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Best Online Degrees in: History of Art

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Editor's Picks: Online Schools for History of Art

The award for most valuable school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history goes to Arizona State University. According to, the average return on investment for Arizona graduates is 8.2%, and if the fact that 69% of Arizona students are receiving financial aid is factored into the equation, the return on investment increases to 10.1%. For their money, students receive a high-quality education from an accredited institution and have access to the school's career services, which can benefit their professional lives beyond graduation.

Arizona State University is receiving the award for best flexibility in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history. Their online courses are taken through seven-and-a-half week sessions, and students are able to choose the number of credits they want to earn during each session. Students are also able to study and complete assignments anytime and anywhere through the university's mobile apps.

Career Support
Arizona State University is receiving the award for best career support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history. Arizona's Career Services is available for online students year-round. They offer assistance and provide programs to help students and alumni write their resumes, search for a job, and hone their interview skills. Students can also chat with career advisors through Ask a Career Advisor, and they can search for open positions, recruitment events, workshops, and job fairs through Sun Devil Career Link.

Financial Support
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania is receiving the award for best financial support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 95% of the students attending Mansfield are receiving some type of financial aid. The university's Financial Aid Office will work with students to help them receive the maximum amount of financial support available to them through grants, scholarships, and loans.

Technology Support
The award for best technology support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history goes to Arizona State University. If students encounter problems or have questions, they can contact tech support via phone, email, and chat. To save their students some money, the university provides access to hundreds of software programs for free, including Adobe and Microsoft Office.

Student Engagement
The award for best student engagement in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history goes to Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. Instructors make themselves readily available to their students and encourage interaction in the virtual classroom. Students are also engaged through features such as WebAdvisor, My Mansfield, Mounties Mail, and social networking on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Disability Support
The award for best disability support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history goes to Arizona State University. The Disability Resource Center will work with each student needing disability support and work to accommodate their needs. For students who are able to travel to the campus, they provide an Assistive Technology Summer Boot Camp to help students learn how to use the variety of assistive technology being used by the university, including JAWS, MAGic, Inspiration, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and Kurzwell 3000.

Library and Research Support
Arizona State University is being given the award for best library and research support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history. Their virtual library features a large number of ebooks, journals, and other resources, as well as guides to help navigate through the library's catalogs. Students can also consult with a librarian 24/7 through email and chat, and over the phone during office hours. Separate phone numbers are provided for specific people and areas of interest, such as government documents and law. Students also have access to free online tutoring and research assistance.

Learning Support
The award for the best learning support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history goes to Arizona State University. They are one of the first schools to partner their online programs with Google, allowing students to access their class assignments through Google's calendar. They also incorporate multimedia in their virtual classrooms, allow students to access their classroom through their mobile apps, provide free online tutoring, and have academic advisors who can offer assistance to online students at any time. Arizona has been ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report for student services and technology.

Faculty Credentials
Arizona State University is receiving the award for best faculty credentials in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history. Arizona ensures each of their faculty members are qualified to teach in an online environment, and they regularly perform assessments of their faculty and evaluate their performance, making sure they are maintaining the high standards of the university. They also provide programs, resources, and services, which allow faculty members to continue learning and improving.

Alumni Engagement
The award for the best alumni engagement in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history goes to Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. The school's alumni association features numerous groups, holds regular events, and allows alumni interaction and networking through their online community. They also offer career services, travel programs, scholarships, and numerous benefits for their alumni.

Prior Learning Options
The award for best prior learning options in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history goes to Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. In addition to transferring eligible traditional college credits, they accept credits from advanced placement high school classes, as well as credits from secondary schools around the world through their International Baccalaureate program. Students can also earn credits through the College Level Examination Program as well as their military training.

New Online Student Orientation
Arizona State University wins the award for best new student orientation in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in art history. They provide videos that walk students through their virtual learning environment, teaching them about the tools and resources that are available to them. There are also videos that walk students through registration, academic advising, setting up a student email account, preparing for class, and interacting in the online community.

Explore a Bachelor's Degree in History of Art

History of art exposes students to the numerous ways that people throughout history have expressed their ideas, emotions, experience, and aesthetic sensibilities in various art forms, from crude drawings in caves to the expert work of Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Art history programs tend to emphasize the traditional art forms, such as paintings, sculpture, and architecture, but also encompass more modern incarnations, such as film, photography, and graphic design. Students not only learn about significant artists and artistic styles through different time periods, but also learn how society, politics, and religion during those time periods influenced the art of the time.

History of art is a good fit for creative individuals who are interested in careers that emphasize visual communication and an extensive breadth of cultural knowledge. Most online bachelor's degree programs in art history are designed to be completed in four years of full-time work, if they closely follow the semester format of traditional colleges and universities. Some accelerated programs may allow students to complete their degree program more quickly, and tend to utilize terms or modules, rather than semesters. Program length may also be impacted by the number of prior credits a student transfers into the program.

Class Curriculum

Students in an online history of art program take a broad range of courses in western art and architecture, but may also take courses that survey Asian, African, and South American art. Elective courses may survey art from certain populations, such as African American or Native American art. In addition, students take general education courses for a well-rounded liberal arts education, including college writing, mathematics, the social and behavioral sciences, the physical and biological sciences, humanities, and computer literacy/computer science. Students may take the following core courses:

  • Ancient and Medieval Art and Architecture. In this course, students survey the major works of art and architecture in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. From the astounding Egyptian pyramids to the breathtaking cathedrals of Medieval Europe, students will be exposed to the most significant works of art and architecture from these eras.
  • Contemporary Art. This course surveys the biggest developments in the art world starting in the late 20th century onward, including the shift from Modernism to Post-Modernism and the contemporary themes that have inspired much recent art. The course emphasizes recent trends and movements in contemporary art, architecture, and design.
  • Film History. In this course, students survey the most noteworthy films since film stepped on the scene as an art form. This course often emphasizes theory and analysis of classic Hollywood film and American filmmaking, but may also touch on world film history, including historical perspectives from Europe and Japan.

Even though the lion's share of the content of art history programs is delivered online, students are frequently asked to visit local art museums and galleries to take in classic and contemporary art and write commentary on exhibits, which may entail a significant amount of travel for those who live in small towns or remote areas. Writing assignments are common in an art history degree program, and students are asked to write in depth about the themes the artist may have been intending to bring across in various works of art and architecture. Finally, students may be required or encouraged to complete an internship at an approved art museum or gallery where students assist department staff with preparation for exhibits, write public relations/marketing material, and participate in community outreach and community education initiatives, among other assigned tasks.

Building a Career

Some of the most relevant careers for those with an appropriate background in art history include, museum or gallery curators, museum technicians and registrars, art dealers, arts administrators, art appraisers, and historic preservation consultants. Some careers, however, such as college art history professors, curators and museum directors for large museums, and conservators, will require a graduate degree, not merely a bachelor's degree, and relevant experience.

Since a master's degree is preferred for many of the most desirable careers in art, many art history majors who are not interested in pursuing graduate study end up entering careers unrelated to art, such as journalism, marketing, or business professions, where their broad cultural knowledge and advanced written and oral communication skills may be put to use. Those who do wish to pursue art-related careers will find that an online bachelor's degree in art history can provide a great foundation for future graduate study.

The median yearly salary for curators was $48,450, although curators working for the federal government commanded significantly higher salaries at $75,600, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salary for museum technicians and conservators was $37,310, with those working for the federal government earning $38,790, the BLS noted. Projected employment growth of about 16% is expected for curators, museum technicians, and conservators, and those entering the profession can expect heavy competition, particularly for the more prestigious and higher-paying positions. Salaries vary depending on number of factors, including a person's experience, level of education, the size of their employer, and the complexity of their responsibilities.