Degrees and Requirements

Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art & Design

The Bachelor of Arts degree program in art and design is defined as a general liberal arts degree. The B.A. degree is ideal for the student who desires a liberal education with a strong emphasis in art. Students enrolling in the B.A. degree program are required to complete a five-course core curriculum during their first three semesters. These courses are Drawing I, 2-D Foundations, 3-D Foundations, one course treating material from pre-1600 taught by a regular full-time art historian in the department, and one course that treats material from post-1600 taught by a regular full-time art historian in the department.

Students are not required to select a major concentration for the B.A. degree, but some focus of study is encouraged. The B.A. degree consists of 12 courses or 36 hours in art and design, of which 27 courses are in studio or design and 9 courses in art history. The College Fine Art Elective is not met by the B.A. degree. B.A. students must take an additional fine arts course. This can be in other fine arts areas such as FTT or music. Select studio, design, or art history courses may count towards this requirement as well, but it may not be double-counted with a student's major; the course must be in addition to a student's major curriculum. 

Course Requirements (12 courses, 36 hours)

Drawing 1
 Studio Elective

2D Foundations
 Studio Elective

3D Foundations
 Studio Elective

Art History (pre-1600 Studio Elective

Art History (post-1600)
 Studio Elective

Art History
 (any period) Studio Elective

Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Studio Art & Design

With similar requirements to the general B.A. degree, the Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree program in art and design is a liberal arts degree comprised of 39 credit hours which includes a thesis project during a student’s senior year. It is a special two-semester course sequence designed for the most talented and motivated department majors who wish to develop a capstone project during their senior year. Students who wish to add the honors track to their B.A. must submit a thesis application to the department office by the 3rd Friday in April and be approved by the end of their junior year. For approval, students must have a minimum 3.25 GPA among all departmental courses. Students must also have a portfolio of exceptional work demonstrating their ability to work independently. Students must also have the approval of a department faculty member who will serve as their thesis advisor for their senior year. Once a student has been accepted, they will register for B.A. Thesis with their thesis advisor, and must meet with their respective advisor by the end of the junior year to establish a thesis topic and proposed goals for summer research prior to the beginning of the fall semester of senior year. All students completing a thesis project are required to install and exhibit their project during the dates of the annual B.A./B.F.A./M.F.A. student exhibition in the spring semester.

Course Requirements (13 courses, 39 hours)

Drawing I

Studio or Design Elective (depending upon your major)
2D Foundations Studio or Design Elective (depending upon your major)
3D Foundations Studio or Design Elective (depending upon your major)
Art History (pre-1600) Studio or Design Elective (depending upon your major)
Art History (post-1600) B.A. Thesis (fall)
Department Elective (studio or design) B.A. Thesis (spring)
Department Elective (studio, design, or art history)*  

*For the 2nd required departmental elective, students may choose to take an art history course or a studio/design course. This option should be carefully considered in regards to your plans after graduating. Students should consider whether gaining further historical and contemporary context for the making of images and objects, or taking an additional studio or design course would best support their individual interests and career pursuits.

Bachelor of Arts in Art History

The Bachelor of Arts degree program in art history is a 30-credit-hour major. In addition to the one course university requirement, the major in art history is 10 courses. Of these, the only requirements regard varying the course level at which you take classes: 2 at the 20000-level; 4 at the 30000-level or above; and 1 at the 40000-level. The other three are up to you. There are no requirements on how any of the courses are distributed. Instead, your advisor will help come up with an individualized curriculum that corresponds to your own interests and goals. This means that art history is a major which you design for yourself. Every art history major has his or her own distinctive curriculum. Many majors especially seek out classes with field trips to museums. It also means that art history is a maximally flexible major, and hence one that is extremely easy to combine with other programs.

It is strongly recommended that the four-course distribution requirement be fulfilled with 200- or 300-level introductory courses taught by regular art history faculty on campus.

Course Requirements (10 courses, 30 hours)

2 ARHI courses at the 20000-level
4 ARHI courses at the 30000-level or above
1 ARHI 40000-level course
3 ARHI elective courses at any level

Art History electives and seminars may be taken in any period.

Supplementary Major in Art History

Students with a first major in another department can complete a supplementary major in art history.

Course Requirements (8 courses, 24 hours)

2 ARHI courses at the 20000-level
4 ARHI courses at the 30000-level or above
1 ARHI 40000-level course
1 ARHI elective courses at any level

Courses taken for the supplementary major or the minor cannot be counted in more than one university program but may be used to fulfill the University Fine Arts requirement.

** Only one course (three credits) in Art History taken in a foreign program, exclusive of the Rome Program, may be counted towards fulfilling the major or minor requirement. This course may only be used as an “Option.” If a student participates in a full-year Foreign Study program (e.g. Angers and Bologna), then up to 6 credits may be counted towards the major. These will normally be considered as “Options.” 

Bachelor of Arts Honors in Art History

The Honors Program will consist of 33 hours, as compared to 30 hours in the regular first major. A student with a GPA of 3.5 in the major may request the right to be considered for Departmental Honors. Students who wish to be considered for departmental honors must select a thesis advisor and petition the faculty with a one-page letter by the 10th week of the spring semester of the student's junior year. The letter should be addressed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Art History. In the letter the student should give a brief indication of with whom and on what she/he is proposing to write her/his thesis and her/his future plans. If the faculty approves, then in place of one of the elective art history courses the student will sign-up for six credit-hours of Honors Thesis in her/his senior year - three credits in the fall and three credits in the spring.

Course Requirements (11 courses, 33 Hours)

2 ARHI courses at the 20000-level
4 ARHI courses at the 30000-level or above
1 ARHI 40000-level course
2 ARHI elective courses at any level
2 ARHI Senior thesis courses (fall and spring of senior year)

Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in  Studio Art and Design

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in art and design is intended for the student who wishes to pursue a professional career in the visual arts. The program is organized into a four-year sequence of study that provides a solid understanding of art and art history. The student has an opportunity to explore a variety of curricular options and then chooses an intensive and professional major concentration. In addition to a primary concentration, B.F.A. students are encouraged to select a secondary area of interest to broaden their thinking and to enrich their creative study. B.F.A. candidates share a close working relationship with the department’s faculty who are active professional artists and designers. Intensive studio work is complemented by an academic education with strong art history and liberal arts component. The B.F.A. degree consists of 66 credit hours in art, of which 54 are in studio and 12 in art history. For further information, please read the BFA Handbook to guide you through the BFA curriculum and requirements.

B.F.A. Freshman and Sophomore Years

Students beginning in the program are required to complete a seven-course studio core curriculum during their first two years. Five of these courses are mandated: Drawing I, Figure Drawing, 2-D Foundations, 3-D Foundations and Photography I. The remaining two studio courses are optional, based on the student’s interest. This intensive curriculum establishes a base for the studio practices and principles for all visual art expression. At the end of the fourth semester, students who have earned a minimum 3.25 grade point average in their studio courses will be accepted as candidates for the B.F.A. degree. Students who do not qualify are eligible for the B.A. degree. B.F.A. candidates are waived from the second History/Social Science requirement and the University Fine Arts requirement.

B.F.A. Junior and Senior Years

By the beginning of the students' junior year in the program, they must have completed the majority of the core requirements of the program and have received a minimum grade point average of 3.25 and all art studio, art history, and design courses. Students are reviewed each semester by the entire studio and design faculty. Students receive feedback from their thesis director from these review sessions. Students meet regularly with their thesis director during their senior year. During their senior year, students are rolled in a B.F.A. thesis seminar each semester. The seminar addresses both academic and professional issues. Each student is required to write an artist/design statement on his or her thesis project. The thesis project is exhibited in the Snite Museum of Art. Each student has a thesis defense with the entire studio/design faculty and a vote is taken on whether the thesis project passes.

Course Requirements (21 courses, 66 hours)

Art History (pre-1600 A.D.) Senior Seminar (fall semester only)
Art History (post-1600 A.D.) Area of Concentration
Art History (any period) Area of Concentration
Art History (any period) Area of Concentration
Drawing I (CORE) 3-cr. BFA Thesis
2D Foundations (CORE) 6-cr. BFA Thesis
3D Foundations (CORE) Elective
Photography I (CORE) Elective
Figure Drawing (CORE) Elective
2D Option (CORE) Elective*
3D Option (CORE)  

*For the fourth required departmental elective, students may choose to take an art history course or a studio/design course. This option should be carefully considered in regards to your plans after graduating. Students should consider whether gaining further historical and contemporary context for the making of images and objects, or taking an additional studio or design course would best support their individual interests and career pursuits.

Art History Minor

Students wishing to minor in art history can do so by taking 5 art history courses. The student must be currently enrolled or have taken an art history course to declare the minor.

Course Requirements (5 courses, 15 hours)

2 at the 2000-level
3 at the 3000-level

Studio Art Minor

The minor in studio art is intended for the student who wishes to add studio art experience to their undergraduate studies. The minor requires 15 hours or 5 courses in studio art. Before being able to declare a minor, a student must be enrolled in or have already taken one of the following: Drawing I, 2D Foundations, or 3D Foundations. Advising is not required but it is highly recommended through Director of Undergraduate Studies, Emily Beck.

As with the major, students seeking the minor may elect either a general or focused course of study; that is, students may take the four studio courses selected from among any of the studio disciplines (Ceramics, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture) or they may take four studio courses from within a single discipline. Because the Department offers multiple entry-level courses, students are able to enter the program at a variety of points.

Required Courses

One Foundational course: Drawing I, 2D Foundations, or 3D Foundations
Four courses with the designation ARST (Art Studio)

General Requirements

  • Students may double count one of the above courses to fulfill a University Requirement.
  • Students may not double-count any of the courses above to fulfill a requirement in their major (i.e., Design majors)
  • Design Majors that want a Studio Minor must take five studio courses, the foundational courses already taken do not count toward the Minor
  • The University Fine Arts Requirement may be taken at another institution.
  • No transfer credits will be accepted for the minor.
  • No AP courses will be accepted as a substitute for these courses.
  • No Design courses will count toward the Minor
  • Students must have completed the required foundations course by the end of the junior year. Students must declare the Minor no later than the first month of the fall semester in their senior year.

Collaborative Innovation Minor

The Minor offers a five-course sequence starting with Design Matters, a large, introductory, lecture-based design-thinking. Declared minors will then cycle through a series of four additional courses introducing students to the various skillsets implicated in design thinking including research methods, visualization, and entrepreneurship. The Minor culminates in the capstone course Collaborative Product Development, bringing the minor’s various disciplines (1st majors) together in fruitful collaboration with design majors to address industry sponsored projects addressing real world questions. Working in teams with corporate partners, students will get a chance to solve a variety of problems—from global distribution to product innovation to community outreach.

Design thinking is a dynamic, iterative, and deeply human process that prepares students for the type of collaborative, cross-disciplinary work they will encounter after graduation—no matter what career paths they pursue. Established companies and entrepreneurs in fields as diverse as healthcare, sustainability, education, urban planning, and economic development are increasingly employing design thinking methodology to produce innovative results.

The gateway course, Design Matters: Introduction to Design Thinking, features a hybrid seminar format with lectures and case studies followed by hands-on exercises and practical applications of design thinking methodology in the form of team projects.Notre Dame's collaborative innovation program welcomes a broad and diverse group of students, from within the College of Arts and Letters, as well as from business, science, engineering, and architecture—all of whom play a vital role in bringing successful solutions to fruition.

Declaration of the Minor will require enrollment in or completion of DESN 20203 (Design Matters). Students may contact the department Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Innovation Minor’s Director for information, or declare the Minor in the departmental office. Design majors will not be permitted to declare in the Minor.

Course Requirements (5 courses, 15 hours)​​​​​

1. Gateway - Introduction

  • DESN 20203 – Design Matters

Introduction to Design Thinking
Articulate the tenets of the design thinking methods and apply methodologies to identify problems and developing service, product and experience solutions.

2. Ideation - Design, brainstorming

Select one of the following:

  • DESN 20200 – Rapid Visualization*

Principles of visual ideation
A studio course introducing rapid sketching, rendering and presentation techniques as a tool for development, refinement and tangible communicating of concepts, ideas, objects and stories to others.

  • DESN 20101 – VCD 1: Fundamentals of Design**

Principles of visual expression
Creating, planning and executing ideas and experiences with visual and textual content, physical or virtual, including images, words, or graphic forms.

*Rapid Visualization is a prerequisite for ID1: Intro to Product Development and suggested for Digital Solid Modeling
**VCD1: Fundamentals is a prerequisite for VCD7 and VCD8

3. Inspiration - Research, discovery, reframing

  • DESN 20204 – Design Research Practices

Principles of user-centered research
Overview of design research methodologies, planning strategies, interviewing, observing and participatory techniques, and data analysis and synthesis for the development of insights and implications informing the
development process.

4. Implementation – Prototyping, delivery

Select one of the following:

  • DESN 20201 – ID 1: Intro to Product Development*
    Forms & Physical Model Development
  • DESN 30209 - ID Digital Solid Modeling
    3D CAD Modeling and Rapid Prototyping
  • DESN 20120 – VCD 3: Web Design
    Web-interactivity for desktop & mobile
  • DESN 30140 - VCD 7: Interaction Design
    User Interface and Interaction
  • DESN 40100 - VCD 8: Social Design: Initiatives, Challenges & Innovation
    Visual Communication for change

5. Capstone – Putting it all together

  • DESN 40201 - Collaborative Design Development

Cross-Disciplinary Problem Solving
Industry-sponsored design briefs to challenge interdisciplinary teams to deploy design thinking for successful innovation and implementation.

*Department approval required to override the prerequisite