BFA Painting

The BFA program in Painting recognizes the primacy of painting as a vital mode of contemporary expression. Instruction, independent practice, and awareness of historical and contemporary context are brought together to enable students to think critically and imaginatively, and to express their ideas with skill and conviction.

Degree Type

  • Undergraduate


  • In-Person


  • Full-Time


  • On-Campus
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The principal component of the Painting program is rigorous studio activity, with students exploring various approaches to painting to develop an individual vision. Students also consider the role of sight, insight, and perception in relation to processes of making. Critical dialogue and rigorous expectations about studio practice support work toward a fully formed artistic vision. The program is intended to provide a solid base for postgraduate involvement in the larger art world.

Program of Study

Prior to entering the BFA Painting program, students must complete the Foundation program, which includes courses in drawing, painting, and sculpture in their first two years of study. Following rigorous perceptual training in the Foundation program, students are given their own private studios and embark on developing their own artistic vision and voice.

Required in the Junior and Senior years, the Contemporary Issues seminar provides context for the studio through readings and discussion of art theory and training in professional practice.

Students work closely with core painting faculty, benefiting from both one-on-one mentorship and group critiques.

Undergraduates also benefit from studio visits with visiting artists, including guest speakers from the Tuesday Night Lecture Series.

Students are required to enroll in the History of Art lecture courses on twentieth century art, and may elect to take additional art history courses. Students may also take coursework outside of the School of Visual Arts and explore programs across the BU community. Many undergraduates are dual-degree majors.

Daria Lugina

Tanner Gauvin

Madeleine Durso


Students are given numerous opportunities to display work in Boston University galleries. Undergraduates are encouraged in their senior year to develop solo or two-person exhibitions in the student-run Gallery 5. At the conclusion of the senior year, Painting students mount a Thesis Exhibition held in the Boston University Art Galleries.

Undergraduates can study painting alongside printmaking, glassblowing, art history, and other disciplines in the School’s study abroad program in Venice, Italy.

Students take regular faculty-led trips to New York, where they tour museums, gallery exhibitions, and artists’ studios.

Notable Graduates

  • Brice Marden, pioneering American abstract painter; subject of numerous solo exhibitions and retrospectives at sites such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; member of the Academy of Arts and Letters; represented by Matthew Marks Gallery.
  • Pat Steir, painter and printmaker with an extensive exhibition history, including solo shows at the New Museum and Brooklyn Museum of Art; 1982 Guggenheim Fellow; represented by Cheim and Read in New York.
  • Howardena Pindell, painter, educator, and former curator whose process-driven abstraction has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Rose Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, The National Gallery of Art in D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more.
  • Mathew Cerletty, painter with solo exhibitions with Blum & Poe gallery in Los Angeles and Algus Greenspon in New York; featured in a five-person exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2016; represented by Office Baroque in Brussels.
  • Christian Roman, story artist for Pixar.
  • Joel Christian Gill, graphic novelist, writer, and illustrator.
  • Joe Wardwell, painter whose work is on view at Mass MoCA and ICA/Boston

Amanda Lee Dunham

Lena McCarthy

Xian Boles

Olivia Sindall

Benjamin Swanson


Undergraduates are assigned private studios at the start of the Junior year. Spacious and light-filled, the studios have expansive views of Boston and the Charles River from the fifth floor of the CFA Building.

Undergraduate students have access to their own fully equipped wood shop.

Through electives, students are also granted access to the Printmaking facilities, which include etching, lithography, silkscreen, bookmaking, letterpress, and digital print studios.

Additional facilities available to graduate through elective courses include a welding shop, ceramics facilities, black-and-white darkrooms, digital media studios including vinyl cutters and and a Risograph printer.

Students have access to the Visual Arts Resource Library, a non-lending library of art books, periodicals, and media resources including computers, scanners, printers, and digital cameras and other equipment available for short-term loan.

Darien Bird

Abigail Frank

Leslie Ochoa

Britt Kuchenmeister

Johnny Doley

Program Faculty

Next Steps for Applicants

The best way to determine if BU is right for you is to visit us in-person or remotely. Observe classes. Faculty members are available to meet with you and to discuss your educational interests, individual learning needs, and career goals.

Explore our admission requirements, financial tools, and resources to determine if the program is the right match. Reach out to with any questions along the way.

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