Rice’s undergraduate art history program offers a diverse curriculum that spans many historical periods and geographic areas. Our ten full-time faculty members offer courses on the art, architecture, and material culture of Asia, Europe, and the Americas from antiquity to the present, looking at everything from ancient temples to contemporary films. The Department of Art History offers three areas of study for majors: art history, architectural history, and the art history honors program, in which students write an honors thesis in their senior year under the mentorship of a department professor.
While our introductory 100-level courses are typically lectures, the majority of our classes are small, discussion-based seminars. These cover topics focusing on specific areas, periods, and movements (such as Renaissance Italy, medieval China, and French Impressionism), or important ideas and practices in the arts (spanning such topics as pilgrimage, abstraction, transnationalism, and the representation of sexuality). Students interact directly and frequently with their professors in nearly all of our courses and work closely with them to explore their particular interests and passions.
The department takes full advantage of Houston’s art museums: visits to the Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, and other art institutions are a regular feature of our courses. Our department also offers travel opportunities that allow students to explore art and architecture far beyond Rice’s immediate neighborhood. Our majors, together with a department professor, travel to New York City each spring to study the city’s art and architecture, and our “HART in the World” course, offered every other year, takes students to a major international metropolis for a three-week intensive May seminar. Past classes have visited Istanbul, Rome, and Rio de Janeiro, and future sessions are planned in London, Berlin, and Xi'an, China.
To foster professional experience and independent research, the department offers a wide range of fellowships and grants. These enable students to pursue independent research across the globe and to serve as interns at local museums working closely with world-class curators and collections.
Rice’s art history majors have gone on to graduate study and careers in a range of fields. Trained in careful observation and argumentation, they’ve made an impact not just in the worlds of museum and academic work, but in professions spanning business, law, engineering, medicine, and other areas.