Art History & Visual Studies

Can you believe your eyes? 

student holding artVisual perception is essential to success in many careers. The ability to accurately observe the visual world and articulate its meaning are valuable skills in a broad range of fields including law, medicine, information technology, education, and museum work. Art History & Visual Studies (AVHS) majors are trained to develop astute observational tools that help them better analyze our image-rich world.

My AHVS professors encouraged my intellectual and professional growth. They challenged me to reach for opportunities that helped me toward an informed and conscientious understanding of arts organizations, big and small, in both Kentucky and New York."

Emma Friedman-Buchanan, BA in Art History '18 
Gallery Director, Institute 193, New York City


  • Gallery & Museum Internships 
  • Travel Abroad  
  • National & International Conferences 
  • Grants, Fellowships & Awards 
  • Publication Opportunities 
  • Community Arts 

Beyond the Classroom

Field trips to museums and festivals enliven our classes. Most of our students have been interns at the University of Kentucky Art Museum and local arts organizations. They also study abroad. In addition to the opportunities provided by our own faculty to study in France, Germany, Ireland and Italy, our students have received course credit for programs in Australia, Africa, and Asia. 

Bachelor of Arts

The Art History & Visual Studies program offers two distinct tracks for undergraduate majors and minors. These tracks are designed to help students prepare for the many career choices available to students pursuing a degree in one of the richest and most diverse fields in the humanities.

Art History Option

B.A. Degree

The Art History option provides Art History and Visual Studies majors with the knowledge to interpret visual forms as expressions of historical periods and cultural values, and with skills that lead to the pursuit of independent scholarship. These are skills useful for virtually any career path, including law and international business.

Visual Studies Option

B.A. Degree

The Visual Studies option deals with all aspects of culture that communicate through visual means, from paintings and film to advertising and Web sites. It leads to emerging careers involved with the creation, dissemination, manipulation and retrieval of images.

Official Degree Requirements & Course Information

Check the full major requirements on the current UK Bulletin and consult with your advisor.


Undergraduate Minors

Art History Minor

The Minor in Art History focuses on the development of the visual arts within a broad liberal arts tradition. Students study artistic images, objects and events of diverse cultures within a global context. It is a particularly good minor for students majoring in other fields in the the humanities or the arts. Students from any college may choose to minor in Art History.


Two courses selected from the following (6 credit hours):

  • A- H 101 Introduction to Visual Studies - 3credit hours
  • A- H 105 World Art Before 1400 - 3 credit hours
  • A- H 106 Renaissance to Modern Art - 3 credit hours

One applied course in the College of Fine Arts appropriate to art history. Courses in art studio, art education, as well as costume, make-up, or set design would apply. 3 credit hours

Four additional Art History & Visual Studies courses (A-H prefix) 12 credit hours

Total Hours: 21

Visual Studies Minor

The Visual Studies Minor offers a broadly based curriculum that reaches into everyday life and popular media to deal with all aspects of visual culture. The Visual Studies Minor curriculum teaches critical viewing skills to prepare students to successfully interpret and navigate the visual complexity of the 21st century, both inside and outside the workplace. Students from any college may choose to minor in Visual Studies.


No more than four courses may be from Art History & Visual Studies (AH prefix). At least two courses selected must be taken at the 300 level or above (including 4th requirement below).

A- H 101 Introduction to Visual Studies (3 credit hours)

One course selected from the following (3 credithours):

  • A- H 105 World Art Before 1400
  • A- H 106 Renaissance to Modern Art

One course selected from the following ( 3 credit hours)

  • A- S 102 Two-Dimensional Surface
  • A- S 103 Three-Dimensional Form
  • A- S 130 Drawing
  • A- S 200 Introduction to Digital Art, Space, and Time

One course selected from any Art History & Visual Studies course at the 300 level (3 credit hours)

See Art History courses

In consultation with an Art History & Visual Studies advisor, students may identify and propose courses relevant to visual studies other than those listed in the Bulletin as fulfilling this requirement. See the Visual Studies Minor in the UK Bulletin for courses.

NOTE: Students may propose courses relevant to visual studies other than those listed here to fulfill this requirement, but the must consult with their advisor and file a College of Fine Arts petition form for approval.

Total Hours: 21

Master of Arts

Institut du Monde ArabeThe Master of Arts in Art History & Visual Studies prepares students with the course work, language skills, and research experience needed for further graduate study or work in a museum or educational setting. The curriculum is structured to provide both breadth and depth of inquiry through a variety of approaches to art history and, more broadly, visual studies. We recommend that courses be broadly selected to take full advantage of the multiple approaches, expertise, and insights of the faculty.

The relatively small size of the M.A. program, the richness of available resources, and the dedication of its faculty enable students to tailor their program of study to particular needs while simultaneously attaining a strong general grounding in the discipline. Campus resources include the Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center, the Special Collections of the M. I. King Library, the W.T. Young Library, the UK Art Museum, the School of Art & Visual Studies’ Visual Resources Office, and the Bolivar Art Gallery.

Current classes, admission information, and degree requirements can be found in the Graduate School Bulletin.
Current student can also find the SAVS Graduate Student Handbook, required documents, and helpful links on the Student Resources page.

University Scholars Program

Students admitted to the University Scholars Program may apply up to 12 credit hours of coursework for the BA degree in AH&VS toward the MA degree – and may be able to complete an MA in Art History & Visual Studies in one year rather than two.

Admission Requirements

  1. 3.5 GPA in Art History and Visual Studies major and 3.2 GPA overall
  2. Completed 90 hours of coursework
  3. Completed all Core Curriculum requirements

Application Process

  1. Identify a faculty sponsor in Art History and Visual Studies
  2. Complete University Scholars application form in consultation with the faculty sponsor.
  3. Submit with letter of intent addressed to Art History and Visual Studies graduate advisor

This form should be returned along with the standard Graduate School application form.


Tuition and financial aid during the first year of the program (the University Scholar's fourth year at UK) is still covered by previously awarded undergraduate funding, at the cost of undergraduate credit hours. University Scholars are eligible to apply for assistantships their second and final year in the program.


Spring Admission - November 15
Summer II Admission - April 15
Fall Admission - April 15

Art History & Visual Studies Faculty

Director of the School of Art and Visual Studies
Professor of Art History. Twentieth Century and Contemporary
102A Art & Visual Studies Building
Gallery Director, Lecturer
Curatorial Studies
114A Art and Visual Studies Building
Professor of Art History & Visual Studies
Director of Graduate Studies, Art History
303A Fine Arts Bldg
Associate Professor
Art History, Late Classical World and Medieval
201A FA
Part-Time Instructor
Art History
301A Art and Visual Studies Building
Associate Professor
Art History & Visual Studies, Contemporary and Visual Studies
301 Fine Arts Building
Associate Professor
Art History & Visual Studies, Arts of Asia
203A Fine Arts Bldg
Adjunct Associate Professor
Art History, Classical World
201 FA
Art History & Visual Studies, Arts of Africa and Contemporary
307 Fine Arts Building
Senior Lecturer
Art History Foundations
301A FA