Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts

BFA students may come to study in the department before deciding on a specific concentration. They can take a year (or even almost two) to explore different disciplines before choosing their degree (BFA in Visual Arts or BFA in Design) and before choosing their concentration (drawing, design, media, painting, photography, print, sculpture) at the end of their sophomore year.

BFA students begin with a Foundation Studio curriculum designed to familiarize visual arts and design students with core concepts and basic skills in preparation for a rigorous studio practice. The course's emphasis is on study of drawing, color, and composition and the exploration of spatial dynamics and temporal qualities while encouraging experimentation and critical inquiry. Studio and seminar discussions confront students with materials, techniques, visual languages, and cultural issues.

In the final year of the program, BFA students complete BFA Thesis—a course that provides students with mentorship and prepares them for life after graduation. Each spring graduating seniors in this program present ambitious exhibitions in Mason Gross Galleries which they fully curate, install and promote as the culmination of their studies.



    Students in the design program develop innovative and meaningful ways to communicate ideas in a wide range of concrete and dynamic media. Design students acquire skills in form-making, systems thinking, typography, interaction, and data visualization, while shaping content and form in both personal and client-driven work. Studio courses emphasize context and audience in formats such as books, identities, interfaces and motion graphics.


    Students explore drawing as a discipline with its own history, traditions, and materials, as well as one where boundaries are fluid enough to include the diverse media and conceptual approaches embraced in contemporary practice. Emphasis is placed on students developing personal visual languages with which to explore their interests and goals as artists in the 21st century.


    Through creative exploration of video, audio, animation, interactivity, and art for the web, as well as installation and performance, students in the media program develop a strong foundation of technical proficiency in the context of historical and theoretical research in technology, art, and contemporary culture. Media graduates will be able to enter a diversity of professional fields as they maximize their artistic potential and become creative problem solvers.


    The painting curriculum is structured around a deep and rigorous engagement with the practice of painting. Students are challenged to explore the interwoven historical, material, formal, and conceptual aspects of the medium. Drawing on a range of technical approaches and historical models, including its relationship to other art forms, students are immersed in painting culture to develop and strengthen their individual artistic voices.


    Through the study of photographic technique, the history of photography, and the critique of images, the photography curriculum emphasizes development of a personal voice. In the first year, students are introduced to photography through 35mm, 4×5 and other film cameras and the analog darkroom. The second year is devoted to digital photography, and the third year concentrates on portfolio development and preparation for the thesis exhibition. Optional advanced courses enable students to expand their practice of photography.


    Students in the print program explore a full range of printmaking processes including silkscreen, woodcut, linocut, reduction printing, intaglio, lithography, digital printing, and letterpress as well as paper making and creating handmade books. Students study the history of print, paper, collaboration, and criticism. Courses encourage students to combine print mediums, and artistic development is addressed through individual and group critiques and the collaborative studio.


    The sculpture program is devoted to the process of developing three-dimensional forms through the use of traditional and nontraditional materials. Curriculum and coursework are designed to provide students with a strong foundation in a range of technical skills and processes and to challenge more advanced students to develop their own personal voice. Emphasis is placed within the context of contemporary art practice and in recognition of historical developments.