About Us

Old photo of Art Building


Founded in 1911, the Department of Art and Art History remains one of the oldest, most comprehensive, and most affordable fine arts schools in western United States and more specifically within the state of California.


San José State University is located in the heart of Silicon Valley in downtown San José, CA, the tenth largest city in the United States and the hub of Silicon Valley. The Art And Art History Department is strategically located in close proximity to some of the major research institutions located in the Bay Area like the Stanford University and the University of California Berkeley among others. The city, and the surrounding San Francisco Bay Area recognizes and supports art, creativity and technology as cornerstones for regional development. As a major contributor to the artistic life of the area, the University frequently partners with the city to bring art programs to the area. The location also provides easy access to the thriving art community of San Francisco and Oakland to the north and the expansive art market and cultural venues of Los Angeles to the south.

The Department of Art & Art History offers a unique combination of award-winning faculty and staff, outstanding facilities, and a wide range of focus areas, including traditional and digital media arts, art history and visual culture, and curatorial studies. Our acclaimed network of alumni, curators, artists, teachers, historians, and arts professionals represent the very best of what the Bay Area has to offer, providing our students with the opportunity to build a robust practice within a chosen discipline. Committed faculty and staff provide students access to our “best-in-the-west” education and facilities, generated through invaluable professional and personal relationships offered within a welcoming and supportive community; a dynamic student gallery system; a weekly lecture series showcasing renowned artists, thinkers and critics; the professionally-curated and endowed Thompson Gallery, with its groundbreaking exhibitions; a cutting edge curriculum; extensive facilities, including darkrooms, a foundry, glass facilities, and state-of-the art computer and digital fabrication labs; and professional development opportunities in and around the Silicon Valley. 

San Jose State University regularly tops national rankings in public education, affordability and social mobility for our diverse student body being ranked #1 “Most Transformative College” in the nation by Money and also ranked #5 by the US News and World Report and is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Our alumni, as artists, makers, and thinkers, who are increasingly at the center of the creative economy, are steadily inventing the future in California, the United States and throughout the world.