Study Abroad for History of Art and Architecture Majors

The Dept. of History of Art & Architecture encourages its students to complete some portion of their undergraduate study through the University’s Education Abroad Program. Art history majors can deepen their understanding of the art and culture of particular nations and regions by studying at a foreign university while adding an international dimension to their undergraduate education. Because all courses taken through EAP are accepted as UC courses, students may spend as much as a year of study at a foreign university with no loss of time completing their degrees. Honors majors have the extraordinary opportunity to use their period abroad for first-hand research on their honors thesis projects.

Why study abroad?

Study abroad can be a profoundly enriching experience in many ways, but has a particularly important role to play in the study of art history. Many programs offer the opportunity to study the art of a particular culture while gaining intensive, firsthand exposure to the culture itself: in France, for instance, one can take a class on Gothic architecture in the morning, then visit a great Gothic cathedral in the afternoon. Acquiring fluency in a language and some familiarity with its literature, as well as an understanding of a country’s history, social customs, and everyday life, uniquely enhances one’s understanding of art.

Art history majors find that a summer, a term, or best of all, a year in a foreign country enhances their critical thinking and writing skills, that the challenge of adapting to another academic and cultural environment expands their self-understanding and gives them a sharper sense of the political and social differences in today’s world. No matter what career they eventually pursue, the intellectual and personal growth they experience during their time abroad serves them well in many ways.

Honors majors may use their period of study abroad to do first-hand indepen- dent research on their honors thesis projects. Such projects, which must be planned in advance with a faculty advisor, are especially recommended for those who contemplate graduate work in art history: the resulting thesis, submitted as a writing sample, can be instrumental in securing admission to an outstanding graduate program.

When should I study abroad?

It is best to plan early for study abroad. Applications are typically due six months to a year prior to the start of the program and some programs have academic or linguistic prerequisites that must be satisfied in advance. If you want to begin or continue the study of a foreign language through short-term language and culture programs, for instance, you can apply in your freshman year to go abroad as a sophomore.

Sophomores and Juniors -- You can also apply as a sophomore to do a language and culture program or a program focused on your major in your junior year. Students wishing to do an immersion program in a non-English speaking country should complete six quarters of the language, or the equivalent, prior to going abroad. They should also complete as many of their general education courses as possible and plan how they will complete their major requirements.

Seniors -- If you want to go abroad in your senior year, you should complete all your major requirements ahead of time or plan to take courses meeting your remaining requirements while abroad. It is possible to graduate while abroad, but close consultation with advisors in both your department and college is essential to ensure that your plan will fulfill academic residence requirements.

Keep in mind that at students in the College of Letters and Science must complete at least 20 units of upper-division major coursework (or 12 upper-division minor units) in residence at UCSB along with other residence requirements. Consult an advisor in the College of Letters & Science for more information.

Transfer and Graduate Students are eligible to participate in EAP. For more information, visit the EAP website.

Where should I study abroad?

The University of California’s Education Abroad Program extends to over thirty countries around the world, offering a wide choice of programs: general education programs, intensive language programs, and half- or full-year “immersion” programs.

The Education Abroad Program offers so many options that each student must take care to investigate the possibilities on his or her own. Art history majors who wish to do a year-long, full immersion program should discuss the possibilities with departmental and college advisors.

Traditionally, art history majors have preferred programs in Western Europe -- especially in EnglandItaly and France -- but students may study art history in Asia, South America, Africa, the Middle East and the South Pacific.

New possibilities are developing all the time, so interested students should think creatively and investigate thoroughly. By the same token, since it is not always possible to predict in advance exactly which courses will be offered at a foreign university in any particular term, a degree of flexibility must be figured into planning.

How do I get started?

Begin by identifying your goals for study abroad and then consult the EAP web pages ( to identify appropriate EAP programs. To find programs which offer particular disciplines or to search courses taken by EAP students over the last 5 years by subject, keyword and/or location, explore the resources found under Program Search and Course Catalog. Navigate to host universities’ web sites on the available links to learn more about the schools and their departments. 

Come by the EAP office at 2431 South Hall. Peer advisors who have recently returned from studying abroad as well as staff advisors are eager to answer your questions. Go see your Undergraduate Advisor in the department office and make an appointment to speak with an advisor in the College of Letters & Science. Additionally, you’ll want to meet with an advisor in the College of Letters & Science to discuss general education, residence and other requirements.

Department of the History of Art & Architecture
1234 Arts
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-7080
Phone: (805) 893-2417

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