Art History

Travel beyond your borders and experiences through visual culture. Students seeking a bachelor's degree in art history at Pacific University have the opportunity to learn about the visual arts in their historical and theoretical contexts. Students go beyond studying artistic styles and aesthetic theories to exploring a variety of cultures, geographic areas and time periods. In addition, students study a variety of broad thematic issues to frame art history within a global perspective. Through the study of art history, students can realize the impact of visual culture on the formation of human values, beliefs, creativity and identity in diverse civilizations, as well as for oneself in contemporary society.


The major in art history features a global perspective with offerings in both Western and non-Western art. Courses in Western art include surveys, such as Ancient to Contemporary Art, as well as period-specific courses, such as 19th Century Art, Modern Art (1900-1960) and Contemporary Art (1960-present).

Non-Western courses include Asian Art & Architecture and Islamic Art & Architecture. Pacific also offers a Women in Art course and "special topics" courses that provide more in-depth study pertaining to students' interests. Study abroad courses offer a variety of travel opportunities, as well.

While studying art history, students explore the meaning and functions of the visual arts as created within specific historical, social, political, philosophical and religious contexts. Students also learn to look critically at a work, considering issues such as the character and evolution of form and style, iconography, and underlying ideologies and concepts. Students become familiar with methods of art analysis and the vocabulary needed to discuss and describe works. The program culminates during the senior year, when students conduct original research using primary and secondary sources in order to synthesize and write a meaningful, analytical art historical paper of significant length.

Program Highlights

  • Unite the visual arts with numerous fields in the humanities, enriching your life as you gain a liberal arts education.
  • Learn through an interdisciplinary approach, studying various subjects that inform art history, such as history, politics, philosophy, religion, anthropology, sociology and literature.
  • Develop cultural relations with the art world in the greater Portland area and the Pacific Northwest.
  • Access internship opportunities at Pacific's own Cawein Gallery and other local galleries and museums.

Jillian Bender, These photographs are my attempt to present people playing in their environment. The images were taken of subjects unknowingly in front of my camera lens. Children can be spontaneous and creative almost anywhere. Adults are a bit more rigid and reserved about their play.

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  • Study with a dedicated faculty of scholars who thrive on one-to-one interaction with students.

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