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

You can major in Art History or Studio Art, with numerous options for independent studies to tailor an education to your own interests. You'll learn to make art and to respond to art. You'll learn art principles that apply to any media that will not go out of date. 

The lessons you'll learn as an art major are broad, run deep, and will last you a lifetime. Our graduates are artists, educators, architects, curators, lawyers, production supervisors, and art administrators. 

Art awards

Art awards range from $1,000 to $5,000. Portfolios of 5 to 15 pieces of work must be postmarked by Nov. 1 or within one month of applying to Cornell if after Nov. 1. They may be submitted via a portfolio link, as email attachments, as a PowerPoint, on a CD, DVD, flash drive, or as original work. 


Areas of focus and exploration

If you're a studio major, your areas of focus will include ceramics, photography, video, drawing, painting, sculpture, performance art, and collage and assemblage. If you're an art history major, 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.

Art facilities

The Art Department has exclusive use of McWethy Hall, which features large, up-to-date classrooms, a darkroom, wet room, carpentry shop, and ceramics studio. McWethy Hall is also home to the Peter Paul Luce Gallery, which hosts major exhibitions and senior thesis shows. An annex provides space for a computerized kiln and a foundry, and all senior art majors enjoy private studios with secure 24-hour access as they prepare their senior thesis exhibitions. 

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. 


Recent majors have completed internships at the following institutions:

  • National Museum of American History
  • Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
  • Mexican Museum in San Francisco
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art
  • Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago
  • Philbrook Museum in Tulsa
  • Puerto Rican Museum of Art
  • Rochester Art Center
  • Russian Icon Museum in Boston