Liberal Art/Art History Coursework

Select an Undergraduate Degree Program:

General Education Rationale

Both depth and breadth of study characterize the degree programs at Memphis College of Art. Intensive training in the major provides depth; general education provides breadth through the wide range of courses offered in the Division of Liberal Arts. These courses empower students with broad knowledge and the transferable skills of critical thinking, effective writing, and effective oral communication, thereby enriching both their studio practices and their lives.

The Liberal Arts curriculum encompasses the three main branches of the liberal arts and sciences: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences/math. By taking courses in each of these three broad areas, students assimilate a range of scholarly approaches, methods of inquiry, and habits of mind. Instead of merely memorizing information, students learn, for example, how an anthropologist does research, how a philosopher approaches a problem, and how a mathematician thinks.

MCA requires 45 total credits in Liberal Arts, distributed across the curriculum as follows: 12 credits in art history, 6 credits in writing, 3 credits in literature, 3 credits in a social science, 3 credits in a natural science or math, and 18 additional credits in electives drawn from any of the Liberal Arts courses except art history.

The 12-credit emphasis upon art history reflects the importance of this discipline to the future practicing artist. Two courses in writing (6 credits) support the skills of critical thinking and writing at the freshman level that are essential for success in college as well as in a future career. One course in literature (3 credits) ensures that students have met great works of literature and have engaged in analysis and interpretation, activities that require critical thinking. Distribution requirements across the Liberal Arts curriculum (at least 3 credits in each of the three main branches of the liberal arts and sciences) ensure the breadth of knowledge expected of a college graduate. Electives (18 credits, or 6 courses) allow students to pursue an interest and/or to sample a number of fields outside their art major. All general education courses support one or more of the general education outcomes of critical thinking, effective writing, and effective oral communication. Liberal Arts course descriptions allow students and faculty advisors to make informed choices in fulfilling the general education requirements at MCA. Together, MCA’s general education experiences provide the foundation for lifelong learning, cultural awareness, and social responsibility, creating future leaders who are eager to understand and participate in a diverse and complex world.


General Education Outcomes:

The following student learning outcomes were developed by the General Education Committee of Memphis College of Art and approved by the general Faculty. Upon successful completion of any general education course, students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to effectively perform at least one of the following outcomes. The relevant General Education outcomes covered in a course will be published in the course syllabus. Faculty will use the universal general education rubric to assess select assignment(s) for the outcomes listed on the syllabus.

Outcome 1: Students will be able to think critically.

Outcome 2: Students will be able to write clearly and effectively, demonstrated by (1) clear focus, organization, development of written assignments, (2) use of appropriate writing style, (3) effective use of sources and/or knowledge of subject matter, (4) skillful use of writing conventions.

Outcome 3: Students will be able to speak clearly and effectively, demonstrated by clarity of ideas; effective grammar and articulation.

General Education Requirements at MCA

Art History

(12 credits or 4 courses required)
The Art History program teaches students to examine the form, meaning, materials and techniques of art and design, along with the fundamental concepts that cultures create to define art and the artist. We consider art in relation to social, economic, and ideological factors. Our focus is the European/U.S. canon, but we offer instruction in the art/design of other traditions so that students will avoid ethnocentricity and see themselves in a global context. Students learn from historical and contemporary art and build up a fund of images and themes from which to draw inspiration. We aim to impart a broad knowledge of art and design history, because breadth will enable our students to adjust to new circumstances over time in the art/design market.

Required courses

(6 credits–prerequisites to all Art History electives)

  • AH100 Art History Survey I (3 credits)
  • AH150 Art History Survey II (3 credits)


(6 credits–choose 2 courses)

  • AH200 Renaissance Art (3 credits)
  • AH210 Baroque Art (3 credits)
  • AH225 Nineteenth-Century Art (3 credits)
  • AH227 Modern Art: 1900-1945 (3 credits)
  • AH230 Art Since 1945 (3 credits)
  • AH250 History of Graphic Design (3 credits)
  • AH270 American Art (3 credits)
  • AH300 Art of First People (3 credits)
  • AH303 Art of Asia (3 credits)
  • AH310 History of Film I (3 credits)
  • AH311 History of Film II (3 credits)
  • AH320 History of Photography (3 credits)
  • AH330 Art and Architecture (3 credits)
  • AH331 Modern Architecture I (3 credits)
  • AH332 Modern Architecture II (3 credits)
  • AH350 Art and Design: The 50s (3 credits)
  • AH360 The Artist and the Era (3 credits)
  • AH375 African-American Art (3 credits)
  • AH380 Women in Art (3 credits)
  • AH420 Topics in Art History (3 credits)
  • AH450 Art History Seminar (3 credits)

Liberal Arts

The Liberal Arts Division, comprised of Art History, Humanities, Mathematics/Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences, teaches all MCA students at every level. Our classes help each student to develop as a whole person by teaching the skills of critical thinking, problem solving, research, effective writing, and clear communication. Faculty encourage students to learn big themes from human history and experience, and foster a spirit of inquiry and imagination in preparation for a life of continuous learning.

Required Courses in Writing

(6 credits or 2 courses)

  • HU090 Grammar and Composition (a noncredit review course that is prerequisite to Writing I only for students with ACT English subscore below 19 or SAT verbal score below 460.)
  • HU101 Writing I (3 credits)
  • HU102 Writing II (3 credits)


(3 credits–choose 1 course)

  • HU215 Literature Survey (3 credits)
  • HU222 Philosophy in Literature (3 credits)
  • HU245 Survey of World Drama (3 credits)
  • HU285 Southern Literature (3 credits)
  • Additional 200-level literature courses may be taken to fulfill the 18-credit elective requirement.

Humanities Electives

(any of these courses can be applied toward the 18-credit elective requirement)

  • HU200 Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits)
  • HU203 Philosophy and Film (3 credits)
  • HU205 Elementary Logic (3 credits) (also satisfies the Natural Science/Math requirement)
  • HU210 Values in Contemporary Society (3 credits)
  • HU240 Creative Writing: Fiction (3 credits)
  • HU241 Creative Writing: Poetry (3 credits)
  • HU290 Survey of American Popular Music I (3 credits)
  • HU291 Survey of American Popular Music II (3 credits)
  • HU340 Eastern Philosophy and Religion (3 credits)
  • HU341 The Human and the Divine (3 credits)
  • HU350 Text and Image (3 credits)
  • HU360 Modern Literature (3 credits)
  • HU368 Contemporary Novel (3 credits)
  • HU370 Critical Writing (3 credits)
  • HU387 Forms of Fiction (3 credits)
  • HU391 Art Speak (3 credits)
  • HU410 Philosophy of Art (3 credits)
  • HU220-21, 320-21, 420-21 Humanities: Special Topics (3 credits)

Social Sciences Electives

(3 credits–choose 1 course; additional social science courses can be applied toward the 18-credit elective requirement)

  • SS226 Introduction to Psychology (3 credits)
  • SS275 Cultural Anthropology (3 credits)
  • SS330 Abnormal Psychology (3 credits)
  • SS333 Film and Gender (3 credits)
  • SS342 Women’s Studies (3 credits)
  • SS345 World Mythologies (3 credits)
  • SS375 Anthropology of Art (3 credits)
  • SS220-21, 320-21, 420-21 Social Science: Special Topics (3 credits)

Natural Sciences/Mathematics Electives

(3 credits–choose 1 course; additional natural science/mathematics credits can be applied toward the 18-credit elective requirement)

  • MA165 College Mathematics (3 credits)
  • HU205 Elementary Logic (3 credits) (HU205 is a Humanities course that satisfies the Natural Science/Math requirement)
  • MA220-21, 320-21, 420-21 Mathematics: Special Topics (3 credits)
  • NS250 History of Science (3 credits)
  • NS265 Environmental Studies (3 credits)
  • NS310 Anatomy and Physiology (3 credits)
  • NS220-21, 320-21, 420-21 Natural Science: Special Topics (3 credits)

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