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Art History, Theory, and Criticism: Undergraduate Overview

Art History is a central part of all students’ education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). The Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism offers courses that examine how current and future practices are informed by the histories and theories of art. 

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From comprehensive surveys of modern and contemporary art at the introductory level to advanced undergraduate seminars, all courses prepare students to speak, write, and think about art and design. Classes address art of all media, design and architecture, visual and material cultures, and contemporary theories of art and culture. The international networks for contemporary art are an important part of the course offerings, and we offer a wide range of classes in Asian, African, Latin American, European, and North American Art.

Contemporary Practices Requirements

All Contemporary Practices students and transfer students must complete: ARTHI 1001, World Cultures and Civilizations: Pre-History-Nineteenth Century, and one other 1000-level Introductory Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art History course before taking more advanced courses within the department.

Bachelor of Arts in Art History

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History (BAAH) allows students to pursue a dedicated degree focused on the historical, theoretical, and critical interpretation of art and visual practices. This program draws on the depth and diversity of offerings in the scholarly study of art practices that only a major art school connected with a world-class museum can offer. The BAAH entails substantial coursework in Art History supported by additional coursework in Liberal Arts and in Studio.  In their first year, BAAH students complete the studio-intensive Contemporary Practices program and introductory Art History surveys as a foundation for beginning their advanced Art History coursework in their second year.  In addition to a sequence of Research, Theory, and Methods courses, BAAH students choose two (out of three possible) geographic area pathways on which to focus (with at least three courses in each area).  The degree culminates in the fourth year in a significant research project written in the two-semester senior research methods seminar. In addition to external applicants and transfer students, interested SAIC students from other degree programs must also apply for admittance to the BAAH program, usually before the beginning of their Junior year.

Interested in learning more?

Visit the Art History, Theory, and Criticism website for information on the curriculum, faculty, and resources offered through the department.

Interested in learning how you can apply?

Visit the undergraduate admissions website or contact the undergraduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or ugadmiss@saic.edu.

Existing SAIC students should contact the Art History Undergraduate Coordinator (Annie Bourneuf) at abourn@saic.edu.