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Major, minor, and honors in Art

Major, minor, and honors in Studio Art

Last Updated: August 18, 2020

Art Major consists of three credits in art history and eight credits in art.

Requirements for Admission to the Major

  1. Overall average of C or better in all courses taken during the two semesters preceding the time of application. For a double major the
    overall average must be C. Completion of at least one course in art history and one course in art at Swarthmore with grades of B or better.
  2. Completion of at least one course in art history and one course in art at Swarthmore with grades of B or better.

Requirements for Completion of the Major


All Art Majors, in both Course and Honors programs, are required to take 10 courses to fulfill major requirements:

Seven credits of art and three credits of art history:

  • ARTT 001 Foundation Drawing, (or ARTT 001B First Year Seminar: Drawing)
  • A level I 2D course
  • A level I 3D course
  • A level II course, (2D or 3D)
  • A level II course, (2D or 3D)
  • ARTT090 Senior Thesis Workshop I
  • ARTT091 Senior Thesis Workshop II 

*Please see course catalog for available Art and Art History courses, and course schedule & Art History course schedule for semester offerings.

Art Majors can complete an art history minor as well with the completion of 4 art history credits in addition to those required by their art major.

  • Five credits in art must be completed before entry into ARTT090 Senior Thesis Workshop 1.  Up to two credits abroad can count towards the major.
  • The Senior Art Major is required to mount a one-person exhibition in the school gallery representing a culmination in their studio work. This exhibition and accompanying artist statement (of no less than 2500 words), is the comprehensive examination for the art major. Senior exhibitions are scheduled during the last few weeks of the spring semester each year. 
  • There is no course minor in art.

Art Majors and the 20-Course Rule

It is a college requirement that 20 of the 32 credits required for graduation must be OUTSIDE the major.  This means that one can take no more than 12 courses in the major, unless one graduates with more than 32 credits, in which case the surplus can also be in the major.  

For Art Majors, the required three credits in art history count within the major, but additional credits in art history count outside the major.

Off-Campus Study

The Art Department strongly encourages those with an interest in art and its history to consider incorporating study abroad--either during a summer or a regular academic term--into their Swarthmore program. Important examples of art and architecture are scattered throughout the world, and the encounter with works still imbedded in their original context is vital to an understanding of their historical and contemporary significance. Past experience has shown, however, that art courses in most foreign study programs fall considerably below the academic standards of comparable courses at Swarthmore. Students who are interested in bettering their chances of gaining a full Swarthmore credit for a course taken in a foreign program are advised to meet with the Art Coordinator and/or the Art History Coordinator before leaving the campus. Up to two credits abroad can count towards the major.  PLEASE NOTE: to receive transfer credits in art history, you must have taken at least one art history course at Swarthmore (normally before going abroad). 

Honors in Art

Requirements for admission to Honors do not differ from those for admission to the Course Major. Students will be expected to maintain an average of B+ or better in all courses in art.


  1. An Honors Major in Art will present 2 preparations in art and 1 preparation in art history.

  2. Each of the two art preparations will consist of two paired art courses.  The examiner of each preparation will receive the syllabus for both courses and slides representing the body of work produced in them and will examine the student in an individual oral of 30 minutes.

  • One preparation pair will consist of ARTT 090 Senior Workshop I and ARTT 091 Senior Workshop II.
  • The second pair might consist of an intermediate and an advanced course in a specific medium OR two courses with a different approach to the same medium (ex: Pottery and Ceramic Sculpture, Drawing and Life Drawing). OR, two related courses (ex: Ceramic Sculpture and Sculpture, Drawing and Photography, Drawing and Works on Paper, Drawing and Painting).



  •  Studio courses taken at an institution outside of Swarthmore cannot count towards an honors studio preparation.

  •  Only courses taught by regularly teaching faculty in art can be applied towards a preparation.  Courses taught by regularly returning adjuncts might be applied pending department approval.

  • Honors preparations approved in the sophomore year must be adhered to.  Any later changes to your program as it relates to preparations, must be approved by the department. 

3)  The preparation in art history will consist of one 2-credit seminar.

  • The prerequisite for any art history seminar is 2 previous credits in art history, including ARTH 002.
  • All Majors in Art, whether Course or Honors, must do 3 credits of art history work. Art faculty may recommend  particular art history courses as most relevant to a student's studio interests.

4)  Honors candidates in Art must fulfill the Course Major requirements. The pre-requisite for all studio work, unless waived, is ARTT 001.  The distribution requirements for 2-D and 3-D for the Honors Major in Art are the same as those in course.

5)   Honors study in Art is comprised of a culminating exhibition of the student's studio work, with an accompanying artist essay of 3750 to 5000 words.  Some of this work may figure in the selections of work presented for one or both of the course pairs described above, but the rationale for inclusion in the exhibition will differ. The artist essay will be sent to both examiners of studio preparations.  A revision of a paper written previously for the art history preparation will be sent to the art history examiner.

  • The SHS essay will differ from the artist essay written by course students in that it will integrate the preparations in art and art history.

  • For Honors Majors, ARTT 091 will count outside the Major for purposes of calculating the 20-course rule, since it serves as Senior Honors Study.  It will be listed on the transcript not as ARTT 091 but as Senior Honors Study.

  •  If a student drops out of Honors after the drop/add period in the last semester, the SHS credit will receive a grade of NC.  Senior Workshop II (ARTT 091), assuming it had been successfully completed in the Spring, will then be listed on the transcript with the appropriate grade.

  •  WARNING:  if a student drops out of Honors, Senior Workshop II no longer counts as outside the major, but as within.  A student who has taken 12 other credits within the department, and who is graduating with the minimum of 32 credits will then have 13 in the major and only 19 outside.  Honors Art Majors should be especially careful to take enough credits outside the department if they contemplate withdrawing from Honors.


  1. An Honors Minor in Art will present to the honors examiners one studio preparation consisting of ARTT 090 Senior Workshop I and ARTT 091 Senior Workshop II.

  2. An Honors Minor in Art must fulfill the requirements for the Course Major in art.

  3. During the Spring semester of the senior year a minor will write a 2500 word artist essay to be sent to the examiner, along with the relevant syllabi and slides for the two-credit preparation


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