B.A. in World Arts and Cultures

We emphasize studies in arts activism, visual cultures, and critical ethnographies. Theory and practice emerge from culturally diverse artistic expressions.

The B.A. in World Arts and Cultures (WAC) enables students to critically examine and constructively engage the social and cultural contexts that shape artists and their creativity. Our interdisciplinary curriculum accentuates those local histories and global influences that inform ethnographic, curatorial, creative and scholarly praxis, as well as activist politics and questions of social justice.

The major encourages students to understand the making and reception of arts and social movements through a critical lens that is rooted in a range of cultural and postcolonial theories. As such, education in this major is built on the dialogue between theory and practice, between creative work and critical analysis. Our faculty have specialties ranging from documentary filmmaking and theory, health and healing, community engagement, ethnography, critical curatorial studies, research methodologies, critical race studies, art direction, digital culture and surveillance studies, Indigenous studies, prison abolition, spoken word, feminist theory and more.

In our courses, we take care to learn from and with community members, drawing on the long term partnerships that characterize our faculty’s research. We anchor our curriculum in a range of intersectional practices, including arts activism, critical theory, and inquiry into multiple visual mediums. Our curriculum is composed of lower and upper division courses as well as an optional senior focus on praxis.

First, our preparation for the major introduces students to the study of cultural practices, and how they represent as well as enact and intervene in lived experience. Lower division core courses provide students key concepts in the study of cultures, arts and field based research methods. One of the five courses, WL ARTS 2, is a lower division seminar that enables students to join instructors in a workbench approach to education. Often led by professional artists and curators, these classes vary by year and might include photography, choreography, murals or any other genre or form that puts us into the position of not just studying but practicing art.

Upper division courses continue to fill the parameters of how one understands arts and cultures through research methods that are both authoritative and collaborative. The upper division core requirements and electives also offer theoretical foundations in the study of specific media. Students will be required to take WL ARTS 102, an upper division “practice based” class, providing another chance to engage art-making. Throughout one’s time in our major, students will encounter a wide spectrum of approaches and cross-disciplinary approaches in their twenty-five elective units.

Students may propose to complete their degree with a "Senior Praxis" capstone project. These may take the form of performances, community service projects, formal talks, curated exhibits, spoken word, poetry, short films or other media types decided upon with faculty consultation during the required Junior Proposal course.

Students completing the World Arts and Cultures major will be able to:

  • demonstrate a variety of approaches to visual and performance-based art making, broadly conceived, in cross-cultural contexts.
  • collaboratively conduct and interpret field-based research with specific communities.
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of, and an ability to apply, a range of theories, methods and practices regarding cultural production and representation.
  • demonstrate awareness of and sensitivity to diversity and cultural differences, particularly as articulated with various forms of social organizations and movements, national and international policy, transnational art, curatorial practices, as well as museums and heritage sites.
  • produce well-informed analyses that supplement and affirm the relevance of diverse cultural productions.
  • develop informed interpretations not only of the way art functions within communities, but also how the links between art and community are created and represented.
  • articulate the value of civic engagement within a variety of social contexts.

What can I do with a B.A. in World Arts and Cultures?

Our students have had a wide number of professional paths after graduating with a BA in World Arts and Cultures. From curatorial work to therapists, from non-profit work to educators, our students have found many ways that a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary education have supported their professional goals. For many students, WAC has enabled them to demonstrate to graduate school admissions committees that their bachelor degree taught them not simply about culture and the arts, but also provided them a training in ethical research toward social justice. Courses such as “Art and Moral Action,” “Art and Global Health,” or “Film and Feminism” provide practicle experience for careers in environmentalism or work toward gender equality. Those interested in non-profit or organizational leadership get hands-on training in our field-research class and our several community engagement courses. For those aiming to work in museums, we have courses on “Visual Culture,” “Introduction to Museology,” and “Curating Cultures.”

“I benefited immensely from the diverse course work, the emphasis the department places on personal research interests and molding the coursework to an individual’s interests, collaboration with peers, and the opportunity to design my own independent studies. World Arts and Cultures steeped me in advocacy and allowed me to actively challenge “traditional” ways of knowing, while still centering my work on psychological nuance and conceptualizations of experience.The department of World Arts and Cultures afforded me an education with incredible breadth and depth, as well as opportunities for collaboration that continue to support me in my current clinical, research, and academic endeavors.”

Hanna Young, WAC Class of 2021
"The WAC curriculum is fun to learn because it’s about things I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn and discuss if I was in a different major. Also, in my opinion, one of the best aspects of this major is learning to uncover fallacies in many industries."

Kamaryn Truong, WAC Class of 2024

WAC Major Curriculum 2023-2024 (217.42 kB)

Comprehensive information on the undergraduate curriculum for current students can be found in the 2023-2024 Undergraduate Handbook (515.67 kB).

Details about individual courses can be found on the UCLA Registrar's website.


Please refer to the handbook assigned to your specific admission year.


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