Venice Studio Arts Program

The semester-long program offers coursework in graphic design or painting in a city whose museums, walkways, and canals form a truly unique classroom. Unlike other art programs in Italy, in which American students only work and study with other Americans, BU in Venice is based on interaction with the Italian community of students, teachers, and artists as well as working with Boston University professors. Students profit from BU’s new center near Campo Santa Margherita, which includes studio space, classrooms, and administrative offices.

Program Curriculum

In addition to regular class meetings, students have access to studios during the building hours. Note: Syllabi are for course approval and reference only. Students will receive up-to-date syllabi when their courses begin.

Required Courses

All students enroll in either a painting or graphic design course, and First-Semester Italian (unless they have prior Italian language background):

Required Studio Course:

Students choose one of the following courses in graphic design or painting.

CFA AR 225/226: Sophomore Graphic Design (4) with CFA AR 385/386: Typography (2)

(Spring only. Previous design experience is beneficial.) Sophomore level graphic design studio examines design principles and communication strategies. Image making and conceptual problem solving will be emphasized. Image making will be discussed vis-a-vis how principles of design impact composition, hierarchy and ultimately, communication.  A student is expected to build upon the concepts — visual logic, narrative and color studies — developed during foundation year to generate innovative and inventive form in both analog and digital formats.

CFA AR 381/382: Junior Graphic Design (4) with CFA AR 487/497: Typography (2)

(Spring only. Prerequisite: CFA AR 225 & 226.) Junior level graphic design studio focuses on editorial graphics and design. The course teaches students the technical foundations for transforming an idea into an editorial object, focusing on the magazine, the newspaper, and the book. Students also learn the essential elements necessary to creating logos, including how to create the final image, the visual material, the use of words to describe the product, and the realization.

CFA AR 341/342: Painting Studios (4)

(Required for painting majors. Prerequisites: Painting I/II and Drawing I/II, or the equivalent.) Examines techniques of design, painting, and drawing. Students learn pencil, pastel, carbon, charcoal, ink, oil, wax, and mixed design techniques; tempera, acrylic, watercolor, oil, and mixed media painting techniques; and perspective, tonality, abstraction, chiaroscuro, and color in drawing. They also review different artistic genres, including still life, portraiture, nudes, and landscape as well as research into the figurative and abstract styles. Syllabus

Required Language Course:

CAS LI 111: First-Semester Italian (4 credits)

Grammar, conversation practice, written exercises and compositions. Syllabus

Elective Courses

Students enrolled in the Venice Program have the option of participating in two or three of the  following electives. Students must enroll in a minimum of 16 total credits and may not exceed 20 total credits.

CAS AH 354: Venetian Renaissance Art and Architecture (4)

This course explores the development of Venetian visual culture from the thirteenth century through the end of the sixteenth century.  Lectures take place in different locations each day and emphasize the importance of seeing and understanding works of art in the physical and historical context for which they were originally created. Therefore, class time will consist of visits to important public spaces, churches, and monuments (as well as some important galleries and museums) in Venice. To help put the Venetian context within the larger one of Italy as a whole, we will also go on field trips to the island of Torcello and the cities of Padua, Florence, and Rome. Syllabus

CFA AR 419: Glassblowing (on the island of Murano) (4)

(Spring only.) An introduction to professional glassblowing methods. Syllabus

CFA AR 447/448: Printmaking (Intaglio and woodcut) (4)


CFA AR 501: Drawing Venice (4)

The main goal of this course is to provide the opportunity – through drawing – to explore Venice as a physical, historical, and multifaceted city and as a prominent center of art. Various concepts will be presented to foster the drawing process including: line, mass, space, light and tonal structure, automatic drawing, gesture, abstraction, medium, and transitioning from drawing to painting. Syllabus

CFA VN 321: Sculpture Studios (4)

(Fall only.) This class focuses on teaching materials, tools, and methods essential to the process of sculpture making. Practical problem solving will be taught through working with materials including wood, clay, found objects, plaster, resins, found objects, and armatures. Students will develop a facility with a wide range of tools. There will be a strong focus on developing the students ability to resource and experiment with materials, and for students to create works with personal content and conceptual framework.

Program Details

Program Dates
  • Fall Semester: early September to mid December
  • Spring Semester: mid January to mid May
  • Upon successful completion of the program, students earn sixteen to twenty Boston University credits. Students must enroll for a minimum of sixteen credits.
  • Students stay in furnished apartments located in central Venice.
Application Deadlines
  • Fall Semester: March 15 
  • Spring Semester: October 1

Download a description of the Venice Studio Arts Program.

Program Staff

The Boston University Venice program is administered by staff in both our Boston and Venice offices. In Boston, a program manager facilitates the admissions and pre-departure procedures, and maintains contact with students prior to their arrival in Venice. The Boston office also houses administrative personnel who are responsible for everyday operations. In Venice, the staff comprises a resident director and administrative, academic, and housing personnel.