The Department of Art

Handbook: About the Department of Art 

Founded in 1921, a half century after formal instruction in art began at Howard University with an 1871 course in freehand drawing, the Department of Art seeks to provide students with sound instruction in studio practice, history and criticism of the visual arts.

Affirming that individual growth is central to the creative and intellectual development of students, the Department of Art offers a program of study that respects traditional academic requirements while considering the personal creative interests of students and their career objectives. Students are required to take liberal arts and career-oriented courses that frequently draw upon the resources of agencies, businesses, and cultural institutions of the Washington, DC area, thus establishing links between the classroom and the actual world.

The Department offers quality instruction in the practice, history, and criticism of the visual arts, and creates an environment conducive to self-motivation for students whose artistic and academic potential is high. The Department’s faculty is dedicated to quality teaching, research, and creativity, while developing highly skilled knowledgeable graduates who are prepared to compete for professional positions and engage in entrepreneurial endeavors in the arts and related fields.

The Department of Art offers programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Art History. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree is offered in Ceramics, Design, Electronic Studio, Painting, Photography, and Sculpture. Graduate courses in Studio Arts lead to Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree.

In January 2011, the Howard University Board of Trustees approved Academic Renewal recommendations that authorized the discontinuation to the Master of Arts (MA) degree in Art History and the Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising and Interior Design. The Department has launched a new program that provides concentrations in Fashion Design and Interior Design in the BFA degree program in Design.[1] Aspects of the MA in Art History program have been repositioned in a proposed graduate program in Africana and African Studies.[2]

[1] This new program will require curricular changes, program review, and approval by our accreditation agency, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

[2] Please refer to the University’s Academic Renewal Implementation website for updated information: (accessed August 2, 2011)