group of U of M Students in front of a windmill in Spain

Learning Abroad in Art History

    The Department of Art History strongly encourages its undergraduates to study abroad as part of their Art History major or minor. Classroom learning about the art of other eras and cultures will come alive in the geographical milieu of its origin, when you are able to perceive the relationship between the culture, the way of life, and art.

    “Why study abroad? Not just so one can see more works of art but rather to see works of art fully in their cultural context. Each country has a distinctive ‘visual feel,’ one shaped by buildings and sidewalks, by the dress of people, by the languages spoken on the street, and even the smells peculiar to each place—all things that make art come fully alive and acquire meaning that no classroom or museum can convey.”
    —Professor Frederick M. Asher, Former Chair, Department of Art History

    Learning Abroad Process

    This is the basic process you'll complete in order to study abroad. The order in which you do things is somewhat flexible.

    Academic Planning

    Review the following suggestions from the Department of Art History before beginning your study abroad research.

    Choose your study abroad experience wisely

    • Set some goals. No one program is best suited for Art History students. There are many good study abroad programs, and the best one for you depends on what you want.
    • Prioritize your goals. Consider your long-term academic and professional goals, as well as your on-campus degree requirements.
    • Consider short-term and long-term programs.
    • Prepare academically. You may need to take language or other prerequisite courses for your chosen program.
    • Give yourself time to research and talk to advisers and students who have studied abroad. Early planning not only helps you prepare adequately but also can improve your chances for scholarships.
    • In addition to general factors in Choosing a Program, keep in mind the following suggestions specifically from the Department of Art History.

    Align study abroad with your personal, academic, and professional goals

    • Find great Art History coursework, internships, and research opportunities.
    • Understand the field of Art History from an international perspective.
    • Study major works of art and architecture on location.
    • If you are planning on graduate school in art history, use your study abroad experience to help you find or finalize a potential specialization within the field.
    • Prepare to work in an increasingly diverse and international workplace.
    • Broaden your academic horizons and globalize your worldview.
    • Improve your language skills.
    • Gain valuable life experience
    • By its nature, art takes place in a cultural context. There is much to be gained from understanding the history and traditions of cultures outside of your own. Study abroad is one very exciting way to begin to discover new approaches and build your professional skills.

    Consider timing and length

    • There is no “best” time for everyone. It depends both on the individual student and on the type of education abroad experience.
    • Introductory short-term programs and language study can be great as freshmen or sophomores. Of particular interest in this category are the short-term, faculty-led programs abroad offered by the Art History department during May session. These are excellent opportunities for first and second year students who are majors or considering majoring in art history. No language study or prior art history courses are required to enroll in these programs.
    • Students are urged to consider enrolling in a university abroad during their junior year or the first semester of their senior year after they have acquired a strong foundational knowledge of art history and adequate language facility.
    • Senior-year study abroad, although common, may require additional planning. When are graduate school applications due? Do you need to take exams given only at particular times of year, or only in the US? Will the grades from your study abroad arrive in time for graduation? Is there any danger that the study abroad will impede timely completion of the major paper?
    • Consider more than one learning experience abroad.

    Pay special attention to program type

    Format and teaching approach are every bit as important as location and length. Consider your learning style, your educational and personal goals, and department advice.

    University Study programs

    Become a temporary foreign student at a host university. Seek locations offering theoretical perspectives or courses different from ours.

    Study Abroad Centers

    Take classroom courses tailor-made for non-native students. Many such centers also offer opportunities to engage in field study and/or to take courses as a local university.

    Field Study programs

    Learn through doing. Programs built around internships, service-learning, field research, interview projects, etc., may work especially well for experiential learners.

    Seek cultural immersion

    • Deep involvement in the host culture leads to personal growth and instills the cross-cultural skills that can be so important to success in the workplace and community.
    • Consider a program that houses you with a family or host-country roommate.
    • Be realistic. Not all students are ready for the same amount of cultural immersion.

    Work on your art history major or minor

    • Students may apply up to a maximum of three courses taken abroad to the art history major. Courses taught abroad by UMTC art history faculty are not included in this restriction.
    • In addition, students may take the required lower division art practice course abroad.
    • To count toward the art history major, any course taken abroad must involve a term paper or equivalent analytical writing assignments, and must be accepted by the University of Minnesota at the upper division level. Keeping a journal or making a class presentation may be part of the coursework, but credit will not be granted if they are the main assignment(s): analytical writing is the essential element.
    • Only courses accepted by the University of Minnesota at the upper division level can count toward the major.
    • To be acceptable for the major, courses should involve engagement with works of art, whether in person or through slides, book illustrations, etc. (Courses devoted entirely to historical background or to biographies of artists will not count, for example.)
    • Take advantage of experiential opportunities such as an internship, volunteering, fieldwork, or conservation and restoration work, whether linked to course requirements or entirely non-credit. Examples: Students on the Toledo, Spain, program have the opportunity to do an internship in a local art museum or work at a dig site. The program in Montpellier, France, offers the chance to intern at a museum. Examine the Undergraduate Studies section of the Art History Department website and note the special requirements for receiving "Museum Experience" credits, especially if the A–F grading option is desired.
    • For some students, especially transfer students, it can be important to choose a program that yields resident credit. (Transfer credits may constitute no more than fifty percent of the upper division coursework for a CLA major.)

    Fulfill Liberal Education requirements

    • Advance planning can help you apply study abroad credits to many of the University’s Liberal Education requirements.
    • Decide early which requirements you want to satisfy through courses taken abroad and plan your coursework accordingly.
    • Consult the U Credit Abroad Search for classes that have been approved for Liberal Education. If a course is not listed, it may still meet a liberal education requirement. We encourage you to submit your course(s) for evaluation.

    Learn or perfect a language

    • The Art History department strongly encourages students to study a second language, preferably one that relates to your area of interest.
    • Ideally, language study will equip you to function in your host country, will help you understand its culture, and will permit you to read articles and books written about your primary area of interest within art history.
    • Many students find that language study in an immersion setting is far more effective than on campus.
    • Most graduate students and professionals in the field find that French and German are the most widely used languages; however, which language is best for you depends on your professional and personal interests.
    • For more on language learning, see Additional Options to Consider at the end of the Programs section below.

    Once you have selected a program

    • Use the Academic Planning for Study Abroad (APSA) form to structure your academic planning.
    • Once you have chosen the courses that you want to take abroad (always choosing more courses than you intend to take), meet with the director of undergraduate studies in Art History—preferably at least 3 months before departure. Bring your transcripts, your APSA form, and the course descriptions.
    • Meet similarly in other departments for additional majors or minors.
    • To complete the APSA process you will also need a signature from a college adviser.

    While you are abroad

    • If, once you are at the overseas study site, you become interested in a course that was not included on your APSA but might be pertinent to your major or minor, gather as much information as you can about the course and then consult by email with the director of undergraduate studies before committing yourself.
    • Hold onto course materials (e.g., syllabus, exams, papers, reports, and at least a photocopied table of contents of any key textbook) and bring them home with you.

    After you return

    • Make an appointment with the director of undergraduate studies in Art History to review overseas courses for which you wish to obtain final approval for use toward the major or minor. For other majors or minors you will need to do the same in a different department.
    • Bring to that appointment the course materials plus a brief explanation of why you think the course should be counted.
    • Check to see if your study abroad coursework has been posted to your UofM transcript. If your study abroad courses were evaluated and approved for liberal education requirements and completion of these requirements is not reflected on your APAS report, contact the Learning Abroad Center.
    • Be aware that courses taken abroad may require many weeks, or even months, to get accepted and posted at the University of Minnesota. Times vary with programs. Let the Learning Abroad Center know well in advance if impending graduation or other special circumstances lend particular urgency to your case.

    College/Department Scholarships for UofM Students



    Africa and the Middle East


    University Study in Israel: Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    • Participants study in the Rothberg International School. Strengths include Jewish studies, Biblical history and archeology, Israeli and Middle Eastern studies, Islamic studies, Hebrew, and Arabic.
    • Rothberg offerings include History of Art in Israel from the Yishuv to the Present; Jerusalem’s Architectural Heritage; Biblical Figures & Stories in Jewish, Christian, & Islamic Art. Geography of Jerusalem and Jerusalem Through the Ages: Historical Geography & Archaeology.
    • Instruction at the Rothberg School is in English; no prior Hebrew is required. Students fluent in Hebrew may also take regular courses. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

    South Africa

    University Study in South Africa: University of Cape Town 

    • The University of Cape Town is one of Africa’s leading research and teaching institutions, located in a stunning setting on the slopes of Table Mountain overlooking a spectacularly beautiful city.
    • Fine Art includes some courses on modern/contemporary art: The Emergence of Modernity; Reading the Contemporary—Art in Context; Art Narratives—Traditions & Tensions.
    • Instruction is in English; no prior study of an African language is required. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.



    Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (available through IES Chile or IFSA Chile—Santiago)

    • Top-rate Santiago institution (enrollment 18,000) whose Art Department combines art history and studio arts. Both sponsors offer advanced language and at least one area studies course.
    • Sample course titles: Pre-Columbian Art; History of Contemporary Sculpture; Art and Symbolism; Modernity—The Pre-Columbian and the Ethnic; History of Chilean Art; Latin American Art.
    • Instruction is in Spanish

    Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (through IFSA Chile—Valparaíso)

    • Program type: University Study (mostly)
    • Private university (enrollment 9,000) in picturesque port city of Valparaíso.  IFSA also offers advanced language and at least one supplemental area studies course.
    • Art history courses have very general titles (e.g., Art Theory 4 or Art History 7) and syllabi are unavailable online, so consultation with the Art History adviser is essential.
    • Instruction is in Spanish

    Universidad de Chile (available through IES Chile or IFSA Chile—Santiago)

    • Program type: University Study (mostly)
    • One of Chile’s largest private universities (enrollment 23,000). Both sponsors also offer advanced language and at least one area studies course, IES more than IFSA.
    • Art history curriculum stresses analytical frameworks and techniques. Includes no courses on particular world regions or historical periods.
    • Instruction is in Spanish

    Asia and Oceania


    University Study in Australia: University of Melbourne

    • One of Australia’s most prestigious universities, located in the country’s second largest city. The department of art history focuses mostly on Western art.
    • Sample course titles: Art History—Theory & Controversy; Art & Revolution; Studying Art on Location; Medieval Art—Celtic to Gothic; Australian Art; Contemporary Aboriginal Art.
    • Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.


    IFSA China—Xi’an

    • Program name is Globalization Then and Now: Xi’an & the Silk Road. Includes two-week Silk Road field trip into Central Asia.
    • Includes Chinese language study, The Silk Road Yesterday & Today, and choice of one other course in Chinese history, art history, or contemporary society and culture.
    • Instruction is in English; no prior Chinese is required. Fall semester, spring semester, or summer.


    Exchange in Tokyo, Japan: Sophia University

    • Jesuit university with two campuses, one of which has all instruction in English and draws both foreign students and Japanese students who have lived abroad for extended periods of time.
    • Most art history courses focus on either Western art or Asian art, including courses specifically on Japanese or Chinese traditions.
    • Instruction is in English; prior Japanese language study preferred but not required. Spring semester or academic year.

    New Zealand

    University Study in New Zealand: University of Auckland

    • New Zealand’s largest university, located in its largest city (population 1.4 million—about a third of the country total). Art History department emphasizes modern and contemporary art.
    • Sample courses on the region include: Introduction to Art & New Zealand; Maori Art; Contemporary Pacific Art; Contemporary Sculpture in New Zealand & Australia; and many more.
    • Instruction is in English, although some Maori studies courses are taught in Maori instead. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year

    University Study in New Zealand: University of Otago

    • Otago (enrollment 20,000) is located in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island, a particularly attractive location for students interested in outdoor activities.
    • Art History & Theory department emphasizes Europe but includes some offerings on Japanese art and New Zealand art as well. Strongest on nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
    • Instruction is in English. Fall or spring semester, calendar or academic year.

    University Study in New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington

    • Program type: University Study
    • Located in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, 21,000-student Victoria University offers courses on Byzantine & Medieval Art, Renaissance, Baroque, Modernism, Postmodernism, and more.
    • Considerable strengths in New Zealand and Pacific art. Sample courses; Art in Aotearoa New Zealand; Art in the Pacific; Topics in Contemporary New Zealand Art; Topics in Colonial Art.
    • Instruction is in English. Fall or spring semester, calendar or academic year.



    IES Austria—European Studies and Culture

    • Large language and area studies program with extremely broad curriculum. Some courses on Austria, others on Central and Eastern Europe, and others on Europe as a whole.
    • Sample titles: Austrian Art & Architecture; Modern Architecture in Vienna; Art Analysis—Current Exhibitions in Vienna.Chance to visit outstanding Viennese museums, galleries, churches.
    • Instruction is in English; no prior German is required. Students sufficiently proficient may also take IES or University of Vienna courses in German. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

    University of Graz (available through Bilateral Exchange in Graz)

    • The city of Graz has a rich cultural heritage and offers a range of artistic and musical activities.
    • A few art history classes are available. 
    • Academic year or spring semester.


    Study Abroad in Denmark

    • Copenhagen-based DIS, one of Europe’s largest and academically strongest study abroad programs, offers a wide variety of courses on Denmark, Scandinavia, and Europe.
    • Curriculum includes over ten courses on European or Danish art, including courses tied to optional study tours to Rome, Greece, or Paris. Other courses use local field study extensively.
    • Instruction is in English; no prior Danish is required. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.


    Study Abroad in Montpellier

    • Program type: University Study and Study Abroad Center (two tracks)
    • Permits a mix of special language and culture courses for international students and regular Université Paul Valéry courses in a proportion suitable to each student’s language proficiency.
    • Students in the past have taken integrated art history classes with French students, for example, History of Modern Art, History of Medieval Art, and Prehistoric Art.
    • Instruction is in French; one year of prior French is required for center track, two for university study track. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or a summer intensive language program.


    Exchange in Germany

    • This exchange is with Freie University of Berlin
    • Art history course offerings, through the Kunsthistorisches Institut, cover not only European art of many periods and countries but also artistic traditions of other world regions.
    • Berlin is the largest city in Germany with a vibrant cultural life and a rich history
    • Students take courses from the university’s curriculum with German students

    IES Germany—Berlin Language & Area Studies

    • Program combining center courses, university courses, rich field study opportunities, internship options in Berlin (including with museums/galleries), and field trips to other Central European cities.
    • IES offers two courses on 20th-century German art and architecture; many other art history courses are available at Humboldt-Universität.
    • Instruction is in German; two years prior college language study required. Fall semester, spring semester, academic year, or summer.

    University of Freiburg

    • Highly rated university located in an extraordinarily picturesque medieval city, and center of environmental activism, at the foot of the Black Forest near the French and Swiss borders
    • Participants take one study abroad center course and otherwise pursue regular coursework alongside German students at the University of Freiburg, including in its Art History department.
    • Instruction is in German; four semesters of prior German required for academic year, five for spring semester. Spring semester or academic year.


    Trinity College Dublin (available through Arcadia Ireland)

    • History of Art and Architecture department focuses on European art from the early Middle Ages to the 20th Century. Some courses on non-Western art are available as well.
    • Instruction is in English. Academic year only.

    University College Cork (available through Arcadia Ireland)

    • University of 16,000 students located in historic city of Cork (population 120,000) on Ireland’s south coast.
    • History of Art curriculum includes courses on Europe or parts thereof (including Ireland), thematic courses, and methods/approaches courses. Little coverage of non-European art.
    • Instruction is in English. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

    Study Abroad in Dublin--University College Dublin

    • Located on the outskirts of the Irish capital, UCD is one of Ireland’s strongest universities and has among its largest art history departments. 
    • Unusually extensive Art History curriculum focuses on Europe in all periods from antiquity to the present. Includes several courses on Irish art.
    • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.


    Art History Department Short Term Programs

    • More information is avaiable on the Art History departments web page.

    Arcadia Italy—Perugia

    • Language and area studies program in a picturesque hilltop city in north-central Italy. Perugia is a university town and capital of the Umbria region.
    • Program offers several art history courses: Survey of Italian Renaissance & Mannerist Art; Perugia Through the Ages; Micaelangelo; Leonardo da Vinci; History of Ancient Art
    • Instruction is in English; no prior Italian is required. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

    IES Italy—Milan

    • Area studies program offering a wide range of disciplines, including art history, plus opportunities for internships and for study in local universities.
    • Sample courses: Art in Northern Italy from the Fifties to the Present (in English); Leonardo da Vinci & Renaissance Art (in English); The Art of Lombardy (in Italian).
    • No prior Italian is required. Instruction for most courses is in English; some center and university courses alike are available in Italian. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

    IES Italy—Rome

    • Area studies program that includes a substantial art history curriculum plus opportunities for internships and for study in local universities.
    • Art history courses: Inside Art—Conservation; Archeology of Ancient Rome; The Renaissance & its Classical Heritage; Rome as a Living Museum; Baroque Rome; Medieval Art in Rome.
    • No prior Italian is required. Instruction for most courses is in English; additional university and center courses available in Italian. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

    Study & Intern in Florence

    • Located in the homeland of Renaissance art and architecture.
    • Multidisciplinary curriculum focuses on Italy and includes the course Art History—Italian Renaissance Art, which is equivalent to ArtH5323
    • Instruction is in English; no prior Italian is required. Available fall semester and spring semester


    University of Amsterdam (available through IES Netherlands—Direct Enrollment or Bilateral Exchange in Amsterdam)

    • The University of Amsterdam offers many courses in English that are aimed at Dutch students as well as international students.
    • Sample art history courses: Capita Selecta—19th Century European Art; Art of the 20th Century; Art of the Real; Museology in the Netherlands; Mythology in World Art & Literature.
    • Instruction is in English; no prior Dutch is required. Still more courses are available to students proficient in Dutch. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.


    Study & Intern in Toledo

    • UofM program located in Spain’s former capital and one of Europe’s most picturesque cities—a living museum of architecture that UNESCO has declared a World Cultural Heritage Site.
    • Strong humanities/social science curriculum includes:Art & Architecture in Spain—Periods and Styles;Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Art in ToledoMaster Painters of Spain. Museum internships available as well.
    • Instruction is in Spanish; four prior semesters of Spanish are required. Fall or spring semester, academic year, May term, or summer.)

    Study & Intern in Madrid

    • English taught coursework and English speaking internships available in a variety of fields
    • Take the Paintings at the Prado course and fulfill Art History major requirements
    • Live with a Spanish host family
    • Instruction is in English; however, one semester of college-level Spanish is required

    United Kingdom

    Courtauld Institute (available through IES London)

    • You may participate on a UofM affiliated program (affiliate) not listed in the Learning Abroad Center's catalog. However, you will need to apply through our application system.
      NOTE: This specific track and term of this program will not be found within our application system. Select “Program Not Found” on the application, and enter your specific application information in the fields given to request an application. Our staff will review your application and update your program, track, and term information.
    • Program type: University Study
    • The Courtauld, available through an agreement with IES, is a major center in Britain for the study of the history of Western art and one of the premier art historical institutes in the world.
    • Small group instruction is at the heart of the Courtauld’s teaching. Possible areas of study could include Classical/Byzantine/Medieval; Renaissance; Early Modern; or Modern/Contemporary.
    • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

    University of East Anglia (available through IFSA United Kingdom)

    • Program type: University Study
    • UEA’s School of World Art Studies and Museology is located in the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, perhaps the greatest resource of its type on any British campus.
    • Besides detailed coverage of European art, curriculum includes offerings on arts of Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific, plus excellent Museum Studies classes, unavailable at the UofM.
    • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

    University of Edinburgh (available through Arcadia Scotland or IFSA United Kingdom

    • Program type: University Study
    • UE’s History of Art department has integrated a number of approaches to studying art history–from production, to patronage, to the theoretical side of how to conceptualize art and its history.
    • Wide range of art history courses. Samples: Rise of Islamic Art; Sexual Politics & the Image; Art & Belief in China; Scottish Art in the Age of Change 1945–2000; Art, Science & Modernity.
    • Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

    University Study in the UK: University of Glasgow

    • Unusually large curriculum in UG’s History of Art department covers all the major European art historical periods Antiquity to contemporary, plus some courses on American and Chinese art,
    • Sample past course offerings: Sculpture in Britain 1860–1920; Art After Photography; Dutch & Flemish Golden Age Painting; Dada & Surrealism; Early Impressionism; Italian Arty 1200–1290.
    • Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

    University of Sussex (available through Arcadia England or IFSA United Kingdom)

    • Located a few miles from the seaside town of Brighton, Sussex (enrollment 10,00) emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to learning.
    • Art History department offers a great diversity of courses on European art from the ancient to the modern, from Byzantium to Western Europe. Little coverage of other world regions.
    • Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

    Additional Options to Consider

    Non-Credit Opportunities

    • Non-credit opportunities can be a great option for students who do not need academic credit but want to gain skills and experience abroad related to their field of study.

    Intensive Language Programs

    • Begin your language study or work toward completing requirements for a language minor.
    • Work on your CLA language requirement or on a language minor while immersed in the language.
    • Complete two, three, or even four semesters of language in a semester or a summer.

    Global Seminars

    • 3-week, 3-credit programs at the 3000-level led by University of Minnesota faculty and staff over Winter Break or May Session.
    • Fulfill Liberal Education requirements, or earn major/minor credit.
    • Explore an exciting location and topic! Check out this year's offerings!

    Freshman Seminars

    • Freshman Seminars Abroad combine on-campus instruction during spring semester with a study abroad component during spring break.
    • Seminars are 3 credits at the 19xx level and most fulfill a liberal education requirement.
    • Seminars are designed specifically for first year students as an introduction to study abroad.


    Student Experiences

    Visit the Learning Abroad Center's Student Experiences web page for details on other students' experiences studying abroad.