History of Art and Architecture

What is History of Art and Architecture?

The Department of the History of Art and Architecture at UC Santa Barbara offers a diverse and innovative curriculum that seeks to foster a critical understanding of the production of art and the built environment. Students study art works and architecture created by civilizations from prehistory to modern times. They evaluate art objects and architecture in their broad cultural contexts, and relate them to the historical circumstances in which they were created and to the people who created them. In doing so, students explore the world of aesthetic expression and study culture through art. The study of art and architectural history opens our thoughts, beliefs, and practical achievements to the multiplicity of cultures and the universality of the artistic experience.

UCSB awards the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in the History of Art and Architecture. Apart from a major in History of Art and Architecture, there is also an emphasis in Architecture and Environment and Museum Studies.

The department offers survey courses in European, American, Asian, African, Islamic and pre-Columbian art, and in the history of architecture and the history of photography. The department also offers a broad range of specialized upper-division (junior and senior level) courses in all of these areas.

-thanks to the UCSB History of Art and Architecture of much of the provided information.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like History of Art and Architecture?

A prospective student in History of Art and Architecture should have an interest in and appreciation for art objects and the physical, human-made environment. Although art and architecture often serve a serious and even practical purpose, and objects of art are not simply the result of isolated exercises in aesthetic creativity, it helps if the student displays a reasonable amount of sensitivity and desire towards the understanding and appreciation of what is meaningful or beautiful in the realm of human-made things. It is one of the objectives of the program to train the student’s eye to make both stylistic and qualitative distinctions between different works and different artists. Quite apart from studio arts, History of Art and Architecture is essentially interdisciplinary in scope. The study of history, literature, religion, philosophy, classics, archaeology, anthropology, drama, and music can all serve as a suitable background and should be an incentive to students who feel the need for a certain breadth in their education.

What are Potential Topics within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

Global Perspectives and Intercultural Exchanges
Architecture and the Environment
Architectural History
African Art
Islamic Art and Architecture
East Asian Art History


What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

• Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
• Choose a complementary minor.
• Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
• Develop your computer skills.
• Learn a foreign language.
• Study abroad.
• Join professional associations.
• Get involved in student clubs.
• Participate in community organizations.
• Seek out leadership positions.
• Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
• Network with others in fields that interest you.

Learn More

If you are in the process of choosing or changing a major, Career Services has some tools that may assist you in your decision.

Focus 2 allows you to explore college majors and careers.

The Strong Interest Inventory® compares your interests against six broad categories of work. The College Edition adds a section on Making College Fit Your Interests, which identifies majors that match your interests and suggests potential college activities to explore.

Check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on registering for any assessments.


General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. History of Art and Architecture majors with a strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in hundreds of fields. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study, options include:

Antiques dealer                                   Art restoration
Museum curator                                 Art editor
Corporate art consultant                     Fine art auctioneer
Historic preservationist                       Estate appraiser
Visual resource curator                       Art librarian
Architectural conservation                  Artist representative

A degree in History of Art and Architecture provides one with a strong and flexible liberal arts education - it can lead either directly or with proper specialization to jobs in museums and galleries, and art restoration and conservation. In all fairness the field is competitive, and a realistic chance of job opportunities in these areas may require further training. Several of our motivated undergraduates, however, have turned part-time internships into paid employment after completion of their degree. For those students who pursue graduate training in History of Art and Architecture, teaching and research assistantships are frequently available in their department. An academic career in History of Art and Architecture (teaching at colleges and universities) or curatorial/educational work in museums almost always requires graduate work. Both MA and Ph.D. programs are offered at Santa Barbara.

To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
See what UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn.


Graduate and Professional Schools

Master’s and PhD programs in Architecture
List of programs in Architecture

This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

Museum Employment Resource Center
Postings of various positions within museums from curator to administration.

Museum Jobs.com
Listing of jobs at museums, galleries, libraries and archives both in the US and internationally.

Listing of art and museum jobs concentrated in New York City

List of jobs in Architecture

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Professional Associations

College Art Association
College Art Association includes among its members those who by vocation or avocation are concerned about and/or committed to the practice of art, teaching, and research of and about the visual arts and humanities.

American Association of Museums
American Association of Museum’s mission is to enhance the value of museums to their communities through leadership, advocacy, and service.

Society of Architectural History
An international organization dedicated to the study of historical buildings and architecture.

National Art Education Association
To promote art education through Professional Development, Service, Advancement of Knowledge, and Leadership. NAEA is a non-profit, educational organization.

The Association of Art Museum Curators
This site provides a dynamic forum in which to share ideas and encourage professional development in the field. Network with fellow museum curators and take advantage of the job bank.

UCSB Resources