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Online Bachelor's in Art History Degree Programs (Art History Major)

Art history is the study of art within the context of the time period in which the piece was created. Students in bachelor’s of art history degree programs analyze the creation, symbolism, and purpose of art, while using it as a way to learn about past and current civilizations. Graduates of bachelor’s in art history programs can pursue careers in historical and preservation societies, art museums, art galleries, education, and art agencies. Related job titles may include archivist, high school art teacher, museum curator, art professor, talent agent, or museum exhibit designer.

What is a Bachelor’s in Art History Degree Program?

A bachelor’s in art history is an arts degree designed to give students a wide range of knowledge about specific artists and works of art, as well as different artistic media, and the art world at large. Students may study the social, political, and economic factors surrounding a piece of art within the context of its time period. Skills include critical thinking focused on art in its cultural context, the historical significance of art, artists, and the issues that influenced their art and impacted their work, and in some cases their society. Graduates should be able to knowledgeably discuss art in its various forms, along with related stylistic variations and movements. They should also be able to identify similarities and differences between works of art from the same or different eras.

Online Bachelor’s in Art History Programs

Online bachelor’s in art history programs offer the same curriculum as their campus-based equivalents. Online programs use learning management systems (LMS) to deliver course materials, some of which include Blackboard, D2L Brightspace, and Canvas. Schools may also opt to create their own LMS. Learning management systems typically include discussion boards where students interact with classmates and instructors, online video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Adobe Connect, course syllabi, recorded lectures, reading materials, assignments, and more. Depending on the course instructor, students may also access online office hours through their school’s LMS.

Online bachelor’s in art history programs may benefit students who may not be able or do not wish to travel to campus for traditional lectures and discussion sessions. Others students may not live in close proximity to a college or university that offers a major in art history. For those students, attending an online program may be the only option if they are not able to relocate to complete their bachelor’s degree. While not as common for online undergraduate programs, some schools may require students to attend a limited number of campus visits throughout their degree.

How Identifies and Classifies Online Bachelor’s in Art History Degree Programs

Bachelor’s in art history programs are typically offered through Schools of Art and Art History, Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Colleges of Liberal Arts, Colleges of Fine Art, and Schools of Art and Design. While undergraduate programs in art history typically do not have concentrations, art history may be offered as a major within a more general Bachelor of Arts program. Common bachelor’s programs in art history include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Art History
  • Bachelor of Arts in Art with a Concentration in Art History
  • Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Art History
  • Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Art History
  • Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Criticism

Through independent research of online bachelor’s programs, identifies bachelor’s programs in art history. Programs that offer a foundational curriculum in the study of art in its historical, geographical, and period contexts are classified as bachelor’s in art history programs. In addition, included programs must be offered by regionally accredited, non-profit colleges and universities and offer all or most of their instruction online. (The majority of online undergraduate degree programs in art history do not require campus visits.) does not currently include bachelor’s in art history degree programs that require more than two campus visits per year. Programs that require students to attend more than two campus-based sessions per year are considered hybrid or on-campus programs and are not currently listed on the site.

What Students Learn in Online Bachelor’s in Art History Programs

Online bachelor’s in art history students may study all forms of art including painting, sculptures, architecture, weaving, pictographs, photography, drawing, ceramics, metal work, and decorative art. Study subjects may include research methods, literature, history, science, languages, anthropology, writing, and art from a particular people group, genre, time period, or geographical location. In addition, a given art history program may focus more on some aspects of art history than others, covering a broader range of countries and time periods, for instance, versus certain countries and eras. Key courses may include topics such as:

  • A survey of art history from specific time periods such as ancient, medieval, renaissance, or 20th-century art
  • The art of a particular continent such as Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
  • The art of a particular country such as China, Japan, or India
  • Art history research methods
  • The art of the southwest
  • An introduction to the visual arts
  • Art gallery practices
  • Contemporary art
  • Studies of specific types of art such as photography, sculpture, or paintings

Art history students may have the opportunity for independent study in art history or art history internships. Learned skills often include visual analysis, critical writing, creative thinking, critical thinking, research methods, and cultural literacy.

Common Courses in Online Bachelor’s in Art History Programs

The table below provides an overview of coursework that is typical of a bachelor’s in art history curriculum. The courses and their descriptions are drawn from actual online programs in art history.

Course TitleCourse Description
DrawingA basic drawing course designed to offer a foundation in drawing concepts based on visual observation and analysis.
Survey of Art History IA general survey of western art history from cave art to the renaissance period.
Global Art and Visual CultureAn introduction to the critical study and interpretation of art and visual cultures of Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania.
Trash and Treasure, Temples and Tombs: Art and Archaeology of the Ancient WorldAn introduction to the art and archaeology of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Mesopotamia; an examination of ancient societies approach to the human body, religion, power, and death; includes art, architecture and trash analysis to learn about ancient cultures.
Art Across CulturesAn examination of historical and contemporary concerns in American art and visual culture; covers issues of gender, class, race, and art diversity; study of the global position of the U.S in the modern world.
Art and Archaeology of Ancient EgyptA study of the origins and importance of Egyptian culture and its impact on other cultures; scholarly points of view are discussed; ancient Egyptian culture is compared to the modern culture of Egypt and the Middle East.
Introduction to Roman Art and ArchitectureFocuses on monuments and sites of the ancient Roman world from 753 B.C.E. to 306-307 C.E.; looks at the relationship of art, artifacts, and architecture to religious, political, and social institutions of Italy.
Critical Thinking in Art HistoryGain an understanding of how art history became an academic discipline; learn how art historians evaluate issues of form, content, style, and theory of the visual arts; includes readings, discussions, and written assignments. 

Admissions to Online Bachelor’s in Art History Programs

Admissions requirements for online bachelor’s in art history programs generally include a high school diploma or equivalent, and may include high school course requirements such as a certain number of years of English, social sciences, a second language, or courses in fine arts. Applicants may be required to have a minimum grade point average (GPA) or a top rank in their high school graduating class. Other programs may require ACT or SAT scores or give students the option to submit standardized test scores if they believe it will help their application.

Application materials typically include an application, an application fee (if required), and official transcripts. Some programs also require letters of recommendation, a personal statement, written answers to admissions questions, and/or an interview.

Prospective students should review admissions requirements carefully and/or speak to an admission advisor before applying as some online programs are designed for working adults and may have work experience requirements. There are also programs, which may be referred to as bachelor’s completion programs, that require an associate’s degree or substantial college credits for admission.

Online Bachelor’s in Art History Format Options

Online bachelor’s in art history degree programs are designed to provide more flexibility to students who do not wish to travel to campus for weekly lectures. Programs are typically full-time and include general education courses along with art history major courses. Outlined below are structural and instructional variables that should be considered by students exploring online degree programs. As noted above, does not currently include bachelor’s in art history degree programs that require more than two campus visits per year.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: Programs that use synchronous instruction have set times for live, real-time classes that often use video conferencing software. Students and faculty log in to a programs LMS and students are taught and interact similar to traditional campus programs. There are opportunities to ask real-time questions, have live class discussions, and split up into breakout groups. Students who prefer a more structured online learning environment and want to simulate a campus program as closely as possible might prefer programs that utilize synchronous instruction. However, programs with synchronous sessions are not as flexible as online programs that do not require students to attend live classes at set times during the week.

Programs that mainly use asynchronous instruction may include some synchronous sessions, but for the most part, students log in and view recorded lectures, complete readings, assignments, and projects, and participate in discussion boards on their own time. Some programs are fully asynchronous with no required real-time components included. While asynchronous instruction provides the most flexibility, it may benefit highly-motivated, well-organized students who do well keeping themselves on track. Students are expected to keep up with course components and turn in assignments by set due dates which are often included in course syllabi.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Enrollment: Bachelor’s programs are typically offered full-time due to the number of credits required to graduate. Full-time enrollment usually requires the completion of 12 to 18 credits per traditional 15-week semester and students who take a full-time course load can graduate in four years. Students who attend courses year-round may be able to graduate in less than four years as well. For students who need to work while going to school or for students who have other obligations that make attending full-time difficult, some programs offer the option of enrolling on a part-time basis.

As situations differ from student to student, it is always best to reach out to an admissions advisor to ask questions about enrollment options, academic calendars, program start dates, and admission requirements. In addition, for students who have already completed some college courses, information about whether or not any college credits they have already earned might transfer towards a bachelor’s degree in art history.

Directory of Online Bachelor’s in Art History Programs

School NameProgram
Arizona State University Online Bachelor of Arts in Art - Art History
Lindenwood University Online Bachelor of Arts in Art History & Visual Culture
Mansfield University Online Bachelor of Arts in Art History
UMass Lowell Online Bachelor of Liberal Arts with a Concentration in Art History