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Bachelor of Arts in Art History


Students considering a major in art history should take ARTHIST 1, Introduction to the Visual Arts (WIM course), during their freshman or sophomore year.


Students who wish to major in Art History declare the Art History major on Axess. Concentrations within the major are approved by the faculty adviser and are not declared on Axess. Sample concentrations include:

  1. Topical concentrations: art and gender; art, politics, race, and ethnicity; art, science, and technology; urban studies
  2. Genre concentrations: architecture; painting; sculpture; film studies; prints and media; decorative arts and material culture
  3. Historical and national concentrations: ancient and medieval; Renaissance and early modern; modern and contemporary; America; Africa; Asia; the Americas
  4. Interdisciplinary concentrations: art and literature; art and history; art and religion; art and economics; art and medicine (with adviser consent a maximum of two concentration courses may be taken outside the department).


All undergraduate majors complete a minimum of 61 units (14 courses of 4-5 units each). Students are required to complete two foundation courses (including the WIM course: ARTHIST 1, Introduction to the Visual Arts), five Art History distribution courses, five concentration courses, one studio course, and the junior seminar. Courses must be taken for a letter grade. To declare the major, students must meet with the undergraduate coordinator. At that time the student selects a faculty adviser. Majors are required to attend an orientation session presented by the professional staff of the Art and Architecture Library, which introduces the tools of research and reference available on campus or through the Internet. This requirement should be completed no later than the quarter following the major declaration.

Required Courses

  1. Foundation Courses (10 units):
    1. ARTHIST 1. Introduction to the Visual Arts (WIM course)
    2. One other course from ARTHIST 2, ARTHIST 3, FILMSTUD 4
  2. Distribution Courses (20 units): In order that students acquire a broad overview of different historical periods and different geographic regions, majors must take five Art History lecture courses, one from each of the following five categories:
    1. Ancient and medieval: ARTHIST 101, 102, 105, 106, 106A, 107, 108, 108A, 108B
    2. Renaissance and early modern: ARTHIST 111, 114, 117, 118, 120, 121, 122, 124, 126, 132
    3. Modern, contemporary, and the U.S.: ARTHIST 132, 142, 143, 145, 147, 155, 158A, 173, 176, 182
    4. Asia, Africa, and the Americas: ARTHIST 182, 184, 185, 185B, 186, 187, 188A, 190, 194, 196
    5. Film studies: FILMSTUD 100A, 100B, 100C, 101, 102, 115, 116, 132, 137, 150, 167.
  3. Area of Concentration (22 units): The department encourages students to pursue their interests by designing an area of concentration tailored to their own intellectual concerns. This area of concentration provides the student with an in-depth understanding of a coherent topic in Art History and consists of five Art History courses: two must be seminars or colloquia; and four of the five courses must be in a single field or concentration constructed by the student in consultation with their faculty adviser. Students must submit an area of concentration form, signed by their faculty adviser, during Winter Quarter of their junior year.
  4. Capstone Seminar (5 units): ARTHIST 296, Junior Seminar: Methods and Historiography of Art History. This course is designed to introduce majors to methods and theories underlying the practice of Art History. The seminar is offered annually, typically during Autumn Quarter.
  5. Studio Course (4 units): Majors are required to complete at least one introductory Studio Art course.

Courses may not be offered every year and are subject to change.


The purpose of the honors thesis is to extend and deepen work done in an Art History class; the topic should have focus and clear parameters. Typically an honors thesis is not an exploration of a new area that the student has never studied before. The minimum requirement for admission to the honors program is an overall GPA of 3.7, and at least 3.7 in Art History courses. Students must complete at least five Art History courses at Stanford by the end of their junior year; four must be completed by the end of winter quarter. Students interested in the honors program should consult their potential adviser by the beginning of junior year. Thesis advisers must be in residence during Autumn Quarter of the student's senior year, and it is highly recommended that they are in residence during the rest of senior year. Students wishing to write an honors thesis must announce their intention by submitting an intent form signed by their thesis adviser (who need not be the student's academic adviser) by February 1 of their junior year.

Candidates for the honors program must submit to the Art History faculty a five-page thesis proposal, including bibliography and illustrations, and one completed paper that demonstrates the student's ability to conceptualize and write about issues. The complete proposal must be submitted to the department's undergraduate coordinator no later than the third week of Spring Quarter of the candidate's junior year so it can be read, discussed, and voted upon at the faculty's regular meeting in early May. A candidate is accepted into the honors program by a simple majority.

Once admitted to the honors program, students work with their thesis advisers to define the scope of study, establish a research and writing timetable, and enlist one other faculty member to serve on the thesis reading committee. The summer between junior and senior years is usually devoted to refining the topic and pursuing any off-campus research. Students may apply for UAR research grants to help finance trips or expenses related to preparing the research for their honors thesis.

During their senior year, students must register for 10 units of ARTHIST 297, Honors Thesis Writing, 5 units of which may count towards the student's concentration in Art History. Students are required to register for two to five units each quarter during their senior year, for a total of ten units. To aid the process of research and writing, students preparing an honors thesis are paired with a graduate student mentor. Students must contact the graduate student mentor in their junior year as soon as they begin to think about writing an honors thesis. Through regular meetings, mentors guide students through the proposal process and the research and writing year.

Students and thesis advisers should plan their work so that a complete, final manuscript is in the hands of each member of the student's reading committee by the beginning of the seventh week of the student's final quarter at Stanford (one year from proposal to final manuscript). The thesis adviser assigns a letter grade; both faculty readers must approve the thesis for honors before the student is qualified to graduate with honors.

Required Course—

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