Art History and Archaeology Major

Program Requirements

  • Total units required: 30 (33 for those students undertaking Senior Honors)

The Department of Art History & Archaeology welcomes students who wish to pursue a major in Art History & Archaeology. Students who declare the major must satisfy the requirements listed below to qualify for graduation.

Introductory Courses

All majors must take two courses from a menu of introductory courses at the 100 and 200 levels. These courses are recommended foundations for upper-level lecture courses and seminars. The courses may be taken at any time and in any order. First-Year Seminars and Sophomore Seminars can be counted among these two introductory courses.* No specific course is mandatory for students in Arts & Sciences.**

  • Art-Arch 113 History of Western Art, Architecture & Design*** and Art-Arch 215 Introduction to Modern Art, Architecture and Design will be offered every fall and spring, respectively.
  • Art-Arch 111 Introduction to Asian Art, Art-Arch 232 Myths and Monuments of Antiquity, or Art-Arch 236 Cities and Towns of the Ancient World will be offered at least once every other year.
  • This list will be augmented by a rotation of 100-level First-Year Seminars and 200-level Sophomore Seminars as well as other 200-level courses with broad regional, temporal, or topical coverage.*

Students will be allowed to count only one First-Year Seminar or one Sophomore Seminar toward this requirement.


Art-Arch 113 History of Western Art, Architecture & Design and Art-Arch 215 Introduction to Modern Art, Architecture and Design are mandatory only for students in the Sam Fox School.


A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Art History exam may be substituted for Art-Arch 113. To receive this college credit, the score must appear on the student's Washington University student record, and the student must also earn at least a B in a related upper-division departmental course.

Major Credit Units

All majors must take at least 24 additional Art History & Archaeology units:

  • Students must complete at least 21 units of upper-level (300-level and above) Art History and Archaeology course work. At least two of these courses must be at the 400 level and taken with different faculty members.
  • 3 of the 24 units may be at the 200 level or above. Non-Sam Fox students may instead substitute one studio art course at any level of 3 or more credits (taken at Washington University or at another institution with prior permission). The studio course option, which can be taken Pass/Fail at Washington University, is meant to encourage a student’s exploration and understanding of the practice of making art. We strongly encourage students to take studio art courses above and beyond all requirements for the art history major.
  • Any course taken outside the university, including study abroad courses, must receive preliminary approval from the study abroad advisor, as appropriate. Only two courses (6 credits) can be transferred into the major.
  • No internship credit may be applied to the major (internship credits do count toward graduation, however).
  • Courses for the major may not be taken with the Pass/Fail credit option (with the exception of the one studio art course).

Distribution and Credit

Majors must take at least one upper-level course in three of the following seven broad areas:

  • Ancient and Medieval (AM)
  • Renaissance and Baroque (RB)
  • Modern European and American (MEA)
  • Non-Western (NW)
  • Architecture (A)
  • Archaeology (ARC)
  • Cross-Cultural Exchange (CCE)

All 200-level lecture courses may count toward distribution requirements.

Courses for the major may not be taken with the Pass/Fail credit option. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in all courses for them to apply toward major requirements.

Capstone Experience

Seminars are considered the capstone experience for majors in Art History & Archaeology. Seminars are listed as 400-level courses. They consist of small enrollments, and they focus on discussion and research projects. Majors must take two seminars that are home-based in the Department of Art History & Archaeology (cross-listed courses based in other departments or schools, even if they are listed as 400-level courses, may count toward the major but will not count as seminars for this purpose). Lecture courses at the 300 level usually serve as prerequisites for seminars. The two required seminars should be taken with different faculty members; although, the courses may both be in the same distribution area. Seminars are usually taken during the senior year, but they may also be taken during the junior year if the student has the preparation appropriate for the course. We recommend that only one seminar be taken at a time. Note: Neither Art-Arch 4900 Independent Study and Research nor Art-Arch 499 Honors Art History and Archaeology fulfill the seminar requirement.

Languages and Fine Arts

Students contemplating graduate study in Art History & Archaeology are urged to complete significant course work in foreign languages. There is no specific language requirement for the undergraduate major; however, we encourage minors in foreign languages or double majors in foreign languages and Art History & Archaeology.

Additional Information


Internships in the curatorial and education departments of local museums, arts organizations, and commercial galleries are available to undergraduate Art History & Archaeology majors. Students may enroll in up to 6 credit units of a voluntary or paid internship. Such internships provide invaluable experience and may help lead to employment opportunities after graduation. These internship credits are Pass/Fail and cannot be counted toward the major, but they do count toward general graduation credits. Students seeking academic credit should make arrangements with the department before the internship begins. Students may pursue up to 6 units of internship credit working in the arts community. Please review the Guidelines for Art History & Archaeology Majors Considering Internships (PDF) for further details.

Study Abroad

Students interested in a study abroad program should consult with both the departmental study abroad advisor and Overseas Programs as early as possible. Summer, semester, and year-long programs are all possible. Majors are expected to take their two capstone seminars on campus, usually during the senior year. On occasion, a seminar of exceptional rigor — such as those at University College London and Utrecht University, in particular — may be proposed as a substitute. However, the credit will only be granted once the course is complete and the syllabus and research paper(s) have been reviewed and approved by the study abroad advisor (and perhaps by relevant faculty). Students are advised that they should not assume that any seminar course taken while on study abroad will count toward this requirement when planning their course program. Students are further reminded that at least 15 credits of their major course work must be completed in residence at Washington University and that the final 30 units of their AB degree must be earned on campus as well.

Latin Honors

Exceptional students may be considered for Latin Honors in the major. Honors in Art History & Archaeology will be awarded to seniors who have completed the major with a grade point average of 3.65 or better in advanced (300- and 400-level) courses in the major; who have achieved at least a 3.65 overall cumulative GPA; and who have satisfactorily completed the honors thesis outlined in the Guidelines for Latin Honors in Art History & Archaeology. Interested students should begin discussing topics with potential faculty advisors before the end of their junior year. Latin Honors are assigned by the College of Arts & Sciences and not by the department. For details, please consult the Undergraduate Honors Guidelines on the departmental website.

The Senior Honors Thesis is conducted over the course of the academic year under the supervision of a faculty member and entails the completion of two independent courses. In the fall, the student enrolls in Art-Arch 499 Honors Art History and Archaeology. With the permission of the student’s thesis advisor, the student will complete the thesis in the spring, enrolling again in Art-Arch 499. Only one semester of Art-Arch 499 (3 units) counts toward the 24 upper-level credit requirements, and it does not fulfill either of the two capstone seminar courses. The second semester of Art-Arch 499 is taken as an additional course beyond the usual major requirements; students writing the Honors Thesis complete a total of 33 credits for the major rather than the typical 30 credits. Students planning to write a Senior Honors Thesis should make every effort to complete one 400-level seminar course by the end of their junior year.

Contact Info

Contact:Brad Parton