Major Requirements

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The Major in History of Art is designed to give students a solid grounding in the artistic traditions, practices, and contexts that comprise historical and contemporary visuality. Equally it introduces the discipline’s history, methods, and debates. It prepares students to do independent research, to evaluate evidence, to create coherent and sustained arguments, and to develop skills in academic writing. In a series of increasingly focused courses—Lower division, Upper Division, Seminar, and Honors Program—the major provides a format for students to learn how to analyze and interpret visual, material, and textual evidence from specific cultural settings and historical circumstances. Major requirements are also designed to maximize exposure to different historical periods, geographical regions, and topics, while allowing flexibility for students to pursue their specific interests by selecting a Focus of Study.

I. LOWER DIVISION (4 courses)

A. Three History of Art Courses (9-12 units)
Majors must complete 9 to 12 units of Lower Division course work in the History of Art. These units may come from courses taken in the Department, courses taken at other institutions granted transfer credit for the Major by the Department, or from AP Art History (score of 4 or 5). Courses that qualify for Lower Division requirements include:

4 unit lecture courses: HA 10, 11, 34, 35, 51, 62, etc
3 unit lecture courses.

Additional requirement: These three courses must include one course in Western art and one course in non-Western art.

B. One Art Practice/Materials Course (2-4 units) Students must complete 2, 3, or 4 units in a course that introduces specific art making practices and/or the study of the materials of art. This course must be approved in advance by an Undergraduate Advisor in History of Art. It may be taken P/NP. Applicable courses are typically offered in the Practice of Art Department, College of Environmental Design, and program in New Media Studies. Students may also take courses that involve the making of art taught occasionally in the Department.


In their Upper Division course work in History of Art (total 26-28 units; 8 of these units in seminars), each student must take courses in four of the following five Geographical areas and one course in each of the three Chronological periods

Geographical:                                             Chronological:

A) Europe and the Mediterranean          I) Prehistoric – 1200
B) Asia and the Pacific                               II) 1200 – 1800
C) The Americas                                         III) 1800 – present
D) Middle East and Africa 
E) Trans-cultural

Upper Division lecture courses (3 or 4 units) and seminars (2 or 4 units) may fulfill these breadth requirements. Upper Division classes (lecture or seminar) can fulfill both a Geographical requirement and a Chronological requirement.

A. Five Lecture Courses (18-20 units)
Up to two of these courses may be 3 unit courses.

B. Seminars (8 units)
Students in the major are required to complete 8 units of seminar study, of which 4 units (incorporating a research paper component) must be in their Focus of Study. The remaining four units may be taken as follows:

A second 4-unit seminar with research paper.
Two 2-unit seminars without research papers.

Individual faculty members will decide when a given seminar can be taken for 2 units. 2-unit seminars require active participation and completion of weekly readings and writing assignments. 4-unit seminars add a final research paper.


A. Theories/Methods (4 units)

These courses, usually offered in the fall semester, focus on historiography and theoretical/philosophical models in the History of Art, on practical methods of art historical inquiry, or a combination thereof.


Four Upper Division courses taught in the Department will comprise the Focus of Study.  Each student must select a Focus of Study by no later than the second semester of the junior year. By selecting a focus, students engage a specific field/period/topic in a cluster of relevant courses taught within and outside the Department. The focus must be approved by an Undergraduate Faculty Advisor.

Examples include (but are not limited to): 

The Ancient World                           Art and Gender

The Renaissance World                  Modernities and the Arts

The Body in Art                                Globalism and the Arts

Art and Religion                               Urban Culture

Popular Culture                               Material Culture

More Information

Advising and Appointments with Major Advisors

Declared majors must see an Undergraduate Advisor, in person each semester during the registration period (advisors are listed on the Department website and in the Department office). These advising meetings provide majors with the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member who can help them develop an overall program of study well-suited to individual strengths and career goals. The advisors also apprise majors of special courses and opportunities, both in the History of Art Department and elsewhere. Please note that faculty advisors are typically not available during the official University holidays or recesses. Advising appointments can be made by signing up online.

In addition to general advising and coursework approval, advisors must approve all changes in registration, including withdrawals and add-drop changes, certain special study courses (History of Art 193, 194, H195, 199), and some special programs.

Appointments should be made well in advance of deadlines (e.g. course enrollment). To make the most efficient use of advising appointments for course enrollment, students should consider carefully the department’s course descriptions, and plan a schedule of proposed courses to be discussed with the advisor. Special additional office hours are held during enrollment periods, and advisors may decline to provide last-minute advising. Advisor codes will only be given out over the phone or via email if a student is studying abroad or is unable to come to campus for reason of a serious emergency.

Departmental Undergraduate Advisors do not administer or approve coursework or degree requirements in the College of Letters and Science other than the requirements of the major. For L&S requirements, students should make an appointment to see an L&S advisor in 206 Evans Hall.

Transfer of Credit

Undergraduate Advisors may credit courses taken at other institutions toward completion of the History of Art major at UC Berkeley. This process is independent of the transfer of credit toward completion of L&S requirements for graduation. Transfer students should come to their first departmental advising appointment with copies of transcripts from all institutions they have attended previously as well as information about the content and requirements of the courses they wish to transfer. Courses taken at community colleges may only fulfill Lower Division requirements for the History of Art major. Coursework from other universities or 4-year colleges may be considered for Upper Division major requirements. Please note as well the residency requirements under “Special Restrictions for all Majors.”

HA Major Progress/Academic Progress Report:

History of Art does not use the Academic Progress Report (APR). To review major progress, check with the Undergraduate advisor.

UC Berkeley Summer Session Courses and Major Requirements

Two Summer Session lecture courses—in History of Art or for the requirement of one course taught outside the department—and an Art Practice course may be credited to completion of the major.

Approval of Other Courses

On occasion, courses taught in other departments may fulfill major requirements with the approval in advance by a History of Art Undergraduate Advisor.

Grades and Credits

Letter Grade: All courses to be counted toward completion of the Major, with the exception of the Art Practice requirement which may only be taken Pass/Not Pass, must be taken for a letter grade, earning a C- minus or higher. Majors must attain at least a C (2.0) average overall in all of the courses required in the major program.

Declaring the History of Art Major: Prior to declaring the major, students must complete two courses taught in the department and receive a grade of C- or higher in each course.

AP Credit: Course credit may be given to students who receive a score of four or five on the Advanced Placement (AP) Examination in History of Art. This credit may be used to satisfy one lower division course requirement.


A minimum of five upper division courses must be taken in the History of Art Department at Berkeley, of which one must be a 4-unit seminar. L&S requirements note that you must complete a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding study abroad units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for this major.

Note that after you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned) you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters; there is a Modified Senior Residence Requirement for participants in EAP/Non-EAP or UCB-DC programs. See L&S Residency Requirements for details.

Suggestions for All Major

Foreign languages Students planning on graduate study in the History of Art are urged to develop a reading knowledge of a foreign language. Study of one or more languages may also be useful to various arts related jobs.

Course loads vary but students should be aware that 15 units is considered a normal load; 13 units is the minimum for a full time student. 


If, at any time, a student has a complaint, the Department has an “Undergraduate Appeals Procedure” which should be followed. A copy of this procedure may be obtained from the Undergraduate Assistant or at Appeals to the Deans’ Conference. Its purpose is to permit students in the History of Art Department to resolve complaints at the department level prior to filing complaints pursuant to the Berkeley Campus Student Grievance Procedure.


Graduation requirements:
  1. A degree check in L&S: A degree check from the Office of Undergraduate Advising should be done the semester before you graduate to make sure you have completed L&S requirements.
  2. Departmental Advisor’s approval: In order for students to be cleared by the Department for completion of the major, all categories on the major advising form must have the advisor’s initials as approval for coursework taken.
  3. Contact the Office of the Registrar in Sproul to confirm that you have completed requirements for Subject A, American History & Institutions, and American Cultures.
  4. Placing yourself on the Degree List: You must declare your candidacy to graduate during the semester in which you plan to meet all your degree requirements. You can do this through Tele-BEARS when you enroll for classes for your final semester, or by filing in person at the Office of the Registrar in the first five weeks of your final semester

Honors and Awards

Honors in Art History: Students with a 3.7 GPA in the major may complete and submit an honors thesis by enrolling in HA195 (4 units, graded). A student whose thesis receives a grade of A- or better will receive Departmental Honors (Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors). The Honors Thesis is a two-semester project conducted under faculty supervision, as follows: a seminar, directed research, or independent study course in the first semester, followed by HA195 in the second. For specific details regarding the Honors Program, students should speak with a faculty undergraduate advisor and read the Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses  below.

University Honors 
are awarded upon the recommendation of the Department to students on the basis of overall GPA as follows: Honors, High Honors and Highest Honors. Requisite GPAs for University Honors change each year.

The Maybelle M. Toombs Awards recognize the potential and achievement of students based upon their record in the major up to the beginning of the senior year. By that time, the students must have completed at least two semesters of coursework as a History of Art major at Berkeley. Criteria include grade point average in the major; grasp of the research techniques and methods of the discipline; and a curriculum notable for its breadth and depth.

The Departmental Citation is presented at Commencement to a graduating senior of singular achievement. The Award Committee considers grades to be the principal criterion, but it also takes into account the character of the student’s overall program, its ambition and depth; the student’s ability to sustain a high level of excellence throughout his or her undergraduate work in Art History as well as in other subjects; and the ways in which this broad experience is brought to bear in an Honors Thesis of high quality, one that notably demonstrates the ability to do research in the discipline and a genuine independence of mind and maturity of judgment.

Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses

The Honors thesis in the History of Art is an advanced research and writing project that presents an original and thorough analysis of a discrete topic that may focus upon specific works of visual art and/or architecture, archaeological sites, contexts of production and reception, canons of criticism, or methods of interpretation. Requiring a depth of investigation, level of analysis, and quality of writing that exceeds a term paper, the thesis project may serve as an introduction to the caliber of work expected in graduate programs in art history and the humanities generally.
Students with at least a 3.7 grade point average in the major are eligible for admission into the Honors Program in History of Art. Admission is dependent upon the willingness of a member of the permanent, adjunct, or affiliated faculty to supervise the candidate throughout the program. Before granting permission, the faculty member may consider several facets of a student’s prior work in History of Art, including breadth of courses in relevant topics and level of academic achievement. S/he may ask the student to prepare a thesis prospectus that succinctly describes the thesis topic, identifies core works of visual art/architecture as well as primary texts, and prior scholarly literature relevant to the proposed direction of research. S/he may decline to supervise a student or may recommend a different prospective advisor more suited to the task.
Candidates for Honors are required to complete satisfactorily, generally within their senior year, a thesis developed over the course of two semesters of continuing academic work under faculty supervision. The two semesters are usually consecutive, as follows:
Semester 1: Seminar, Upper Division Lecture course, or Directed Research/Independent Study Course taught by a member of the permanent faculty.
Semester 2: HA H195 Special Study (Thesis Writing) advised by a member of the permanent faculty.

The two semesters are usually consecutive, although they may precede and follow the Summer Session.

Advance planning is essential. Students considering the Honors Program should consult with an Undergraduate Advisor as soon as possible and begin to plan for the program by the mid point of their junior year; transfer students should begin to plan by the mid point of their second semester at Berkeley. Students are encouraged to apply for undergraduate research opportunities, including the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship ( and the Institute of International Studies’ Undergraduate Merit Scholarship (, for example.

Students who complete the program will graduate with Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors in the Major, depending upon the grade assigned to their thesis: A-, A, or A+. For more information, please review the Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses below.

Format and Content
The minimum text length (not including foot/endnotes, bibliography, and list of illustrations) is 25 pages double-spaced, 12-point type; the complete text (including foot/endnotes, bibliography, and list of illustrations) should not exceed 60 pages. You should illustrate your discussion with the work(s) of art, architecture, or material culture at the core of your thesis, providing captioned figures referenced in the body of the text, and organized and numbered according to the order of their appearance there.
The content of your thesis must be your own original scholarly work, adhering to the campus Honor Code and Student Code of Conduct. Any statements, opinions, or ideas quoted or paraphrased from the work of others (as opposed to well-known factual material) MUST be correctly acknowledged in complete foot- or endnotes, in accordance with College of Letters & Science regulations. Immediately after the title page, you must include a signed and dated Affirmation of Independent Work: “This thesis represents my own work in accordance with College of Letters & Science regulations.”
The various components of the thesis should, in general, appear in the following order:
Title page
Affirmation of Independent Work
Table of contents
Text chapters
Appendices (if any)
List of illustrations
Two guides to writing about art are strongly recommended: Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing About Art (Longman; most recent edition), and Henry M. Sayer, Writing About Art (Prentice Hall).
For endnotes, please follow the rules appropriate to your field and subject as established by leading journals: e.g., American Journal of Archaeology (; The Art Bulletin (; Archives of Asian Art; Chicago Manual of Style (; etc. Do not mix citation styles.
As a historian, your first duty is to develop a body of pertinent factual evidence (textual, visual, or material) and to evaluate it in relation to carefully proposed problem(s) or question(s). Your descriptions of works of art or architecture should be lucid and succinct, with pertinent examples introduced at the appropriate point(s) of the text. Remember that a thesis is exactly that: a thesis, i.e., a pondered statement of your own opinion or “take” on a particular topic or problem. Your thesis must be based on your thorough knowledge of the topic and its English-language literatures (or literatures in other languages for which you have reading skills) and present thoughts and ideas of your own developed clearly and in logical order. You need not attempt to “solve” a problem or “prove” a point of view definitively, but you should endeavor to articulate what is at stake, intellectually and rhetorically, in your analysis and to bring readers to a new, critical understanding of your topic and its related works.
Please pay close attention to English usage and style, research ethics and techniques, organization, citation conventions, and formatting. Seek assistance from writing resources on campus if necessary, and copyedit your work rigorously prior to submission. Do not expect your advisor to read multiple drafts or devote considerable time to copyediting. Advisors are generally willing to read a maximum of two drafts.
Use quotations sparingly, and work them as much as possible into the flow of your own narrative. If a long quotation is necessary, separate it from the body of the text, indent it, and single-space it without quotation marks (known as a block quote). If you need to insert a clarifying word or phrase of your own into a quotation (for clarity or in the case of elision), use square brackets [ ] to signify the insertion. If you wish to give emphasis to a part of a quotation, italicize the word or text and, at the end of the quotation, add in square brackets the words [italics supplied]. In general, primary texts (historical documents, religious scripture, artists’ writings, and the like) that you use as evidence in the thesis should be quoted verbatim, not paraphrased, and translated as well.
Clear and accurate foot- or endnotes are an essential part of your thesis’s argumentation; they open your research to verification. They should take readers directly to your sources (primary or secondary) and provide precise credit for the statements, phrasing, and intellectual property of others. Cite primary texts in accordance with the citation practices current in your particular field, and cite them before you cite secondary sources on the subject. If you are quoting a translation of a primary textual source (e.g., Pausanias; Vasari; the Qianlong emperor; Sahagún), you must acknowledge the translator (if identified); if it is your translation, indicate as “translation by the author.”
Unless you are directly discussing web art or art criticism on the web, you should not use websites as sources for historical information or scholarly opinions unless they are “authoritative,” i.e., sites developed by museums, research institutes, scholars, or foundations, and employ the same practices of source citation and foot- or endnotes that you yourself are obliged to use in your own thesis. When citing web sources, include in your citation the date you accessed the site. In some cases you may wish to organize your bibliography into separate sections for primary and secondary sources. Consult your thesis advisor on the strength of your sources and the most appropriate format and practice for notes and bibliography in your particular case. 
All honors candidates must adhere strictly to the following deadlines for preparation and completion of the thesis. Failure to adhere to these deadlines may result in rejection of the thesis.
  1. Outline and Bibliography: Due to your advisor by the end of week 5 of the semester in which the thesis is written. You may also submit an initial draft to your primary advisor at this stage.
  2. Full Draft: Due the Monday after Spring Break or the end of the 11th week in the fall semester.
  3. Completed Thesis: Due on the last day of formal classes in the semester during which H195 is taken. 
A thesis writer who misses the deadline to submit the completed thesis as stated above will be ineligible to receive honors in History of Art. The faculty supervisor may choose to allow the submission of written work after that deadline, as if it were an independent study. If the honors deadline is not met, the faculty supervisor alone will determine the letter grade for HA195.
Each thesis is read both by the primary advisor and a second permanent, adjunct, affiliated, or visiting faculty member, lecturer, or postdoctoral fellow in the Department appointed by the Chair of History of Art. Both readers prepare brief reports on the thesis, which are made available to the student, and grade it. In the event that the readers recommend divergent grades and cannot reconcile them, the Chair may appoint a third reader to resolve the issue. The primary advisor submits the grade for the thesis as the grade for HA195. A student whose thesis receives a grade of A- or better will receive Departmental Honors as follows: A-, Honors; A, High Honors; A+, Highest Honors.

Study Abroad

Art History majors are encouraged to study abroad. Doing so requires careful planning and provisional pre-approval of the course of study by undergraduate advisors. Courses taken through study abroad must be discussed in advance with an advisor and will not be formally approved until after completion and until satisfactory documentation has been submitted. In order for courses taken abroad to satisfy major requirements, the breadth and depth of the course, the work demanded, and your performance must all meet Berkeley Upper Division standards. Your performance will be evaluated by an Undergraduate Advisor upon your return to campus to determine whether major requirements have been satisfied.

EAP Forms
Students must meet with a faculty major advisor, well before departure, in order to discuss the proposed program of study and obtain a signature on the Education Abroad Program academic planning form.

Transfer Credit from Abroad
The maximum number of courses from abroad that can be given credit to the History of Art major is seven, no more than three of which can be upper division (no courses taken abroad may fulfill the seminar requirement). However, no credit for the major is guaranteed prior to a student’s departure. Before going abroad, students must propose overseas courses (based on available course descriptions, etc.) to a faculty advisor who will assess the compatibility of each course with the major program and their fit with the student’s remaining major requirements. Upon return to campus, students must petition for transfer of credit to the major. Petitions should be based upon a transcript or grade report, course syllabi, reading lists, assignment sheets, exams, papers (with instructor marginalia and grade), and any other coursework brought back by students. Students are advised before departing that they should preserve these materials as evidence of coursework completed. An advisor will evaluate each course proposed for transfer, based upon these materials, for its content and rigor and will determine whether or not the course is commensurate with those taught in the department. If a given course does not appear to have sufficient work to be commensurate with courses in the department, students are encouraged to prepare while abroad an additional research paper specific to this course, seeking advice from the course’s instructor on topic, resources, and analytical approaches. This paper must be in English, with full art historical apparatus (e.g. foot/endnotes, a bibliography, and illustrations). It is up to each student to assess while abroad whether or not an extra paper is advisable for a given course. Please see a faculty major advisor for additional explanation before departure. Petitions for the transfer of credit for Lower Division major requirements are granted in most cases; petitions to transfer Upper Division credit must meet higher standards and are not always granted.

Scheduling for Return Semester 
We expect EAP students to contact us from abroad in a timely fashion via email in order to plan their courses for their returning semester with adequate time for communication before enrollment appointments. Students should include in their proposed schedules: a) a brief description of their current courses abroad, so that the faculty adviser can get a sense of whether or not these courses may be approved for major credit upon a student’s return; b) a specific set of courses proposed for the returning semester; c) additional information regarding academic progress and program if relevant to the returning semester (e.g. remaining Breadth Requirements, status of Double Major or Minor requirements, etc.) As the proposed schedule is often pending transfer credit approval for courses taken abroad, it is a good idea to propose alternate courses for the returning semester. Please note that courses taken abroad may not yield expected credit for major requirements, and there are often changes in our departmental course schedule. In order to prepare a set of proposed courses, students should with them take a copy of their major Record Sheet for reference while abroad. Advisors will advise the student for the returning semester and, when a viable course plan is confirmed, release the AC code. AC codes will not be released without a specific and complete course plan; in some instances advisors will require additional explanation from students regarding their proposed courses.     
Honors Program and Study Abroad
Students wishing to pursue an honors thesis are allowed to do their H195 thesis-writing course upon return from abroad. However, potential honors students must have completed at least one semester of seminar or independent study with a faculty member before starting their thesis with a faculty honors advisor. This seminar/independent study semester does not need to immediately precede the thesis-writing semester, but it usually does, for better continuity in the research and writing process. For additional details, please see the “Guidelines for the Preparation of Honors Theses.”