If you are an artistic individual who is inspired to show off your work to the world, an undergraduate degree in fine arts may be just for you. Be prepared for four years full of art history information, studio hours, various artistic techniques, and critiques. Your degree will be the foundation of your career in the arts and you will finish with a portfolio full of your work for future employers. To find out more about unique universities across the United States, read further.
Once you have decided that you want to pursue a bachelor of fine arts degree, you should consider what specialty you would like to declare. Unlike most degrees where you can enter a university as an undeclared major, most bachelor of fine arts programs require that you declare a specific specialty of your choice from the beginning. This can include acting, illustration, music, dance, dramatic writing, sculpture, or television production. International students should be aware that some programs offer mixed degrees such as music and theater or directing and dramatic writing.
Entrance into undergraduate programs in fine arts usually requires auditions or a submission of a portfolio. The first two years will typically be general study where many disciplines of art are encompassed into the program. The last two years will focus on the specialty that you wish to pursue. While a bachelor of fine arts degree is a four year program, it can take longer because of the amount of studio course work that is required.
When considering undergraduate programs in fine arts, check to make sure that the programs have the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accreditation. International students who are unsure of where in the United States to pursue a bachelor of fine arts degree, check out some of these universities located in the different regions of the country, each of which offer their own unique qualities:
- California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California (West Coast)
- Cleveland Institute of Art and Music in Cleveland, Ohio (Central)
- Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia (South)
- Santa Fe University of Art and Design in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Midwest)
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, Massachusetts (North)
According to U.S. News and World Report the California College of the Arts is a private university that was founded in 1907. The campus is in the urban setting of San Francisco with 1,410 undergraduate students. The cost of tuition is $37,310 USD and the college has rolling admissions with a 75.8% acceptance rate. There is a 9:1 student to teacher ratio for class sizes and a 74.8% retention rate (meaning that percentage chose to stay at that school for their education). The top majors for the school are painting, graphic design, architecture, illustration, and fashion/apparel design. During the first year, all students must participate in a program based at the Oakland campus. Students work with their advisors and faculty to explore techniques and majors they may not have considered. The program ends with a portfolio review which discusses the student's preparedness for majors.
The Cleveland Institute of Art and Music is a private university founded in 1882 (music in 1920). There are 534 undergraduate students in the urban setting. The institute has rolling admissions with an 82% acceptance rate. Tuition costs $33,882 USD. There is a 9:1 student to teacher ratio and an 84% retention rate. Top majors include industrial and product design, illustration, drawing, game and interactive media design, and painting. Every student who declares a major is given their own studio space until they graduate. International students can fill the space with whatever inspires them, store their supplies, and use it as a place to show off their work for instructors to critique.
Savannah College of Art and Design is a private university founded in 1978. There are 8,478 undergraduate students in an urban setting. Tuition costs $30,510 USD. August 1st is the application deadline and 61.9% of applicants are accepted. There is a 16:1 student to teacher ratio and an 81% retention rate. Top majors include film/cinema/video studies, graphic design, animation/interactive technology/video graphics & special effects, photography, and illustration. This past spring the college teamed up with Behance to create an online portfolio network for alumni and students. This allows your work to gain exposure to potential clients and recruiters.
Santa Fe University of Art and Design is a private school founded in 1874. It is located in an urban setting and tuition costs $30,996 USD. There is a rolling admission with a 15:1 student to teacher ratio and a 68% retention rate. The top majors are education, film/cinema/video studies, and creative writing. The university offers a self-designed major where you create a program with a faculty advisor and develop a proposed plan of study. These programs have included political art, game programming, and sound design.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design is a public college founded in 1873. There are 2,259 undergraduate students in an urban setting. Tuition costs $26,400 USD with a rolling admission. 59.3% of applicants are accepted. There is an 86.2% retention rate and a 10:1 student to teacher ratio. Top majors include film/video, graphic design, fashion design, illustration, and photography. In June of 2008 a $140 million master plan was approved by the board of trustees. It included a new contemporary architecture entryway, eco-friendly options, a new campus center and residence hall, a center for design & new media, and renovations of existing galleries.
As you can see, there are many undergraduate programs in fine arts to choose from. Whether you are looking for a large population of students or small student body, a private or public school, or an urban or rural setting, there are many options for international students in the United States. It may take a little research, but it will be worth it once you receive your bachelor of fine arts degree.