Studio Art B.F.A.

The Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design offers two degrees in Studio Art, the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.). Both degrees are earned through the College of Arts and Sciences and each offers students the opportunity to explore their interests and refine their skills in the study and hands-on practice of art.

The B.F.A. degree is a pre-professional degree that prepares highly motivated students for entry into graduate M.F.A. programs. It offers such students the opportunity to focus on a particular studio area, preparing for a career in the arts.

Because classes for each studio area in the B.F.A. are relatively small and designed for a high degree of excellence, entry into the B.F.A. program is competitive. Applications are reviewed once per semester. In order to be considered, the completion of intermediate college-level coursework in the studio area is required (preferably at IU Bloomington), as well as a portfolio review and an interview with area faculty. Most students begin their studies as a B.A. in Studio Art then apply to the B.F.A. in their desired studio focus area after they have completed some coursework in that studio area.

Studio Art majors may apply for their B.F.A. area of interest according to the guidelines set up by faculty in any of the following areas:

  • Ceramics
  • Digital Art
  • Fibers
  • Graphic Design
  • Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design
  • Painting/Drawing
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture

All Studio Art B.A.s and B.F.A.s spend a significant amount of time in the various studios of SoAAD working with world class faculty. SoAAD faculty are working artists, designers, and researchers, bring their professional experience to the classroom. B.F.A. students, in particular, receive critical feedback from faculty in order to perfect their skills and portfolios.

The major also requires students to take four courses in Art History. If you are interested in Studio Art but do not wish to pursue the major, there are minors available in Studio Art, Illustration and Creative Technologies. See the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin for each minor's specific requirements.


Getting started

Students who plan to apply for the B.F.A. program usually begin their studies with the B.A. Studio Art as their intended major, then apply to the specific studio area B.F.A. after completing at least one course in that area. All Studio Art majors begin their studies with Creative Core coursework in SOAD-A 102 Drawing, SOAD-A 101 Color or SOAD-A 103 3D design. Because 200 level coursework in studio art has no pre-requisites, students sometimes take a 200 level course before having completed the Creative Core courses so they may learn more about a specific area in preparation to applying to the BFA. SOAD-A 211 Cross Disciplinary Workshops may also be taken as introductory courses in the Studio Art BA. Another beginning level course is SOAD-A 100 Pathways, which serves as an introduction to the various fields of Art, Design and Merchandising.

Students with previous transfer or AP Studio Art credit (Advanced Placement art portfolios from high school, transfer credit from either dual credit courses or accredited colleges) will need to have the work evaluated to determine equivalency to SOAAD coursework. More information on how to get a course or AP portfolio reviewed for credit is available from the Studio Art advisor.

Tracks and concentrations

Students pursuing the Studio Art B.F.A. degree build on the Creative Core coursework and introductory 200 level courses with upper level courses in their areas of focus. Most focus in one area, but there is a freedom inherent in the B.F.A. to explore other mediums.

Studio Areas in Fine Arts include:

  • Ceramics
  • Digital Art
  • Graphic Design
  • Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design
  • Painting/Drawing
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Textiles

Each B.F.A. studio area has suggested coursework for best excelling in the B.F.A.

Upper level coursework

Although each studio area has an introductory course at the 200 level, most courses are at the 300/400, upper level. Having taken an area's introductory course, students may then advance to 300 and 400 level coursework. Upper level coursework is typically a specific and focused study in that area's medium. Permission to enroll in upper level coursework without having completed the lower level may be requested from the instructor and granted only on a case by case basis.

Additionally, B.F.A. scholars enroll in variable credit coursework and seminar courses offered only to the B.F.A. students.

Additional courses at the upper level include special topics, advanced skill and portfolio development, and a professional practice course which gives credit for students pursuing internships in studio art and design.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

With accurate course planning you can supplement the Studio Art B.F.A. with many other courses of study. Many B.F.A. students complete at least one minor in fields such as Art History, Business, Psychology, Media, or a foreign language.

  • Art History
  • Apparel Merchandising
  • Fashion Design
  • Game Design
  • Creative Advertising
  • Human Centered Computing
  • Foreign Language

Concurrent degrees are also possible, especially with the Art History B.A. as the twelve hours of Art History required by the B.F.A. may be applied directly to the Art History B.A.

Potentially relevant certificates are offered by the Media School, the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and the Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP), a College of Arts and Sciences program offered in cooperation with the Kelley School of Business.

The Studio Art academic advisor can help you better understand how other majors, minors, and certificates can be paired with the Studio Art major.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing the Studio Art B.F.A. degree, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who are practicing artists with a depth and breadth of knowledge in the field. Take advantage of time during studio classes to talk with instructors about your goals as an artist, and to discuss topics related to the course content, your assignments, and any readings required for the class.

Students are eligible to propose an independent study project with faculty and receive upper level credit for it, and they spend their final semester preparing the B.F.A. thesis, a substantial creative research project that includes a show in the Grunwald Gallery of Art.


High achieving students may also be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Students who plan to apply for the B.F.A. program begin their studies with the B.A. Studio Art as their intended major. They apply to the specific BFA area after completing at least one course in that area. Incoming students who are directly admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences with Studio Art B.A. as their intended major may be eligible for departmental funding toward their degree through the Malashock Scholarship

The department offers significant, merit-based awards to students based on their studio coursework during the annual Holiday Awards ceremony. An annual award is also given separately to art students through the Office of the Provost

There are many options for students pursuing Studio Art scholarships and awards, particularly for those studying abroad. Including but not limited to:



Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Students are encouraged to begin exploring internship opportunities as early as their freshman year.

Previous Studio Art B.F.A. majors have found internships with organizations such as the following among many others locally and nationally:

Students are encouraged to work with the College of Arts and Sciences dedicated coaches at the Walter Center for Career Achievement to identify and aim for increasingly challenging internships and employment as they build skill and artistry. For students who need to earn credit at an internship, enrollment in SOAD-X 373 can be arranged.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages. Details for the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree may be found in the College of Arts and Sciences bulletin.

The College of Arts and Sciences requires Studio Art majors to acquire fourth semester proficiency in a foreign language. Students who test into a higher level of language are required only to complete study up through the 4th semester.

Here are just a few of the language resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. Studio Art students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following exchange programs:

Hong Kong
South Korea

The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with studio art faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Studio Art faculty offer a number of unique summer programs in which the classroom is overseas: Photography in France or Japan; Painting/Drawing and Art History or Italian in Florence; Printmaking and Bookmaking in Venice; and more depending on the creative ideas of our faculty.

Additionally, there are semester or year long overseas study program options for all students at IU. For more information about these and other study abroad opportunities, students should view programs online and meet with a study abroad advisor in the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Becoming a member of a student group is a good way to make connections between your coursework and co-curricular activities. Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Organizations that are relevant to Studio Art include:

  • Ceramics Guild
  • Graphic Design Club
  • Metals Guild
  • Painting Guild
  • Photography Society
  • Print Workshop
  • Sculpture Guild
  • Textile Artist Assembly

The Friends of Art Bookshop offers a newsletter publicizing events, reading groups, and other ways to get involved.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Studio Art BFAs often participate in national conferences related to their discipline. Some examples are the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), the Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI) and AIGA Design Conference. Students are encouraged to speak to their area faculty for more information about professional organizations related to their areas of interest.

Use the Indiana University Library system as well to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, and nonprofit organizations.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Studio Art B.F.A. provides you with a set of creative skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Visual literacy: the ability to articulate and engage creative ideas, history, theory, and core issues from a globally informed art perspective
  • Creative tools: the ability to manipulate materials, and to utilize media-specific skills to explore art production
  • Substantive, self-directed artistic activity: the ability to generate questions, analysis, and reflection in order to drive a personally effective, cohesive body of work
  • Applied skills: the ability to demonstrate an understanding of professional skills and methodologies particular to a concentration area
  • Theoretical understanding: the ability to understand the connection between concepts and media, while exploring the cultural and contextual meaning of art

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after College.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

Some students find it beneficial to have the structure of a career course to help maximize career exploration and career preparation at IU. Studio Art BFA students should consider taking ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience with the topic of Art & Design. This course provides the opportunity for studio art students to explore the relationship between their chosen field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success.

The job market

The employment outlook for students with the Studio Arts B.F.A. degree is diverse and depends on the extracurricular and work-related activities students participate in while pursuing their degree, as well as any dual degrees or minors they complete.

The many skill sets developed within Studio Art can prepare students for careers where they utilize artistic literacy, self-directed artistic activity, and the ability to critically analyze and organize ideas within teams and the broader community. Students may find the job market to be inconsistent, yet must realize that their networking efforts, internship experience, portfolio, and drive are of great value in this employment sector.

Employers seek students with Studio Art BFA degrees for their imagination, creativity, observation, memory, expression, and intuition. The visual and creative arts are a significant form of communication in any employment sector, and students with this background are prepared to think critically and creatively. Indeed, they are able to translate abstract ideas into visual form.

Therefore, Studio Art BFAs take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in job sectors such as: freelance commercial art, crafts, graphic design, video game art, photography, illustration, and writing/publishing; art management, therapy, and sales; museums and galleries, retail and customer service, event planning, media, fashion/textile/interior design, research, and social work.

Among many careers and vocations, Studio Art BFAs can become:

  • Graphic designers
  • Photographers
  • Painters
  • Educators
  • Small business owners
  • Exhibit coordinators
  • Curatorial assistants
  • Writers
  • Illustrators
  • Social workers
  • Package designers
  • Production designers

Talk with Studio Art faculty, the academic advisor or career advisor, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduated BAs in Studio Art from the School of Art, Architecture + Design.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations. Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

A Studio Art B.F.A. will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as M.F.A. or M.A. programs in fine art, digital media, visual communication design, art therapy, art history, fashion design, education, museum administration, library and information studies, or business.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other medical professional programs.

Students who pursue graduate studies in Studio Art have gone into careers in visual art, design, arts administration, social work, and teaching at all levels (primary to tertiary).

Here are examples of common graduate programs for Studio Art majors offered at IU:

Alumni connections

Talk with Studio Art faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.

The IU College of Arts + Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

The Studio Art B.F.A. program attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically possess some of the following interests and desires:

  • Desire to excel as practicing artists and designers
  • Wish to establish a solid foundation in the studio arts, and develop a significant portfolio of creative works
  • Affinity for both the fine arts and liberal arts, including the history of art
  • Aspire to stimulate creativity through intellectual curiosity
  • Interest in developing expertise in both new technology and traditional practices in an environment that encourages creative experimentation and invention
  • Interest in increasing command of the formal aspects of visual concepts

Learn more

Contact the studio art academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. For more information about careers in the arts, contact our dedicated  Walter Center for Career Achievement career coach. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address