Art and Art History Major

Major in Art and Art History

As an art and art history major, you will investigate the arts through the dual lenses of studio art and art history. Your studies will combine academic research, creative practice, craft-based skills and techniques, as well as communal and experiential learning.

You will learn to sharpen your critical-thinking abilities, master a wide-range of artmaking skills and techniques, and embody an in-depth understanding of the historical and contemporary artworld. After taking a broad range of foundational studio art and art history courses, you will tailor your degrees by selecting a concentration track in either studio arts or art history.

The art and art history program establishes the intrinsic connection between the art historian and the practicing studio artist. The program seeks to graduate well-rounded citizen artists and historians, who have a keen understanding of both the art world and the larger contextual society in which it operates. The program emphasizes a post-structuralist, multi-channeled approach to exploring all aspects of the historical and contemporary art world, and champions research, creativity, innovation, sustainable and ethical practices, and collaboration and community.

Through small class sizes that guarantee in-depth, personal mentorship from the Art and Art History faculty, and a curriculum designed to allow specialization, you will be able to tailor your major to your specific interests, taking advantage of directed studies, art-focused study abroad programs, and professional internships in regional art galleries and museums.

What You’ll Learn

  • Have a deep understanding of the breadth and complexity of the history of the field of art, and understand how the arts have been, and continue to be, a driving influencer on human history, society, and the economy.
  • Understand and grapple with the intensely personal nature of creative practice and analysis of artistic culture.
  • Possess the practical skills and experience to conceive, craft, and create well-constructed artworks, academic essays, and theses.
  • Gain the knowledge and skillset to effectively establish, develop, and sustain a professional creative practice.
  • Understand how to implement the creative process (generative thinking, iterative thinking, brainstorming, mind mapping etc.) within their own artworks, research, writing, and individualized professional goals.
  • Possess the knowledge and experience to analyze and interpret, through both verbal and written assessment, the formal and theoretical elements of art, art history, design, art theory, and the art world at large.

Hands-On Learning

Art and art history majors have access to a variety of learning opportunities beyond the classroom:

  • The Merrimack Film Club helps students deepen their understanding of cinematic history and innovation, and broaden their intellectual and creative horizons.
  • The McCoy Gallery, which serves as an on-campus showcase for professional artists practicing in a wide range of styles, enables students to engage with professional-quality work and offers student internships in art research, curation and gallery management.
  • The Thagaste Gallery showcases artwork created by students, faculty and community artists, and offers internships for students.
  • The Art Warriors, a student-run organization, is designed to help students experience and create art in a creative environment outside of the classroom.
  • The Media Center offers a supportive environment where students can collaborate, explore creative ideas and become visually literate developers and users of new media.

Career Options

Careers in the arts can lead you to work in museums, theatre/music/dance companies, think tanks, galleries, non-profit foundations, cultural organizations, grantmakers, festivals, arts councils and centers. An internship is highly recommended. By working with the O’Brien Center Career Development you can secure an on- or off-campus internship in the arts. Upon successful completion of the art and art history program, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the arts and you’ll be positioned to succeed in a variety of careers, including:

  • Critic
  • Arts manager or coordinator
  • Program consultant
  • Museum and/or gallery positions
  • Teacher of the arts

In addition, you’ll have the background necessary to pursue graduate studies in art history, studio arts or arts administration.

Courses You’ll Take

Art and Art History Major Curriculum

Art and Art History Major Requirements

General Education Requirements

In addition to the major requirements below, you will also need to complete Merrimack’s general education requirements. To see more details about the major, please visit