Students in SPU’s Art History and Visual Studies (AHVS) program learn about art objects from all over the world, spanning time periods from prehistory until today. In the process, they gain familiarity with a wide range of visual styles, genres and media. But SPU’s AHVS program is not only about the facts. It also asks big questions: How do visual environments establish or reinforce social hierarchies and values? How does art history reveal shifting standards of beauty and perfection? How is art connected to religion and spirituality? And how does art psychologically impact both makers and viewers? Graduates of SPU’s AHVS program have gone on to be museum curators, arts administrators, professors, art gallery directors and even professional artists. They have also excelled in related fields like K-12 education, psychology, design, library science, cultural studies and arts ministry.

Who the program is for

Students in SPU’s Art History and Visual Studies program are culturally curious and open-minded. They want to understand how people from all times and places have expressed their deepest values and highest ideals. Often, AHVS students use the culturally literacy they develop to travel – both domestically and abroad – with confidence. With its focus on big, universal questions, SPU’s AHVS program is uniquely equipped to develop empathy and cultural savvy among its graduates.

Our advantage

Our location in Seattle, at a crossroads of cultures, helps students practice this empathy and savvy right where they are. Alumni/ae of SPU’s AHVS program exhibit a cultural and emotional literacy that helps them adapt to a variety of environments and workplaces after graduation. They also become sophisticated navigators of today’s challenging mass-media environment.

olympic sculpture park in Seattle

Art History and Visual Studies (BA)

The program has a modern and contemporary focus, and encourages hands-on engagement with mounting, curating, and reviewing gallery shows.

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