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What is the first-year experience for BA in Art History students like?

Students only begin taking advanced Art History courses in their second year at SAIC. For the first year, BA in Art History students share the campus-wide, first-year student curriculum, which includes intensive foundational training in studio and in visual thinking, composition-based writing courses, and two introductory surveys in art history. The SAIC BA in Art History is unlike conventional majors at liberal arts colleges in its extensive art history requirements (at least 18 courses) and in its solid grounding in knowledge of studio practices. An understanding in how art is made is an essential part of its historical study. While BA in Art History students’ coursework is identical to BFA students in their first year, they will also be included in events organized for all BA in Art History students. All BA in Art History students are advised by a faculty member from the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism.

Why do SAIC students from other programs need to apply?

The BA in Art History program has significantly different degree requirements than SAIC’s other, studio- and design-based degrees. Because of this, there are no automatic degree transfers, and every case must be weighed individually with regard to applicable credits and research and writing skills. There are two deadlines for internal transfers every year: October 15 and March 15. Applications are only considered at these times.

Is this a major in Art History?

No. SAIC does not have majors. The BA in Art History is a full-fledged degree in Art History, and it is the first nonstudio undergraduate degree at SAIC. It requires a minimum of 41 percent of credits (18 courses) to be taken in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism—far more than a conventional major within a liberal arts degree (usually around 10 courses). Beyond that, the degree is made up of a minimum of 16 percent studio courses, which we believe to be an integral part of study of histories and theories of art.

What is the Research and Methods Pathway?

The BA in Art History is designed to provide students with training in research and writing skills, and at least one class per year will focus on this area of study. A Sophomore Seminar, a Junior Proseminar, and the Senior Thesis Sequence are all required of BA in Art History students.

What is the Art History Sophomore Seminar?

Sophomore Seminars are required courses for all SAIC undergraduates. They focus on preparing students to embrace a specific direction in their scholarship or in their studio practice. The seminars offer intensive faculty mentoring sessions that help students design a curricular pathway for the final two years of study at SAIC. Most departments at the institution offer Sophomore Seminars. BA in Art History students take the Sophomore Seminar designed by the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism to provide research skills in Art History and to train students to examine the role of art’s histories in light of current practices. Students from programs other than the BA in Art History may also take the Art History Sophomore Seminar.

What are Junior Proseminars?

Each semester, the department offers at least two smaller seminar-style courses focused on the application of research methods. These can be in any topic, but professors focus on the practice of research and writing with students in this smaller setting. BA in Art History students must take at least one of these courses in their junior year. Courses fulfilling the Junior Proseminar requirement cannot also be used to fulfill the Area Pathways requirements.

Students may, however, take more than one Junior Proseminar in their time at SAIC, and any additional Proseminars may be used to fulfill other degree requirements. The Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism distributes a list of Junior Proseminars each semester.

What are Area Pathways?

The Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism offers more than 200 courses a year, from introductory surveys to graduate seminars. Most of the course offerings are generally divided into three major geographic areas, which correspond to three area pathways in the curriculum: 
•  Asia
•  Europe and America
•  Southern Continents (Africa and Latin America)

BA in Art History students choose two of these areas on which to focus. In both of these two area pathways, students must complete a three-course sequence of 2000-, 3000-, and 4000-level courses. Students develop their thesis topic as the culmination of one of these two area pathways of study and pursue it during the Senior Thesis Sequence in their final year. Each pathway requires three courses (9 credit hours).

For instance, a student who chooses a pathway in Asian art might fulfill its requirements by taking Survey of Asian Art (ARTHI 2450), Buddhist Ideas in South and Southeast Asian Art (ARTHI 3473), and Asian Art Now (ARTHI 4496). Once a pathway is completed, students may continue to take courses in that area with their art history elective credits. A list of courses in each pathway is distributed by the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism to BA in Art History students.

What are Premodern Art History Courses?

The Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism focuses on modern and contemporary art in a global framework. While the majority of its offerings focus on art of the last 150 years, it also has a significant number of courses that address the longer histories of art. BA in Art History students are required to take at least six credit hours of courses that focus on topics before the mid-19th century in addition to ARTHI 1001: Introduction to Art History: Ancient to Modern. The Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism distributes a list of premodern courses each semester.

What is the Senior Thesis Sequence?

In order to graduate with a BA in Art History, all students must complete a written thesis developed over the course of the fall-spring Senior Thesis Sequence. In the fall of their senior year, students take ARTHI 4011: Senior Thesis Methodology Seminarthat focuses on advanced writing and research skills as well as topic development. In the spring, BA in Art History students work closely with a faculty member in ARTHI 4012: Senior Thesis Writing Seminar to complete and submit the written document. These classes cannot be taken out of sequence or substituted. They are only offered each once a year.

What if I expect to graduate mid-year, in the fall?

Any student who anticipates graduating mid-year should plan to take the Senior Thesis Sequence in preceding academic year. In other words, two of the three of a BA in Art History student’s last three semesters must be taken over a full academic year at SAIC.

What are the requirements of the thesis?

Theses are generally 35 to 50 pages in length and should demonstrate the student’s deep knowledge on a topic in art history of their choosing. They should include all relevant images and be formatted according to established guidelines. All theses are due by the last day of the spring semester in order for the student to graduate.

What advising is available to BA in Art History students?

Once admitted, all BA in Art History students will be advised by the Director of Undergraduate Programs in Art History or another faculty member from the department. BA in Art History students should meet each semester with their Art History adviser to determine course selections and discuss the development of their research interests. In addition, BA in Art History students are also encouraged to take advantage of SAIC’s Office of Academic Advising for any assistance with school-wide curricular requirements and credit audits. There will also be possibilities for graduate student mentors for advanced BA in Art History students.

How can I fulfill my off-campus study requirement?

Courses designated in the SAIC curriculum as “off-campus study” can be found in studio, Liberal Arts, and Art History. These credits can be taken in one of the many study abroad trips organized by SAIC each winter and summer term, in a designated class during the regular semesters that has a substantial off-campus component or be fulfilled through internships coordinated by SAIC’s Cooperative Education Program. BA in Art History students are required to take three of their credit hours in off-campus courses. These credits may come from any division and may also be used to meet other degree requirements.

Does the BA in Art History keep grades?

SAIC is a non-grading institution, and students in the BA in Art History program will not receive traditional grades for coursework. Students may request written evaluations for each class, but this is the responsibility of the student to solicit and maintain these records. Any students applying for graduate school, internships, or other opportunities may request from the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism a statement of principle about its non-grading philosophy. Students who intend to make such applications are encouraged to keep copies of their research papers and exams for further information about their success at SAIC.

What if I want to take a foreign language that is not offered by SAIC? What if I want to take my foreign language credits at another institution?

Existing students who are pursuing an exchange semester or summer courses abroad may petition Academic Advising to have foreign language courses transferred to SAIC to meet the 9-credit-hour language requirement. Final approval to take language classes off-campus is determined by the Department of Liberal Arts. During the semesters, students may also petition to take advanced foreign languages and foreign languages not offered by SAIC at nearby Roosevelt University. (Those students should contact the Study Abroad Office.)

Does Sign Language count for my Foreign Language requirements?

No. The foreign language requirement is in place to insure that students have basic ability to engage with research materials in other languages. Consequently, only study in written languages fulfills this requirement.

Where can I get more information?

For questions about applications for first-year and transfer students, visit the undergraduate admissions web page or contact SAIC ‘s Office of Admissions at admiss@saic.edu or 800.232.7242.

Existing SAIC students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Programs in Art History at arthistoryba@saic.edu.