FAQ’s for Prospective Students
We offer a range of degrees in the visual arts to suit your career goals. Students can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art or Apparel and Textile Design. The Art History and Visual Culture program awards a BA and the Art Education program leads to a BFA.
The Bachelor of Arts degree allows students to study art and design with a continued focus in the liberal arts. The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is a pre-professional degree best suited for those who wish to be practicing artists or designers. Students who select the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree track in Studio Art and Apparel & Textile Design are asked to submit a portfolio and participate in an interview with faculty to be full admitted into the major. The BFA review happens after your second year in the program.
For specific information on the differences between the BA and BFA degrees, view the documents linked below:
BA vs. BFA STUDIO ART
BA vs. BFA APPAREL & TEXTILE DESIGN
We offer a minor in Art History and Visual Culture that requires 6 -8 courses in Art History (link to learn more about the minor). We do not offer a minor in Studio Art or Apparel and Textile Design, but these could also be your secondary major.
There are also two specializations in visual art that can be added on to any major within the university; the Design Specialization and Specialization in Museum Studies. (links to learn more about these) Specializations are not a second degree, but an additional amount of coursework that will show up on your transcript as added study.
STUDIO: Graduates with BA or BFA degrees in studio art have exhibited their work nationally and internationally as practicing artists. BA students have a more liberal degree that can apply their experience to a very broad range of careers related to the visual arts. Those with a BFA generally plan on becoming practicing artists and designers in their field. Additionally, those with BFA degrees may pursue graduate studies and become qualified to teach at the college level.
ART ED: The MSU Art Education Program leads to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Art Education. Upon graduation, Michigan teacher certification is offered through a fifth year of study in the College of Education Teacher Education program. The Art Education Program focuses on preparing pre-service teachers for a profession in k-12 art education. Through supplemental courses, pre-service teachers also may prepare for positions in museum education and other non-profit visual arts applications, or for graduate study.
ART HISTORY: Successful graduates have gone on to internationally prestigious M.A. and Ph.D. programs in art history and pursued careers in teaching, museums, galleries, historic preservation, and non-profit arts organizations. Undergraduate majors find wide-ranging opportunities to use their visual skills in fields such as marketing, advertising, and consulting. Students receiving a Museum Studies Specialization gain professional skills related to all types of museum positions.
APPAREL & TEXTILE DESIGN: Our two degree tracks share similar coursework, but job opportunity outcomes can differ between the BA and BFA. BA students generally plan careers in areas related to the design, production and promotion of clothing and other textile products, but may not look to be the lead creative within a design team. For example: Fashion Illustrator, Assistant Fashion Designer, Assistant Textile Designer, Fashion Design Consultant, Fashion Design Researcher, Fashion Design Sample Maker. BFA students generally plan to become practicing designers of clothing and textile products. Examples include: Fashion Designer, Textile Designer, Knitwear Designer, Apparel Innovation Designer, Apparel Concept Designer, Fashion Design Team Director, Creative Fashion Director.
Since MSU believes that any student can begin an education in the arts without prior experience in art classes, we do not require a portfolio. However, to apply for Creative Arts Scholarships at admittance, you will need to submit a portfolio. Later on in the program, BFA students in Studio Art and Apparel and Textile Design need to submit a portfolio and participate in an interview with faculty to be fully admitted into the major. The BFA review happens after your second year in the program.
Incoming Studio Art and Art Education students can be considered for our Creative Arts Scholarships when they apply to MSU. We offer three awards; first place is a $2,500 scholarship renewable for four years, second place is a one-time scholarship of $1,500 and third place is a one-time scholarship of $1000. A portfolio and short statement to judge the student’s artistic merit and goals are required. When applying to MSU, be sure to indicate a Studio Art or Art Education major (either BA or BFA) and you will receive information regarding the application process.
The department also has other scholarships that are need-based and renewable for up to four years. These awards are offered to students majoring in Art History & Visual Culture, Apparel & Textile Design, Art Edcuation, and Studio Art.
If you choose to take the Art Studio AP or IP exams, you may gain some transfer credits, depending on your final score. For example, AP scores of 4 or 5 on the Drawing, 2-D Design, or 3-D Design test will each transfer 3 credits of work towards those required courses.
Currently, we have around 600 undergraduate students enrolled in degree programs in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. The majority of our students are studio art majors (around 300) and apparel & textile design (150). Art Education and Art History & Visual Culture student make up the rest of the department (150).
Except for a few lecture classes, most courses offered by the department will have 25 people or less. You will get to know your professors, fellow students, and the resources offered by the department very well in this smaller, more personalized setting.
One major benefit of studying at MSU is that the large majority of your courses (85-90%) will be taught by faculty as opposed to teaching assistants. Teaching Assistants (TA’s) are graduate students that have already earned their undergraduate degree and may teach some of your Foundations courses (Drawing 1, Color and Design or 3D Form).
Art Education students are required to complete a one-year teaching internship as a part of their degree and certification. The College of Education places you in a student teaching position.
An internship is a required part of the Graphic Design concentration in studio art. Roughly 50% of Apparel and Textile Design students choose to do intern work during their time at MSU. Also, those with a Museum Studies specialization have an option to intern at a museum.
In general, the department does not place students in intern positions, but may assist in the student’s pursuit of finding them with contacts and information. Internships can be done by other Studio and Art History majors as well.
Independent study is available as well for students developing their own body of work with the mentorship of a faculty member. This is an optional arrangement. Independent studies usually occur in later semesters when a student is well within their chosen concentration.
The department boasts two, beautiful, professionally managed galleries for student work in the Kresge Art Center. These are filled with rotating shows of all kinds of work throughout the year; sculpture, paintings, installation, fashion design, cartoon animation, video art- just to name a few. Annually the department features student research in exhibitions, fashion shows, and art history & visual culture symposiums. Additionally students are encouraged to present their research through the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum.
There are also a few non-MSU related art spaces in the East Lansing/Lansing area where students have shown their work. SCENE(metrospace) (link) is a city-owned gallery and performance space in East Lansing with direct ties to our department. Also, alternative festivals, exhibitions and events in the arts are thriving in our surrounding area; Flint, Ann Arbor, Detroit and Grand Rapids.
Yes! Over 40% of students in the College of Arts & Letters choose to study abroad during their time at MSU. We also offer specific programs in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design that can earn you credit in a few different areas. These include:
Visual Art in Florence, Italy
Music, Art, Literature and Language in Bregenz, Austria
Ceramics in China
Cultural heritage and Museum Studies in South Africa
Fashion Design in London or Paris with American Intercontinental University
Online Photography for Study Abroad
If none of our programs fit your style, the College of Arts and Letters also sponsors over 70 programs for Study Abroad which could meet your needs. The Office of Study Abroad can answer any questions you may have regarding possible programs, receiving course credit, or funding.