About the Program
History of Art Major Program
The Major in History of Art is designed to give students solid grounding in the artistic traditions, practices, and contexts that comprise historical and contemporary visuality. Equally, it introduces the discipline’s history, methods, and debates. It prepares students to do independent research, to evaluate evidence, to create coherent and sustained arguments, and to develop skills in academic writing. In a series of increasingly focused courses — lower division, upper division, seminar, and honors program — the major provides a format for students to learn how to analyze and interpret visual, material, and textual evidence from specific cultural settings and historical circumstances. Major requirements are also designed to maximize exposure to different historical periods, geographical regions, and topics while allowing flexibility for students to pursue specific interests by selecting a Focus of Study.
Declaring the Major
To declare the major in the History of Art Department, a student must complete two courses taught in the department and receive a grade of C- or higher in each course. All subsequent courses a student wishes to apply to the major must also receive a grade of C- or higher. Once these prerequisites are met, students may formally petition to declare the major by making an appointment with an Undergraduate Adviser at any time during the fall and spring semesters. (Students in residence at UC Berkeley are strongly urged to complete all lower division requirements and one upper division course by the end of their sophomore year.) Transfer students should plan to take two History of Art courses in their first semester.
Majors who declare early, especially in the sophomore year, enjoy several advantages:
1. A more thorough preparation for seminars and time to study more closely with several members of the faculty.
2. Greater flexibility in coordinating major requirements with College of Letters & Science (L&S) requirements and in planning a sequence of courses that allows for special courses or programs of study, e.g., study abroad, curatorial internships, independent study, a double-major, and the honors program.
3. Time for a generally higher level of study in the senior year, and opportunity to experiment with and prepare for diverse career opportunities.
Students with at least a 3.7 grade point average (GPA) in the History of Art major are eligible for admission into the honors program. Candidates for honors in History of Art are required to complete satisfactorily, within their senior year, an honors thesis consisting of at least two semesters of continuing academic work under faculty supervision (usually a seminar, directed research, or independent study course in the first semester plus, in the second semester, HISTART H195). Those who have completed the program will graduate with honors, high honors, or highest honors in the major depending upon their final GPA in all upper division courses taken to fulfill the major requirements. Please see the department's honors program webpage for further information.
The minor program in the History of Art Department is designed to provide a structured and broad program for those students majoring in other disciplines but with a strong interest in the history of art. For information regarding declaring the minor, please contact the department.
In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.
The History of Art Major Program (41-48 units)
I. Lower Division Requirements (4 courses)
A. Three History of Art Courses (9-12 units)
Majors must complete 9 to 12 units of lower division course work in the History of Art Department. These units may come from courses taken in the department, courses taken at other institutions granted transfer credit for the major by the department, or from AP Art History (score of 4 or 5). Courses that qualify for lower division requirements include:
Additional requirement: These three courses must include one course in Western art and one course in non-Western art.
B. One Art Practice/Materials Course (2-4 units)
Students must complete 2, 3, or 4 units in a course that introduces specific art making practices and/or the study of the materials of art. This course must be approved in advance by an undergraduate adviser in the History of Art Department. It may be taken P/NP. Applicable courses are typically offered in the Practice of Art Department, College of Environmental Design, and program in New Media Studies. Students may also take courses that involve the making of art occasionally taught in the department.
II. Upper Division Requirements (7 courses)
In their upper division coursework in History of Art (total 26-28 units; 8 of these units in seminars), each student must take courses in four of the following five geographical areas and one course in each of the chronological periods.
(A) Europe and the Mediterranean
(B) Asia and the Pacific
(C) The Americas
(D) Middle East and Africa
Upper division lecture courses (3 or 4 units) and seminars (2 or 4 units) may fulfill these breadth requirements. Upper division classes (lecture or seminar) can fulfill both a geographical requirement and a chronological requirement.
A. Five Lecture Courses (18-20 units)
Up to two of these courses may be 3 unit courses.
B. Seminars (8 units)
Students in the major are required to complete 8 units of seminar study, of which 4 units (incorporating a research paper component) must be in their Focus of Study. The remaining 4 units may be taken as follows:
A second 4-unit seminar with research paper.
Two 2-unit seminars without research papers. Individual faculty members will decide when a given seminar can be taken for 2 units. Two-unit seminars require active participation and completion of weekly readings and writing assignments. Four-unit seminars add a final research paper.
III. Additional Requirements (1 course)
A. Theories/Methods Course (4 units)
All students in the major are required to take either HISTART 100 or HISTART 101. These courses, offered in fall and spring semesters, focus on historiography and theoretical/philosophical models in the History of Art, on practical methods of art historical inquiry, or a combination thereof. Students should take HISTART 100 or HISTART 101 early in their work in the major. We encourage students intending to pursue graduate training in the History of Art or related disciplines to take both courses.
Focus of Study
Four upper division courses taught in the Department will comprise the Focus of Study. Each student must select a Focus of Study by no later than the second semester of the junior year. By selecting a focus, students engage a specific field/period/topic in a cluster of relevant courses taught within and outside the department. The focus must be approved by an undergraduate faculty adviser. Examples include (but are not limited to):
- The Ancient World
- The Renaissance World
- The Body in Art
- Art and Religion Popular Culture
- Art and Gender
- Modernities and the Arts
- Globalism and the Arts
- Urban Culture
- Material Culture
1. All courses to be counted toward completion of the Major, with the exception of the Art Practice requirement which may be taken Pass/Not Pass, must be taken for a letter grade, earning a C- minus or higher.
2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.
4. With prior department approval, one upper division lecture course may be substituted for one of the lower division survey courses.
5. Two Summer Session lecture courses—in History of Art—and an art practice course may be credited to completion of the major.
6. History of Art does not use the Academic Progress Report (APR). To review major progress, check with Undergraduate HA advisor.
For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.
Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements.
All minors must be declared before the first day of classes in your Expected Graduation Term (EGT). For summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A.
All upper-division courses must be taken for a letter grade.
A minimum of three of the upper-division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required in the upper-division courses to fulfill the minor requirements.
Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If students cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, they should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)
The History of Art Minor Program (18-20 units)
The Minor Program in the History of Art Department is designed to provide a structured and broad program for those students majoring in other disciplines but with a strong interest in the history of art. Students minoring in the History of Art will take at least five courses (upper division lecture or seminar) with a minimum grade of C. Up to two of these courses may be 3 unit courses. These should include courses in two separate chronological periods and two different geographical categories as specified below. Students should be aware of college requirements regarding overlap between major and minor programs.
(A) Europe and the Mediterranean
(B) Asia and the Pacific
(C) The Americas
(D) Middle East and Africa
Three of these courses must be taken in the History of Art Department at Berkeley. Students minoring in History of Art are strongly encouraged to also take a lower division lecture course in art history and a course in art practice/materials. Students may apply one Summer Session course to their minor requirements. Work for the minor must be completed within the 130-unit minimum limit for graduation.
Declaring the HA Minor:
To declare the minor in the History of Art Department, a student must complete one upper-division course taught in the department and receive a grade of C or higher. Once this prerequisite is met, students may formally petition to declare the minor by making an appointment with the Undergraduate Advisor. Note: Students must declare the minor prior to the first day of classes in the term in which they intend to graduate. For Summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A.
History of Art does not use the Academic Progress Report (APR). To review minor progress, check with the Undergraduate advisor.
Completion of HA Minor:
Upon the completion of the HA minor requirements, students must fill-out the “Completion of L&S Minor” form (see Letters & Science’s Advising website) and return it to the Undergraduate Advisor.
- All minors must be declared prior to the first day of classes of a student's expected graduation term (EGT). For Summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A. To declare a minor, contact the department advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process.
- All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be taken for graded credit.
- A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
- A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
- Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
- No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
- All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)
Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.
For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages.
University of California Requirements
All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley.
The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.
Berkeley Campus Requirement
All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.
College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements
The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.
The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.
In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester.
College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements
The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.
120 total units
Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units
- Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years, or two years for transfer students. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.
Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.
Senior Residence Requirement
After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.
You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.
Modified Senior Residence Requirement
Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.
Upper Division Residence Requirement
You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.
Student Learning Goals
Learning Goals for the Major
- Students are introduced to principles of visual analysis.
- Learn to think about images within a historical and cultural context.
- Learn to craft coherent arguments about works of art by integrating visual analysis with historical/cultural context.
- Develop familiarity with specific sites, objects, artists, cultures, and facts pertaining to them.
- Students learn to understand techniques and skills used in the creation of works of art.
- Students’ skills in all of the above are reinforced.
- They learn to analyze key texts relating to the artworks under discussion.
- Write longer papers that include research.
- Understand in depth the dynamic relationship between visual art and its historical, social, cultural, economic, and political contexts.
- In small seminars, students pursue independent research projects.
- Undertake intensive interrogations of particular problems in the history of art.
- In History of Art courses, HISTART 100 and HISTART 101, students come to understand the history and tools of the discipline.
Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:
Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study
Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success
Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression
Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world
- Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley
Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.
Declared majors must see an undergraduate adviser at least once each semester during the registration period (advisers are listed on the department website). These advising meetings provide majors with the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member who can help them develop an overall program of study well-suited to individual strengths and career goals. The advisers also apprise majors of special courses and opportunities, both in the History of Art Department and elsewhere. Please note that faculty advisers are typically not available during the summer and winter breaks. Advising appointments can be made by signing up on the department website.
In addition to general advising and coursework approval, advisers must approve all changes in registration, including withdrawals and add-drop changes, certain special study courses (HISTART 193 Directed Research, HISTART 194, HISTART H195, HISTART C196W, HISTART 199), and some special programs. Appointments should be made well in advance of deadlines.
Each semester during the course enrollment period History of Art majors must see the undergraduate major adviser to discuss their program of study to release their advisor hold in order to gain access to the course enrollment system. Students should sign up for an advising appointment prior to their enrollment phase, having considered carefully the department’s course descriptions and having planned a schedule of proposed courses to be discussed with the adviser. Special additional office hours are held during enrollment periods, and advisers may decline to provide last-minute advising. Adviser holds will only be released over the phone or via email if a student is studying abroad or is physically incapacitated.
Department undergraduate advisers do not administer or approve coursework or degree requirements in the College of Letters & Science other than the requirements of the major. For L&S requirements, students should make an appointment to see an L&S adviser in 206 Evans Hall.
Suggestions for All Majors
Foreign languages are not required in lower or upper division courses but a reading knowledge of European or Asian languages may be helpful in seminars and other research courses. Students planning on graduate study in the History of Art are urged to develop a reading knowledge of German and French or Italian as early as possible. Special language requirements pertain for graduate study in ancient and Asian art.
Recommended course load in History of Art will vary according to the student, course level, and individual course requirements. In general, no more than two History of Art courses per semester are recommended. A student’s final academic year may include a greater number of courses in History of Art, especially if all L&S breadth requirements have been fulfilled.
Special programs, such as study abroad, internships, and double majoring require considerable advance planning. If you are interested in any of these, discuss your plans early with your adviser. Courses taken through study abroad must be discussed in advance with an adviser and will not be formally approved until after completion and until satisfactory documentation has been submitted. In order for courses taken abroad to satisfy major requirements, the breadth and depth of the course, the work demanded, and your performance must all meet Berkeley upper division standards. Your performance will be evaluated by a faculty adviser upon your return to campus to determine whether major requirements have been satisfied. Please see the department Study Abroad Information sheet.
Students with special intellectual or preprofessional interests may wish to enroll in independent study or research courses (HISTART 193, HISTART 199), in a second seminar (192), or in additional, related courses in other departments. These students should discuss their interests with their advisers as early as possible.
Letters of Recommendation
Students should plan to request letters of recommendation from those faculty members with whom they have studied most closely, especially in seminars and other special study courses. General letters of reference for employment, internships, or graduate school/professional programs, may be placed on file with the Career Center (2440 Bancroft Way).
Students who anticipate applying to graduate schools should discuss their plans with their adviser or with the faculty member whose field most closely corresponds to their interests. If you plan to begin graduate study in the fall after your graduation from Berkeley, you will have to prepare applications in the fall of your senior year. Most schools have deadlines in December though February, especially if the application is made for both admission and fellowship support. Arrangements should also be made in the fall of your senior year for taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or other graduate entrance exams that many schools require.
Department and University Honors
Honors in Art History: Students with a 3.7 GPA in the major may complete and submit an honors thesis by enrolling in HA195 (4 units, graded). A student whose thesis receives a grade of A- or better will receive Departmental Honors (Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors). The Honors Thesis is a two-semester project conducted under faculty supervision, as follows: a seminar, upper division lecture, directed research, or independent study course in the first semester, followed by HA195 in the second. For specific details regarding the Honors Program, students should speak with a faculty undergraduate advisor and read the Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses.
University honors are awarded to students on the basis of overall GPA as follows: Distinction, High Distinction, and Highest Distinction (roughly equivalent to cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude). Requisite GPAs for University honors change each year. In 2016-2017 they were: Distinction: 3.724; High Distinction: 3.845; Highest Distinction: 3.947.
Maybelle M. Toombs Awards recognize the potential talent and ability of students based upon their record in the major up to the beginning of the senior year. By that time, the students must have completed at least two semesters of coursework as a History of Art major at Berkeley. Criteria for the award are outstanding grade point average and receiving financial aid. The award carries a stipend payable in the student's senior year for research and travel.
For the Departmental Citation, presented at Commencement to a graduating senior, the Departmental Award Committee considers grades to be the principal criterion, but it also takes into account the character of the student's overall program, its ambition and depth; the student's ability to sustain a high level of excellence throughout his or her undergraduate work, from the freshman to the senior year, in the Art History Department as well as in other subjects; and the ways in which this broad experience is brought to bear in an honors thesis of high quality, one that notably demonstrates the ability to do research in the discipline and a genuine independence of mind and maturity of judgment.
Brochures, Announcements, and Files
Announcements and brochures on graduate study, internships, work experience, fellowships, study abroad, training programs, and special lectures and symposia are posted on the departmental bulletin board or distributed by email. If you are interested in a particular program and need more information, please contact the undergraduate student services adviser.
The History of Art Undergraduate Student Association (H.Art) is an official campus group that exists to serve the interests of the department's majors. In the past, the association has compiled an internship directory, hosted a student-faculty brunch, sponsored special lunchtime talks with faculty and graduate students, and assisted in organizing career seminars. All majors are invited and encouraged to participate in the association. If you would like more information please leave a message in the association's mailbox in 416 Doe or speak with the undergraduate student services adviser.
History of Art Department
416 Doe Library #6020