Art History emphasizes the analysis of visual data in a historical context. Faculty expertise extends to many world regions—the United States, Latin America, Europe, the Mediterranean, South and Southeast Asia, China, and the Islamic world—and over all historical periods. Students apply what they learn through internship opportunities available in the Washington DC area, including the world-famous collections of the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institutions. Students go on to work in areas including museums, arts institutions, galleries, government and managerial positions. They also pursue further studies in fields including art history, library science, design technology, historic preservation, and fashion.


Students pursuing this degree must complete 33 to 34 credits within the major, with a minimum GPA of 2.00. Up to 6 credits in art history internships may be applied toward ARTH requirements for the major, with permission of the art history undergraduate director. A maximum of 6 credits of ARTH 398 Study Abroad in the History of Art may be applied to the major with permission of department.

For policies governing all undergraduate degrees, see AP.5 Undergraduate Policies.

Banner Code: LA-BA-AH

Degree Requirements

Total credits: minimum 120

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

All art history majors are encouraged to pursue internships in art history (ARTH 393 Art History Internships) in their junior or senior year. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in a study abroad program. Students contemplating graduate study in art history should acquire a reading knowledge of French, German, or other appropriate research languages in consultation with an advisor.

Core Courses in the Major

Select one 3-credit survey course from the following:3
History of Western Art I (Mason Core)
History of Western Art II (Mason Core)
Survey of Asian Art (Mason Core)
Survey of Latin American Art (Mason Core)
ARTH 394The Museum (Mason Core)3
Select 15 credits from ARTH courses at the 300 level 115
Total Credits21

In addition to ARTH courses, art history majors may use 3 credits of a 300-level HIST course to fulfill this requirement.

400-Level ARTH Courses
Select 6 credits in ARTH at the 400 level or above:6
Historiography and Methods of Research in Art History (Topic Varies)
Advanced Studies in Ancient Art
Advanced Studies in Medieval or Islamic Art
RS: Advanced Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Art
RS: Advanced Studies in 20th-Century European Art
Advanced Studies in Art of the United States
RS: Advanced Studies in 20th-Century Latin American Art
Advanced Studies in Contemporary Art
RS: Advanced Studies in Asian Art
RS: Curating an Exhibit
Advanced Studies in Art History
Art and Visual Technology Course
Select one from the following:3-4
Introduction to the Artist's Studio (Mason Core)
Two-Dimensional Design and Color (Mason Core)
Drawing I (Mason Core)
Painting I (Mason Core)
Printmaking I (Mason Core)
Darkroom Photography I (Mason Core)
Digital Photography I (Mason Core)
Sculpture I (Mason Core)
Total Credits9-10

Elective in the Major

Select one 3-credit elective from any art history course3
Total Credits3

Writing-Intensive Requirement

The university requires all students to complete at least one course designated as "writing intensive" in their majors at the 300 level or above. Students majoring in art history fulfill the university's writing-intensive requirement by successfully completing 3 credits in any 400-level ARTH course.

Additional Electives

Any remaining credits may be completed with elective courses to bring the degree total to 120.

Upper Level Requirement

Students seeking a bachelor’s degree must apply at least 45 credits of upper-level courses (numbered 300 or above) toward graduation requirements.

College Level Requirements for the BA Degree

In addition to the Mason Core program, students pursuing a BA degree must complete the coursework below. Except where expressly prohibited, a course used to fulfill a college level requirement may also be used simultaneously to satisfy other requirements (Mason Core requirements or requirements for the major).

Philosophy or Religious Studies
Select 3 credits from the following:3

Note that the following courses may not be used to fulfill this requirement:

  • PHIL 323 Classical Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 324 Modern Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 327 Contemporary Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 393 Humanities College to Career 
  • PHIL 460 Senior Seminar in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Additionally, PHIL 253RELI 235RELI 333, and RELI 339 cannot be used to fulfill both the philosophy/religious studies requirement and the Mason Core literature requirement.

Social and Behavioral Sciences
Select 3 credits of social and behavioral sciences from the following (additional to the Mason Core social and behavioral sciences requirement) 13
Or choose from the following GGS courses:
Major World Regions (Mason Core)
Human Geography (Mason Core)
Introduction to Geoinformation Technologies
Political Geography (Mason Core)
Geography of Resource Conservation (Mason Core)
Population Geography (Mason Core)
Economic Geography
Urban Geography
Geography of the United States
Geography of Latin America
Geography of Europe
Geography of North Africa and the Middle East
Geography of Eastern Europe and Russia
Urban Planning
Geography of Virginia

The two courses used to fulfill the combined college and Mason Core requirements must be from different disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. 


HIST 100 and HIST 125 may not be used to fulfill this requirement.

Foreign Language
Intermediate-level proficiency in one foreign language, fulfilled by: 1
Or achieving a satisfactory score on an approved proficiency test
Or completing the following ASL three course sequence:
American Sign Language (ASL) I
American Sign Language (ASL) II
American Sign Language (ASL) III

Students who are already proficient in a second language may be eligible for a waiver of this requirement. Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Non-Western Culture

Select 3 credits of an approved course in the study of a non-Western culture (additional to the Mason Core requirement in global understanding)

Select 3 credits (additional to Mason Core Global Understanding requirement) 1
ANTH 114Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Mason Core)3
ANTH 300Civilizations3
ANTH 302Peoples and Cultures of Latin America (Mason Core)3
ANTH 307Ancient Mesoamerica (Mason Core)3
ANTH 308Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East (Mason Core)3
ANTH 309Peoples and Cultures of India (Mason Core)3
ANTH 313Myth, Magic, and Mind (Mason Core)3
ANTH 314Zombies3
ANTH 317East Asian Cultures3
ANTH 330Peoples and Cultures of Selected Regions: Non-Western3
ANTH 332Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Globalization (Mason Core)3
ANTH 381Medical Anthropology3
ANTH 396Issues in Anthropology: Social Sciences (Mason Core)3
ARAB 360Topics in Arabic Cultural Production3
ARAB 420Survey of Arabic Literature3
ARAB 440Topics in Arabic Religious Thought and Texts (Mason Core)3
ARTH 203Survey of Asian Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 204Survey of Latin American Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 206Survey of African Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 318Art and Archaeology of Ancient Egypt3
ARTH 319Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (Mason Core)3
ARTH 320Art of the Islamic World (Mason Core)3
ARTH 382Arts of India (Mason Core)3
ARTH 383Arts of Southeast Asia (Mason Core)3
ARTH 384Arts of China (Mason Core)3
ARTH 385Arts of Japan (Mason Core)3
ARTH 482RS: Advanced Studies in Asian Art3
CHIN 318Introduction to Classical Chinese (Mason Core)3
CHIN 320Contemporary Chinese Film3
CHIN 325Major Chinese Writers (Mason Core)3
CHIN 470Special Topics in Chinese Studies3
DANC 118Global Dance Perspectives I (Mason Core)3
ECON 361Economic Development of Latin America (Mason Core)3
ECON 362African Economic Development (Mason Core)3
FREN 454Topics in Caribbean Francophone Literature and Culture3
GGS 101Major World Regions (Mason Core)3
GGS 316Geography of Latin America3
GGS 317Geography of China (Mason Core)3
GGS 325Geography of North Africa and the Middle East3
GGS 399Select Topics in GGS3
GOVT 332Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa3
GOVT 333Government and Politics of Asia3
GOVT 338Government and Politics of Russia3
GOVT 340Central Asian Politics3
GOVT 341Chinese Foreign Policy3
GOVT 345Islam and Politics3
GOVT 433Political Economy of East Asia3
HIST 251Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)3
HIST 252Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)3
HIST 261Survey of African History (Mason Core)3
HIST 262Survey of African History (Mason Core)3
HIST 271Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)3
HIST 272Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)3
HIST 281Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)3
HIST 282Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)3
HIST 326Stalinism3
HIST 327The Soviet Union and Russia Since World War II3
HIST 328Rise of Russia (Mason Core)3
HIST 329Modern Russia and the Soviet Union (Mason Core)3
HIST 353History of Traditional China3
HIST 354Modern China (Mason Core)3
HIST 356Modern Japan (Mason Core)3
HIST 357Postwar Japan (Mason Core)3
HIST 358Post-1949 China (Mason Core)3
HIST 360History of South Africa (Mason Core)3
HIST 364Revolution and Radical Politics in Latin America (Mason Core)3
HIST 365Conquest and Colonization in Latin America (Mason Core)3
HIST 366Comparative Slavery3
HIST 387Topics in Global History (Mason Core)3-6
HIST 461Arab-Israeli Conflict3
HIST 462Women in Islamic Society (Mason Core)3
HIST 465The Middle East in the 20th Century3
JAPA 310Japanese Culture in a Global World (Mason Core)3
JAPA 340Topics in Japanese Literature (Mason Core)3
JAPA 380Japan in Motion3
KORE 300Korean Culture and Society3
KORE 320Korean Popular Culture in a Global World3
KORE 385Introduction to Korean Linguistics3
MUSI 103Musics of the World (Mason Core)3
RELI 211Introduction to Religions of the "West" (Mason Core)3
RELI 212Introduction to Religions of Asia (Mason Core)3
RELI 312Islam3
RELI 313Hinduism (Mason Core)3
RELI 314Chinese Philosophies and Religious Traditions3
RELI 315Buddhism (Mason Core)3
RELI 317Daoism3
RELI 318Korean Philosophy and Religions3
RELI 338Qur'an and Hadith3
RELI 342Comparative Study of Mysticism3
RELI 344Muhammad: Life and Legacy3
RELI 358Islamic Thought (Mason Core)3
RELI 367Islamic Law, Society, and Ethics3
RELI 368Islam, Democracy, and Human Rights3
RELI 490Comparative Study of Religions (Mason Core)3
RUSS 353Russian Civilization (Mason Core)3
RUSS 354Contemporary Post-Soviet Life (Mason Core)3
WMST 407Transnational Sexualities3

A course used to fulfill the Mason Core global understanding requirement may not be simultaneously used to satisfy this college-level requirement. A course used to fulfill this requirement may be used simultaneously to fulfill any other requirements (Mason Core requirements, college-level requirements, or requirements for the major). Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Mason Core

Some Mason Core requirements may already be fulfilled by the major requirements listed above. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their advisors to ensure they fulfill all remaining Mason Core requirements.

Students who have completed the following credentials are eligible for a waiver of the Foundation and Exploration (lower level) requirement categories. The Integration category (upper level) is not waived under this policy. See Admissions for more information. 

  • VCCS Uniform Certificate of General Studies
  • VCCS or Richard Bland Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Arts and Sciences (A.A.&S.), or Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.)
Foundation Requirements
Written Communication (ENGH 101)3
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology and Computing3
Exploration Requirements
Global History3
Global Understanding3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Integration Requirements
Written Communications (ENGH 302)3
Writing-Intensive 13
Synthesis/Capstone 23
Total Credits40

Most programs include the writing-intensive course designated for the major as part of the major requirements; this course is therefore not counted towards the total required for Mason Core.


Minimum 3 credits required.

Bachelor of Arts in Art History Sample Plan of Study 

A sample four year graduation plan and degree planning worksheet can be found at The plan is a recommended sequencing of courses based on prerequisites and scheduling. This may not fit every student's needs and is a guideline, not a requirement. Students should confirm major requirements with their academic advisor each semester and with their PatriotWeb Degree Evaluation to ensure they enroll in the proper courses and are on track to graduate.

Honors in the Major


Majors who have completed 75 credits (a minimum of 15 credits in art history, with 6 credits taken at Mason) with an overall GPA of 3.50 and a GPA of 3.80 in art history are eligible to apply to graduate with honors in art history. Eligible students should apply to the undergraduate director by November 15 or April 15 with a statement of application including the names of two references from Mason art history faculty members. Transfer students should also submit transcripts. Not all applicants who meet the minimum requirements are guaranteed acceptance into honors in the major.

Honors Requirements

Students pursuing honors in the major complete ARTH 492 Honors Directed Readings and ARTH 493 Honors Directed Research, linked individualized courses that culminate in a research paper. Students must have completed at least 3 credits in the field (or with the professor) chosen for these honors courses. ARTH 492 Honors Directed Readings should be taken before ARTH 493 Honors Directed Research, but they may be taken concurrently. To graduate with honors in the major, students must earn a minimum GPA of 3.50 in honors courses and a minimum GPA of 3.50 in art history courses applied to the degree. The two honors courses (6 credits) may be applied toward the requirement of 33- to 34-credits in art history, but they cannot replace the 6 required credits in the following:

ARTH 400Historiography and Methods of Research in Art History (Topic Varies)3
ARTH 420Advanced Studies in Ancient Art3
ARTH 430Advanced Studies in Medieval or Islamic Art3
ARTH 440RS: Advanced Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Art3
ARTH 460RS: Advanced Studies in 20th-Century European Art3
ARTH 471Advanced Studies in Art of the United States3
ARTH 472RS: Advanced Studies in 20th-Century Latin American Art3
ARTH 474Advanced Studies in Contemporary Art3
ARTH 482RS: Advanced Studies in Asian Art3
ARTH 495RS: Curating an Exhibit3
ARTH 499Advanced Studies in Art History3
ARTH 599Special Topics in Art History1-6

Program Outcomes

  • Acquire visual analysis skills, including the understanding of formal elements, iconography, and historical context.
  • Acquire visual literacy skills that are applicable to multiple disciplines or careers.
  • Develop the ability to analyze technique, production, and artistic media within relevant historical contexts.
  • Gain museum knowledge, including an understanding of the history, purpose, and function of museums as cultural and social institutions.
  • Engage with the development, installation, and evaluation of exhibitions in the Curating course and our internship program.
  • Develop research skills, including finding and using of a variety of primary and current secondary sources.
  • Learn to critically read texts and assess textual and visual evidence.
  • Enhance writing skills, including the crafting of an argument and mastering the mechanics of academic writing.

Many accelerated master's programs are available for any bachelor's degree at Mason, including this one. See the full list of degrees with accelerated programs at George Mason.

Bachelor's Degree (any)/Art History, Accelerated MA


Highly qualified undergraduates may be admitted to the bachelor's/accelerated master's program and obtain a BA/BS in a chosen major and an MA in Art History in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of a minimum of 138 credits.

See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree for policies related to this program.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

BAM Pathway Admission Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions Polices and Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies. For information specific to the accelerated MA in Art History, see Application Requirements and Deadlines on the departmental website.

Students will be considered for admission into the BAM Pathway after completion of a minimum of 60 credits and meeting with the Art History BAM coordinator, undergraduate director and graduate director.

Students who are accepted in the BAM Pathway will be allowed to register for graduate level courses after successful completion of a minimum of 75 undergraduate credits.

Accelerated Master's Admission Requirements

Students already admitted in the BAM Pathway will be admitted to the MA program, if they have met the following criteria, as verified on the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition form:

  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.50
  • Completion of at least two 300-level art history courses with a minimum grade of B+ in each
  • Minimum grade of B in each advanced standing course
  • Successfully meeting Mason's requirements for undergraduate degree conferral (graduation) and completing the application for graduation.

Accelerated Pathway Requirements

To maintain the integrity and quality of both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, undergraduate students interested in taking graduate courses must choose from the following:

Advanced Standing courses (up to 12 credits with a minimum grade of B in each)

ARTH 599 Special Topics in Art History (may be repeated for up to 12 credits when topic differs)
ARTH 600 Methods and Research in Art History (3 credits)

Reserve Graduate Credit courses (up to 6 credits) taken while an undergraduate and will only count for the graduate degree program

ARTH 599 Special Topics in Art History (may be repeated for up to 6 credits when topic differs) 

For more detailed information on coursework and timeline requirements see AP.6.7 Bachelor's Accelerated Master's Degree policies.