Art History Degree: What to expect?

In the most basic terms, art history is the study of art’s storied past. It looks at different Artists and pieces from the various periods, and attempts to answer the question, “Is this art?” Being an Art Historian means looking at everything about the piece’s past, from the influences of the Artist to the supplies used to the places it has traveled.


There are tons of schools offering art history as a bachelor’s degree, a minor, or an advanced degree—like a master’s or even a Ph.D. No matter where you go to school, you’ll be exposed to a whole range of art. You’ll look at sculptures, paintings, drawings, and pretty much anything else that qualifies as an art piece.

As with any history class, this degree starts from the beginning, which in this case means cave drawings. From there, you’ll explore it all, looking at pieces from all eras and cultures. Most degree programs require you to take classes in a specific area, like Western, Asian, tribal, or modern art. Examples of art history classes include African-American art, art since World War II, Italian Renaissance art, and Japanese prints.

Next Step

There are a lot of opportunities for those with an art history degree, though you must know you’ll most likely need to earn a second, more advanced degree. Look for entry-level jobs in museums or art studios, as these are the places most likely to hire those with a bachelor’s degree.

If you don’t mind spending an additional two to four years continuing your studies, you can open yourself up to a number of options. These include teaching at a university, working for a museum, doing conservation work, creating reproductions, or writing art history books or articles. You can also work in a more business-focused career—as an Antique Dealer or Art Appraiser, perhaps, or helping in an auction house.

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