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Art History, Criticism and Conservation

Program Description

Just the Facts

Art History, Criticism and Conservation. A program that focuses on the study of the historical development of art as social and intellectual phenomenon, the analysis of works of art, and art conservation. Includes instruction in the theory of art, art history research methods, connoisseurship, the preservation and conservation of works of art, and the study of specific periods, cultures, styles, and themes.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Related Careers

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Additional Information

Art history degrees are available at many levels, and at many schools. It's easier to choose a good school if you know what professors expect.

"Generally, the best students we have are students who are able to think outside the classroom," says Blake Stimson. He is an art history professor at the University of California at Davis.

"[We like people] who are able to think about the relationship of the material they are learning about in the classroom to other parts of their lives and to other things going on in the world."

That kind of proactive learning is a strong component of Stimson's department. Proactive learning means that students get involved with the material they study. They read constantly and visit a lot of museums.

Universities offer bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and PhDs in art history. Keep in mind that a large percentage of people who go for art history degrees move on to graduate studies.

The traditional liberal arts education is a good background. But along with classes in history and social issues, computer skills are becoming more important.

"The web is a primary research resource for students these days," Stimson says. "Some of the things that we're incorporating into our curriculum are students having web production skills, being able to put together exhibition proposals and that kind of thing."

An emphasis on history, English, the social sciences and art classes in high school will help you. You should also try to learn one or two foreign languages, especially French, Italian or German.

Barbara Maywood is an academic advisor for a university department of art and design. She says strong writing skills and a solid academic standing are required of incoming students.

Maywood says extracurricular activities "related to visual arts, gallery and museum practice" would be good. Many art museums welcome volunteer guides. Some may offer student internships as well.

Stimson says his university requires all students to have a computer. In his art history classes, images are often put on the web for review.

There are no lab or equipment fees. But if you're taking studio art classes, you will likely need to purchase supplies.

You might also have to pay for gallery memberships and field trips to museums.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Archivists, Curators and Museum Technicians

Art History Resources on the Web
Lots of resources here

Museum of Modern Art
Take a tour of their online collections and learn more about art


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