BA Art Studies

The Corcoran College of Art and Design's Bachelor of Arts in Art Studies is designed for the student who wants to engage deeply with art history, contemporary topics in the humanities, cultural criticism, and media theory while, at the same time, pursuing a rich and varied exposure to studio art-making practice.

Well-grounded in its consideration of historical and theoretical issues, this four-year, 120-credit program offers students hands-on experience in art-making along with the development of a personal stance on the place of the arts in modern society. Starting early in the program, students participate in seminar classes in art history, theory, critical and creative writing, curatorial studies, and museum practices as well as in a general humanities education. The students' experience culminates in a detailed senior thesis on a topic in the arts, supported by workshop groups in designing research and the development of an individual critical stance.

Bachelor of Arts in Art Studies students also work closely with the Corcoran's renowned studio faculty and with the Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates in the studio programs. The Corcoran Gallery's permanent collection, exhibitions, and public programs are open to them as are the Corcoran Library and Visiting Artists Program.

The program engages all aspects of visual culture in the contemporary world, including traditional fine art, new media, social intervention, and popular and commercial art and design. It also welcomes and supports students who want to develop as writers and researchers, maintain their connection to studio practice, propose creative and original projects in the study of the arts, and design their own program of study.


The curriculum of the Bachelor of Arts in Art Studies program is flexible and based on each student's interests and goals.

The curriculum of the Bachelor of Arts in Art Studies Program is flexible and based on each student's interests and goals.

Year 1 Courses

Art History I & II
Writing I & II
First-year Studio

Year 2, 3, and 4 Courses

Twentieth-century Art
Contemporary Culture
Humanities I & II
Criticism & Theory Electives
Academic Concentration Electives
Arts & Humanities Electives
Senior Thesis Workshop
Senior Thesis Directed Study
TOTAL: 120 credits

Sample Elective Courses

From Baudelaire to Blog: Writing About Art
Art as Social Practice
Poetics Off the Page
Cultural Resources of Washington, D.C.
The Dream Screen
Body and/as Image
Medieval Legends in Art
Contemporary Asian Art and Culture
John Cage and Company
Theories of Art
Psychology of Creativity
The Uncanny in Literature, Film, and Art
Sex in American Cinema
Creative Writing
The Corcoran Collection in Context
American Art


Seniors in the Bachelor of Arts in Art Studies program develop theses in close contact with their peers and with the critics, writers, and art historians on faculty in the Department of Arts and Humanities, thus benefiting from exposure to a wide range of critical perspectives and areas of expertise. Students may also apply to invite Corcoran Gallery curatorial staff to their thesis committees.
The fundamental objective of the senior thesis is the extended critical analysis of a well-defined subject in the arts. Candidates also have the option of proposing a creative writing thesis project—such as a manuscript in poetry or fiction—or one that engages with new, non-print media that explores issues in the arts, supplemented by a critical essay. Corcoran Bachelor of Arts graduates have pursued theses on modern art movements, contemporary political art projects, curatorial practice, museum policy studies, film and television, and modern and classic children's illustrated books.

Careers and Internships

The Bachelor of Arts in Art Studies degree can lead to careers in the humanities, writing, arts management, and museums as well as prepare students for further studies at the graduate level. Students in the program have interned in several important museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Phillips Collection as well as several non-governmental organizations.

Art Studies Faculty

Tom Beck
Adjunct Instructor

Mark Cameron Boyd
Adjunct Professor of Art Theory

Candace Edgerley
Adjunct Instructor

Gillian Elliott

Susan Fox

Andy Grundberg
Professor, Dean, Associate Provost

Barbara Januszkiewicz
Watercolor at MPA

Katherine Knight
Part-Time Undergraduate Faculty

Tamara Laird
Associate faculty

Jung-Sil Lee
Adjunct Faculty

Lisa Lipinski
Chair of Arts and Humanities

Antonio McAfee
Adjunct Instructor

Laura McGough
Adjunct Faculty

Dr. Stephen Petersen

Camden M. Richards
Adjunct Faculty

Casey Smith
Assistant Professor

Bernard Welt

Department Life

As members of the Arts and Humanities Department, Bachelor of Arts in Art Studies students are part of a community of scholars that values the richness of the humanities and fosters the study of art in all its manifestations. A unique concentration of world-class museums and galleries, research facilities (including the Library of Congress and the National Gallery Library), theaters, film programs, and global and local policy centers forms a vibrant, ever-present background for study of the arts and humanities at the Corcoran.

Examples of Student Work

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