An interdisciplinary approach permeates all aspects of the BFA degree. At least 1 in 4 courses are non-studio academic courses, building a broader education that better informs a creative life.
The undergraduate curriculum is divided into conceptually-based and media-based courses. Studio courses comprise over 60% of study and with academic courses comprising the remainder. The dual approach ensures that all students experience high quality, consistent training in in a variety of approaches to making and understanding contemporary art.
BFA Course Requirements (384 total units):
6 studios, 80 units
Concept Studios are at the core of the BFA degree, organized around assignments structured to assist students in developing a personal, non-medium specific approach to generating art, as well as learning transferable conceptual skills.
Freshman and Sophomore year, three Concept Studios are based on themes:
- The Self and The Human Being
- Time and Space
- Systems and Processes
The overarching themes are deliberately broad to allow scope for individual interpretation. Similarly there is a great deal of room for each professor to bring their own particular pedagogical approach to the class, which is exploratory and experimental in nature.
Junior and Senior year, three additional Concept Studios are:
Contextual Practice classes and Senior Studio have no media stipulation. The Contextual Practice classes are concerned with context related issues and art that engages a variety of communities or organizations. A variety of Contextual Practice courses are offered every term. Students may take any Contextual Practice class offered during the Junior or Senior year to fulfill their Concept Studio requirement. Senior Studio is largely self-directed—with media choices being determined by each individual student—guided by faculty advice.
Foundation & Advanced Media Studios
Foundation: 7 studios, 70 units
Advanced: 9 studios, 90 units
Media studios focus on the materials, techniques and processes of art in all mediums (clay, wood, painting, animation, metalworking, video, etc). They also serve as preparation for advanced studio work.
Foundation Media Studios
Taken during Freshman and Sophomore year, these studios ensure that all students have an exploratory experience with the full range of media available in the school.
- 2D Media Studios present drawing, two-dimensional mixed media techniques and digital imaging during Freshman year, and introduce painting and printmaking during Sophomore year.
- 3D Media Studios introduce woodworking, welding, metal working, and clay sculpture in the first semester and kinetics, multiples, mixed media and sculpture in relation to contextual practice in the second semester.
- Electronic Media Studios introduce digital audio and video production during the Freshman year and software programming and physical computing in the Sophomore year.
Advanced Media Studios
Taken between Sophomore and Senior year, Advanced Media Studios address concentrations in three specialized media areas:
- Drawing, Painting, Print Media and Photography (DP3)
- Sculpture, Installation and Site-Work (SIS)
- Electronic and Time-Based Work (ETB)
And one non-media specific area:
- Contextual Practice (CP)
A minimum of four courses must be taken in one of the concentration areas. One Advanced Studio must be taken in another College of Fine Arts area: Architecture, Design, Drama or Music.
History & Theory
6 courses, 51 units
History & Theory of Art courses develop critical abilities, training students to connect visual art to historical, political, social and environmental issues in international contexts. Courses in the history of art, art theory, art criticism, and museum studies encourage students to question conventional ideas about the history of art, contemporary art, and visual culture.
Integration of theory and practice with studio work is one of the special characteristics of the BFA program. History & Theory faculty represent a wide range of teaching styles and aesthetic philosophies. Faculty are in close contact with the studio areas and are available to students for critiques, bridging the gap between art history and art making.
Through their studies, students will develop and refine the ability to:
- Make stylistic, comparative, historical, and formal analysis of visual forms through written and oral communication.
- Advance verbal and written responses to visual phenomena.
- Synthesize, organize and present large amounts of material from various sources and disciplines.
- Become versed in historiography and theoretical methods of scholarship.
- Gather and utilize research and methodology relevant to art history; use of the library, image indexes and databases.
Required Introductory (Survey) Courses:
- 60-104 Contemporary Issues Forum
- 62-100 Critical Histories of the Arts
- 60-205 Modern Visual Culture (1789-1945)
- 60-206 Contemporary Visual Culture (1945-present)
Survey courses offer a foundational base, while seminars as various as contemporary films and video, criticism, museum and cultural studies, performance, and sound art encourage in-depth exploration in specific areas. It aims to develop visual and critical abilities and train students to relate direct observation to historical, political, social and environmental issues in international contexts.
Two additional Art History/Theory electives required, addressing:
- historical periods
- the relationship of the visual arts to other arts/other disciplines
- contemporary issues
- topics related to academic faculty research
Students are encouraged to complete a cluster of university courses that appeal to and develop their interests as emerging artists. In the process of taking these electives, students can often simultaneously earn a minor.
- World History
- English Composition (Interpretation and Argument)
- Computing at Carnegie Mellon
- Humanities and Languages (Culture Option)
- Math, Science, and Engineering (Technical Option)
- History, Psychology and Economics (Social Science Option)
Senior Studio is a year-long course based around independent studio work, team-taught by 4 faculty per semester. Students are free to choose the concept(s) and media which they wish to explore.
The primary goal of Senior Studio is the execution of an ambitious and self-defined art project or body of work, developed across both semesters of the final year, culminating with the annualSenior Exhibition.
For each semester, students will have one primary mentor and will also have access to the other three faculty for advice, instruction and critical input. Senior Studio is worth 20 credits/semester. Students may produce a series of related works on a common theme, or a multimedia performance extravaganza, or a monolithic project that goes through an extensive process of research, prototyping, manufacturing, etc. Students are encouraged to connect Senior Studio work with the work that they are doing in other studio courses.
The secondary goal of Senior Project is the continuing development of exiting skills and materials.
A file containing draft resumes, self-statements, documentation of plans, proposals, and work and supporting material, will be completed before the end of the Fall semester. These materials will continue to be refined in the Spring Senior semester. Additionally, students will be required to give presentations during the semester to sharpen these skills and increase their focus.
Senior Studio also incorporates a number of workshops on a variety of themes. Technical instruction and workshops on resume building, website development, pr, etc. will be offered as needed to advance student work.