Mason School of Art | Undergraduate Degrees
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Undergraduate Degrees

The School of Art offers students an environment in which the pursuit of a degree is a commitment to a way of life that centers on creative thought processes and the production of artworks.

With access to resources like Provisions Library and opportunities to be a part of public and media art projects, our curriculum fosters student engagement in social research and instills in them the value of community. Students are encouraged to dedicate themselves to academic excellence and skilled artistry, and to employ visual literacy within an atmosphere of creative freedom. Undergraduate studio degrees offered by the School of Art include the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA).

Bachelor’s Degrees

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Studio Art

This immersive program is thoughtfully designed to provide students with a comprehensive education in the fields of studio art and new media, fostering analytical thinking, creativity, and hands-on experiences. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art and Visual Technology (AVT) is a 120-credit program that caters to individuals who aspire to become professional visual artists or pursue advanced studies in the arts at the graduate level.

Throughout their college journey, students in the BFA program immerse themselves in in-depth study within their chosen path, allowing for a profound exploration of their artistic interests. In addition to completing the university-wide general education requirements and elective courses, students actively engage in a rich array of learning experiences.

The program begins with the Studio Foundations Experience, providing a solid basis in fundamental artistic principles that serve as a springboard for further exploration. From there, students delve into the studio core and research practicum courses, which offer hands-on opportunities to refine their craft, experiment with different artistic techniques, and engage in meaningful creative expression. The study of art history and critical theory complements this practical training, providing students with a contextual understanding of art, its historical roots, and its broader cultural significance.

The BFA program encourages interdisciplinary exploration by offering a diverse range of studio electives. Students have the chance to delve into areas such as Drawing, New Media, Painting, Photography, Printmaking and Book Arts, and Sculpture, enabling them to develop a versatile skill set and embrace experimentation in their artistic practice. This open-minded approach fosters creative growth and allows students to discover their unique artistic voice.

By blending theoretical knowledge with immersive, hands-on experiences, the BFA AVT program equips students with the necessary tools to navigate the dynamic world of contemporary art. This comprehensive education nurtures artistic growth, cultivates critical thinking skills, and instills a sense of professional readiness. Graduates emerge with the confidence to pursue their artistic ambitions, armed with the ability to adapt to evolving artistic landscapes and make meaningful contributions to the arts community. Individual pathways include Studio Art courses in the areas of  DrawingNew MediaPaintingPhotographyPrintmaking and Book Arts, and Sculpture.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Graphic Design

This comprehensive program is specifically tailored for students aspiring to pursue a career in Graphic Design, providing them with a well-rounded education that combines theoretical knowledge with real-world experience and professionalism. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art and Visual Technology (AVT) with a concentration in Graphic Design is a 120-credit program designed to equip students with the necessary skills and expertise to succeed in the field.

Throughout the program, students engage in a variety of courses that emphasize the practical aspects of Graphic Design. They gain a strong foundation in design principles, visual communication, typography, and digital media. Students also have the opportunity to delve into specialized areas such as branding, illustration, user experience (UX) design, and motion graphics.

The Graphic Design program places a significant emphasis on real-world experiences and industry connections. Students are encouraged to participate in internships, collaborative projects, and professional design competitions. These opportunities allow them to apply their skills in real-world settings, build a professional network, and gain invaluable industry insights. The program also incorporates Professional Practice training, which prepares students for the demands and expectations of the graphic design profession, including client communication, project management, and ethical considerations.

In addition to the practical coursework, students explore the theoretical foundations of design, art history, and critical analysis. They develop a deep understanding of design theory, cultural influences, and the historical context of graphic design, enabling them to create meaningful and impactful visual solutions.

The BFA program in Graphic Design strives to nurture students’ creativity, technical proficiency, and professionalism. By combining hands-on experiences, theoretical knowledge, and industry exposure, graduates are well-prepared to enter the competitive world of graphic design and excel in various professional settings, including advertising agencies, design studios, corporate marketing departments, and freelance careers. For course descriptions visit the University Catalog 

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

This expansive program is designed to offer students a comprehensive liberal arts education while providing a wide range of opportunities for exploration and personal growth. The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Art and Visual Technology (AVT) is a versatile 120-credit program that encourages students to embrace a breadth of experiences and perspectives within the realm of visual arts.

With a strong emphasis on liberal arts, the BA program goes beyond professional specialization to foster a well-rounded education. In addition to fulfilling the university-wide general education requirements, students have the flexibility to pursue a minor or achieve intermediate proficiency in a foreign language. This allows them to expand their knowledge and understanding in other academic disciplines, broadening their intellectual horizons.

The program structure encompasses various components to provide a comprehensive education. The Studio Foundations Experience offers a solid grounding in artistic principles, while the studio core and research practicum courses allow students to further develop their practical skills and engage in hands-on creative work. Art history and critical theory requirements foster a deeper appreciation and contextual understanding of art, encouraging students to analyze and interpret artistic expressions within historical and cultural frameworks.

The BA AVT program also offers interdisciplinary studio course electives, providing students with the opportunity to explore diverse areas of art and visual technology. This interdisciplinary approach encourages students to think outside traditional boundaries, fostering creativity, innovation, and collaboration across different artistic domains.

Through this expansive BA program, students are empowered to embrace the full breadth of a liberal arts education, while also cultivating their passion for art and design. By fostering intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and creative exploration, graduates are equipped with a versatile skill set that prepares them for various career paths or further studies in the arts. Whether pursuing professional opportunities or graduate education, BA AVT graduates are well-prepared to navigate the complexities of the art world and make meaningful contributions to society through their artistic endeavors. Individual pathways include Studio Art courses in the areas of DrawingNew MediaPaintingPhotographyPrintmaking and Book Arts, and Sculpture.

Accelerated Masters in Art Education (BAM)

The Art Education program at Mason equips students to become exceptional educators in the visual arts. The accelerated Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Art Education degree allows academically strong undergraduate students to earn a BFA in Art and Visual Technology, and a graduate degree in Art Education, while simultaneously satisfying the requirements for PreK-12 Art licensure in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Candidates will learn how to teach visual arts by engaging in diverse studio work, curriculum design, research projects, class observations at Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), elementary and secondary methods courses, and a capstone pre-service internship and seminar.

Requirements for attaining licensure in PreK-12 Art include a combination of completing 30 credits total (18 graduate credits can be taken during an undergraduate program at an undergraduate tuition rate) which includes a culminating semester of student teaching full-time. To attain state licensure, students are advised to satisfy the 36 credits of art endorsements required by the state and usually meet those requirements through their BFA program of study. Licensure candidates also must receive a passing score on the National (Praxis) and state (VCLA) exams before student teaching.

In the past five years, 100% of our job-seeking graduates have attained a contracted position in regional public schools within a year of graduation.

For course descriptions visit the University Catalog


Graphic Design Undergraduate Certificate

The graphic design undergraduate certificate is for working adults with a 4-year baccalaureate undergraduate degree from an accredited institution who seek to gain the skills and competency to advance into a career in graphic design. It encompasses a specific body of knowledge and practice that prepares candidates for rewarding positions in the design field. For course descriptions, visit the University Catalog.


Minor in Studio Art

The minor in Studio Art requires 18 credits and offers a core of foundational studies with the opportunity for further study in the following areas: DrawingGraphic DesignNew Media ArtPaintingPhotographyPrintmaking and Book Arts, and Sculpture.  For course descriptions, visit the University Catalog.

Minor in Graphic Design

All graphic design minor students are required to take AVT 110 Digital Design Studio as a prerequisite to the Graphic Design Minor. For course descriptions, visit the University Catalog.

Minor in Web Design

The Web Design Minor at George Mason University School of Art offers students the opportunity to delve into the dynamic world of web design. In an increasingly digital age, web design plays a crucial role in shaping our online experiences. This minor equips students with the skills to craft visually appealing, user-friendly websites that engage audiences and meet the demands of the modern digital landscape.

Web design encompasses visual design, user experience (UX) principles, information architecture, and interactive elements. Through this minor, students gain proficiency in industry-standard tools, learn graphic design principles, and develop an understanding of creating aesthetically pleasing and intuitive websites.

Courses in the Web Design Minor include Introduction to Web Design, Graphic Design Methods and Principles, Mobile App Design or Motion Design, Advanced Web Design, and Web Design and Usability. Students learn HTML, CSS, layout, typography, and more to design websites that are visually impactful and user-centered.

The Web Design Minor prepares students to become proficient web designers who can effectively communicate ideas, create visually compelling experiences, and shape the digital landscape. By combining technical skills with creative thinking and user-centric approaches, students are prepared to design websites that captivate users and deliver meaningful content. For course information, please visit the University Catalog.

Minor In Animation

The Animation Minor is open to all majors. The animation minor has a production emphasis in creative storytelling, social issue documentary, and artistic experimentation. Eight credits of coursework must be unique to the minor and students must complete all coursework with a minimum GPA of 2.00.  

Using techniques and processes such as traditional and digital frame animation, stop-motion animation, keyframe animation, and hybrid media practices, students apply their research to creating short animated projects. Students gain a foundation in animation principles and methods applicable to the creative arts, humanities, and scientific fields of inquiry. Total credits for the Animation Minor: 15. For course descriptions, visit the University Catalog.

Minor in Photography

The Photography Minor offers students a focused and comprehensive exploration of the art and craft of photography. Through this program, students engage in a dynamic learning experience that encompasses various aspects of the field. They gain proficiency in digital photography, learning to master the technical aspects of capturing and editing images using advanced digital tools. Additionally, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich tradition of darkroom photography, acquiring skills in film development, printing, and traditional darkroom techniques. The minor also includes instruction in professional lighting, enabling students to understand and utilize light effectively in their photographic compositions. By combining theoretical knowledge with hands-on practice in digital photography, darkroom techniques, and lighting, students develop a well-rounded skill set that prepares them to excel in their creative endeavors and apply their photographic expertise in their chosen career paths. For course descriptions, visit the University Catalog.

Minor in Photojournalism

The photojournalism minor explores photography as a journalistic storytelling medium. Offered jointly by the Department of Communication and the School of Art, the minor prepares students to bear witness through the lens of a camera; to examine the world around them, pose questions and inform audiences. Students gain proficiency with digital photo technology, develop reporting skills, apply visual storytelling principles, and examine the ethical and legal challenges of capturing stories in a mediated society. For course descriptions, visit the University Catalog.

Students interested in the Photojournalism minor must complete 18 credits unique to the minor.

Minor in Art and Social Change (ASC)

The Art and Social Change (ASC) minor leverages artistic and creative practice into an array of academic and social contexts. The goal is to infuse these practices into territories outside the traditional art world through research, participatory experimentation, and documentary aesthetic aspects of social practice. With a focus on creative research and project production, students experience direct engagement with communities while developing skills toward fostering positive change in communities via the arts.

Students interested in the Art and Social Change minor must complete 12 credits unique to the minor and must complete an approved AVT course for their Fine Arts Core requirement. All special topics courses will be notated in Patriot Web as a designated Arts and Social Change course. Contact the School of Art academic advisor for more information.

Minor in Illustration

Prospective Illustration minor applicants are required to earn a 3.0 GPA in both AVT 222 Drawing I (Mason Core) and AVT 323 Drawing II prior to applying. Eight credits of coursework must be unique to the minor, with a minimum 2.00 GPA earned in all courses applied to the minor. A portfolio review is required for admission.

Minor in Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a process that uses interdisciplinary approaches to designing, building, and evaluating user experiences across a range of technologies, systems, and objects. People with design thinking skills are in high demand across a range of industries including software and website development, product design, user experience design, instructional design, architecture and planning, global health, global management and consulting, and international development. These skills prepare graduates to be flexible and adaptable in different roles and careers.

Students will choose from one of two tracks: Design in the Built Environment or User Experience Design.

All students have opportunities to conduct independent research, engage in globally-related activities, participate in public service, and prepare for their future careers through internships, career-focused minors, and other college-to-career activities.

Students interested in the Design Thinking minor must complete 18 credits unique to the minor.

Minor Dynamic Publishing 

The Dynamic Publishing Minor gives students from any major a choice of two interrelated tracks: one in Art & Design, focused on publishing modes ranging from book arts to comics to digital design, and the other in Editorial & Production, focused on core acquisitions, editing, and production processes across a variety of publishing environments. The co-curricular makeup of the minor prepares students for the highly interdisciplinary world of publishing, which requires that its workforce has the ability to collaborate across a wide range of academic disciplines and professional fields. The Dynamic Publishing minor is ideal for students seeking an academic credential for professional or graduate-school work in many different aspects of publishing, and also for artists and writers who want to learn more about the process of publishing from new perspectives.

Students interested in the Dynamic Publishing minor must complete 18 credits unique to the minor.

Honors Programs

Honors Program in Art and Visual Technology

The Honors Program provides students with advanced learning experiences that prepare them for the careers in contemporary art. Topics in the Honors Seminar include discussions about theories of art; field trips to cities in the mid-Atlantic region; exhibition and project development; and group critiques.

Honors Requirements

Both BA and BFA students are eligible to apply for admission to the program. Honors students must complete at least 4 credits of AVT 394 Honors Seminar and must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 and at least 3.50 in AVT 394.