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Department Programs

The Department of Art & Art History is an interdisciplinary department offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in art history, art practice, design, documentary filmmaking, and film studies. 

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Art History

Art History is a discipline that strives to understand works of art, architecture and design from a variety of perspectives, including the original context of their making and reception as well as their subsequent circulation, collection, conservation, and display.  As culturally embedded expressions, works of art may yield multiple meanings depending on the kinds of research and interpretive strategies that art historians bring into play.  These might include consultation of original archives, philosophical and critical discourses, as well as research into social history or formal analysis.

Art Practice

The Art Practice program on both undergraduate and graduate levels offers production-based curriculum to prepare students for creative careers in the visual arts and hone their creative capabilities.

Access to diverse courses and faculty, cross-disciplinary interaction, and well-equipped labs are among the strengths of the flexible program.

Readymade lamp made by David Tung

Students studying design learn how to see and apply basic visual principals across many disciplines, and how design functions as a change agent in contemporary society. Courses address the intersection of contemporary art, design, and engineering in today’s social and technological context. 

Undergraduate Design courses are offered in the Department of Art & Art History as part of our Art Practice curriculum.

Stanford’s Graduate Design Program is a collaboration between the Departments of Art & Art History and Mechanical Engineering. Since 1958, this innovative, interdisciplinary program has defined the field of human-centered design. Graduates are dynamic thought-leaders, able to solve complex problems across a wide variety of fields.

Documentary Film and Video
image of filmmaker Melissa Langer holding a film camera which is pointed at a chiuahua wearing a dress.

Students in the Documentary Film and Video Program become conversant with the documentary tradition as well as with alternative media and new directions in documentary.  In addition to the training in documentary production, graduates gain substantive research skills in film criticism and film analysis.  The MFA degree is designed to prepare students for professional careers in film, video, and digital media, with the qualifications to teach at the university level.

Film and Media Studies

The Bachelor of Arts in Film & Media Studies provides students with knowledge of film aesthetics, national cinematic traditions, modes of production in narrative, documentary, and experimental films, the incorporation of moving image media by contemporary artists, and the proliferation of new forms of digital media.  The program is designed to develop the critical vocabulary and intellectual framework for understanding the role of cinema and related media within broad cultural and historical concepts.

Featured Events

Current Exhibitions

Oshman Hall, McMurtry Building
October 6, 2015 to October 16, 2015

Why Study Art?

"The students and faculty in Stanford's Art Department are engaged and dynamic.  The department is supportive, active, and growing. It's a great place to work, learn, and develop your own ideas and voice."

-Lexi Johnson, PhD student

Department Work

The scholarly and artistic work produced by the faculty and students of the Department of Art & Art History includes publications, artworks in many media, design projects, documentary films, and exhibitions .

Browse department work