Carnegie Mellon University

BXA Intercollege Degree Programs

Interdisciplinary Academics + Arts

BXA Programs

The X in BXA is the intersection of disciplines, innovation and curiosity. The X is the variable that changes depending on the academic unit a student integrates with their College of Fine Arts concentration. This intersection is the site of new forms of knowledge created by fusing multiple fields of inquiry. Carnegie Mellon University's BXA Intercollege Degree Programs was developed to assist students in pursuing these new discoveries and fields that bring together academic rigor and creative training. BXA is the umbrella term for the abbreviations that identify our programs—BCSA, BHA, BSA and EA.

The Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA) program began in 1993 as a response to numerous requests by Carnegie Mellon students to integrate studies in the fine arts with studies in the humanities or social sciences. The deans and faculty of the College of Fine Arts and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences designed BHA as an innovative interdisciplinary degree-granting program that allows students the freedom to blend their interests between these two colleges.

The Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA) program was launched in 1999 as a joint venture between the College of Fine Arts and the Mellon College of Science. Based on the successful BHA model, the BSA curriculum is carefully designed to allow students the ability to balance studies in the fine arts with studies in the natural sciences or mathematics.

The Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA) program was created in 2008 by the College of Fine Arts and the School of Computer Science. It provides an ideal technical and conceptual foundation for students interested in pursuing fields which comprehensively meld technology and the arts such as game design, computer animation, computer music, interactive stagecraft, robotic art and other emerging media.

The Engineering and Arts (EA) additional major was established in 2018 by the College of Fine Arts with partnership from the College of Engineering. It allows current Engineering majors the ability to incorporate an arts concentration to expand their field of study, while completing BXA's interdisciplinary core courses. Students may graduate with engineering licensure and are also prepared to work in collaborative environments or become entrepreneurial inventors.

The BXA Intercollege Degree Programs are designed for students who want to turn talent and passion into viable professions for the future through a challenging academic curriculum. BXA students pursue their goals with the help of multifaceted advising, innovative pedagogical strategies and a focus on the impact arts have on technology and vice versa. 

The goal of the Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA), the Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA), the Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA) and the additional major in Engineering and Arts (EA), housed under the BXA Intercollege Degree Programs, is to allow a select group of students who demonstrate interest and accomplishment in the fine arts and computer science, engineering, humanities, social sciences or natural sciences to explore beyond the traditional academic major, or integrate more than one field of study across disciplines. These programs foster the creativity of students who explore innovative approaches to the academic environments of two colleges. By merging the components in the arts and computer science, engineering, natural sciences or humanities into an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary study, a unique, complex product is born. BXA students produce new information, challenging questions and innovative theory. BXA students are models of independence, motivation and well-rounded scholarship as humanists, scientists and artists at the same time. 

In the context of the Carnegie Mellon University environment, the BXA Intercollege Degree Programs hold a special role. BXA provides access to five strong colleges that offer specialized training with expert faculty and researchers. The BXA Programs challenge students to utilize those resources as they explore and develop their own approach to interdisciplinary studies in the fine arts and computer science, engineering, humanities and social sciences, or the natural and mathematical sciences.

BXA students balance courses in their CFA concentration with courses in their academic concentration, as well as BXA-specific courses. These BXA-specific courses give students the opportunity to integrate their areas of concentration by focusing on interdisciplinary approaches and arts-based research techniques. The curricula in the concentration areas provide students with a solid disciplinary foundation upon which they can draw for interdisciplinary projects. 

A BXA intercollege degree prepares students for graduate study and careers in an enormous variety of fields, including traditional graduate training in the arts as well as academic areas, positions in arts and education non-profits such as museums and foundations, and technical positions with media and technology companies.

The skills developed by BXA students span the creative, the technical, the academic and the practical. The objective of the BXA Intercollege Degree Programs is to prepare graduates for careers in which they will draw on their creative and academic skills to create, educate, communicate and innovate across disciplines. 

Students who complete the BXA curriculum will graduate with the following skills:

  • Foundational knowledge and technical expertise in the CFA concentration area and the DC/E/MCS/SCS concentration area
  • Ability to describe the connections between these concentrations and how the student integrates them
  • Ability to communicate ideas textually, visually and orally
  • Knowledge of how the concentration disciplines intersect with history, society and culture from local and global perspectives
  • Ability to use cognitive, behavioral and ethical dimensions within the concentration disciplines to make decisions on individual and social levels
  • Experience in engaging in art research to produce new knowledge both within the CFA concentration and the DC/E/MCS/SCS concentration
  • Experience in designing, researching and completing a large-scale, object-based project that integrates both areas of concentration