- How Do You Sign Up for the Major?
- What are the Goals of the Major?
- What are the Requirements for General Knowledge of Western Art?
- What are the Requirements for Knowledge of Non-Western Art?
- What are the Requirements Designed to Insure a Deeper Knowledge of Specific Areas?
- What is an Elective?
- What is an Advanced Seminar, and Why Do I Have to Take One?
- What is a Senior Honors Thesis?
- What do the Course Numbers Mean?
- How Do Internships and Independent Studies Work?
- What are Urban Design and Architecture Studies?
- What Opportunities does NYU Offer for Studying Art History Abroad?
- What is Advisement?
- Can I Do a Minor in Studio Art?
- Can I Take Art History as a Double Major or as a Minor?
- I’m a Transfer Student—How Do I Get Credit for Art History Courses Taken at My Previous School?
1. How Do You Sign Up for the Major?
To sign up as an art history major you must come into the art history department, meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and fill out our departmental paperwork. We will then set up a file for you and designate you as an art history major.
If you declare your major via CAS advisement or via the LSP office, we will not receive the information and you will not be registered as an art history major. This may make it difficult for you to register for popular art history courses. We set aside a significant number of seats for majors, but if you do not register with us then the computer system will not know that you are eligible for one of these reserved seats.
2. What are the Goals of the Major?
The curriculum for the major is designed to provide students with a broad overview of art history, and with a deeper understanding of particular areas and periods within it.
3. What are the Requirements for General Knowledge of Western Art?
To begin with, students are required to take two broad survey courses, History of Western Art I and II, which serve as prerequisites for all advanced courses in this area. The first of these surveys follows the development of Western art from Ancient Egypt through the Middle Ages; the second covers its development from the Renaissance through the modern era.
In theory, History of Western Art II may be replaced by the two-part sequence, Renaissance Art and Modern Art. Similarly, History of Western Art I may be replaced by the combination of Ancient Art and Medieval Art, although these courses are not offered regularly every year. However, students should note that these more specialized surveys are intended for non-majors who wish to learn about the art of a particular era. (For instance, students in the Tisch School often want to take courses on modern art in order to supplement their courses on film and photography. To do so, they must first take the Modern survey, after which they can take more advanced courses.) Art history majors who are considering taking one of these more specialized surveys should note that:
(1)If you take a two-part sequence such as Renaissance Art and Modern Art, it will only count as one course toward the major (i.e. the equivalent of History of Western Art II).
(2)If you by mistake take a broader survey followed by a narrower survey in the same area (for instance, History of Western Art I followed by Medieval Art), the second course will be considered redundant and will not count for credit toward your major.
For these reasons, majors and potential majors are strongly advised to take History of Western Art I and II rather than the more specialized surveys.
Students who took the Advanced Placement test in art history and earned a score of 5 are exempted from taking the introductory survey courses. (Scores of 4 or less do not count for credit toward the Art History major.)
An AP score of 5 should thus serve as the prerequisite for advanced courses in Western Art. In theory, this should be recognized by the Registrar but in practice the Department of Art History may need to send the Registrar a memo to insure that you receive appropriate credit for the AP. In the interim, in order to register for advanced courses, you may need to ask the administrative assistant for the Department to enroll you as a student in the courses you want to take, overriding the Albert registration system.
Students who have placed out of the introductory surveys by earning a score of 5 on the AP are required to take three rather than two electives (see Electives, below). This insures that you will have taken at least eight courses in the major. (The normal requirement is nine courses.)
4. What are the Requirements for Knowledge of Non-Western Art?
To increase their breadth of art historical knowledge, majors are also required to take at least one course in non-Western art. These courses are divided between introductory surveys and more advanced classes on specialized topics. Either type of course may satisfy the distribution requirement for non-Western. Note that non-Western courses do not, as a rule, have prerequisites, and may therefore be taken concurrently with (or in advance of) History of Western Art I and II.
5. What are the Requirements Designed to Insure You Have a Deeper Knowledge of Specific Areas?
Art history majors are required to take a minimum of one advanced course in either Ancient Art or Medieval Art. The prerequisite for advanced courses in these areas is History of Western Art I. (The Ancient Art survey may also serve as prerequisite for advanced courses in Ancient Art, as the Medieval Art survey may serve as prerequisite for advanced courses in this area.)
Majors are required to take at least one advanced course in Renaissance or Baroque art. The prerequisite for advanced courses in these areas is either History of Western Art II or the Renaissance Art survey.
Majors are required to take at least one advanced course in Modern Art. The prerequisite for advanced courses in this area is either History of Western Art II or the Modern Art survey.
In addition to advanced courses in these three areas, and to a course in non-Western art (see above, under “Breadth of Knowledge”), majors must take an additional two advanced courses (“electives”), in areas of their choosing. They must also take an advanced seminar (discussed at more length below). This brings the total of courses in the major up to nine (HWA I, HWA II, advanced Ancient or Medieval, advanced Renaissance or Baroque, advanced Modern, non-Western, two electives, plus the advanced seminar).
Please note that this total (9) represents merely the minimum number of courses necessary to complete the major. Students are encouraged to take more if possible. They are also encouraged to take courses in related areas--for instance history or Biblical literature (if you are interested in art before the modern era).
Note that the four specialized survey courses in Western Art—Ancient Art, Medieval Art, Renaissance Art, and Modern Art—may not be used to fill the requirements for advanced courses in these areas. In contrast, the survey courses in non-Western art—Islamic Art I and II, South Asian Art I and II, and East Asian Art I and II—are considered advanced courses, and may be used to fulfill the distribution requirement in non-Western art.
6. What is an Elective?
An elective is a course taken above and beyond the basic distribution requirements for the major. For instance, if a student takes a second advanced course in Renaissance art, after fulfilling the basic requirement for one advanced course in that area, the second course is counted as an elective. In this case, it is the timing of the course, not the subject matter that makes it an elective.
A few courses given in the department, such as History of Architecture, are always counted as electives, because they do not fit into the chronological divisions of the distribution requirements.
Similarly, some courses given outside the department count as electives within the major, but not as equivalents to the introductory surveys or to advanced courses. These non-departmental electives include the MAP class Expressive Cultures: Images (if taken before declaring the art history major), the French Department’s course on La Belle Epoque, and the LSP course Cultural Foundations. (Note that the two semesters of Cultural Foundations, together, count as one elective in art history.) These three courses may not be counted towards the four courses of the art history minor.
Other non-departmental courses may be counted as electives towards the major with the permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Please see the section below on “Study Abroad” for information about which courses given abroad count for advanced credit and which only for elective credit.
7. What is an Advanced Seminar, and Why Do I Have to Take One?
It is a long-standing tradition of the art history department to encourage discussion in classes, so that students can exchange ideas with the professors and with one another. As a practical matter, however, discussions tend to happen more often in small classes on specialized topics than in large lecture classes on broad, popular topics. To insure that art history students will enjoy the experience of intensive discussion in a small class, all majors are required to take an upper-level seminar, which will be limited to 12-16 students.
Three or four seminars are offered each semester on changing topics, so each student should have an opportunity to find a seminar suited to his or her special interests. The seminar may be postponed until the second semester of senior year, but it is required for completion of the art history major.
Students who anticipate writing a senior honors thesis (see below) may elect to take their upper-level seminar in the second semester of their junior year.
8. What is a Senior Honors Thesis?
Honors students —that is, students with a GPA of 3.65 or higher, both in their overall course work and within the major—are eligible to write a senior honors thesis. This is a long (approx. 40 page) research paper on an advanced topic, written in close consultation with a faculty advisor. The thesis will give the student a taste of graduate-level work in art history. However, it should not be viewed simply as a step on the way to graduate school in art history. Writing a senior thesis provides valuable training in research, organization, and self-expression, skills that will be equally useful to students planning careers in journalism, law, business, medicine, or education.
Honors students interested in writing a senior thesis should find a faculty advisor at the beginning of spring semester of junior year. (As noted above, they may also wish to take their advanced seminar in spring semester of junior year, so that the research and writing required for seminar reports do not conflict with the research and writing for the thesis.) In consultation with the advisor, they should refine a specific topic, which they may wish to begin researching over the summer between junior and senior years.
In the fall semester of their senior year, students writing theses work together in a special honors seminar on research methods and organization, while continuing to meet regularly with their faculty advisors. In the spring semester, thesis students register for a four credit Independent Study and meet weekly with their individual advisers, writing and revising the text over a period of months.
Please note that the fall honors seminar is not the same as—and does not replace—the advanced seminar required of all art history majors. (As mentioned above, honors students who plan to write a senior thesis may take the advanced seminar in their junior year.) Students doing a double major in art history and in another department should note that the honors seminar for the senior thesis counts as an elective, filling the electives requirement. It is thus possible to write a senior thesis while taking no more than the basic nine courses required to complete the major.
The senior thesis should be completed three weeks before the end of the spring semester. At that point, two more faculty members will be recruited to serve as readers, along with the student’s faculty advisor. The student will then meet with the three readers for a Thesis Defense, at the end of which the readers will meet separately to assign a grade of no honors, honors, high honors, or highest honors.
9. What do the Course Numbers Mean?
All art history courses have the heading V43, taking the form V43.XXXX. Ancient courses are V43.01XX, Medieval courses are V43.02XX, Renaissance courses are V43.03XX, and Modern courses are V43.04XX. There are exceptions: many study-abroad courses and certain special topic courses are listed as V43.0850.XXX. These courses, which do not appear in the University Bulletin, may cover such topics as urban design or non-western art, or they may simply represent a course designed by a faculty member to explore a special topic that does not fit within the usual categories.
Each semester, several weeks before registration, the department prepares a summary of all the courses that will be offered in the following semester, explaining which courses—whether regular or special topic—will satisfy which requirements. This summary is distributed to all art history majors via listserv. It is also available as a printed handout, which may be picked up by students in the departmental office at Silver 303.
Until recently, the Student Information System did not recognize special topic courses (V43.0850.XXX) as art history courses, and did not know how to classify them (as Ancient, Medieval, etc.). Despite their V43 heading, special topics courses were placed by SIS (or Albert) in the “general elective” section of your degree program. However, as part of the advisement procedure, we keep track of your courses internally and make sure they are credited correctly in our departmental files. Before you graduate, the departmental secretary will write a memo to the Registrar, instructing that office to put your special topic courses in the correct area, so that the system will recognize that you have fulfilled your distribution requirements.
We have recently renumbered the special topics courses so that most if not all of them should be correctly credited by the SIS. The new course numbers are:
V43.0150.xxx Special Topics in Ancient Art
V43.0250.xxx Special Topics in Medieval Art
V43.0350.xxx Special Topics in Renaissance and Baroque Art
V43.0450.xxx Special Topics in Modern Art
V43.0550.xxx Special Topics in Non-Western Art
V43.0650.xxx Special Topics in Urban Design and Architecture
V43.0750.xxx Special Topics in Museum Studies
V43.0850.xxx Special Topics
V43.0851.xxx Special Topics--Honors Level
The existing course number for special topics, V43.0850, has been retained for non-honors special topics classes that do not fit into any of these categories.
10. How Do Internships and Independent Studies Work?
Art history students are encouraged to do internships at New York area museums, galleries and auction houses. To receive credit for internships, students must register for a two-point independent study with a professor who agrees to supervise. At the professor’s discretion, students may fulfill the academic component of the independent study either (1) by writing a research paper, 15-20 pages in length, on a topic related to their duties as intern or (2) by keeping a diary of their internship experience, writing at least three pages per week, plus a five-page summary. Students should ask the professor to suggest a reading list related to their work, and this reading should be incorporated into the paper or diary. Students must also provide the professor with a letter from their supervisor at work, confirming their participation and performance.
11. What are Urban Design and Architecture Studies?
For information go to FAQs—Urban Design and Architecture Studies.
12. What Opportunities does NYU Offer for Studying Art History Abroad?
NYU encourages all students to spend a semester abroad, offering a valuable opportunity to examine at first hand the art and architecture of another culture. The NYU Abroad programs in Florence, Paris, and London typically offer several courses in art history and in urban design and architecture studies each semester; in other cities, the offerings in art and architectural history are more limited. Students majoring in Art History or Urban Design can earn credit toward the major for 2 courses taken abroad or if a third course is taken (in a different location) then the student can earn major credit for 3 courses. Students minoring in Art History or Urban Design can earn credit toward the minor for a maximum of 2 courses taken abroad.
Certain courses given abroad have the same titles and course numbers as courses given in New York; these typically count for advanced credit in Renaissance Art, Modern art, or Urban Design and Architecture Studies, depending on the course. Other courses have no New York equivalent; some of these count as advanced courses, others as electives--and a few carry no art history credit at all.
Students taking a semester abroad may also take courses at non-NYU institutions, such as the Sorbonne in Paris. These may be counted as advanced or elective courses, at the discretion of the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Please note that the NYU programs in Accra, Madrid, Prague, and Shanghai offer few or no courses that count toward the major in art history.
Before leaving for a semester abroad, all students must meet with a faculty advisor to discuss their choice of art history classes.
13. What is Advisement?
Each semester, beginning two or three weeks before registration, students are required to meet with a faculty advisor to discuss their plan of study, and to make sure that they are on the right track toward completing the major.
14. Can I do a Minor in Studio Art?
Students majoring in art history are eligible to take studio art as a minor. (This option is not available to students in other majors.) The minor consists of studio courses totaling 16 points, taken in the Steinhardt School of Education. Students must take at least one course in each of three areas: Drawing/ Painting/Printmaking, Sculpture, and Media, plus additional electives sufficient to make up the total of 16 points. Note that many advanced Steinhardt courses carry only three points (rather than the four typical in the College of Arts and Sciences), although the introductory courses typically carry four. The studio minor may require either four or five courses, depending on the student’s choice of classes. Students who wish to take this minor should contact Ann Chwatsky, the Student Advisement Coordinator in Steinhardt, AC31@nyu.edu. Main number for appointments: 212-998-5700. See also the detailed list of requirements and courses, below.
15. Can I Take Art History as a Double Major or as a Minor?
Students often take art history as a double major, along with journalism, foreign languages, history, or other subjects. The relatively light number of required courses (nine) means that it is usually possible to complete the requirements for both majors within the normal eight semesters of college. However, it does require careful planning, and double majors should consult carefully with their advisors in both departments. In some cases, an art history course may be “double-counted” for credit both within the art history major and within the other major, but the college, as a rule, permits only one course to be double-counted.
Art history may also be taken as a minor in conjunction with another major. The minor consists, in principle, of any four courses offered by the department. However, the usual requirements for prerequisites remain in force. Thus students wishing to take advanced courses in, for instance, Renaissance or Baroque art must first take either History of Western Art II or the Renaissance Art survey. They may then take three more advanced courses in their area of interest.
Art history courses taken in Steinhardt may not be double-counted for credit towards an art history minor. However, for Steinhardt students taking a minor in Art History, the two-part Steinhardt course “Art and Contemporary Culture” is the pre-requisite for advanced Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern courses. “Art and Contemporary Culture, Part 2,” alone, is the pre-requisite for advanced Modern courses.
16. I’m a Transfer Student—How Do I Get Credit for Art History Courses Taken at My Previous School?
Students coming to the College from another university should meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to determine how the courses they have already taken will be counted towards the art history major. If possible, please bring copies of the curricula or detailed course descriptions to this meeting.
Students coming to the College from the Liberal Studies Program should try to take the introductory surveys in art history as soon as possible—in some cases, while still in LSP. As noted above, the two semesters of “Cultural Foundations,” given in LSP count as one elective towards the art history major (but do not count for the art history minor).
For students coming to the College from the Steinhardt School of Education, the 2–part Steinhardt course, “Art and Contemporary culture,” is equivalent to History of Western Art II. “Art and Contemporary Culture, Part 2,” alone, is equivalent to the Modern Art survey.
Students should be aware that the DUGS will determine how your previous courses will be counted towards the major, but not how many points they will count for towards graduation at NYU. Decisions about credits are made by the Registrar’s office, not by the Art History Department.