Art and Art History Major

art students painting

As an Art or Art History major, many study abroad options are available to you. Programs are available in almost every language, and many programs are also available in English. Study art or art history, or take advantage of your destination to fulfill General Education requirements, study a language, complete research in a special topic, or do an internship.


Although we generally do not encourage Art or Art History majors to study abroad until their junior year, the summer between freshman and sophomore year is an excellent opportunity to participate in a short-term study program. Explore possible opportunities with a study abroad advisor and explore our website.


Students at a gallery in Staedal

Sophomore year is a great time to plan out your study abroad experience. This is the time to decide on the type of program you would like to go on and to set the learning objectives for your experience abroad. Discuss the options available to you with a study abroad advisor and do some research at the Study Abroad office Resource Room to make sure that the classes you are taking now at the UI match well with your future study abroad objectives.


Junior year is a great time to spend a semester abroad. As a junior, you will likely choose classes that satisfy your elective requirements. You can also consider adding classes that satisfy some of the requirements of a minor or second major to your study abroad experience, or add classes that enrich your understanding of the culture you are visiting.


Senior year is another time to consider spending abroad. The summer between junior and senior year might be a fun time to spend overseas.  On the other hand, the first semester of your senior is a great time to study abroad because as an upper classman, you can pick a program that is geared toward your academic and professional interests. Also, consider taking courses that are not offered by the UI but enrich your understanding of art or art history by looking for classes that are unique to foreign environments and universities. Juniors and seniors might also consider doing an internship overseas.

General Education Component

Most study abroad locations will offer course work that will count as part of your distributed general education requirements.

Required Courses for Art and Art History Majors

Early planning is the key to successfully finding equivalencies for your major requirements on a study abroad program. Classes offered by our partner universities will provide you with a perspective on your field that is unique to the country and culture where you are studying, and that will augment the education you receive at the UI.

BA in Art (39 Hours)

A minimum of 39 semester hours of art, art history, and art education must be taken (30 hours of required courses and 9 hours of electives) in order to graduate with a BA in Art from the UI.

  • Required Art History Courses
    • Two of these courses: Arts in Africa, Western Art and Culture before 1400, Western Art and Culture after 1400, or Asian Art and Culture. These should be taken freshman or sophomore year.
    • Two additional courses, preferably taken after the four introductory art history classes listed above.
  • Required Studio Courses
    • Two fundamentals courses - these are prerequisites for all other studio courses
      • Basic Drawing
      • Design Fundamentals
    • Two introductory 3-D courses
    • Two introductory 2-D courses
  • Nine hours of elective credit from the School of Art and Art History

BFA in Art (62 Hours)

  • All the requirements of the BA in Art
  • Three studio courses beyond the beginning or introductory level in their major area of concentration
  • One introductory and one advanced course in each of two other studio concentration areas
  • Drawing and Painting BFA students are also required to take the 01F:106 Undergraduate Seminar in Drawing and Painting in addition to the three required studio courses for their concentration area
  • BFA students must also present an exhibition of their studio work

BA in Art History (45 Hours)

  • Both 01H:005 Western Art and Culture Before 1400 and 01H:006 Western Art and Culture After 1400
  • 01H:002 0R 01H:016
  • Four courses from 01H:020-098
  • Four courses from 01H:103-196
  • 01H:199 Topics in Art History
  • 01H:099 Undergraduate Seminar
  • Topics in Art History 01H:199 (3 hours)
  • 6 Hours of Studio Courses
  • 12 hours in disciplines outside of Art History. Areas of interest include anthropology, classics, history, literature, philosophy, political science, religion, sociology, or other approved by the department.

There are further requirements for students wishing to earn teacher certification in addition to their BA or BFA.  For more information, please visit the School or Art and Art History webpages and your departmental advisor. 


Electives are an excellent opportunity to earn credit toward graduation and a nice way to make study abroad work for you.

A Note from the Painting and Drawing Faculty:

Students who are contemplating foreign study in drawing or painting should be aware of the range of class expectations and quality of work in programs available abroad. Upon returning to this campus and requesting credit for work done abroad, students should also be realistic about the credits they expect to receive. Our usual three credits per class are given for an intense 16-week semester of work here. During foreign study, drawing and painting classes often meet irregularly (to facilitate travel)... consequently, the work we see accomplished is not enough and nowhere near the level (intensity and quality) of what is produced in a semester here... If you are a student who has cleared for the BFA in drawing or painting, please be advised that there is very little offered abroad that is the equivalent of the personal direction you receive in our Intermediate or Advanced Painting and our Concepts of Drawing. To keep developing at this level, you should plan on doing your own work outside of the classes. These comments regarding portfolios of returning students are not in response to any one particular program. Rather, we are trying to give the student some idea of what is generally seen in the portfolios of students who travel to learn.

  • But, drawing and painting students take heart! The School of Art and Art History wants its students to be able to study and have a great and rewarding time abroad. However, before you leave, they (and Study Abroad) strongly recommend that you do research on the courses you intend to take and that you get all of your course work approved by your art adviser before you leave the University of Iowa. Also, you should be prepared to do work outside of your study abroad classes if you are seeking to get specific art course credit.
  • Alternatively, think about finishing any remaining GEP course work or completing requirements for your minor or second major while abroad.

Additional notes:

Students who study studio art abroad will be responsible for transporting their work back to Iowa.

Art History courses must be approved by the head of the art history department prior to departure if they are intended to fulfill requirements.


The University of Iowa administers a large number of study abroad programs, and programs offered by other US colleges and universities are also available to UI students. The School of Art and Art History has worked closely with Study Abroad to select programs that fit art and art history majors particularly well. All areas of emphasis within the art and art history majors include options for study abroad. Consider your area of emphasis, your career interests, and your academic goals. Use these webpages and links, talk with your major adviser, and work with an adviser at the Study Abroad office and you will find a program that fits your needs.

The programs listed below were chosen because they offer a diverse representation of issues in art and art history, unique cultural experiences, or specialized internship options. While we suggest you look at these highlighted programs first, feel free to browse the Study Abroad website, explore an online directory of study abroad programs, and consult materials in the Study Abroad Resource Room.

Students at the Tate Modern

The specific programs recommended below may change, so check with your major advisor and Study Abroad for the latest updates.


Non-UI: IFSA Butler - National University of Cuyo

As a part of this program, students live with a host family and take intensive language and culture classes. The National University of Cuyo is well known for its Fine Arts programs, which include classes in ceramics, dance, drama/theater, and studio art. Students interested in this program should have completed four semesters of university-level Spanish. Visit the IFSA Butler website for more information.


Non-UI: CIEE Salvador da Bahia

This program is designed for students who have had two years of college-level Spanish or one year of college-level Portuguese.  A broad range of Liberal Arts courses are offered, including Art and Art History.  The program begins with a four week intensive language course. Students spend the duration of the program with homestay families. For more information, visit the CIEE program homepage.


Non-UI: Institute for American Universities, Aix

The IAU Aix program has many of options for students interested in Art or Art History. For example, the Marchutz School is an interdisciplinary approach to the teaching of art that combines readings in literature and philosophy with studio work.  Other courses include Digital Photography, “The Tragic Vision,” Modern Art, Cezanne and Van Gogh, Impressionism, Western Art Survey, Ceramics, Studio Art, Painting & Drawing, and Ancient Mediterranean Art and Culture.

For more information on the classes available at Aix, visit the IAU webpage or check out additional information about the Marchutz School.

Non-UI: Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art

The Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art (PSCA) has been in operation for 11 years. It averages 35-40 students in the summer, and 20-30 during each semester. PSCA offers semester-long BFA and BA programs as well as summer sessions. PSCA considers their courses to be similar to junior and senior-level courses in the US. Areas of study include Painting, Drawing, Experimental Works on Paper, Sculpture/Installation/Site work, Conceptual Art, Art History/Contemporary Issues, and French language. For more information, visit the PSCA website.

Non-UI: IES Paris

The IES Paris program is offered in the fall semester or for the academic year.  Two years of college-level French is a prerequisite, and instruction at IES Paris is in French.  There are several Art and Art History courses offered, including, Drawing for Beginners, Paris Museums, History of French Art, Modern Art, French Architecture, Art in Francophone Africa, Islamic Art.  There are also classes on Cinema, Theater, Opera, and Aesthetics. Visit the IES Paris website for more information.


International Development Program: India

Study the History of Art, Drama, Dance, Print-making, Textiles, and Therapy of South India, Tamil Nadu! This UI sponsored program is offered over winter break and gives students with tight schedules the opportunity to pursue their education abroad. Instruction is in English, taught by UI faculty.


Iowa Regent's Semester in Ireland

University College Cork's (UCC) History of Art Department was started in 2001 and has quickly developed into an interesting and vibrant program, thanks in part to Cork's exciting artistic community, which includes the Crawford Art Gallery, the Triskel Arts Centre, and the National Sculpture Factory.  For information on specific courses, visit UCC's History of Art website.


For UI Credit: Studio Art Centers International (SACI) in Florence

SACI was started in 1975, and is now a US non-profit educational institution.  It is accredited through NASAD and is affiliated with Bowling Green University, and it has a good record of enabling students to gain credit toward their major . SACI is housed in several buildings in Florence, including an air-conditioned palazzo with a gallery, library, studios, and a conservation lab. Other facilities include a design center, craft center, and fresco studio. SACI offers semester and year-long programs, as well as a post-BA program.  Courses are organized by subject/media:

  • Two-Dimensional (drawing, painting, printmaking)
  • Three-Dimensional (ceramics, sculpture)
  • Media Area (animation, digital multimedia, photography, video)
  • Design Area (graphic design, illustration, interior design, environmental design, design workshop)
  • Art History (including museology)
  • Art Conservation
  • Italian Studies
  • Italian Language
  • Writing
  • Crafts (batik, jewelry, weaving, book arts)

For more info on these areas and on specific courses, visit the SACI website.

Non-UI: Lorenzo de Medici

Since its formation in 1973, the Scuola Lorenzo de Medici has expanded to become Italy's leading study abroad institution, with centers in Florence, Tuscania, and Rome. Students may enroll in the Lorenzo de Medici program. Many classes are taught in English and include courses in art history, history of architecture, film and multimedia production, graphic arts, jewelry, painting, drawing, mixed media, photograph, printmaking, restoration, sculpture and ceramics.

Non-UI: John Cabot University

Located in the heart of the Eternal City, in the beautiful compound of the Italian National Academy of Sciences, John Cabot combines the best qualities of American liberal arts education, with the history and rich cultural heritage of Rome. Classes are taught in English and there are a wide variety of courses offered in both art history and studio art.

Non-UI: American University in Rome

The American University in Rome seeks to offer students quality education and to promote cross-cultural exchange. Courses in everything from painting to web design to Baroque architecture are available, and all instruction is in English. Additionally, the American University in Rome has an active Internship program, so students may be able to gain work experience while also fulfilling degree requirements. Summer sessions are also available.


Non-UI: Korea Exchange Ewha Womans University

At Ewha, international students are required to take between 9 and 18 credit hours. At the School of Fine Arts, classes are taught about Korean Painting, Ceramics, Fiver Arts, Painting, and Sculpture. There is also a school of Design and a Department of Clothing and Textiles. Intensive language courses are also offered, and there is a directed independent study option. For more information, visit Ewha's homepage.


CIEE Barcelona

Designed for juniors or seniors with four semesters of college-level Spanish, students take a required CIEE intensive language class, and can then choose from courses concerning the theory of art, modern art, primitive art, Greek art, and contemporary art, among others.

United Kingdom

Non-UI: Semester at Queen's University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast's History of Art Department offers a variety of interesting classes, including Irish Art and Modernism, "From Vellum to Video," and Women and Visual Culture. For more information, visit the QUB Art website.

Iowa Regents Semester in Scotland

At the University of Edinburgh, the History of Art Department offers 5-year MFA and MA degrees that combine theoretical, historical, and studio work.  UI students may participate in these classes, and options may be available for work placement and portfolio development.