School of Visual Arts

The School of Visual Arts was established as a professional school at Boston University in 1954. With a faculty composed of practicing professional artists, the School offers an intensive program of studio training combined with liberal arts studies leading to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. Programs are offered in painting, graphic design, printmaking, sculpture, and art education. Graduate admission is highly selective and limited class size ensures that students receive individual attention from faculty mentors.

Required foundation courses offer an intensive foundation in the studio disciplines of drawing, painting, and 3-D sculptural work, with emphasis on composition, color, form, and time. This broad base of experience provides students with a solid introduction to the visual arts disciplines before they elect major areas of specialization and prepares students for future study or professional practice in art education, graphic design, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Studio classes are limited in enrollment to ensure a high degree of student-faculty contact in the courses. Students are given the opportunity, through elective courses, to continue in other studio areas—printmaking, traditional and digital photography, book arts, ceramics, multimedia design, motion graphics, animation, and illustration—as well as in liberal arts studies.

Visits from distinguished artists and lecturers as well as a widely varied program of exhibitions in the Boston University Art Galleries broaden and enrich each student’s educational experience. Student-run galleries—the Commonwealth Gallery and Gallery 5—provide undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to propose and present exhibitions. Professional development workshops on topics such as taxes for artists, grant writing, and documentation of work augment students’ courses and help prepare them for a professional life in the arts.

Facilities available include a resource library, welding shop, wood shop, art education resource repository, and painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, artist book, and photography studios.

The intellectual and cultural resources of BU and other leading universities in Boston, combined with internationally renowned art museums, galleries, theatres, and orchestras, make for a stimulating, challenging, and inspiring environment. Students do not merely observe the Boston art scene, but work in the midst of it, redefining it with their perspective, vision, and energy.

Message from the Director

At the Boston University School of Visual Arts, we have the distinct pleasure of educating creative thinkers and problem-solvers to become exceptional artists and future leaders. Students immerse themselves in the arts, and expand their knowledge and skills within a world-class university in the beautiful city of Boston.

Drawing serves as the foundation for all visual arts disciplines. We offer undergraduate majors in painting, graphic design, sculpture, art education, and printmaking, and elective courses in photography, drawing into animation, motion graphics, color theory, and illustration, to name just a few. Undergraduates have access to a vast range of liberal arts classes, and many pursue minors or double majors in areas like art history, communications, and business. Our graduate students study with elite professionals in their fields and many students hold graduate teaching assistantships during their course of study.

Our goal is to prepare students to enter a professional life in the arts with confidence and focus. Internship programs, career development workshops, and contemporary artist visits provide opportunities for professional exploration as early as the freshman year.

Our alumni go on to work at companies like Pixar, Converse, and Nike; to attend prestigious graduate programs like Yale University and the Rhode Island School of Design; and to generate their own unique, entrepreneurial ventures.

Please visit us at the BU School of Visual Arts on your next trip to Boston.

—Lynne Allen, Director and Professor, School of Visual Arts