Understanding The B.A., B.S. And BFA Studio Art Degree Pathways

The Bachelor of Science (BS) and the Bachelor of Art (BA)have little to no bearing on your art and design education and are considered the liberal arts degree.

  • The B.S. pathway requires several additional science or math related BCC’s.
  • The *B.A. pathway requires several language courses. This can be a popular choice if you’ve taken a language at school. In this case, you would test in at Bradley to determine your proficiency.

*Art History majors are required to follow the B.A. degree pathway.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is considered the professional degree, and as such, it consists of a number of additional studio art and art history courses, as well as a BFA seminar class and a BFA thesis exhibition.

Who takes the BFA?

Unlike the B.S. and B.A., you have to be accepted onto the BFA degree pathway. This is done through an end of year Digital Portfolio Review (or at the portfolio interview stage for transfer students). This review has two purposes. The first is to celebrate your first year as art and design students. It will give you the opportunity to show off your work to all the faculty in the department.

The second purpose is to help the faculty to decide your continuing pathway for the remainder of your time at Bradley, whether it’s continuing on the Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Art (B.A.), or the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA).

Why apply for the BFA pathway?

If your goal is to become a practicing artist (perhaps by opening your own studio) or to obtain a graduate degree (M.A./MFA) so you can teach at the collegiate level, a BFA is the optimal degree path. Alternatively, if you wish to pursue a career in the world of graphic design, then more and more companies are looking for the BFA degree on résumés.

The BFA requires more studio hours (24 hrs.), allowing you to hone your creative skills in multiple mediums. Select your area of study to see an example of a BFA Sample Course Sequences. And if you’re still unsure about what’s required, please reach out to your advisor for more information.

Who doesn’t take the BFA?

While we’d like to invite as many of the first-year and transfer students on to the BFA pathway, there are reasons why some students remain on the B.S./BA pathway:

  • Art History majors have to take the B.A.
  • Art Ed students can take the BFA, but they have such a full course load to take in Art and Education, that it’s typically better if they remain on the B.S./B.A. pathway.
  • Transfer students who have to play a lot of catch up with foundation art courses
  • Athletes. Their practice/game schedules are often too much for them to follow the BFA
  • The extra courses required of the BFA may not be financially viable for some students

If you’re accepted onto the BFA pathway – you aren’t required to take it. It’s your choice.

What is the BFA seminar (ART 421)?

ART 421 - BFA Seminar (3 hours) EL Tag.

This BFA specific course, required of all BFA students, presents professional orientation and career preparation through concentrated studio production, creative media research, critique analysis, on-site visitation of artists' studios, formulation of artist thesis statement, résumé and portfolio preparation, and exhibition design management, culminating in the BFA thesis exhibition.

How is the BFA thesis exhibition different from other senior shows?

While several of the art and design concentrations (graphic design and photography, specifically) culminate in a capstone senior show/exhibition, students studying on the BFA pathway are also required to present a thesis exhibition.

This exhibition is separate from anything presented at the capstone shows. For example, a BFA graphic design senior student would show their portfolio, a senior project, and their self-branding promotional materials at their capstone show, but their thesis exhibition would demonstrate a final body of work, separate to the work from their other capstone show. Again, in the case of the BFA graphic design student, they would typically develop this body of work via ART 496, which is an additional course specifically for BFA graphic design students.

What is expected of ART 496 for BFA Graphic Design students?

ART 496 - BFA Design Senior Project (3-6 hours) EL Tag.

Senior BFA students in graphic design, work closely with an instructor to initially develop a brief that will challenge throughout. The project should involve critical research and analysis of the subject matter and result in design execution to the highest level, supported by documentation of the process of problem-solving, and placing the project in an appropriate historical and theoretical context.

What a BFA Thesis Exhibition IS NOT:

  • A redo of any previous project. You can pick up a previous project and use that as the seeds for your thesis. However, you are expected to take it much farther than you did the first time.
  • Your project should not be an exercise in training yourself on a new software program. Learning a program to generate your outcome should be a by-product, NOT an end goal.
  • • A project of process for the sake of process is not acceptable. Projects that focus on process must come to a level of conclusion through analysis and synthesis.