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.
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 394||The Museum (Mason Core)||3|
|Select 15 credits from ARTH courses at the 300 level 1||15|
|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)|
Elective in the Major
|Select one 3-credit elective from any art history course||3|
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.
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
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) 1||3|
|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)|
|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|
|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.
|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.
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 114||Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Mason Core)||3|
|ANTH 302||Peoples and Cultures of Latin America (Mason Core)||3|
|ANTH 307||Ancient Mesoamerica (Mason Core)||3|
|ANTH 308||Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East (Mason Core)||3|
|ANTH 309||Peoples and Cultures of India (Mason Core)||3|
|ANTH 313||Myth, Magic, and Mind (Mason Core)||3|
|ANTH 317||East Asian Cultures||3|
|ANTH 330||Peoples and Cultures of Selected Regions: Non-Western||3|
|ANTH 332||Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Globalization (Mason Core)||3|
|ANTH 381||Medical Anthropology||3|
|ANTH 396||Issues in Anthropology: Social Sciences (Mason Core)||3|
|ARAB 360||Topics in Arabic Cultural Production||3|
|ARAB 420||Survey of Arabic Literature||3|
|ARAB 440||Topics in Arabic Religious Thought and Texts (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 203||Survey of Asian Art (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 204||Survey of Latin American Art (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 206||Survey of African Art (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 318||Art and Archaeology of Ancient Egypt||3|
|ARTH 319||Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 320||Art of the Islamic World (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 382||Arts of India (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 383||Arts of Southeast Asia (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 384||Arts of China (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 385||Arts of Japan (Mason Core)||3|
|ARTH 482||RS: Advanced Studies in Asian Art||3|
|CHIN 318||Introduction to Classical Chinese (Mason Core)||3|
|CHIN 320||Contemporary Chinese Film||3|
|CHIN 325||Major Chinese Writers (Mason Core)||3|
|CHIN 470||Special Topics in Chinese Studies||3|
|DANC 118||Global Dance Perspectives I (Mason Core)||3|
|ECON 361||Economic Development of Latin America (Mason Core)||3|
|ECON 362||African Economic Development (Mason Core)||3|
|FREN 454||Topics in Caribbean Francophone Literature and Culture||3|
|GGS 101||Major World Regions (Mason Core)||3|
|GGS 316||Geography of Latin America||3|
|GGS 317||Geography of China (Mason Core)||3|
|GGS 325||Geography of North Africa and the Middle East||3|
|GGS 399||Select Topics in GGS||3|
|GOVT 332||Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa||3|
|GOVT 333||Government and Politics of Asia||3|
|GOVT 338||Government and Politics of Russia||3|
|GOVT 340||Central Asian Politics||3|
|GOVT 341||Chinese Foreign Policy||3|
|GOVT 345||Islam and Politics||3|
|GOVT 433||Political Economy of East Asia||3|
|HIST 251||Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 252||Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 261||Survey of African History (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 262||Survey of African History (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 271||Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 272||Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 281||Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 282||Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 327||The Soviet Union and Russia Since World War II||3|
|HIST 328||Rise of Russia (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 329||Modern Russia and the Soviet Union (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 353||History of Traditional China||3|
|HIST 354||Modern China (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 356||Modern Japan (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 357||Postwar Japan (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 358||Post-1949 China (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 360||History of South Africa (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 364||Revolution and Radical Politics in Latin America (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 365||Conquest and Colonization in Latin America (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 366||Comparative Slavery||3|
|HIST 387||Topics in Global History (Mason Core)||3-6|
|HIST 461||Arab-Israeli Conflict||3|
|HIST 462||Women in Islamic Society (Mason Core)||3|
|HIST 465||The Middle East in the 20th Century||3|
|JAPA 310||Japanese Culture in a Global World (Mason Core)||3|
|JAPA 340||Topics in Japanese Literature (Mason Core)||3|
|JAPA 380||Japan in Motion||3|
|KORE 300||Korean Culture and Society||3|
|KORE 320||Korean Popular Culture in a Global World||3|
|KORE 385||Introduction to Korean Linguistics||3|
|MUSI 103||Musics of the World (Mason Core)||3|
|RELI 211||Introduction to Religions of the "West" (Mason Core)||3|
|RELI 212||Introduction to Religions of Asia (Mason Core)||3|
|RELI 313||Hinduism (Mason Core)||3|
|RELI 314||Chinese Philosophies and Religious Traditions||3|
|RELI 315||Buddhism (Mason Core)||3|
|RELI 318||Korean Philosophy and Religions||3|
|RELI 338||Qur'an and Hadith||3|
|RELI 342||Comparative Study of Mysticism||3|
|RELI 344||Muhammad: Life and Legacy||3|
|RELI 358||Islamic Thought (Mason Core)||3|
|RELI 367||Islamic Law, Society, and Ethics||3|
|RELI 368||Islam, Democracy, and Human Rights||3|
|RELI 490||Comparative Study of Religions (Mason Core)||3|
|RUSS 353||Russian Civilization (Mason Core)||3|
|RUSS 354||Contemporary Post-Soviet Life (Mason Core)||3|
|WMST 407||Transnational Sexualities||3|
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.
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.)
|Written Communication (ENGH 101)||3|
|Information Technology and Computing||3|
|Social and Behavioral Sciences||3|
|Written Communications (ENGH 302)||3|
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 https://academicaffairs.chss.gmu.edu/undergraduate-students/advising/advising-sheets. 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.
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 400||Historiography and Methods of Research in Art History (Topic Varies)||3|
|ARTH 420||Advanced Studies in Ancient Art||3|
|ARTH 430||Advanced Studies in Medieval or Islamic Art||3|
|ARTH 440||RS: Advanced Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Art||3|
|ARTH 460||RS: Advanced Studies in 20th-Century European Art||3|
|ARTH 471||Advanced Studies in Art of the United States||3|
|ARTH 472||RS: Advanced Studies in 20th-Century Latin American Art||3|
|ARTH 474||Advanced Studies in Contemporary Art||3|
|ARTH 482||RS: Advanced Studies in Asian Art||3|
|ARTH 495||RS: Curating an Exhibit||3|
|ARTH 499||Advanced Studies in Art History||3|
|ARTH 599||Special Topics in Art History||1-6|
- 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)
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.