History of Art and Visual Culture

Area of Focus
  • Arts & Media
  • Behavioral & Social Sciences
Degrees Offered
  • B.A.
  • Ph.D.
  • Undergraduate Minor
Academic Division
  • Arts
  • History of Art and Visual Culture

Program Overview

In the History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC) Department, students study the production, use, form, and reception of visual products and cultural manifestations past and present. Objects of study include paintings, sculptures, and architecture, which are within the traditional purview of art history, as well as art and non-art objects and visual expressions that sit beyond disciplinary boundaries. The HAVC Department offers courses covering a wide variety of material from the cultures of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific Islands, including media as diverse as ritual, performative expression, bodily adornment, landscape, the built environment, installation art, textiles, manuscripts, books, photography, film, video games, apps, websites, and data visualizations.

Mural on campus showing a phoenix embracing the Earth

Learning Experience

HAVC students at UCSC investigate complex questions concerning the social, political, economic, religious, and psychological impact of images from the perspective of their producers, users, and viewers. Visual objects play a central role in the formation of values and beliefs, including the perception of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, and class. Through attentive historical study and close analysis, students are taught to recognize and assess these systems of value, and are introduced to theoretical and methodological frameworks for future research.

Study and Research Opportunities

  • B.A. in History of Art and Visual Culture
  • Concentration in Curation, Heritage, and Museums
  • Undergraduate Minor in History of Art and Visual Culture
  • Ph.D. in Visual Studies
  • The UCSC Global Learning Program provides undergraduate students with many opportunities to study university-level academic programs abroad

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

Students planning to major in HAVC need no specific preparation beyond the courses required for UC admission. Writing skills, however, are particularly useful to HAVC majors. Please note that AP courses are not applicable to the HAVC requirements.

All students considering a major or minor are encouraged to complete lower-division courses early in their studies and consult with the HAVC undergraduate advisor to develop a plan of study. To declare the major, students must complete two HAVC courses, each from a different geographic region. Students are eligible to declare the HAVC minor any time after declaring a major.

male student working on a laptop in mchenry

Transfer Requirements

This is a non-screening major. Transfer students will find it helpful to satisfy campus general education requirements before coming to UCSC, and should consider completing the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC). As preparation, transfer students are encouraged to fulfill some of the lower-division HAVC requirements prior to transfer. Refer to the assist.org articulation agreements (between UCSC and California community colleges) for approved lower-division courses. A student may transfer up to three lower-division and two upper-division art history courses toward the major. Upper-division transfer credit and lower-division courses not included in assist.org are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


Campus Masked Student

Internships and Career Opportunities

The preparation students receive from the B.A. degree in History of Art and Visual Culture provides skills that can lead to successful careers in law, business, education, and social services, in addition to a more specific focus on museum curating, art restoration, studies in architecture, and studies in art history leading to a graduate degree. Many HAVC students have gone on to careers in the following fields (these are only samples of the many possibilities):

  • Architecture
  • Art book publishing
  • Art criticism
  • Art history
  • Art law
  • Art restoration
  • Arts administration
  • Auction management
  • Curatorial work
  • Exhibition design
  • Freelance writing
  • Gallery management
  • Historic preservation
  • Interior design
  • Museum education
  • Museum exhibition installation
  • Publishing
  • Teaching and research
  • Visual resource librarian



apartment D-201 Porter College
email havc@ucsc.edu
phone (831) 459-4564 

Similar Programs
  • Art History