Painting professor Maria Tomasula teaches a class in Riley Hall.

The Department of Art, Art History & Design is a vibrant, multidisciplinary department offering programs of study in studio art, art history, and design at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We provide students with intellectually informed instruction in critical visual studies within the context of the liberal arts at an international Catholic research university. 

Under the guidance of a talented and diverse faculty, students acquire the technical and visual skills necessary to work creatively, develop their intellectual abilities to think critically, and cultivate the personal discipline and maturity to reflect thoughtfully on the world and our place in it. 

Meet our faculty

What is art, and why do we study it? 

One of the shared features of great civilizations and cultures has been the creative and critical influence of their visual art. It has historically triggered contextual interactions by giving tangible representation to the social, political, and private aspects of human existence; it provokes the expansion of intellectual boundaries, gives form to complex ideas, reveals deeply rooted emotions, and extends our capacity to comprehend the lives of others. Today, art is a critical part of visual literacy, an organic cognition that assists humans in rethinking the meaning of various subjects as the world changes.

Why study art at Notre Dame?

Loren Chen Cookware industrial design project
Cookware designed by Loren Chen, '18

The Department of Art, Art History & Design serves the University as the nexus for the serious study and making of visual arts and design. We believe that visual learning, visual analysis, visual creativity, and visual literacy are essential and transferable skills for students in the 21st century. Notre Dame graduates with a major or minor in creative and humanistic studies are uniquely competitive among job-seekers today. Indeed, studio art, art history, and design foster the development of competencies that employers and research institutions alike find compelling and desirable.

Additionally, the department offers unique ways of seeing and knowing to students pursuing majors outside the humanistic approach of the College of Arts & Letters. Understanding, analyzing, reflecting on, and improving the human experience through our shared understanding will make better scientists, engineers, businesspeople, and world leaders. With our peers in the performing arts, we offer a profound service to our students from across the university by assuring that this vital "way of knowing" is part of every Notre Dame student’s education. More crucially, it allows for each Notre Dame student to experience the human capacity for critical expression, creativity, imagination, and wonder—each of which has played a profound role in the history of the Catholic Church, and should remain an integral component of a Catholic education.

What do our students learn?

While each program is marked by its own special skills and training, it is the conversations and synergies that emerge from our interdisciplinary encounters that make our department central to the creative energy that can be found on campus at Notre Dame. Through the act of making, students will be able to integrate technical, perceptual, and conceptual skills to produce creative works in dialogue with both the history of their chosen methodologies and the contemporary culture at large. 

Design student working on design project in West Lake Hall.

Students will be able to:

  • apply different critical frameworks for understanding the creation and reception of a work of art/design.
  • appreciate what factors shape the creative process. What sort of decisions do artists and designers need to make in the act of producing an aesthetic experience?
  • do a close analysis of the structural components of a work of art, whether it be a novel, a painting, a symphony, a film, a building, or an object of design. 
  • read an artistic text in order to understand what it delivers as a way of knowing.
  • situate works of art in reference to the relevant historical contexts and compare how the arts represent those periods and cultural frameworks in reference to other contemporaneous ways of knowing.

Looking to satisfy the Ways of Knowing University requirement?

Non-majors are welcome to take our classes. We have studio art, design, and art history courses that count toward your degree.

University Courses

Our alumni

Discover the inspiring careers of our alumni who leveraged their University of Notre Dame degrees to set in motion their success around the world. To share your story after graduation and embolden current students, please fill out this form.

Studio Art Careers Art History Careers Design Careers

Our faculty

AAHD faculty are deeply dedicated to success across research, teaching, and service missions. 

Our faculty members are highly qualified experts and have successful professional careers with solid evidence of scholarly and artistic/design production. In addition, many of our faculty actively serve in leadership roles in professional societies and contribute to the academic advancement of each discipline.

Our faculty collaborate with research partners from the College of Engineering and Mendoza School of Business and are also involved in various interdisciplinary programs such as the Snite Museum, the Medieval Institute, the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, and the Notre Dame Initiative on Race and Resilience. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

The Department of Art, Art History, and Design is committed to ensuring the inclusion of our faculty, staff, and students regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. We stand in solidarity with communities of color and indigenous people, as well as movements against racism, colonization, and violence worldwide. 

Diversity and inclusion resources

Support us

The Department of Art, Art History, and Design welcome your support in any number of ways. We value the time, talent, and treasure of our graduates and friends and welcome collaborative efforts to further our work. Gifts will support various programming initiatives, including visiting lecturers, gallery exhibitions, new equipment, student research, and professional development.

Make a gift