Student stands in front of historic art on wall on a study abroad experience
Undergraduate | In-Person

Art History, BA

When you study Art History in the Watkins College, you'll expand your knowledge with varied social and cultural contexts and figure out how you fit into this exciting creative universe in the future.

Why Major in Art History? 

Pursuing a B.A. degree in Art History within the Watkins College of Art at Belmont is an opportunity to learn about the histories of art by positioning art objects and practices within virtually every aspect of human experience. You will explore various ways of understanding the world and the societies in which those objects were created.

Art history as a program of study combines a broad education with a vast array of transferrable skills. Employers value many of the core skills students learn from the study of art history including creative expression, attention to detail, flexible thinking, problem-solving, openness to new ideas, cultural awareness and human relations. These skills are further honed through engagement with local art-related activities, options for internships at the Frist Museum of Art in Nashville, semester-away opportunities through the Belmont USA program as well as global experiences available in a rotating schedule of Maymester and summer courses with travel to Japan, the United Kingdom, Greece, Germany, Italy and other destinations.

Some areas of study in the curriculum include global art and culture, contemporary art, American art, African-American art, Asian art and architecture, history of photography and women in art.

What You'll Learn 

  • Demonstrate knowledge of art works and practices from a broad range of time periods and diverse cultures.
  • Learn about what it means to be an art historian in practice through a range of professional activities and gain experience that will prepare you to pursue a career in the contemporary art world.
  • Learn to write and present your original ideas through peer group presentations about study abroad or related experiential learning, public gallery or museum talks, arts-in-community projects, etc.
  • Acquire skills in using presentation technologies and formats, pursuing database and archival research, and developing web-based content for curatorial projects and interactive components for art exhibitions.
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyze works with the intellectual tools and frames of reference common within contemporary art history (iconography, semiotics, formalism, social history) and apply these skills in pursuing academic research and teaching as well as curating and education in art museums and galleries.

Career Possibilities

  • Curatorial Career
  • Museum Education
  • Museum & Gallery Exhibition Installation
  • Virtual Art History & Digital Technologies
  • Art Law
  • Art Consultant, Management & Representation
  • Art & Estate Appraisals Auction Houses
  • Art Conservation & Restoration
  • Virtual Exhibition Development

Program Details

Courses in Art History fall within three broad areas:

  • Historical surveys
  • Research and methods studies
  • Special topics seminars for in-depth study of a period or theme: Postmodernism, American Art, African-American Art, History of Photography, Asian Art & Architecture, Modern Latin American Art and Women in Art are a few of the special topics currently offered on a rotating basis. 

See All Program Requirements

Courses You'll Take

  • ART 1000, Intro to Visual Interpretation

An introductory study of Art and Design (open to Art majors only) emphasizing the analysis and interpretation of images drawn from various global and historical contexts. Conceptual and formal links between the visual arts and the cultural frameworks through which they are produced, viewed and critiqued are stressed. This is a required foundation course for all first-year art majors. Students will also be introduced to the e-Portfolio concept that will serve as a unifying foundational requirement through all ART/ARC courses to foster opportunities for self-critique and the development of reflective practices that bring coherence to synthesize and integrate learning inside and outside of the classroom.

  • ART 2800, World Art - Pre-Modern

This course offers an introductory overview of visual art, material objects and architecture representing cultures from around the world beginning in the era of Prehistory to ca. 1300. Visual analysis of forms, techniques, styles, subjects and symbolism is grounded in an understanding of related historical contexts and societal beliefs.

  • ART 2810, World Art - Early & Modern

This course explores visual art and architecture across many cultures and geographies from the early modern period to the present day. Visual analysis of forms, techniques, styles, subjects and symbolism frame global narratives and cross-cultural connections within a chronological overview.

  • ART 3650, Museum Studies

Introduction to the philosophy, purposes, structure, historical development and future of museums. Examines functions of collection, conservation, research, exhibition/interpretation and social/cultural services; museum field growth.

  • ART 3660, Art History Research and Methodology

An intensive study of the nature of art history as an intellectual discipline and of the approaches scholars have taken to various art historical problems. Attention as well to principles of current art historical research and writing. Recommended for juniors who have declared art history as a major.

  • ART 4630, Asian Art & Architecture

This course will provide a survey of the arts of Asia including India, Korea, China and Japan. Through a study of the historical and religious context of works of architecture, sculpture and painting, the course will attempt to discover the themes that unify the artistic traditions of Asia and those the set them apart and will cover topics including the development of images of the Buddha in India, landscape painting in China and Japan and Japanese woodblock prints.

  • ART 4740, Contemporary Art

A study of the visual arts from 1980 to the present. This course moves beyond the considerations of modernism to examine the revolutionary theories and practices in contemporary visual art, and explores how these works reflect current social, political, psychological and technological realities.

  • Study abroad (Semester, Maymester, or Summer). Art History has led trips to Greece, Germany Italy, United Kingdom, France and Japan.
  • Study away for a semester in alternate markets through Belmont USA (N.Y.C., L.A., Washington D.C.).
  • Internships- Our relationship to Nashville’s professional creative community is personal and rich. We will assist you with internship placement to ensure the experience is a good fit. 
  • Four campus gallery spaces to professionally exhibit your work.
  • Opportunities to present at campus-wide research symposiums and professional conferences.
  • Kappa Pi, an international honorary art fraternity.

In addition to Belmont University's Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation, the Watkins College of Art is a fully accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The Watkins College of Art has significant scholarship opportunities for students. Last year, the college offered more than 55 scholarships to incoming students valued over $380,000.

Applicants who intend to pursue a degree in the Watkins College of Art and wish to be considered for the merit-based scholarship must submit an additional essay. Students must have their Belmont application and essay submitted by December 1 to be eligible for the scholarships.

Please visit the Portfolio and Essay Guidelines page for more specific details.

Learn more.

Need-based scholarships will be determined from a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the official form that families use to apply for college financial assistance from the federal government.

Art has served a unique role in every society from the beginning of time to the present. Visual art and architecture defines human history and communicates the essential truths of every culture and society.

This minor provides students an opportunity to explore focused topics in Art History by means of the two standard survey courses, four seminars in specialized topics such as Greek and Roman art.

Coursework may be completed entirely at Belmont or in combination with a Study Abroad Program.

Alumni Testimonial

“Belmont gave me a firm foundation for my career and fostered my appreciation of art and material culture. There was a real community of fellow students who were invested and interested in each other’s research. Some of my favorite memories were my during study abroad programs (Greece, London, Paris). Nothing compares to learning about a painting or historic site while standing right in front of it!”

Bailey Tichenor, Class of 2016
Co-Founder & Director of Artistoric

Art History alumna Gwyneth Cunningham sits in front of a white sheet next to a plant

Student Testimonial

"Through the Art History program, I have developed a sense of purpose and belonging which has helped me to feel empowered in my studies. Art History provided me with critical tools that apply and translate to every subject, giving me a new perspective on how to engage with the world both academically and socially."

Gwyneth Cunningham, Class of 2025

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Watkins College of Art

Elise Haines
Admissions Coordinator
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