Minor Program in Architectural Studies

Minor Program in Architectural Studies

Beginning with the Class of 2020, Art History minors will follow the requirements outlined below. Students in the Class of 2019 have the option of adhering to the new or to the old requirements. They should meet with the director of undergraduate studies to address their options and any questions or concerns. Note: The new requirements do not apply to students who will be in their fourth year in 2017–18.

The minor in architectural studies combines course work in Art History, which equips students to analyze the form and changing history of the built environment in diverse cultures, places, and times, with up to three courses on architectural or urban topics offered in any department. Thus the minor enables students to enrich art historical analysis with methods from other disciplines. A student might choose to minor in architectural studies because the student is interested in the built environment—the inescapable setting of our lives—from a liberal arts perspective or because the student is considering applying to architecture school. The minor could represent an interest distinct from the student's major or it could complement a major in the social sciences or humanities by exploring the material setting of history and social life or the context for works of literature, film, music, or drama. It could equally complement a major in the sciences, such as medical fields, ecology, geology, physics, or mathematics.

Prospective minors need to meet with Art History’s Director of Undergraduate Studies before the end of the third year to discuss their interests and course plans and obtain the Director’s advice and approval. Together you will fill out a minor program form listing the intended courses, which the Director signs. You should download the form and submit the completed, signed version to your College adviser before the end of the third year.


The minor in architectural studies requires a total of six courses at the 20000-level chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies, all of which must either focus on the built environment or permit the student to devote the assignments or papers to the built environment. A minimum of three courses must be in the Department of Art History. The additional three courses may be taken in Art History or in other departments or programs. Some of the programs that may offer relevant courses are Geographical Studies, Visual Arts, History, English Language and Literature, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies. In one of the courses, students also write one research paper of about 10 to 15 pages on a topic chosen with and guided by the instructor, by individual arrangement at the start of the quarter.

Minors are strongly encouraged to take the Art History course Introduction to the Built Environment when available. Minors may elect to take ARTH 29600 Junior Seminar: Doing Art History, for which they would research and write an essay on a topic of their choice instead of preparing a BA paper proposal. This option is particularly suitable for minors interested in doing graduate work in architectural history.

Graduate seminars at the 40000-level may count toward requirements. Students are advised, however, that such courses impose special burdens of time and expertise, and admission to them is typically only by explicit approval of the instructor and may involve various prerequisites.

Contact the director of undergraduate studies in Art History if you have questions about whether a course may be counted toward the architectural studies minor.

Courses in the minor may not be double counted with the student's major(s) or with other minors. Courses in the minor must be taken for quality grades, and more than half of the requirements for the minor must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.

Summary of Requirements for the Minor in Architectural Studies

Three (3) courses at the 20000-level in ARTH focusing on the built environment * 300
Three (3) courses at the 20000-level in ARTH or other departments focusing on the built environment 300
One (1) 10- to 15-page research paper written for one of the six courses in the minor
Total Units 600

*One of the courses may be ARTH 29600 Junior Seminar: Doing Art History. Students in the minor would research and write an essay on a topic of their choice instead of preparing an honors paper proposal.

The following faculty members in Art History specialize in architectural history: Niall Atkinson, Wei-Cheng Lin, and Katherine Fischer Taylor. Many other faculty members in Art History have an interest in the built environment and will support students writing papers on architecture; students are welcome to ask their instructors.


The following are examples of Art History courses appropriate for the minor. The complete list of eligible Art History courses offered each academic year can be found on the Art History website at http://arthistory.uchicago.edu/courses.

ARTH 14000-16999 (survey courses): 

ARTH14700 Building Renaissance Italy A Survey of the Built Environment

ARTH15709: Twentieth-Century Western Architecture

ARTH17117: Spatializing China’s Built Environment.


ARTH 17000-18999 (art-in-context courses): 

ARTH 17310 Between the Agora and the Shopping Mall: The Social Construction of the City Square

ARTH 17400 University of Chicago Campus

ARTH 17410 Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago and Beyond

ARTH 17611 Envisioning the Colonial Metropolis.


ARTH 20000 series: 

ARTH 23801 Soundscapes of the Early Modern City

ARTH 26600 Early 20th-Century Urban Visions

ARTH 22770 The City Delirious Conflict & Vision in the Modern Metropolis (postponed from Spring 2015 until the 2016-17 academic year). 


ARTH 40000 series, graduate seminars, with the instructor’s permission:

ARTH 48201 Florentine Topographies: Art, Architecture, and Urban Life

ARTH 49709 Skyscrapers


For more information about the Minor in Architectural Studies, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies at arth-dus@lists.uchicago.edu.