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Undergraduate Program

fine arts

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Undergraduate Program Description

The department offers three majors: Art History, Film Studies, and Studio Art. Minors are offered in each area as well. Internships are available in local museums and galleries. For details, inquire at the Fine Arts Department office.

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Major Requirements: Art History

The Art History major offers undergraduate students an opportunity to acquire specialized knowledge and understanding of visual arts from prehistory to the present day, from Western and non-Western cultures. As a humanistic discipline, the history of art closely relates the analysis of visual culture to other modes of intellectual inquiry; accordingly, art history students and faculty frequently participate in interdisciplinary programs across the university. Contributing to the broad foundation that constitutes a liberal arts education, departmental courses prepare students for graduate work leading to professional careers in the arts, including teaching and research, art criticism, museum curatorship, art conservation, museum directorship, and art appraising. They also prepare the student to hold positions in commercial galleries and auction houses. The skill sets developed in art historical studies, however, do not apply exclusively to the analysis of works of art. The ability to evaluate material evidence, to study the cultural contexts in which it was discovered, to assess critically the various interpretations works of art have elicited, and to fashion clear and persuasive arguments in kind, are valuable in any program of study or professional situation. In a world increasingly dominated by images, visual literacy is as indispensable to navigating one’s every day environment as it is to analyzing products of high culture. To tailor departmental offerings to suit their specific needs, students majoring in art history plan integrated programs in consultation with their faculty advisors, and are encouraged to take courses in history, philosophy, theology, and other fields related to their specialization. For those contemplating graduate study in art history, it is highly recommended that language courses in French and German be taken as early as possible. For the Art History major a minimum of 11 courses (33 credits) must be completed in the following way:

  • ARTH1101–ARTH1102 Introduction to Art History (six credits)
  • ARTH1103 or ARTH1104 Art History Workshop (three credits)

    These three courses should normally be completed by the end of the sophomore year.

  • Eight additional courses, mindful that at least three must have ARTH numbers at or above the 3000 level, at least one at the ARTH4000 level (in addition to ARTH4401), and no more than three at the ARTH2000 level. At least one course must be chosen from each of the following periods: 
    • Ancient Art
    • Medieval Art
    • Renaissance through Eighteenth Century Art
    • Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Art
    • Non-Western Art

ARTH4401 Seminar in Art Historical Research (three credits) is required and must be taken during the Junior or Senior year. This course is counted as one of the required eight courses discussed above. Please note: ARTH4401 is offered only in the Fall semester of each year.

Students having earned a score of five on their AP exam may have the option of waiving the ARTH1101 and ARTH1102 requirement, although the same overall number of courses (11) for the major remains unchanged. Students having earned a score of four may waive either ARTH1101 or ARTH1102, but not both.

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Major Requirements: Film Studies

The Film Studies major applies the liberal arts tradition to the present-day culture of images and technologies. Courses in film history, theory, and criticism enable students to become active, selective, and ethical participants in a world progressively more dominated by the media of visual communication.

Research-based studies in American and world cinema explore the mutual influence of the films and their respective diverse cultures and historic periods. Familiarity with several great films and filmmakers provides a basis for understanding the relationship between contemporary artists and industrial society. Each student will have an opportunity to apply this theoretical knowledge to the experience of film making and exhibition both through programs in scripting, photography, production, and digital editing and through an extensive internship program in the Boston area.

Students are encouraged to widen and deepen their understanding of the medium through additional courses in Art History, Studio Art, Theater, and Communication. While this Film Studies major provides a solid foundation for further studies and professional involvement in the industry, it also offers the liberal arts student a broad-based preparation for other career options.

The Film Studies major requires 12 courses (36 credits), four of which must be above the 3000 level. These must be distributed as follows:

  • Introduction to Film Art
  • At least two American Film History courses. Courses in excess of two may be counted as electives.
  • At least two production courses (Film Making, Photography, Digital Editing). Courses in excess of two may be counted as electives.
  • Six electives, at least two of which must be at the 3000 or 4000 level
  • Senior Project: A film, or film script, historical or critical essay. An advisor will determine if the student is prepared to undertake the specific project and will direct its completion.

Since film is a humanistic discipline, students are also encouraged to take supplementary courses in history, political science, literature, music, and theater. In general, a rich liberal arts curriculum will supplement a student's technical training in production and provide a fertile ground for fresh narrative ideas.

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Major Requirements: Studio Art

The Studio Art major provides students with an opportunity to participate in the shaping of their education. At the basis of this program of study is a dependence on the students' own perceptions, decisions, and reactions. Courses are available in many media and all involve direct experience in creative activity. Studio courses aim at developing the techniques and visual sensibility necessary for working with various materials. An understanding and exploration of the meanings and ideas generated by the things we make, and an awareness of the satisfaction inherent in the process of the making are integral parts of the program.

The Studio Art major is designed both for the student artist and the student interested in art. It teaches how to make art and an appreciation of how art is made. The department courses are conceived as an integral part of the liberal arts curriculum, and the studio major provides a solid basis for continuing work in graduate school and in art-related fields such as teaching, design, architecture, art therapy, conservation, publishing, or exhibition design. Students intending to major in Studio Art are encouraged to begin the major in their freshman year. They are required to take a minimum of 12 courses for a total of 36 credits, to be distributed as indicated below. The program is to be worked out in consultation with the department advisor.

The Studio Art Major has a track for Arts and Sciences students and a second track for Lynch School of Education students who are double majors.

Studio Art Majors are required to take a minimum of 12 courses for a total of 36 credits, to be distributed as indicated below. (The program is to be worked out in consultation with the department advisor.)

Required Courses:

  • ARTS1103 Issues and Approaches to Studio Art (3 credits)
  • Choose two of the following four courses (6 credits) 
    • ARTS1101 Drawing 1
    • ARTS1102 Painting 1
    • ARTS1141 Ceramics
    • ARTS1161 Photography 1

(In consultation with an advisor, one of these choices should set the direction and future course of the major.)

  • ARTH3356 Art since 1945 (3 credits) or ARTS2211 Hot Off the Shelf (3 credits)
  • Six additional courses with ARTS numbers over 1000 (18 credits). These must include at least two 2000-level and two 3000-level courses.
  • Two semesters of the senior project (ARTS4498) (6 credits)

Students must have taken at least four semesters of work relating to his/her senior project prior to his/her senior year.

In addition to the required courses, the following Studio Art and Art History courses are recommended:

ARTH1101 Art from Prehistoric Times to the High Middle Ages
ARTH1102 Art from the Renaissance to Modern Times
ARTH1109 Clues to Seeing
ARTH2257 Nineteenth Century Art
ARTH2258 Twentieth Century Art
ARTH2285 History of Photography
ARTH3356 Art Since 1945

Summer travel and summer courses are recommended for enrichment. Consult the department advisor.

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Art History Minor

The minor in Art History provides the student with an introduction to the art of the Western world. In addition to the two introductory courses, ARTH1101 and ARTH1102, the student will have a choice of no more than two 2000-level courses and at least two 3000-level courses, for a total of four upper-level courses covering specific art-historical periods. In these courses, the student will be exposed to the methods of the discipline and will complete a research paper.

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Studio Art Minor

The minor in Studio Art offers the students the opportunity to pursue a course of study in ceramics, painting, drawing, or photography. This curriculum of six courses is designed to encourage an in-depth investigation of one medium, rather than a generalized sampling of many. Students who are interested in declaring a minor can contact Professor Michael Mulhern by e-mail at or by calling 617-552-4296.

The minor is comprised of six (6) classes to be selected as follows:

  • Required introductory course for all Studio Minors: ARTS1103 Approaches and Issues to Studio Art (3 credits)
  • One introductory level class to be selected from the following: (3 credits)
    ARTS1101 Drawing 1
    ARTS1102 Painting 1
    ARTS1141 Ceramics 1
    ARTS1161 Photography 1
  • The concentration of classes that follow must be related to (only) one of the above listed areas and must be selected as follows:
    Two classes at the 1000 level or above (6 credits)
    One class at the 3000 level (3 credits)
    ARTS3328 Senior Minor Project (In this class students will be expected to complete a significant thesis project.)

If a student takes Painting I and Photography I as his/her introductory classes, he/she must select the additional three classes from either painting or photography, but not both, e.g., three painting or three photography classes. If a student wishes to pursue a discipline that he/she has not taken an introductory course in, he/she must take that introductory course as an elective before taking additional classes in that discipline.

Additional requirements:

  • No more than one independent study in your field of concentration.
  • Courses to be counted in the minor must be taken for a grade (no pass/fail).
  • It is suggested that if students wish to strengthen their minor by taking electives, they should add additional classes from the offerings in their chosen area of specialty. The department also encourages students to take:
    ARTH3356 Art Since 1945
    ARTH2258 Twentieth Century Art
    ARTH2285 History of Photography

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Film Studies Minor

The Film Studies Minor is intended to give students an introduction to the basic elements of film production, history and criticism. Requirements normally include FILM2202 Introduction to Film Art, then one production course, and one course in history or criticism. A selection of three additional courses as electives from the offerings of the film studies program allows the student to pursue individual interests and develop a level of competence in one particular area, such as production, history, or criticism.

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Information for First Year Majors

First Year Art History majors should take ARTH1101 Art from Prehistoric Times to the High Middle Ages with ARTH1103 Art History Workshop. First Year Studio Art majors are advised to select two studio courses from ARTS1101, ARTS1102, or ARTS1161 and one art history course from ARTH1102, ARTH2257, ARTH2258, or ARTH2285. First year Film Studies majors should take FILM2202 Introduction to Film, a required foundation course to ground the student in film language, history, and criticism.

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Information for Study Abroad

Art History

Students normally come to an Art History major in sophomore or even junior year.  In order to complete the course work for the major, students wishing to study abroad should plan carefully to include art history courses in approved foreign programs.

The department believes strongly that the study of art history in a location where there are first-class museums and programs can greatly enhance the student's understanding of the works of art in context. We will try to accommodate most worthwhile programs and make suggestions for the most effective ones based on former students' past experiences.

Since our department would like to offer its own stamp on the Art History major, the Art History faculty prefers that the student take no more than three major courses abroad, which, with department permission, may be used as major electives. In any case, students should plan on being in residence at BC fall semester of senior year to take the required senior seminar ARTH4401 which is crucial to the major.

Associate Professor Kenneth Craig is the Art History Study Abroad Advisor and the department contact for course approval.

Film Studies

Although there are no prerequisites, students are encouraged to take the Introduction to Film Art (FILM2202) and/or History of European Film (FILM2283) to serve as a strong foundation for film studies, prior to going abroad.

Normally, the student should take up to two film studies courses abroad. With the approval of the co-directors, the student may take other courses where there are solid, established programs, e.g., Paris. These courses should ideally be taken in junior year, since the student should complete the Senior Project under the close supervision of the advisor within the Department. There are no restrictions on the term that a student may study abroad.

Often courses taken abroad are used as major electives. On occasion, parallel courses offered abroad might substitute for the required courses if the syllabi are close in content and approach.

Programs in France, Spain, Italy, England, Scotland, and Australia have been the most successful.

Professor John Michalczyk is the department Study Abroad Advisor and the department contact for course approval.

The faculty strongly approve of the study of foreign film and make every effort to allow students to select their own area of interest in world cinema. The film studies offerings abroad in general are often limited to three or four courses during any one term. Prior to enrolling in courses abroad, it is required that the student obtain approval for the courses and have several options in case a specific course is not offered during the term(s) abroad.

Studio Art

The Department believes strongly that study abroad is worthwhile, exposing students to other cultures, traditions and forms of artistic expression. At the same time it cautions studio majors to consider their growth and development in the major and to integrate study abroad with their chosen area of concentration in consultation with their department advisor. Students should have the following courses completed prior to studying abroad:

  • Two courses (six credits) of the following:
    ARTS1141 Ceramics I
    ARTS1101 Drawing I
    ARTS1102 Painting I
    ARTS1161 Photography I
    ARTS1103 Approaches and Issues to Studio Art
  • Selection of four courses in your area of concentration
  • Up to two of the seven electives that are required for the Arts and Sciences Studio major may be taken abroad.

There are no restrictions on courses taken abroad, but it is recommended that they are used to fulfill major electives or to develop the student's area of concentration. Students are encouraged to study abroad but studies should be limited to one semester. It is strongly advised that students speak to their faculty advisor about possible ideas for their Senior Project before going abroad. The department recommends programs in Italy, England, and photography programs in Prague and Paris.

Assistant Chairperson, Andrew Tavarelli, is the department Study Abroad Advisor and the department contact for course approval.

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Studio Courses for Non-Majors

Students majoring in other disciplines, and those who are undecided about their majors, are always welcome in studio courses. The diversity of background and uniqueness of vision they bring to courses enlivens and renews the ever expanding language of the visual arts. Studio courses offer students at Boston College a unique opportunity to learn the skills and disciplines that will enable them to make works of art which most exactly and clearly express their thoughts and feelings about the world. The sequences of studio courses are intended to help non-majors concentrate their vision and give the breadth and depth of experience necessary for future achievement.

Students should speak to the instructor to determine where they should begin in this sequence. Studio majors should work out the sequence of their courses in consultation with their department advisor.

Studio courses carry a lab fee. The lab fee is used by the University to help defray the costs of supplies, props, models, and other studio related expenses. Studios are open most nights and on Sundays for student use.

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