Bachelor of Arts in Art History

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History gives students the opportunity to learn about the visual cultures of the past and present around the globe. The 36 unit degree offers a series of increasingly focused courses—200 level survey courses, more specialized 300 and 400 level lecture courses, 500 level Advanced Topics, and the 600 level senior capstone seminar—in which students learn how to analyze and interpret visual art within diverse historical, social, political, and cultural contexts. The program takes advantage of the Bay Area's rich cultural resources, galleries, and museums. Students are encouraged to gain hands-on experience and practical knowledge of the field through an internship. The Art History major prepares students for many kinds of careers, including administrative or curatorial positions in museums, galleries, and auction houses, writing and editorial positions, or for graduate school in art history, museum/curatorial studies, or conservation.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the B.A. in Art with a Concentration in Art History, students will:

  1. Gain breadth and depth of knowledge of art history globally: identify major artists, works, movements; define key terms, concepts, and theories; and understand diverse historical, social, political, cultural, and ideological perspectives.
  2. Demonstrate skills in critical thinking, formal analysis, and visual literacy to interpret and evaluate the meaning of art and visual culture.
  3. Gain verbal expression and oral presentation skills in both informal discussion and formal context.
  4. Become proficient in writing and research skills in both informal discussion and formal contexts.
  5. Understand and apply art historical methodology and theoretical models.
  6. Show evidence of curiosity, risk-taking, experimentation, problem-solving, collaboration, and compassion in class discussion, small group work, and research/writing.
  7. Understand the ethical dimension of artistic practice and scholarship within a global context and in relationship to the dynamics of power—including those of class, gender, race, and geopolitics—as expressed through visual, spatial, institutional, and ideological practices.
  8. Gain a basic knowledge and understanding of artistic practice and process, and be able to draw on such knowledge in the interpretation of works of art, as well as to enrich their research and scholarly process.

Steps to Change Major

Juniors or seniors who have declared in another major, but wish to change their major to Art History must change the major online and meet with an art history advisor for approval. A list of departmental advisors and contact information can be found on the school’s website:

For students transferring from other institutions, a minimum of 12 units in residence is required.


Students are strongly encouraged to consult with a major advisor on a regular basis as they advance through the program. A list of departmental advisors and contact information can be found on the school’s website:

Students are also advised to consult with the University’s Advising Center for information about General Education and other University requirements, as well as the Student Achievement and Resource Center in the College of Liberal & Creative Arts:

Bachelor of Arts in Art History — 36 units

Lower-Division Courses (9 units)

Art History
Select two:6
ARTH 201Western Art History I3
ARTH 202Western Art History II3
ARTH/HUM 205Asian Art History3
Studio Art
Select one:3
ART 210Introduction to Digital Media Arts3
ART 222Introduction to Textile Art3
ART 231Introduction to Drawing3
ART 235Introduction to Printmaking3
ART 240Introduction to Contemporary Sculpture3
ART 245Introduction to Ceramics3
ART 260Introduction to the Darkroom3

Before advancing to the 300-level or higher courses or declaring a concentration, all majors must have completed the University’s lower-division requirements and the lower-division courses for the major, or equivalent. Change of major students must also have proof of art advisor consultation.

Upper-Division 300-400 Level Art History Lectures (9 units)

Select from:

ARTH/LTNS 301Latin American and Latino/a/x Art, 1492 to the Present3
ARTH 306Modern and Contemporary Art in a North American and European Context, 1945-present3
ARTH 403/SXS 405Queer Art History3
ARTH 406Global Renaissance and Baroque Art3
ARTH 411South Asian Art I: Neolithic to Medieval Periods3
ARTH 412South Asian Art II: Early Modern to Contemporary Periods3
ARTH 417The Art and Architecture of Islam3
ARTH 421Special Topics in Art History3

Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (3 units)

ARTH 400GWWriting About Art - GWAR3

500-Level Art History courses (6 units)

Take twice with two different topics.

ARTH 516Advanced Topics in Art History3

Senior Capstone Seminar (3 units)

ARTH 602Art History Seminar3

Internship/Visual Studies Elective (3 units)

Select one:

AA S 514Asian American Community Arts Workshop3
AA S 516Asian American Photographic Explorations3
AA S 588Asian American Media Workshop3
AIS 325American Indian Art3
ANTH 326Origins of Art and Visual Representation3
ART 619Exhibition Design3
ART 671Internships in the Visual Arts3
HUM 325Comics and Culture3
HUM 390Images of Eroticism3
HUM 490American Images: Photography and Literature3
HUM 496Space and Architecture in the Islamic World3
HUM 531Images of Modern China3
LS 426Thought and Image: Creative Arts3
PHIL 460Philosophy of Art3
WGS 303Women as Creative Agents3
WGS 516Gender and Visual Culture3

Art History Elective (3 units)

One additional 300–600 level Art History course that was not used to fulfill one of the above requirements. Select from:

ARTH/LTNS 301Latin American and Latino/a/x Art, 1492 to the Present3
ARTH 306Modern and Contemporary Art in a North American and European Context, 1945-present3
ARTH 401/CLAR 420Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece3
ARTH 402/CLAR 425Art and Archaeology of Ancient Rome3
ARTH 403/SXS 405Queer Art History3
ARTH 404/CLAR 550Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean Bronze Age3
ARTH 406Global Renaissance and Baroque Art3
ARTH 407/CLAR 500Art and Archaeology of Ancient Egypt3
ARTH 408/CLAR 555Etruscan Art and Archaeology3
ARTH 409/CLAR 530Greek Vase Painting3
ARTH 410/CLAR 531Greek Sculpture3
ARTH 411South Asian Art I: Neolithic to Medieval Periods3
ARTH 412South Asian Art II: Early Modern to Contemporary Periods3
ARTH 417The Art and Architecture of Islam3
ARTH 421Special Topics in Art History3
ARTH 516Advanced Topics in Art History3
ARTH 602Art History Seminar3
ART 619Exhibition Design3
ART 671Internships in the Visual Arts1-3

Complementary Studies

All candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Art must complete 12 units of Complementary Studies from courses bearing a prefix other than ARTH, and not cross-listed with ARTH. Please note that Studio Art (ART) classes may count towards Complementary Studies, as may a Studio Art Minor. 

Students may satisfy this requirement in a variety of ways designed to facilitate timely graduation. Under advisement students may complete one of the following:

  • 12 units of coursework in a single foreign language,
  • Museum Studies Minor
  • an approved study abroad program,
  • partial completion of a second major, minor, or
  • 12 units of coursework in a related area of study. 

Students are strongly encouraged to work closely with their major advisor toward completion of this requirement. 

Students who have earned AA-T or AS-T degrees and are pursuing a similar B.A. degree at SF State are required to fulfill the Complementary Studies requirement as defined by the major department. Students should consult with a major advisor about how transfer units and SF State units can best be applied to this requirement to ensure degree completion within 60 units.

Note: Students who complete two majors, or a major and a minor, automatically complete the Complementary Studies requirement.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Government LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

Find the correct roadmap (A, B, C, or D):

  1. Select the row that matches your English Course choice for A2.*
  2. Select the column that matches your QR Category (found at your student center under Math Alert).
  3. Click the Roadmap that lines up with your row and column.

For example, if you are taking ENG 104 as your first English course and your student center math alert says you are QR Category III, you should choose Roadmap D.

Pathway QR Cat I/II QR Cat III/IV
ENG 114 Roadmap A Roadmap C
ENG 104/ENG 105 Roadmap B Roadmap D

*Composition for Multilingual Students: If taking ENG 209 as your first English course, choose the ENG 114 row. If taking ENG 204 for your first English course, choose the ENG 104/ENG 105 row.

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AA-T  in Art History. This roadmap opens in a new tab.

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Art History

California legislation SB 1440 (2009) mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). 

Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper-division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower-division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals 60 units and in most cases includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. (The Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science AS-T degrees defer 3 units in lower-division GE area C and 3 units in lower-division GE area D until after transfer.) Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab on the degree requirements page for the major. The roadmap displays:

  • How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.

Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All Students Must Meet the Transfer Eligibility Requirements Outlined Below for Admission.

For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units.
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.0 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended.
  • Complete 30-semester units (45-quarter units) of General Education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE Area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE Area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE Area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning (same as CSU GE Area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and a minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90-quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a C- or better grade in each basic skills course.