Art History, B.A.
B.A. in Art History
Transform your love of art into a life with art.
It’s one thing to look at a work of art and appreciate it. It’s another to know how, why, and what a painting, music video, or building means on a deeper level. Investigate art to its fullest by pursuing an Art History degree at Penn State with renowned scholars, graduate student mentors, and the resources of a Big Ten University to guide you.
Earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History from Penn State
Passionate about art, architecture, history, languages, travel, and other cultures? Combine your interests!
The Penn State Department of Art History offers lecture/discussion courses and seminars on a broad range of topics from Ancient to Contemporary art. Courses are taught by fifteen faculty members, and three affiliate faculty members (who are curators in the Palmer Museum of Art).
Our connection with the Palmer Museum of Art as well as our proximity to major art cities, including New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. offer students the opportunities of a friendly college town setting with the art world at their fingertips.
Is the Bachelor's Degree in Art History right for you?
The Bachelor’s Degree in Art History is your ticket to an education that will bring the world closer through art, architecture, cultures, languages, travel, museums, and history. Our close-knit community provides you with direct access to top faculty researchers in the field, committed to supporting you.
Freshmen enroll first as general students at Penn State and then declare the Art History major once they have earned grades at the University. Freshmen may begin their studies at any Penn State location, but majors must study at University Park to complete their degrees. Transfer students are considered for admission to University Park.
Students can take courses in Ancient to Contemporary art and architecture with faculty members who specialize in:
- African and African Diaspora
- Ancient Egyptian
- Architectural History
- East Asian
- European and British
- Museum Studies
- Pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin America
- South Asian
Brisa Smith Flores
Brisa Smith Flores earned three degrees, Art History, History, and Global and International Studies, along with three minors in African American Studies, Latin American Studies, and Latino/a Studies. Brisa received a Masters of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Her thesis, "The Art of Ethnic Lynching: The Erasure of The Afro-Mexican from the National Identity of Mexico" analyzes how art and visual culture can be weaponized to maintain white supremacy. During her time in Philadelphia, she worked for the Association for Public Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Now, she is a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles in the World Arts and Culture/Dance Department, pursuing a PhD in Culture and Performance. Her dissertation topic explores the ways museums are part of the legacy of colonialism and how communities of the African diaspora across the Global South are challenging or reimaging how museums represent culture and identity. She has presented her research at major conferences such as the Association of Black Women Historians Symposium, the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora, and the International Conference on the Inclusive Museum. Brisa also serves as the Graduate Fellow for the UCLA Prison Education Program, a program that provides interdisciplinary for-credit courses in correctional facilities across Los Angeles.
Seize these opportunities, make the most of your education.
Art History Minor
Pursuing another major? The Art History minor can help you gain a critical understanding of visual culture in a diversity of societies around the world.
Architectural History Minor
The interdisciplinary minor in architectural history is a perfect match with the B.A. in Art History.
- Work in the field, as a student
The Department of Art History has work-study positions in the Visual Resources Centre and the departmental office. The Palmer Museum of Art also has work-study and internship opportunities.
- Awards and Scholarships
A wide range of scholarships and grants are available to support student participation in symposia, study abroad, and service opportunities. Additionally, numerous financial and honor awards recognize student scholarly and leadership successes.
- Todi Summer Study
Spend the summer immersed in art with the Todi Summer Study Abroad program and visit Rome, Florence, and everywhere in between with a cohort of engaged students.
Faculty SpotlightSee all Facuty
Daniel Zolli (he/him/his) is a scholar of early modern European art, with a focus on art in 14–16th-century Italy. His research interests include the materials and techniques of art; workshop practice; art’s theorization in oral tradition and popular folklore; and its interfaces with law. His current book project, entitled Donatello’s Promiscuous Technique, examines that sculptor’s life-long preoccupation with material experimentation. It argues that Donatello cultivated a practice, and a professional persona, willfully at odds with period efforts to locate sculpture among the “liberal arts.” Donatello took his models instead from cunning enterprises aimed at transforming or dissimulating matter (e.g., prestidigitation, cosmetics, alchemy, idolatry, counterfeiting, adulteration), staking his authority on an ability to deceive viewers, and cloud their judgment, through a near-elemental craftiness.