CFA School of Visual Arts emphasizes connection, collaboration and dialogue along with individual artistic development. Through our ethos, curriculum, and community events, we prioritize students feeling supported and being well-educated.

A highly engaged artistic vision has been at the core of the School of Visual Arts since its beginning in 1954. Since that time, the school has also grown to meet the needs of changing art and design fields and the goals of contemporary university students. SVA is an established leader in the professional arts with five MFA degrees and online and in person MA degrees in Art Education. The MFA in Painting is ranked #6 nationally (US News & World Report), and students in MFA Painting, Sculpture and Print Media & Photography take elective coursework together with students in our large MFA Graphic Design program and growing new MFA degree in Visual Narrative.

BFA students majoring in Graphic Design, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture and Art Education learn to synthesize intensive studio practice with broad knowledge gained from the BU Hub, culminating in their senior thesis exhibition, writing, and publications that prepare undergraduates for entering the professional world. Our BA students learn more broadly, but focus their liberal arts art degree via an arts-based research seminar and Capstone project. Informed by the work of important centers like the Center for Antiracist Research and by working with artists-in-residence like Dakota Mace or Francisco Alarcon, our students challenge assumptions and learn to connect material objects and the studio process with culture, history, and technology.

The myth 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, faculty, and alumni know, becoming a contemporary artist or designer at Boston University means engaging in many forms of creative research. We take our students into the art world and beyond: Students have the opportunity to share their work in one of our four newly-renovated galleries and through established partnerships with galleries in Boston, New York, and Venice, Italy where we have our own study abroad program. University resources like the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, Campus Climate Lab, and the BU Arts Initiative provide students with the opportunity to gain and lead their own professional experience in arts-based research.

SVA offers a very tangible community of professional artists, designers, friends, mentors, and honest critics who will help sustain a connected and engaged life in the arts. Our curriculum is energized by professional Boston University Art Galleries exhibitions, important long-standing lecture series and experiential workshops. Our public-facing events not only expose students to new ideas from the most important practitioners working today, they help sustain a connection to the field, especially to our highly engaged practicing alumni. We believe in being an active part of a larger art world and the connection of SVA to this world is invigorated by our Tuesday Night Lecture Series. We create community and welcome in others with departmental symposia and conferences like Art Education’s Women and Masks, Graphic Design’s Multiple Formats Art Book Fair, and a new SVA partnership with the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE). We live at a time in which creative problem solving, ethical reasoning, and complex thinking are especially crucial. These skills are central to a rigorous education in the School of Visual Arts and College of Fine Arts where students develop their contemporary and personal voices informed by community, history, experience, and imaginative speculation about the future.

Dana Clancy
Director and Associate Professor of Art, Painting
School of Visual Arts