College of Arts and Letters2019-2020

School of Art

Studio Art, Bachelor of Fine Arts

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Ceramics - Emphasis
  • New Media - Emphasis
  • Painting - Emphasis
  • Printmaking - Emphasis
  • Sculpture - Emphasis

This degree takes advantage of  NAU’s studio facilities to accustom students to working in studio environments. Students will learn important techniques, analysis of materials, planning, critique, global influences, and more.


What Can I Do with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art?

A studio art degree prepares you for a wide variety of different potential jobs and paths. Unabashed experimentation with materials, imagery, technology, and ideas are the hallmarks of a BFA in Studio Art. The career path for every artist is as unique as the individual. Demand for creative and critical thinkers is on the rise and will not be replaced soon by outsourcing or artificial intelligence. Many of these jobs will require additional education in the arts such as an MFA. Our program offers a BFA degree with emphases in ceramics, new media arts, painting, printmaking, and sculpture with small classes and close interaction with our nationally and internationally active artists/faculty.   

Career opportunities that might be pursued:
  • Creative Consultant
  • Prototype Designer
  • Print Shop Manager
  • Creative Business Owner
  • Artist

With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • Museum Professional
  • Studio Manager 
  • Archivist
  • Art Therapist
  • Educator

University Requirements

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's liberal studies, diversity, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.
    The full policy can be viewed here.



In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 84 units of major requirements which include 27 units of emphasis requirements.
  • Note that PHO courses, ART 100, ART 101 and ART 300 do not fulfill the requirements of the B.F.A. major.

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units

Please note that students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Emphasis, Minor, or Certificate Required Required
University Honors Program Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts degree encompasses knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are in demand from an array of creative fields—including but not limited to medical, entertainment, and design—in addition to the skills needed to be studio artists. Studio artists work in a variety of different occupations that require a combination of hand skills, an understanding of a variety of material applications, and creative problem solving. Upon graduation, students are expected to exhibit the strong critical thinking, aesthetic design, and conceptual thinking skills needed to participate effectively in a competitive creative arts market.
Beyond the skills of artistic creation, students develop business practices for artists including graduate school application, grant application, gallery representation, self-promotion through web and print media, and maintaining a sustainable and safe studio practice. Studio Arts students learn how to apply their skills beyond traditional studio art applications to other industrial and non-industrial fields outside the world of art.
School of Art faculty teach students to apply critical thinking and analysis, innovation and creative solutions, as well as technical artistic processes towards the production of art while building an open mind to criticism respect for public opinion. All Studio Arts majors are required to complete a Foundation year which includes drawing and basic 2D, 3D, and 4D design coursework. Eventually, students work primarily in one of five emphases: Ceramics, New Media, Painting, Printmaking, or Sculpture.  Classes are studio-based and include classroom critiques and discussions about work produced in class, review of professional artwork and artists, and professional practices of an artistic practice. Each Studio Arts student works towards a senior thesis which reflects the student’s experiences and research the student has completed throughout the program.
Emphases Learning Outcomes  
Through a detailed curriculum, students learn all of the making and firing processes in ceramics, to understand sound craftsmanship, and to think critically in design decisions. The curriculum also provides a thorough education in the technical aspects of ceramics, such as an understanding of ceramic materials through glaze calculation and the practical knowledge of kiln design and construction.
New Media Art
A New Media student’s education focuses on 4D design and the applications of technology to create artwork. Students learn how to synthesize content, processes, and components to express compelling purpose, story, emotion, or ideas in a variety of media including but not limited to performance art, installation, interactive programming, and video. The work created in this program focus on personal research reinforced by additional electives outside of the School of Art to allow more in-depth interdisciplinary exploration.
Building upon the drawing and design skills learned in the Foundations program the painting program focuses on the application of pigment to a surface. Students begin their learning with representational approaches and over time work towards a personal expressive manner of painting that can be as unique as the student. Students explore both water and oil based painting processes as well as a variety of methods of application of paint.
Building upon the observational and design skills learned in the Foundation program, students in the printmaking program explore a variety of different image making technique including but not limited to lithography, intaglio, silk-screen, wood cut, and bookmaking. What distinguishes the Print Making program from the other emphases is the focus on multiple copies of images. 
The BFA Sculpture emphasis focuses on 3D physical and spatial design. Students begin with learning basic metal working and welding techniques. Over time students also learn to create 3D artworks with wood, cast metal, plastics, and other composite materials. Students develop their building and fabrication skills in service of developing 3D art. These skills can be applied in a variety of occupations and opportunities like architectural theming and product prototyping in addition to studio art
Student Learning Outcomes: 

  • Create original two-dimensional, three-dimensional and/or four-dimensional fine artwork utilizing the elements and principles of design. 
  • Develop critical, creative and thinking and problem-solving strategies in visual, written and oral communications. 
  • Articulate between Western and Non-Western traditions of art, design and culture as well as connections of artworks to critical art theory, environmentally sustainability, global engagement and cultural diversity. 
  • Prepare professional marketing and business materials including written, visual and web portfolios for career opportunities including exhibitions, grant funding, art residencies, graduate studies and other discipline specific opportunities. 
  • Create a safe and sustainable studio practice applicable to their chosen emphasis and their creative practice
  • Compare where their work fits into the global art community in terms of historical movements and contemporary practices.
  • Design a research and creative practice or study of personal interest and importance utilizing all of the design phases ( planning, prototyping, evaluating, editing, and execution)
Ceramics Emphasis Learning Objectives
  • Possess knowledge and skills in the use of basic tools, techniques, and processes related to raw materials and technical procedures such as clay bodies, glaze calculation, and firing so that the artwork created can be (4) conceptualized and completed in a professional manner
  • Display through their completed work an essential comprehension of the industrial applications of ceramics techniques.
New Media Art Learning Objectives
  • Create digital 2D, 3D, and 4D artwork with a variety of different programs and new technologies
  • Program interactive and kinetic artwork which also possess electromechanical functionality 
  • Apply 4D design skills as they apply to performance, installation, interactive, and other new media artwork
Painting Learning Objectives
  • Employ basic tools, techniques, and processes, including paints and surfaces, to work from concept to completed product.
  • Develop the expressive possibilities of various media.
Printmaking Learning Objectives
  • Create finished works of art that demonstrate an understanding of basic tools, techniques, and processes in printmaking, including intaglio, relief, lithography, silkscreen, and digital processes.
  • Demonstrate the ability to both experiment with technical innovation and to explore and develop personal concepts and imagery in one printmaking technique.
Sculpture Learning Objectives
  • Apply the knowledge and skills of hand and power tools, foundry, welding, plastics, resin, and other technologies to create 3D sculptural works of art.
  • Create finished works of art that show understanding of 3D design skills that explore personal concepts and imagery. 


Major Requirements
  • Take the following 57 units with a Grade of "C" or better in each course:

    • The two elective tracks selected above must differ from your emphasis.

      Emphasis Requirements
      Select an emphasis that differs from either of the elective tracks chosen above. Take the following 27 units with a Grade of "C" or better in each course.

      Ceramics Emphasis (27 units)

    • Painting Emphasis* (27 units)
      • Painting: ART 222, ART 223, ART 322, ART 422 (Some of these courses repeat for credit.) (18 units)
      • ART 482C, which meets Northern Arizona University's senior capstone requirement (3 units)
      • Additional ART studio elective coursework with advisor's approval (6 units)
    • Printmaking Emphasis (27 units)
      • Printmaking: (ART 141 or ART 142), ART 241, ART 242, 6 units of ART 342, 6 units of ART 442 (21 units)
      • ART 482C, which meets Northern Arizona University's senior capstone requirement (3 units)
      • Additional ART studio elective coursework with advisor's approval (3 units)
    • Sculpture Emphasis (27 units)
      • Sculpture: ART 181, ART 281, ART 381, ART 481 (Some of these courses repeat for credit) (21 units)
      • ART 482C, which meets Northern Arizona University's senior capstone requirement (3 units)
      • Additional ART studio elective coursework with advisor's approval (3 units)
General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required, if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit. 

    You may take these remaining courses from any academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you. (Please note that you may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.)

Additional Information
  • You must have completed all of the coursework used to fulfill these requirements within the last 10 years.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability

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