Why Major in Art History?

An Art History Major speaks out

What to Do with Your Degree

Art history is the most flexible of the liberal arts majors, providing basic skill sets that interest a diverse array of potential employers and graduate programs.

Our majors go on to work in a wide variety of positions in museums, historical societies and historic properties. Many are curators, registrars, archivists, art preparators, installation designers, conservators or art restorers or employed by museum education departments. They also work in the areas of art appraisal, preservation, publishing, education, art law, art advising, art dealing, architecture, photography, advertising, development/fundraising, film production, arts administration, interior design, art therapy, illustration, architecture, photography, archaeology, production design, and arts and entertainment journalism.

Our majors have gone to graduate school in a diverse array of fields, including art history, art, material culture, architecture, museum studies, arts administration, education, landscape architecture, English, history, and comparative literature, as well as business, law, economics, medicine, and psychology.

Skill Sets of Major
(or, How to Promote Yourself to a Prospective Employer!)

In a media-saturated age, there is great demand for critical thinking about images and how they convey meaning. Potential employers and graduate schools highly value the following skills.

  • We teach visual analysis, encouraging students to look closely at materials from which objects are made, the ways in which they were created, and how they produce meaning.
  • Similarly, we give students the confidence to read texts critically, promoting the ability to synthesize and distill arguments and support or contradict them.
  • We emphasize and hone writing skills, creating strong and effective communicators.
  • Our focus on research helps students learn the vast array of historic and digital resources for uncovering information, as well as how research is performed and how innovative research questions are formulated.
  • We stress the importance of original interpretation and analysis, requiring independent thought rather than rote memorization; such thinking outside the box is a valuable skill.
  • We ground students in widely-applicable theories and philosophies of cultural analysis.
  • We teach the value of situating objects in historic and social contexts, creating a sense of awareness of cultural differences and alternative values.
  • We promote foreign language skills.


Please email Teddy Kaul (ejkaul@wisc.edu), or call (608-263-2373) to set up an advising meeting to discuss Art History course options, major requirements, honors in the major, etc.