Art History (BA)

Learn how to interpret and analyze art in Columbia College Chicago’s Art History bachelor’s degree program. Our unique approach to art history and theory focuses on diverse and socially engaged fields of study. Under the guidance of a faculty of art historians and artists you’ll study modern and contemporary art as well as design, photography, and architecture, all from a global and multicultural perspective. As an Art History major, you’ll become an experienced researcher and gain a critical understanding of the role of art in society. You’ll write and present original scholarship with your peers and faculty mentors. Our collaborative classroom approach fosters complex conversations that mirror experiences you’ll have in the field. 

Art History student at National Mexican Museum of Art

In the Classroom

  • You’ll take art history courses to begin both surveying the field and gaining a vocabulary to describe and critique art and the many forms of visual culture. 
  • You’ll take field trips to many of the city’s museums, galleries, alternative spaces, and pop-up events.  
  • Our program is coupled with studio-based Fine Arts programs, so you’ll have access to hands-on visual arts courses and will interact regularly with artists. 
  • The Columbia Art History Alliance is a tight-knit student group that meets often to discuss new topics in modern and contemporary art and explore the city together. 
  • With the help of the Career Center and your faculty mentors, you’ll research job opportunities and career paths and prepare a professional resume. We’ll help you navigate the logistics of finding fellowships and applying for grants and conferences. 

Artist Ervin A. Johnson ’12 discusses his work with students

Chicago: A Cultural Hub

As an Art History major at Columbia College Chicago, you’ll live near several museums and galleries, such as the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Museum of Mexican Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Exciting conversations happen in every corner of the city. Art EXPO, one of the world’s largest modern and contemporary art expositions, happens every year just blocks from campus. Chicago is home to many artist-run alternative spaces as well. Your faculty mentors will help you identify opportunities for professional internship experiences at museums and galleries in the city. 

As a Columbia student, you’ll have free access to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Art History majors often pursue internships at local galleries, museums, educational organizations, festivals, and nonprofits. Columbia students have interned at places like the Chicago Artists Coalition and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Art History majors often assist faculty members in original scholarship, gaining important research opportunities that prepare them for graduate school.


Amy Mooney

A timeline of Amy Mooney’s recent scholarly accomplishments.

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Art History faculty are nationally and internationally recognized professionals committed to teaching, researching, and mentoring. The work of our progressive historians—who are active curatators, critics, and scholars—often centers on current topics. The department brings in nationally acclaimed artists for seminars and critiques every year as part of the Art Now! lecture series.

Alumni Success

Art History grad Jamillah James

“Columbia enabled me to dabble in many things ... as I found my way to what I was truly interested in and committed to: art history and visual culture.”

-Jamillah James ’05

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Our alumni are gallerists, curators, and critics. They work as administrators at museums and community arts organizations and write regularly for a variety of publications. They comprise a supportive community, helping each other succeed. 

Alumni Highlights

  • Tempestt Hazel ’10 is a curator, writer, artist advocate, and founding editor of Sixty Inches From Center, a Chicago-based online arts publication and archiving initiative. She is also the Arts Program Officer for the Field Foundation of Illinois.
  • Casey Winkleman ’12 is a graduate student in UCLA’s Master of Library and Information Science program. After graduating, she cofounded and managed contemporary LA arts magazine VIA Publication, attended a writing/publishing residency in Portugal, and worked as a digital archivist at Sony Pictures Television.
  • Jennifer Patiño ’10 attends University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences; she focuses on access and diversity.
  • Conor Moynihan ’13 is a PhD candidate in the Visual Studies Program at the University of Buffalo, where he studies contemporary art with an emphasis on queer art/visual culture, orientalism, primitivism, and transnationalism. 

If you’re interested in a program with a focus on studio practice, check out our Fine Arts BA and BFA programs.

Many Art History majors also pursue a minor. Some popular minors include: