Visual Studies: Philosophy and Science of Seeing, BA

Visual Studies at the University of Pennsylvania prepares students to forge innovative connections across the disciplines that study vision and images. Students acquire a critical awareness of seeing and the problems and possibilities for investigating, thinking, and writing about seeing in the 21st century. Fundamentally interdisciplinary, the Visual Studies Program partners with the Departments of Philosophy, Psychology, History of Art, Fine Arts, and Architecture. Students may also find interest in Penn Programs such as Cinema Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies or outside of the School of Arts and Sciences in the Annenberg School of Communications, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

In Sector A, students learn about the physiology and psychology of seeing; perception of color, movement, space, objects, and events; and issues in philosophy of vision from ancient to contemporary.

For information about the General Education requirements, please visit the College of Arts & Sciences Curriculum page.

College General Education Requirements and Free Electives
Foundational Approaches + Sectors1 + Free Electives20
Major Requirements
Stage 1 - Core Courses
VLST 101Eye, Mind, and Image1
VLST 102Form and Meaning1
or VLST 103 3 Dimensions: Time and Space
Stage 2 - Core Courses
Select 2 courses from each Sector:6
A. Philosophy and Science of Seeing: 2
Visual Neuroscience
Research Experience in Perception
What is an Image?
Select one of the following:
Introduction to Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy and Visual Perception
Philosophy of Perception
B. Art and the Culture of Seeing:
World Art: 1400 to Now
American Art
Modern Art: Picasso to Pollock
Art Now
The Rise of Image Culture: History and Theories
Select one of the following:
Art and Civilization in East Asia
Introduction to Art in South Asia
Introduction to Visual Culture of the Islamic World
C. Art Practice and Technology:
Form and Meaning (course not used in Stage 1)
3 Dimensions: Time and Space
Select one of the following:
Video I
Drawing I
Art, Design and Digital Culture
or one approved alternate course (See Website)
VLST 301What is Visual Studies?1
Stage 3 - Concentration Requirements
Philosophy and Science of Seeing: 2
Select 4 course units of Phil/Science4
Select 1 course unit of Art/Culture or Art Pract/Technol1
Stage 4 - Capstone Course
VLST 395Senior Project (Year-Long Course)1
Total Course Units35


Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.70 in the Major.

  • Senior Project Completed (Grade of A)

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2021 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.