About Art & Art History

Designed specifically for the pursuit of art practices and the study of art history and arts management, the department facilities are located in one of the best-equipped physical plants in the country. The programs are directed by a faculty of professional artists and scholars dedicated to their students and to the pursuit of their own creative and scholarly work. Students also have access to developing new technologies in a number of areas.

It is the departmental philosophy that a grasp of the history and theory of art is indispensable for the studio major and that creative activity is invaluable to the student of art history.

Art history is an interdisciplinary program within the department with a core of period and survey courses which provide an integrative investigation of art and culture using both traditional and new approaches and technologies. The curriculum provides a broad overview of traditional European contributions, an introduction to the arts outside the European tradition, familiarity with historical methodology and research, including online and electronic sources, and critical thinking. Our core is enhanced by periodic offerings of specialized upper-division classes which have included in-depth studies of artists, themes and post-modern theory, and of current issues such as gender and multiculturalism. As a demonstration of mastery of skills and knowledge in the field, art history requires students to write a senior paper, which indicates original research or interpretation. With prior approval of the faculty, students may write a more elaborate senior thesis or honors thesis. Students are strongly encouraged to develop competency in at least one foreign language.

The art studio curriculum is designed to develop the ability to create, analyze, interpret and evaluate art. The department strives to stimulate creativity and competency as students develop their skills and knowledge of materials and technologies. Fundamental to the study of art is a belief in its potential to communicate ideas, emotions and values necessary for understanding and functioning effectively within the modern world. Faculty are committed to the recognition of individuality and unique accomplishment. They work closely with each student to encourage personal direction and ideas.

Sonoma State University is a fully accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

General Procedures

Upon successful application to the university, students wanting to major in art may choose one of the following areas:

Bachelor of Arts 

  • Art History 
  • Art Studio (areas of emphasis below): 
    • 2D: Painting, Printmaking, and Works on Paper
    • 3D: Sculpture, and Ceramics
    • Photography and Media Art

Bachelor of Fine Arts 

  • Painting
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Photography    

Entering freshmen or lower-division transfer students will be accepted by the university in the status of art major in the B.A. program. Upper-division transfer students who have fulfilled requirements equivalent to those for lower-division art majors at Sonoma State University will be accepted as art majors in the B.A. program. Information on admission to the B.F.A. program is listed on the B.F.A. web site.

Courses in the major cannot be taken for CR/NC. A maximum of 3 courses may be challenged for credit toward the major: 2 lower-division and 1 upper-division. Most studio courses require payment of lab fees at time of class registration.

Career Opportunities Relating to the Major

Whether in art history,  art studio or gallery and museum management, programs in the Department of Art and Art History are committed to academic excellence and the acquisition of skills of visual analysis and synthesis. We offer basic skills and access to new technologies as sound preparation for graduate study and teaching, as well as for professional careers in the arts. In addition, as preparation for entering a diversity of related fields, students may combine knowledge of the arts with expertise in a second area, such as business, law, film and television, museum, gallery or archival management. Consult a department advisor for specific advice about career planning.


Students are required to consult their advisors in the department before beginning work as a studio or art history major and each semester thereafter. Not all courses are offered every semester. Consultation with an art advisior will allow for timely completion of art major requirements. See the department's advising handbook for more information.