during the second week of October. The comprehensive exam consists of two essays: a two-hour essay in the major area, and a 90-minute essay in the minor area. Students must pass the comprehensive exam in order to be eligible to register for thesis hours.

Thesis Abstract (“pre-thesis review”)By the end of the semester preceding the student's thesis semester, the student will prepare an abstract of approximately 1–2 typewritten pages, and attached bibliography, outlining the thesis topic and method of inquiry. The thesis abstract must be approved by the student’s pre-thesis review committee in order for the student to register for thesis hours.

Thesis. This should demonstrate scholarly research and writing in art history, should be based on independent study and analysis, and should represent the equivalent of 4–6 credit hours. In most cases, the master's thesis is the equivalent of a 40–50 page paper, exclusive of endnotes, bibliography, and illustrations.

Thesis Defense. In consultation with the thesis advisor, the student will select a thesis committee that consists of not less than three members of the art history graduate faculty, including the thesis advisor. The student will then schedule the thesis defense and prepare all necessary paperwork. The thesis must be submitted to all members of the thesis committee at least one week before the thesis defense. Graduate School guidelines ("specifications") must be used to prepare the MA thesis. Upon successful defense, the thesis is submitted to the Graduate School in the electronic form specified by the Graduate School, in accordance with the Graduate School’s deadlines. A hard copy of the signature page, complete with the thesis committee members’ signatures, is submitted to, and remains in, the Graduate School. 

Language Requirement. The candidate for the MA degree in art history is required to demonstrate an adequate reading knowledge of French, German, or another appropriate language before receiving the degree by satisfactory course work equal to 3 progressive semesters at the college level or above or by passing an approved language examination. Language examinations may be arranged with one of the art history faculty on an individual basis.

Master of Fine Arts Degree (Creative Arts)

The creative arts areas include ceramics, painting and drawing, IMAP (Interdisciplinary Media Arts Practice: photography, video, digital arts, and integrated arts), film (in collaboration with the Film Studies Program), printmaking, and sculpture.

Duration.  It is expected that the MFA program be completed within two-and-a-half years.

Prerequisites. The following are required for admission to the graduate program:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an approved college or school of art with a minimum grade point average of 2.750.
  • Minimum of 34 credit hours of acceptable work in art; 12 credits in fine arts history is preferred.
  • Submission of a portfolio, including 20 images, representing creative work, a written statement of goals and objectives, and an artist statement.
  • Applicants interested in IMAP-Video or film track should submit their portfolios on DVDs, for screening by the IMAP and film committees. 

Degree Requirements. A minimum of 54 credit hours (of which 36 credit hours must be taken in residence on the Boulder campus) of acceptable graduate work must be completed beyond the bachelor’s degree, with the following requirements:

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours 

  • Home studio (major area)—min. 12
  • Electives (student and non-studio; up to 6 credits may be taken inn an allied field, at the 3000 level and above)—21
  • Art history, theory, or film critical studies—9 
  • Visiting Artist Seminar—3
  • Graduate Art Seminar—3
  • Thesis—6

Film Track MFA. ARTF 5030 Visiting Filmmakers Seminar is allowed as a substitute for ARTS 5118 Visiting Artist Seminar.

Advisor. Upon admission, students are assigned a tenured or tenure-track faculty member to serve as an academic advisor in the student’s area of purpose.  

First Semester and First Year Reviews.  In consultation with the advisor, the student will establish the membership of his or her committee, consisting of a minimum of three faculty members and one second-year graduate student, and schedule the first semester review; its purpose is to give feedback to the student with regard to progress toward the degree. At the end of the first year, the committee is convened for a first year review; its purpose is to evaluate the student’s progress in the program and to determine if she or he will continue in the program.

Pre-thesis Review. At the end of the semester preceding the graduating semester, the pre-thesis review takes place. Its purpose is for the graduate student to present the focus of his or her written thesis and exhibition, to review and evaluate the student’s progress in the program, and to determine if the student is ready to register for thesis hours.

Thesis/Exhibition/Defense. The MFA thesis defense must be conducted while the student’s work is on view during the MFA Exhibition. The MFA thesis must be submitted in its final draft form to all the thesis committee members two weeks prior to the scheduled thesis defense. After the defense, two copies of the thesis, with the required signatures on the signature sheet, must be turned into the Graduate Program Coordinator. One of these is catalogued in the Norlin Library.

Transfer of Credit

Procedures for transferring credit from other graduate programs are governed by the regulations of the Graduate School. Transfer credit, not to exceed 18 semester hours for studio arts or 9 semester hours for art history, must first be approved by the students's academic advisor, associate chair, and the Graduate School.

Change in Area of Concentration

Students who wish to change their area of concentration after admission must petition the studio art curriculum committee.

Graduation

Before registering for ARTS 6957 MFA Thesis, students must have a pre-thesis review with their faculty advisor and thesis committee. Studio arts thesis work must take the form of original creative work of acceptable professional standards. The oral defense exam must be done in conjunction with the thesis exhibition, and the candidate must provide a critical written statement (creative thesis) concerning the work. The candidate’s written creative statement is housed with the Art and Architecture Collection in Norlin Library, and 10–15 digital images (representing work in the exhibition) become part of and are housed with the departmental Visual Resources Center. The committee may request a contribution of original work.

Dual Degree Programs

Dual MFA (MA)/MBA Degree

To support the university’s mission of advancing knowledge across disciplines, and in recognition that business education and training has relevance to many academic fields, the Leeds School of Business and Department of Art and Art History endorse a dual degree program in which both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Fine Arts (or Master of Arts in art history) is awarded to those students who satisfy the requirements outlined below. This three-year program offers students the opportunity to earn both degrees together in less time than if the degrees were earned sequentially. 

Admissions Process and Degree Requirements. Students must apply to and meet the application requirements for each program separately.  Admitted students spend their first year in one of the two programs, the second year in the other program, and the third year is a combination of the two.  MFA students are required to complete 43 hours of MBA course work and 45 hours of AAH course work. MA (art history) students are required to complete 43 hours of MBA course work and 30 hours of art history course work. Both degrees must be awarded simultaneously.

Note: residents of Western states, including Alaska and Hawaii, may be eligible for in-state tuition for this dual degree program. Please see the Western Regional Graduate Program information sheet (download the WRGP handout) at wiche.edu.wrgp or contact a tuition classification officer in the Office of the Registrar (303-492-0907 or tuit.class@registrar.colorado.edu).