Girl painting by a pond

Degrees Offered:

Art History: Minor, BA, MA

Studio Arts (Art Practices): Minor, BA, BFA, MFA

Arts of the Americas: PhD

Department Website

Undergraduate Admission

Graduate Admission

Creating and studying works of art and visual images are the principal activities of the Department of Art and Art History. Included are creative work in studio areas, technical investigation, art history and research activities. The department covers a broad spectrum of professional interests in its instructional programs. Graduates of the program will come to understand the meaning, purpose, historical and cultural development of art objects and learn to appreciate the relationship of these objects to other humanistic disciplines such as literature and philosophy.

Undergraduate Opportunities

The department offers two separate undergraduate majors that lead to the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree: art history and studio arts. A Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Creative Arts is also available. The BFA program requires more extensive work in studio areas and is more professional and rigorous in nature than the BA program. Art history provides introductory courses in world art with specialized, upper­division courses in European, American, North American Indian, Asian, Latin American, modern and contemporary art and special topics courses. Art history courses encourage students to consider stylistic, historical, intellectual and critical analyses of works of art from many different historical periods and cultures. Graduates become familiar with the varied methodologies used to consider and analyze works of art in their historical context, and develop a thorough knowledge of artistic media and techniques. The program in studio arts offers the best professional art training in the Rocky Mountain region. Programs are offered in painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics and electronic media, which includes video, photography and digital art. There are opportunities to develop an interdisciplinary emphasis as well. Metal and woodshop facilities are available to support studio activities. The study of art is excellent preparation for careers in a wide variety of fields. Some students consider the BFA in Studio Arts preparation for life as a professional artist. Curatorial positions in museums and galleries, library work, public relations, commercial illustration, advertising, marketing and publishing are other areas that utilize skills acquired by art graduates.

Undergraduate Degree Requirements

Graduate Studies

The Department of Art and Art History offers three graduate degrees: the MA in Art History, the MFA in Studio Arts and the MFA/MBA in collaboration with the Leeds School of Business. 


The MA in Art History gives students an interdisciplinary foundation in the history of art to prepare them for careers as scholars, museum professionals and related creative professions in the history of art. Its main objective­­through graduate seminars, teaching opportunities, museum internships and scholarly fieldwork­­is to foster critical thinking about contemporary and historical forms of art as well as visual and material culture. Students who have achieved a distinguished record in this MA program are well prepared for acceptance into a doctoral program in art history. 


The MFA in Studio Arts is a rigorous program intended for artists committed to pursuing a professional life in the arts; it prepares students for careers as practicing artists and arts professionals as well as jobs teaching in colleges, universities and art schools. MFA students are given private studio spaces and access to many of the department’s facilities in the Visual Arts Complex, and they are eligible for a variety of awards, assistantships and teaching opportunities. During the two and a half­year program, students focus on one of several fields, including ceramics, IMAP (photography, digital media, video, integrated arts), painting and drawing, printmaking, sculpture and post-studio practice. Additionally, in collaboration with the Film Studies Program, the Department of Art and Art History offers a film track MFA. 


The PhD in arts of the Americas is a cross-cultural circulation of visual culture in the Americas from ancient to contemporary times with an interdisciplinary approach that brings art history into dialogue with anthropology, history, ethnic studies, women and gender studies, religious studies, and other disciplines in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Our accelerated PhD program is ideal for students who already have an MA in art history or an equivalent degree, including professionals in the art field seeking an opportunity to advance in their career by earning a PhD.

Graduate Degree Requirements

Research Opportunities

The Department of Art and Art History is in the new Visual Arts Complex (VAC), which features state­of­the­art equipment, studios, exhibition and classroom spaces. The VAC also houses the CU Art Museum, which has over 8,000 objects in a wide range of artistic media in its permanent collection, including works by Dali, Matisse, Picasso, Rauschenberg, Rodin and Warhol. In addition to a rotating series of exhibitions, each semester the museum hosts students’ BFA and MFA exhibitions. The department also offers a visiting artist program that regularly brings internationally recognized artists and critics to campus. Similarly, the department’s visiting scholar program invites leading scholars to campus to present their current work in a graduate seminar, a public lecture and other informal events. In addition, an internship program provides junior and senior­level students the opportunity to work in art­related agencies and receive up to six credit hours while learning how a major in art can lead to a variety of careers that are often overlooked. 

The diverse art history faculty offers a constantly changing curriculum of seminar topics geared to their current research and a strong foundation in critical historiography and contemporary critical theory. Areas of specialization include: Medieval art, Renaissance art and art theory, modern art, Latin American, contemporary art and architecture and critical theory. Students in the interdisciplinary program also take advantage of exciting course offerings in cultural anthropology, classics, history, literature, ethnic studies, women and gender studies, art practices and new media.