Employ the elements and principles of art and design in this competitive program at Commonwealth University.

Visual Arts (B.F.A.)

Employ the elements and principles of art and design in this competitive program at Commonwealth University. Our faculty and staff will introduce you to a multitude of design disciplines and help you grow personally and professionally.

Degrees & Offerings
  • B.F.A.
Location
  • Bloomsburg
  • Mansfield
Department
College
Program Contact
Chair of the Department of Visual Arts
Illustration of Mountain

Commonwealth University’s Visual Arts program provides you flexibility within your preferred studio discipline. Focused rigorous study, and the instruction from talented faculty who are also practicing artists and scholars makes Commonwealth University the ideal place to pursue your art education.

Instruction is highly individualized, and students are required to pursue research intended to help enhance the content and to help contextualize their work. Students are asked to write and speak coherently about their work within this broader context. These skills enable the student to prepare and present their portfolio in a professional manner. 

“The professional undergraduate degree in a visual art specialization is structured to provide in-depth, formal education that will prepare students for entry into professional practice or advanced professionally oriented study upon graduation.” — National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Course Delivery Format

  Bloomsburg

  Face-to-Face
  Online
  Hybrid

  Lock Haven

  Face-to-Face
  Online
  Hybrid

  Mansfield

  Face-to-Face
  Online
  Hybrid

  Clearfield

  Face-to-Face
  Online
  Hybrid

Courses and Curriculum

Degree Requirements - 2D Media Degree Requirements - 3D Media Degree Requirements - Art History Degree Requirements - Art Studio Degree Requirements - Graphic DesignDegree Works

Note: Degree requirements effective for enrolled students beginning Fall 2023. All enrolled students, including matriculating students prior to Fall 2023, can review their degree program requirements and track progress to degree completion with our degree audit and advisement tool, Degree Works.

Visual Arts Minor

Degree Requirements - Minor

ART BFA Visual Arts Program NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design - accrediting body for Visual Arts) Competencies required of Professional Degrees in Visual Arts: 

Students graduating with BFA in Visual Arts degree must possess:

  1. Studio Studies: Practice and experiences in studio subjects are of prime importance in the preparation of students for professional careers in art and design. The excellence of the creative work produced by students is the best determinant of the adequacy of the studio studies offered by an institution. Studio work begins at the freshman level and extends with progressively greater intensity throughout the degree program. Creative work includes, but is not limited to, conceptualization, process, product, and critique. Irrespective of major or specialization, students must: 
    a. Gain functional competence with principles of visual organization, including the ability to work with visual elements in two and three dimensions; color theory and its applications; and drawing. 
    b. Present work that demonstrates perceptual acuity, conceptual understanding, and technical facility at a professional entry level in their chosen field(s).
    c. Become familiar with the historical achievements, current major issues, processes, and directions of their field(s). 
    d. Be afforded opportunities to exhibit their work and to experience and participate in critiques and discussions of their work and the work of others. 
    e. Students engage in independent study at the advanced level that includes appropriate supervision and evaluation upon completion. 
  2. Art History Studies: Students must gain competency in Art/Design History, Theory, and Criticism. Through comprehensive courses in the history of art/design, students must: 
    a. Learn to analyze works of art/design from both Western and non-Western cultures perceptively and to evaluate them critically. 
    b. Develop an understanding of the common elements and vocabulary of art/design and of the interaction of these elements, and be able to employ this knowledge in analysis. 
    c. Acquire the ability to place works of art/design in historical, cultural, and stylistic contexts. 
  3. Technology. Students must acquire a working knowledge of technologies and equipment applicable to their area(s) of specialization. 
  4. Synthesis. While synthesis is a lifetime process, by the end of undergraduate studies students should be able to work independently on a variety of art and/or design problems by combining, as appropriate to the issue, their capabilities in studio, analysis, history, and technology. 
  5. Results: Upon completion of the Visual Arts BFA degree program: 
    a. Students must demonstrate achievement of professional, entry-level competence in the major area of specialization, including significant technical mastery, capability to produce work and solve professional problems independently, and a coherent set of artistic/intellectual goals that are evident in their work. 
    b. Students must demonstrate their competence by developing a body of work for evaluation in the major area of study. A senior project or final presentation in the major area is required. 
  6. Students must have the ability to form and defend value judgments about art and design and to communicate art/design ideas, concepts, and requirements to professionals and laypersons related to the practice of the major field. They are able to work collaboratively as appropriate to the area(s) of specialization.

ART Visual Arts Minor 

Students with interest in or need of any aspect of the Visual Arts (ARH - Art History; ART - Studio Arts; GRA - Graphic Design; or any combination of the three) will be able to take coursework within the Department of Visual Arts as a minor.

Visual Arts B.F.A. at Commonwealth University

Illustration of Mountain

Available at the Bloomsburg and Mansfield campuses.

Art history involves understanding works of creativity through the ages and across diverse cultures. Such an understanding entails not only developing a basic visual vocabulary of great works of art and architecture past and present, but also the capacity to articulate their appearance, to describe and discuss the cultures they evidence, and to explore the ideals and practices of their times. The museum and the library are the studio of the art historian. 

Available at the Bloomsburg campus.

In the Drawing concentration, students move from an introductory experience that emphasizes perceptual skills to an advanced experience that privileges a nuanced and complex understanding of the implications of style and materials, as well as a specific and personal content. 

Available at the Bloomsburg campus.

In the Fabric Design concentration, students focus on media specific courses for in depth investigation of processes. Students will explore the meaning, purpose, and significance of fiber art and textile design. Students begin with conceptual prompts and introductory sample works which hone their skills in the medium. This leads to self-directed research, development of their own theme and results in a strong portfolio of professional level works for exhibition.

Available at the Bloomsburg and Mansfield campuses.

The Graphic Design concentration provides students with a broad set of skills and processes within the discipline, as well as applicable experience within a variety of digital media. Students investigate critical thinking and visual problem-solving, along with current trends in technology, to address formal, conceptual, and applied projects. Courses present a wide array of design-related material, focusing on typography, print design, image manipulation, time-based sequencing, narrative structures, environmental graphics, and interactive design. Students work toward developing a cohesive body of work that represents a personal vision relevant to current design culture. Advanced course options in Graphic Design offer students the opportunity to develop a portfolio, design statement, and prepare their work for professional practice. At the conclusion of their degree, each student will complete a cohesive body of work for a professional designer’s portfolio, write a designer’s statement, present a designer’s talk, and prepare an exit exhibition.

Available at the Bloomsburg campus.

At the introductory level, painting students are introduced to a variety of technical, historical, and conceptual approaches to the medium. Students are encouraged to work independently pursuing their personal vision and encouraged to work through a variety of directed exercises to explore different approaches to form. At the intermediate and advanced levels, students work more independently to develop a unique body of work. 

Instruction is highly individualized, and students are required to pursue research intended to help enhance the content and contextualize their work. Students are asked to write and speak coherently about their work within this broader context. These skills enable the student to prepare and present their portfolio in a professional manner. 

Available at the Bloomsburg campus.

The photography program offers a comprehensive experience for the interested student. Courses offered include darkroom, digital, portraiture, experimental, landscape, and street photography. Facilities include a complete chemical darkroom, fully equipped Mac lab with 24” and 44” wide Epson printers, and a dedicated lighting studio. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the numerous opportunities offered through the department such as internships, independent study projects, and study abroad along with the regular course offerings. These opportunities enable photographers to develop their portfolios and gain professional experience before graduating. With close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, photography majors have many opportunities to view and study the work of artists relevant to their own photographic interests. 

Available at the Bloomsburg campus.

Our printmaking concentration offers the student a contemporary approach to non-toxic printmaking. At the introductory level, students may take three individual courses including Intaglio (etching and collagraph techniques), Silkscreen, and Waterless Lithography and Relief printmaking. In each class, the student will learn in-depth technical skills while exploring conceptual ideas. 

After the student has completed at least two of the introductory level print courses they may enroll in Advanced Printmaking. In this class, students work more independently, concentrating on their focused body of work. 

Experimentation is highly encouraged, including multiple techniques/layers, the use of alternative surfaces/materials, print installations, and sculptural works. The advanced class is preparation for the real world. Each student will complete a cohesive body of prints, write an artist statement, and give a professional artist lecture to a group outside of their own class. 

Available at the Bloomsburg campus.

The Sculpture program provides a balance of craft and concept development. Students can model, manipulate, cast, fabricate, and construct sculptural environments. The courses in sculpture introduce students to a variety of concepts, materials, and processes aimed at providing a knowledge base that students can rely upon as they continue to develop. Upper-level classes continue to build skills while providing the students with an understanding of how their practice fits into the larger discussions within the contemporary art world. 

Available at the Mansfield campus.

2D Media is a two-dimensional multi-disciplinary program. Through coursework in drawing, painting, photography, water-based media, and others, students move from an introductory experience that emphasizes perceptual skills to an advanced experience that privileges a nuanced and complex understanding of the implications of style and materials, as well as a specific and personal content. Upper-level classes continue to build skills while providing the students with an understanding of how their practice fits into the larger discussions within the contemporary art world. 

Available at the Mansfield campus.

3D Media is a three-dimensional multi-disciplinary program. Through coursework in multi-cultural crafts, global art, sculpture, ceramics, and other courses, students can construct a degree program that explores sculptural works. The courses within 3D Media introduce students to a variety of concepts, materials, and processes aimed at providing a knowledge base that students can rely upon as they continue to develop. Upper-level classes continue to build skills while providing the students with an understanding of how their practice fits into the larger discussions within the contemporary art world. 

Illustration of Mountain

Practical Learning

Careers

A Bachelor of Fine Arts prepares you for:

  • A post baccalaureate certificate in Art Education
  • A master's degree in information technology
  • A Master of Fine Arts degree (terminal degree for teaching at a college level)
  • Work in galleries and museums
  • Jobs in graphic, fashion, or interior design

And more! This degree offers ten areas of concentration — each supervised by a specific faculty member. 

Clubs and Organizations

  • Ceramics Club – Mansfield  
  • Art and Design Guild – Mansfield  
  • Art Exhibition Committee – Mansfield
  • Graphic Design Club – Bloomsburg
  • Photo Club – Mansfield Bloomsburg
    • Open to all students campus-wide. At Mansfield, the purpose is to encourage the use of the camera and how to use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to create stronger photography. The club does community service, fundraising, and photographic trips. At Bloomsburg, students from all majors are welcome to this inclusive, creative, photo-focused creative space. 

The CU Difference

National Association of Schools of Art and Design Accreditation
Founded in 1944, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design is an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities with approximately 363 accredited institutional members.
10
B.F.A. concentrations to choose from

Careers

A fine arts degree gives you skills that will set you up in a wide range of creative careers. As a fine arts grad, the world is yours!

Potential Job Opportunities

  • Commercial Art Gallery Manager
  • Exhibition Designer
  • Illustrator
  • Printmaker
  • Art Studio Technician
  • Fashion/Textile Designer
  • Photojournalist
  • Graphic Designer
  • Web Developer
  • Interior Design
  • Museum/Gallery Curator
  • Costume Designer
  • Multimedia Programmer
  • Art Director

Top Skills Employers are Looking For

  • Good visual and verbal communication skills
  • artistic talent
  • critical and creative thinking skills
  • determination and commitment good organizational skills
  • the ability to meet deadlines

Visual Arts Contacts

Dunlap

James Dunlap

  • Associate Professor of Graphic Design
  • Bloomsburg

Applying to This Program

Apply

  • Application Process

    Review the step-by-step process whether you're a first-year student, transferring to CU, or more.

  • Apply Now

    By starting your application, you gain access to your personalized application portal to view your progress.

  • Scholarships

    As the largest comprehensive university in north central and northeastern Pennsylvania, CommonwealthU works hard to provide a world-class education that consistently rates among the best values in the nation.

Explore More