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June 25, 2012 / NextStepU

Major Monday – Art history

If you’re someone who looks at a piece of artwork and thinks more than “hey, that looks pretty” you might want to consider majoring in art history, criticism and conservation. Students who pursue this degree should be interested in the visual arts and be curious about the interpretation of and care for works of art.


According to the College Board, a major in art history is usually earned at the baccalaureate level. Students typically take courses such as early modern architecture, history of photography, postmodernism and survey of western art. Seniors will often take seminar courses in which they investigate a specific topic and conduct research by visiting museums and reading archival material.

What to know before you apply

Students should look into schools that have a large library or database on art history for them to utilize when doing research or homework. The location of the college is also important and students should be aware of local museums or art collections that are located either on or around the campus. Students with special interests should also be aware of what genres of art their college offers such as Indian art or art of the Renaissance period.


Students who major in art history can pursue several different career paths including conservators or exhibit designers and technicians. Conservators, who repair and care for art objects, average a yearly salary of $41,330 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2009. Exhibit designers and technicians, who focus more on the design and layout of exhibits and displays, average $44,880 for yearly salary as of 2009.


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