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)

This intensive 120-credit studio production program emphasizes analytical, creative, and experiential aspects of design, studio, and new media art. The BFA AVT is designed to prepare students professionally as visual artists or for graduate study in the arts. Students devote a significant portion of their college careers to an in-depth study in their concentration. In addition to completing the university-wide general education requirements and electives, BFA AVT majors must complete Studio Foundations Experience, studio core and research practicum courses, art history, and critical theory requirement, interdisciplinary studio course electives, Professional Practice, and a capstone. Students choose a concentration in either Graphic Design or Studio Art. Studio art courses include areas in DrawingNew MediaPaintingPhotographyPrintmaking and Book Arts, and Sculpture.

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The BA in Art and Visual Technology (AVT) is a liberal arts program that emphasizes breadth of experience in the context of a liberal arts education rather than professional specialization. In addition to completing the university-wide general education requirements and either a foreign language through the intermediate level or a minor, BA AVT majors must complete our Studio Foundations Experience, studio core and research practicum courses, art history, and critical theory requirement, interdisciplinary studio course electives, and a capstone. Studio electives include courses in the areas of DrawingNew MediaPaintingPhotographyPrintmaking and Book Arts, and Sculpture.

Accelerated Masters in Art Education (BAM) 

The Master of Arts in Teaching in Art Education (MAT I) is a pre-service degree program that prepares students with a BFA degree or equivalent for PreK-12 art licensure by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Using a studio-based approach to art education and working closely with area public school systems, the MAT degree consists of 30 credits of graduate art education, school practicum experience, studio work, and pre-service teaching internship and seminar. 

Academically strong undergraduates in Art may apply for the accelerated Master’s Degree in Art Education. If accepted, students will be able to earn an Art and Visual Technology, BFA, and an Art Education, MAT after satisfactory completion of 150 credits. 


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 Art and Visual Technology

The minor in Art and Visual Technology requires 20 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

This minor is not available to Art and Visual Technology (AVT) majors. All graphic design minor students are required to take AVT 104 for their art general education requirement as well as AVT 180 for the information technology (IT, except ethics) requirement.  For course descriptions, visit the University Catalog.

Minor in Web Design

Art and Visual Technology majors must complete 12 credits unique to the minor.  It is recommended that non-AVT majors take AVT 104 – Studio Fundamentals I for their Mason Core art requirement as well as AVT 180 – New Media in the Creative Arts for the information technology (IT, except ethics) requirement.  These are prerequisites for Web Design coursework. For course information, please visit the University Catalog.

Minor in Photography

The Photography minor provides opportunities for students to develop a personal vision in response to photography’s role in contemporary art and culture. Various studio classes emphasize a range of techniques in the production of traditional, digital and experimental imagery. Critical thinking combined with studio/lab experience enhances this comprehensive introduction to the field and practice of photography. For course descriptions, visit the University Catalog.

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.

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.

The School of Art’s Honors Program is offered in collaboration with Provisions Research Center for Art & Social Change and is led by University Curator and Provisions Director, Don Russell. Students interested in the Honors Program should contact Don Russell at

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. Note that Honors Seminar is scheduled during the same time period as Visual Voices but it is possible to register for both, since Honors does not meet when there is Visual Voices.