B.A. Art History


Art history recognizes that things that we call “art” are not only eye-catching but are laden with meaning. It is an interdisciplinary field of study that draws upon and relates to many other areas including history, philosophy, literature, language, science, religion and technology and is closely connected to anthropology, archeology and cultural studies.

Are you interested in the ways in which we communicate through images and the built environment and in the ways in which the human relationship to images, forms and structures has changed over time and differs from one geographical and cultural context to another? Art historians view the visual arts of various human societies as active agents in shaping perception, affecting behavior and expressing messages in works that represent thoughtful and complex combinations of form and content. We ask, “why has art been so important in the past, how does it affect our present and how will it shape our future?”

The art history division at NIU offers a bachelors degree, a minor and the option to pursue an accelerated B.A./J.D. Program in Art History and the College of Law. Graduates from our Art History programs at NIU have pursued many different kinds of careers, from teaching at the college level, to curatorial and related educational work in museums, to art-related library careers, to advanced graduate study in institutions around the world. We even host the Elizabeth Allen Visiting Scholars in Art History Series.

Our faculty members are recognized for their outstanding reputation for research in their special fields of study. We couple this with a commitment to teaching you and a strong desire to see you excel. Come explore with us!


See a suggested art history four-year plan.

Study Abroad

Art history examines the visual and material culture of the entire globe. One of the most important and memorable experiences you may have during your college years is travel to an unfamiliar place to study art. Visit the NIU Study Abroad office to learn more.

Student Group

NIU’s art history student organization Historia Artis seeks to foster awareness and understanding of art history as a lens through which the vastly diverse expressions of visual communication manifest themselves throughout time, history and culture. We are organized as a support group for students who are involved in the study and research of art history.


The B. A. in Art History Degree with departmental honors has been designed to provide you with an opportunity for more specialized research if you are committed to pursuing graduate work in art history. If you are interested in continuing advanced studies in M. A. or Ph.D. programs in art history and are aiming at eventual employment in college or university teaching, museum work or other careers that will involve research and critical writing, you should consider applying and completing the requirements for the degree with departmental honors. Honors research may be conducted with full access to the exceptional Burma Art Collection.

In order to qualify for the B. A. in Art History Degree with departmental honors students must meet the following requirements:

  • Major in Art History with at least a 3.4 GPA in art history courses
  • Completion of NIU foreign language requirements for the B. A. degree with at least a 3.0 G.P.A.
  • Completion of the senior honors thesis in art history

Find out more in the honors application.