Printable fact sheet

Program overview

Major/minor: Studio art
Major/minor: Art history

The department of art and art history provides an energetic environment in which intellectual ideas are fostered and creativity is valued. Our balanced art curriculum includes entry and advanced level opportunities in studio art and art history. Upper-level students are guided through a versatile program which gives them the necessary skills to produce a substantial thesis project in an area of their own choosing.


Cornell offers very attractive fine arts scholarships to incoming students. Work study positions are also available in the art and art history department—please contact the department chair for more information.


Areas of focus and exploration

For the studio major, areas of focus include ceramics, photography, video, drawing, painting, sculpture, performance art, and collage and assemblage. For students emphasizing art history, there are multiple course area offerings from Western antiquity to the present available, as well as Native American, Latin American, and African art.

Senior theses

An art history thesis normally requires a paper, public presentation, and oral defense to complete the major. Papers are then catalogued in Cornell College's Cole Library and accessible on WorldCat. A studio thesis involves a public exhibition, an oral defense, and the creation of an electronic portfolio. Our emphasis on a senior thesis requirement is unusual for a college of our size. Our aim is to establish in our majors the qualities of a committed artist or art historian after leaving Cornell, whether continuing their work in their own studios, as teachers inspiring others to make art, entering a graduate program, managing an antique store, becoming a museum docent, or using art as part of their daily lives in a career outside the art world.

One Course At A Time

A recent alumni said it seems Cornell's One Course At A Time schedule "was made for the art department." He's right: the block plan gives us the ability to treat every studio course like a workshop, with focused periods of work, fewer interruptions, and less time devoted to set up and clean up.

The block plan also gives us the opportunity to take frequent trips to galleries and museums at other schools, neighboring cities, and as far away as Milwaukee, Madison, Saint Louis, and Chicago. We frequently offer block-long off-campus courses to study art history in Italy and Mexico, as well as museum studies in Chicago. In addition, our students have the flexibility to include internships in a wide range of fields as part of their studies.