Art History & Visual Arts


MAJOR: Eleven or twelve courses (48 units, depending on the emphasis) chosen in consultation with the major advisor.

Emphasis in Studio Art: Minimum of 48 units, chosen in consultation with the major advisor. Three beginning courses: S102, S103 and S105; Two of the following intermediate courses: S203, S210, S216 or 217; Two of the following Advanced Projects courses: S310, S320, or S330; and S490 Senior Seminar; One 4-unit course, in Media Arts & Culture; Two Art History courses -H180 and H389. The sequencing of courses is crucial: students should take beginning and intermediate courses in the Frosh and Sophomore years; 300 level courses (Advanced Projects) in their junior year; and S490 (Senior Seminar) and any elective studio courses in the senior year. You may not take a required 100 level course as a Senior. In addition, the two Art History courses (H180 and H389), and one 300 level Advanced Projects course must be completed before the start of the senior year. S101, 104 and 106 may only be taken as electives and do not count as required beginning courses. Because the maturation of creative ability requires time as well as effort, students who may desire a major in studio art should consult with departmental advisors and begin taking studio courses as early as possible in their first year, and should declare a major early in the sophomore year.

Emphasis in Media Arts & Culture: Minimum of 48 units. AHVA’s Media Arts & Culture Program fosters critical, historical, and practical exploration of audiovisual culture, with students producing senior comprehensives capstone work in either media production or critical media. All students, regardless of their project choice, are expected to push the boundaries of media scholarship, project form, and modes of audiovisual communication.

A minimum of twelve courses (48 units) are required for the MAC emphasis with students moving fairly freely between courses in production and those more focused on media history and critical analysis. Of the twelve required courses, students must take: at least three of the four 100-level gateway courses (ArtM 140, 143, 145, and/or 146), at least three (4-unit) 200-level courses, and the junior and senior seminars (ArtM 390 and 490). In addition, majors must complete one 4-unit ArtH (Art History) and one 4-unit ArtS (Studio) course. Please note additional track-specific requirements:

Media Production Track: All media production comprehensives students must have taken ArtM 140 and either 242 or 355 by the end of junior year, along with 220 if producing fiction. The 490 Senior Seminar in Media Production is a 4-unit fall course. Students must then enroll in ArtM 340 in the spring of senior year to scaffold post-production on their comprehensives project.

Critical Media Track: In addition to ArtM 390, all critical media comprehensives students must have taken at least two critical or historical media studies courses at the 200- or 300-level before the end of junior year. The 490 Senior Seminar in Critical Media is a year-long seminar with 2 units conferred in the fall and 2 additional units in the spring.

Students may take relevant courses offered in other Occidental departments such as Theater, Music, CTSJ, or English, which can be applied to the major upon approval of their faculty advisor. Eligible students may apply to study abroad in the Fall semester of Junior Year. Students may enroll for 2-unit internships through the Career Development Center. Students are also encouraged to explore the Interdisciplinary Writing Minor. Occidental College also has a cross-registration agreement with Art Center College of Design, which offers various technical courses in media software which can count towards the major if preapproved by the faculty advisor.

Emphasis in Art History: A minimum of 48 units, including three survey-level courses (H160, H170, and H180, or H190); three courses at the 300 level, plus two additional electives at the 200 or 300 levelone of these may be replaced by a 200-level elective in the same area) or equivalent; at least one course above 300 in two of these areas: Asian, Early Western, and twentieth century (either H387 or H389); the Seminar in Art History (H390); and the Senior Seminar (H490); two additional art history courses above the 100 level, of which at least one is at the 300 level; at least two courses (8 units) in Media Arts and CultureMedia Arts & Culture  and/or Studio Art. In consultation with the advisor, a student may substitute a courses outside the department (such as history, literature, religious studies, politics, or philosophy, preferably related to the topic area of the senior thesis) for one of the art history electives.

Combined Emphasis: Students may declare a combined emphasis in art history and studio art: A minimum of 48 units, including four introductory courses—two in studio art (chosen from ARTS 101, 102, 103, 105, 106) and two in art history (chosen from ARTH 160, 170, 180, 190); six courses at the 200 or 300 level—three in studio art and three in art history; and the Senior Seminar in studio art (ARTS490) or art history (ARTH490). Similar combined emphases between Art History and Media Arts & Culture or between Studio Art and Media Arts & Culture may be proposed in consultation with the faculty advisor.


Emphasis in Studio Art: Five courses (20 units) in the department including any four studio courses and one art history course. No more than three 100-level courses. Studio courses must be selected from more than one professor.

Emphasis in Media Arts & Culture: Five Art M courses (20 units) determined in consultation with a Media Arts & Culture faculty member.

Emphasis in Art History: Five art history courses (20 units); at least three must be 200-level courses or above.

THIRD-YEAR WRITING REQUIREMENT: All students majoring in the department must successfully complete the third-year writing requirement by completing a junior-year 300-level course, with a grade of C or better, as follows: Studio Art – ArtH 389 or ArtS 301; Media Arts & Culture - Art M390; Art History - Art H390; Combined Emphasis - one of these 300-level courses, determined in consultation with Academic Advisor. For further information see page 40 and consult the department chair or your major advisor.

HONORS: A student with an overall GPA of at least 3.2 overall and 3.5 in the major who has demonstrated excellence in departmental courses can submit a proposal for an honors project in the fall of senior year for completion in the spring of senior year. For further information, consult your faculty advisor on honors requirements and timelines in your particular program.

EXCHANGE PROGRAM WITH ART CENTER: Occidental students may take courses in the Art Center at Night Program at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. See College Catalog Section on Art Center Exchange.  These classes can count towards general College units for graduation but cannot fulfill AHVA major or minor requirements without pre-approval of the AHVA faculty advisor.


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