Iowa Idea Track

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Students pose for a group photo in front of a cathedral in Spain

In the 1920s, the groundbreaking "Iowa Idea" of bringing artists and scholars together in an academic context was born at the University of Iowa. The Iowa Idea became the model for numerous art and art history programs across the nation, training artists and art historians within a united studio and liberal arts environment. In 1940, Iowa became the first university to award the Master of Fine Arts degree, and in the same year, Elizabeth Catlett was the first African-American woman to receive the M.F.A. The Iowa Idea eventually led to the inception of the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

The Iowa Idea track to the Art History major requires 33 s.h. of coursework in art history and 6 s.h. of coursework in studio art. 

1. All of the following courses must be completed:

  • ARTH:1050 From Cave Paintings to Cathedrals: Survey of Western Art I (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:1060 From Mona Lisa to Modernism: Survey of Western Art II (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:1080 How to Write About Art (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:4999 Capstone Seminar in Art History (3 s.h.)

2. At least two art history courses numbered ARTH:2000 through ARTH:2999.

3. At least four art history courses numbered ARTH:3000 through ARTH:4998.

4. At least two art history courses in non-Western areas (e.g. African, Asian, Islamic, Native American) from the following:

  • ARTH:1040    Arts of Africa (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:1070    Asian Art and Culture (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:1095    Native American Art (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:2120    Art and Architecture of the Islamic World (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:2220    Introduction to the Art of China (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:2250    Introduction to the Art of Japan (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:2330    Introduction to Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern Art (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:3103    Art of the Pacific Islands (3 s.h.) *
  • ARTH:3120    The Art of Ancient Mexico (3 s.h.) *
  • ARTH:3150    Art of West Africa (3 s.h.) *
  • ARTH:3151    Art of Central Africa (3 s.h.) *
  • ARTH:3160    Themes in African Art (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:3220    Chinese Art and Culture (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:3225    Contemporary Art and Culture in China (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:3230    Chinese Painting I: Pagodas and Palaces (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:3250    Brushwork in Chinese Art (3 s.h.) *
  • ARTH:3255    Copy and Paste: Methods of Reproduction in Asian Art (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:3260    Japanese Painting (3 s.h.) *
  • ARTH:3270    Themes in Asian Art History (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:3275    Garden Culture in East Asia (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:3280    The Materialization of Sexuality in China and Beyond (3 s.h.) *
  • ARTH:3320    Egyptian Art (3 s.h.)
  • ARTH:3325    Kings, Gods, and Heroes: Art of the Ancient Near East (3 s.h.)

    (Courses listed with asterisks are not currently being offered)

5. Two studio courses:

These courses can be taken prior to completing the Art History coursework in sections 1-3 above.

  • ARTS:1510 Basic Drawing (required prior to second studio course; 3 s.h.)

Choose any additional studio course from the following:

  • ARTS:1520    Design Fundamentals (3 s.h.)
  • CERM:2010    Ceramics I: Handbuilding (3 s.h.)
  • DRAW:2310    Life Drawing I (3 s.h.)
  • DSGN:2500    Graphic Design I (3 s.h.)
  • INTM:2710    Introduction to Intermedia (3 s.h.)
  • MTLS:2910    Introduction to Jewelry and Metal Arts (3 s.h.)
  • PHTO:2600    Photography I (3 s.h.)
  • PNTG:2410    Painting I (3 s.h.)
  • PRNT:2610    Introduction to Printmaking (3 s.h.)
  • SCLP:2810    Undergraduate Sculpture I (3 s.h.)
  • TDSN:2210    Problems in 3D Design (3 s.h.)

The Bachelor of Arts with a major in art history requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including 39 s.h. of work for the major. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in all courses for the major and in all UI courses for the major. They also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core.

Students may count a maximum of 56 s.h. earned in art and art history courses toward the degree; they must earn at least 64 s.h. of credit in courses outside the School of Art and Art History in order to graduate.

B.A. students with a double major in the school (e.g., a major in art history and a major in art) or a major and a minor in the school (e.g., a major in art history and a minor in art) must earn at least 56 s.h. of credit in courses outside the School of Art and Art History in order to graduate.

Note that the requirements can and do change as deemed necessary by the School. However, once you have begun your program, your requirements will not change. Always refer to your degree audit as the official record of your requirements.