Is an Art History Degree Right for You?

An online bachelor’s degree in art history is most appropriate for someone who wants an interdisciplinary field of study, as the subject explores art from around the world through the lenses of history, sociology, philosophy, politics, and diverse cultures.

Art history is a good fit for those who plan on pursuing traditional art careers in studio art, art education, or in museums and cultural centers. However, as a liberal arts degree, art history also allows for a more flexible career path that could prepare students for careers unrelated to art that require strong skills in writing, critical thinking, communication, and visual analysis.

Advice for Earning Your Art History Degree Online

Students enrolling in an online art history bachelor’s program should make sure their computer and Internet connection meet the college’s technical requirements for online courses, and familiarize themselves with the tools used in the online course delivery system while attending their orientation. Students new to online courses should not expect college-level courses in art history to be easier than traditional courses, and should instead plan for rigorous study.

Arizona State University Online, which offers an online art history degree, recommends that online students devote six hours a week to course work for every one college credit they are seeking. Prospective online students who plan to eventually pursue college-level teaching careers or top-level jobs as art historians will need to need to maintain a high GPA in their undergraduate studies and seek out research opportunities in order to one day qualify for graduate programs.

Required Courses

An art history bachelor’s degree program is built on the foundation of a solid liberal arts education, which includes courses in English composition, philosophy, the social and natural sciences, a foreign language, and more. From here, students take major courses in art history focusing on different cultures and time periods, such as ancient, Renaissance-era, and contemporary art, as well as art out of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and more. Specific courses might include:

  • 19th Century French Art and Culture
  • Art Criticism
  • Women in the Visual Arts
  • Art of China
  • History of Photography

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in art history include:

Museum Curators

  • Expected Growth: 16%
  • Average Annual Salary: $53,540

Museum curators are responsible for the collections in museums and they also promote the museum through public service activities. A knowledge of art history is essential for art museum curators, as they will draw on this knowledge when they select articles for exhibit and broader themes for an art museum. While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for such positions, a master’s degree and relevant experience, such as experience as a museum technician, is often required, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The above employment growth and salary figures are provided by the BLS.

Historian

  • Expected Growth: 18%
  • Average Annual Salary: $57,610

Historians are experts in the past and are employed by various organizations to conduct research into certain areas of history. They are skilled in analyzing historical documents and artifacts and communicating their relevance to the public, their clients, or their employer.

While a bachelor’s degree is a good start on the pathway to becoming a historian, most historians have a masters or Ph.D., according to the BLS. The salary and employment growth statistics listed above are taken from the BLS.

Craft and Fine Artists

  • Expected Growth: 5%
  • Average Annual Salary: $53,400

Craft and fine artists, such as painters, sculptors, illustrators, and ceramic artists, sell and exhibit their art and other handmade wares. Their monetary success in the field hinges on their talent level and their ability to create appealing art. While a degree is not required to become an artist, it’s difficult to become skilled in an artistic craft without some sort of formal training, which is why a bachelor’s degree can boost one’s artistic career, according to the BLS. The employment growth and salary figures listed above were provided by the BLS.

Writers and Authors

  • Expected Growth: 6%
  • Average Annual Salary: $68,060

Writers and authors make a living writing books and providing compelling written content for a variety of online or print publications. An art history degree would serve a writer well who pursues a career with publications that explore art and culture, although other types of publications could also benefit from an art history graduate’s skills in writing and research.

Salaried writing careers typically require a bachelor’s degree, the BLS explained. The above employment growth and salary figures are provided by the BLS.

High School Art Teachers

  • Expected Growth: 7%
  • Average Annual Salary: $56,760

High school art teachers plan art lessons for students in grades 9-12 that are geared toward sharpening students’ artistic talents, cultivating an appreciation for art and culture, and equipping students for future study in the arts in college. They must also assess a student’s progress and participation in the class, providing grades on homework, exams, and art projects.

Those who major in art history will also need to complete a state-approved teacher education program and become licensed or certified to teach in their state if they plan on teaching art in public schools. The above job growth projections and salary figures were gathered from the BLS.

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