School of Visual Arts

The College of Fine Arts 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

The Boston University School of Visual Arts is a rigorous, professional school of art and design within a major urban research university. We are one of three schools in the College of Fine Arts, where artist-scholars can engage one another across disciplines and learn together how to be leaders in respective professional fields and in society.

A highly engaged artistic vision has been at the core of the work and identity of the School of Visual Arts since its start in 1954. The passion and commitment of faculty and students have not changed as our 21st-century artists and designers discover new means of making their work. In studios, classrooms, and in the BUild Lab, students in the School of Visual Arts create connections between resonant material objects and digital forms.

Our studio-based intensive BFA curriculum in Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Graphic Design, and Art Education is enriched by study in the larger university and by exhibitions in the Stone and 808 Gallery, as well as by important lecture series and experiential events that connect students with the many museums in Boston.

The Boston University School of Visual Arts aims to give our students and the broader community the opportunity to consider how important creative context is to an artist’s development. The view of the artist apart from society lives on in the popular imagination, but is far from the contemporary reality of a life dedicated to art, ideas, and social engagement. As our students, alums, and faculty know, becoming a contemporary artist or designer at Boston University means forming a very tangible world of professionals, friends, mentors, and honest critics who will help sustain a connected and engaged life in the arts.

This interconnected quality of art, design, and the life of the larger university are embodied in the new and interdisciplinary-focused BU Hub. The Hub provides many opportunities for our students to connect their studio work to various disciplines across the University. We live at a time in which creative problem-solving, ethical reasoning, and complex thinking are especially crucial. Our students will leave Boston University well prepared: these skills are central to a rigorous education in the School of Visual Arts and the College of Fine Arts at large, where students are trained to speak in a contemporary and personal voice about the human condition.

—Dana Clancy, Associate Professor of Painting, Director, School of Visual Arts