Feb 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

Art History, Theory, and Criticism Major, B.A.

Department of Art  

College of Letters, Arts and Sciences  

  Available Program Format(s): In-Person  

About the Program

The B.A. in Art History, Theory, and Criticism is an extended major; no minor is required. Students examine art and visual culture from a broad variety of cultures and time periods while also learning critical and theoretical frameworks through which to study them. As a liberal arts degree, this major provides students with opportunities to gain research and critical thinking skills as well as learn to do close visual analysis, which are all useful in a variety of career applications, creative industries, and graduate studies. The Department of Art and MSU Denver are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Student Outcomes

  • Locate and synthesize a range of scholarly sources of sufficient breadth and depth to thoroughly investigate an art historical problem. 
  • Apply appropriate art historical methods and theoretical frameworks to analyze an art historical problem. 
  • Develop and support a clear, logical thesis derived from an art historical study that is eloquently articulated in both oral and written formats.

General Degree Requirements

To earn a degree, students must satisfy all requirements in each of the four areas below, in addition to their individual major requirements. 

Program Requirements

  • A total of 120 semester hours are required for graduation. 
  • A grade of C- or better is required for each course in this program to count toward the bachelor’s degree. Students should note that programs differ in the minimum grade required. 
  • A minor IS NOT required for this program.  
  • Art History, Theory, and Criticism majors who elect to take a minor may not minor in Art History.
  • Art History, Theory and Criticism is a distinct academic discipline from Art, Art Education, or Communication Design, although all reside within the Department of Art and share common foundational requirements. 
  • A minimum of 27 upper-division art history credits required.
  • Title and course numbers for variable topics courses will be distinct for each offering, for example: ARTH 354E Art and Culture of the Spanish Golden Age. A student may take up to three distinct offerings under each variable topics designation, for example, ARTH 350A Art of China, ARTH 350B Islamic Art, and ARTH 350D Ancient Maya Art and Culture may all be applied to the requirements.

General Studies Requirements: 33 credits

Students should consult the General Studies Requirements  for a list of courses that fulfill the General Studies Requirements for degree completion.  

  • Written Communication (6 credits) 
  • Oral Communication (3 credits) 
  • Quantitative Literacy (3 credits) 
  • Arts and Humanities (6 credits) 
  • Historical (3 credits) 
  • Natural and Physical Sciences (6 credits) 
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (6 credits) 
  • Global Diversity (0 or 3 credits**)


** Students will fulfill the global diversity requirement by taking an approved course within one of the following categories: arts and humanities; historical; natural and physical sciences; or social and behavioral sciences. 

Ethnic Studies & Social Justice Requirement: 0 or 3 credits

  • Students should consult the Ethnic Studies & Social Justice Graduation Requirement  for a list of courses that fulfill the ESSJ Requirement for degree completion.  
  • Many programs include courses that meet this requirement. Students should consult with their advisor to determine what program courses may fulfill this requirement. 

Required Ancillary Courses: 6-10 credits

Two semesters of the same foreign language are required and may fulfill General Studies requirements. 

Students who entered college with fluency in a language other than English are encouraged to study a language with which they are unfamiliar. Students with a good high school background in a foreign language may take intermediate or advanced courses in that language or study a new language. Four semesters of French or German are often required for entrance into most graduate programs in Art History, Theory and Criticism. Both French and German are often required for entrance into Ph.D. programs in Art History, Theory and Criticism and doctoral research often requires research in at least one additional language.

Art Foundation Requirements: 18 credits

Foundation courses are prerequisites for 2000-level and upper-division courses in the program.

Art History Electives: 24 credits

  • At least three courses (9 credits) must be in the history of art prior to 1900.
  • At least one course (3 credits) must be in art of a non-western culture.
  • At least one course (3 credits) must be a senior-level seminar, either ARTH 4410, ARTH 4500, or ARTH 4510.

Choose from the following or from approved omnibus courses. See your advisor if you need more information regarding these requirements.

Summary of Requirements

General Studies Requirements 33 credits
ESSJ Requirement 0-3 credits
Required Ancillary Courses 6-10 credits
Art Foundation Requirements 18 credits
Required Post-Foundation Courses 10 credits
Major Electives 24 credits
Studio Art Electives 6 credits
Senior Experience 3 credits
Unrestricted Electives 13-29 credits
Total for the Art History, Theory and Criticism Major, B.A. 120 credits

Required courses for the major may also count for General Studies and ESSJ requirements, so the total credits listed may be greater than the number required to complete the degree. Therefore, it is important that you work with your advisor to make sure you are meeting requirements for your degree.