The Department of Art’s degree programs provide students with the critical and artistic skills needed to excel in contemporary, multidisciplinary art and design practices. Degree programs are highly ranked at both the national and the international level, attracting talented students with excellent academic credentials and a passion for art and design.

UW–Madison art graduates are experts in creative problem solving, visual communication, teamwork and collaboration, and project management. These acquired skills and experiences can lead to fascinating and rewarding careers in animation, ceramics, glassblowing, metal fabrication, graphic and multi-media design, illustration, videography, photography, teaching and, of course, as a gallery artist.

Our graduates also work as community arts organizers, user experience designers, medical imagists, technical assistants for major film companies, jewelry designers and fabricators, book designers, and more. The Department of Art believes that hardworking students who learn to harness and nurture their creative energies today will be the people influencing progress tomorrow.

The art curriculum fosters positive collaboration and innovative art production while encouraging diverse points-of-view. Students develop unique, creative voices while enjoying the close-knit atmosphere of a department that prides itself on having a very low teacher-to-student ratio, with an average class size of 10–12 students.

Degree programs feature a rigorous foundation program, a set of six courses that students often complete by participating in the popular Contemporary Art & Artists First-Year Interest Group (FIG), before branching out into one or more specialized areas such as ceramics, drawing, glass and neon, graphic design, papermaking, performance, photography, etc.

The Department of Art has a remarkable history. UW–Madison was the first university to create a glass-blowing laboratory for art students. The printmaking programs are consistently ranked first in the country and the art metals program is currently ranked third. A large number of undergraduates go on to study in some of the most prestigious MFA programs in the country, and to exhibit their art in regional, national, and also international venues. The school's large faculty of world-class artists is committed to the development of their undergraduate students.

The Art Lofts Building is the home of state-of-the-art ceramics, glass, papermaking, and bronze foundry facilities, and a large art performance space. The Humanities Building houses a student gallery and printmaking, painting, drawing, design, comics, photography, multi-media/digital, video/performance, metals, wood, and sculpture facilities, as well as art education classrooms.

The department offers five ways to complete a degree:

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree differs from the B.S.–Art degree by requiring a larger number of studio and aesthetic courses. The BFA degree is often selected by students wishing to develop a refined visual art portfolio in preparation for a career as a professional artist or designer, and/or for graduate study. The Bachelor of Science in Art Education degree program certifies students to teach in both elementary and secondary schools.

Program Admission Overview

Students interested in the Art–BFA degree, or Art-BFA with the Graphic Design named option, initially enroll in the Art–B.S. degree or Art-B.S. with the Graphic Design named option while completing prerequisite coursework and establishing other criteria for BFA eligibility. A portfolio review is part of the BFA selection process. Students will typically apply to the BFA program in their junior year and must have attained a minimum of junior standing. For the BFA, an application may be submitted during the semester that the required courses will be completed. For the BFA: Graphic Design named option, an application may be submitted during the semester that the required courses will be completed, with the exception of ART 102 and ART 107 , which must be successfully completed.

Application and Admission

New freshmen and off-campus transfers are admitted directly to the Art–B.S. degree program and receive an ART classification. All art degree programs currently admit on-campus students to begin in the fall, spring, and summer. Requirements and selection criteria may be modified from one application/admission period to the next. Potential applicants should consult the School of Education's Undergraduate Admissions page for updates to eligibility requirements prior to submitting an application.


Prospective UW–Madison Applicants

Prospective applicants to UW–Madison are strongly encouraged to submit a portfolio to the Department of Art for review. Though a portfolio is not required, it does provide the art department an opportunity to make a recommendation on the applicant's behalf to UW–Madison's Office of Admissions and Recruitment. The Office of Admissions and Recruitment makes final determinations regarding the admission status of all applicants. Additional information, including submission guidelines, is available on the How to Apply page of the art department's website.


On-campus students interested in pursuing the BFA must first apply to the Art–B.S. degree program. A meeting with an undergraduate advisor in the Department of Art is required, and can be scheduled using Starfish, or by contacting the Department of Art at 608-262-1660. Upon successful completion of the BFA portfolio review (see details below), students will complete an application signed by an undergraduate advisor in the Department of Art to move into the BFA program.


Applicants not already enrolled on the UW–Madison campus must be admissible to the university to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to UW–Madison requires a separate application and admission process. See UW–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information. Note that off-campus transfer students will be held to the UW–Madison admission GPA requirements. BFA candidates cannot transfer directly into the BFA program; instead, they will be admitted to campus as if pursing a B.S.–Art degree (ART classification) and can apply for the BFA program once enrolled on campus. Transfer students are strongly encouraged to meet with the Department of Art advisor prior to coming to campus; call 608-262-1660 to schedule an appointment. Prospective transfer students are strongly advised to meet with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office in advance of their application; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.


Prospective applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are strongly encouraged to meet with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office in advance of their application. Consultations with advisors are available in person or via telephone; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are admitted to the School of Education as either an Education Special student or a second degree student, depending on their interests and academic background. Admission as an Education Special student indicates that that the student has an interest in pursuing certification in a subject area studied during the initial degree; another degree is not awarded for this "certification only" coursework. Second degree students are seeking a second, unrelated degree from the School of Education, which may, or may not, include teacher certification. Candidates for limited enrollment programs must meet all admission eligibility requirements for the program and must compete with the eligible applicants for program admission. More information is available here.

Criteria for Admission

  • Previous Art–B.S. or Art-B.S. Graphic Design named option degree program status.
  • Cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.5 based on UW–Madison campus coursework, as modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule (detailed below).
  • For the BFA degree and the BFA degree with the Graphic Design named option, successful completion or concurrent enrollment in the following courses:
    ART 102 3
    ART 104 3
    ART 107 3
    ART 108 3
    ART 208 3
    ART 212 3
    One course from each of the following. See Requirements section for course options:
    2D Studio
    3D Studio
    4D Studio
  • For the Graphic Design named option, must have successfully completed ART 102 and ART 107 .
  • Minimum 3.0 Art studio course GPA.
  • Portfolio review.
    • The portfolio must be submitted only after all prerequisite coursework has been completed or during the semester the courses will be completed. The portfolio must contain images of work completed in college art courses. Specific portfolio requirements will be announced prior to scheduled reviews, held near the end of the fall and/or spring semesters. Students not accepted into the BFA program will be encouraged to continue in the B.S.–Art program and will be allowed to present their portfolio for review one additional time.

Last 60 Credits Rule

Two grade point averages will be calculated to determine candidates' eligibility to programs. GPAs will be calculated using

  • all transferable college level coursework attempted, and
  • the last 60 credits attempted.

The higher GPA of these two will be used for purposes of determining eligibility. If fewer than 60 credits have been attempted, all credits will be used to calculate the GPA. Graded graduate coursework will also be used in all GPA calculations. ("Attempted" coursework indicates coursework for which a grade has been earned.) For more information on this rule, see this link.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs, Athletic Training, and Kinesiology; Exercise and Movement Science have unique requirements in this category.


All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Program Structure

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree program in art has four components: 

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • The Foundations Program requires six interrelated studio and aesthetics courses designed to prepare first-year students for further study in studio art and design.
  • Aesthetics coursework gives students an opportunity to study both the history of art and contemporary developments in the visual arts.
  • Major requirements permit in-depth studies of studio art. After taking courses in the Foundations area, students complete coursework in each of the four studio areas: 2D, 3D, 4D, and Graphics. BFA students are required to reach an advanced level in two studio disciplines.

Art Foundations Program

The Art Foundations Program is a series of interrelated studio and lecture courses to be taken by art and art education majors in their first year as preparation for further study in studio art and design. The program addresses the fundamentals of art through investigation of formal, technical and conceptual issues. The drawing, 2D and 3D design, digital media, and art historical lecture classes are designed to expose, broaden, and challenge students' understanding of contemporary art production.

Art Foundations classes are meant to be taken concurrently and the information covered in them is interrelated. Students completing the Foundations Program should enroll in ART 102 , ART 212 , and ART 108 for the fall semester and complete ART 104 , ART 107 , and ART 208 in the spring. 

Most freshman art majors complete their foundations courses through participation in the very popular Contemporary Art and Artists First-Year Interest Group (FIG), which also creates a network of corresponding experiences and a peer community that will continue throughout the program and often beyond graduation. Students in FIGs enjoy studying with instructors dedicated to serving first year students, the opportunity to integrate related ideas from all three classes, and the ready-made opportunities to form support networks and lasting friendships.

Additional information about the Foundations Program is available on the departmental website.

Aesthetics Requirements

The BFA programs require a total of 18 aesthetics credits, including four required courses. The remaining credits will be met by selecting from a list of aesthetics electives. Liberal studies coursework in fine arts and literature can also can count as aesthetics electives. Additional courses may be approved by the art department advisor.

Required Aesthetics Courses

ART 108 (component of the Foundations Program)3
ART 208 (component of the Foundations Program)3
Select two additional courses from the following:8
ART 438

Aesthetics Electives

Select from the following to complete the required 18 credits. Liberal studies coursework in fine arts and literature can also double count as aesthetics electives.

Elective Courses 

AFROAMER 260 3-4
ANTHRO 102 3
ANTHRO 104 3
ANTHRO 260 3-4
ANTHRO 277 4
ANTHRO 300 3
ANTHRO 314 3
ANTHRO 321 3
ANTHRO 391 3
ANTHRO 424 3
ANTHRO 430 3-4
ART 236 3
All Art History courses
ASIAN AM 101 3
ASIAN AM 220 3-4
ASIAN AM 270 3
CHICLA 210 3
COM ARTS 250 3
COM ARTS 260 3
COM ARTS 350 3
COM ARTS 351 3
COM ARTS 352 3
COM ARTS 354 3
COM ARTS 355 4
COM ARTS 357 3
COM ARTS 358 3
COM ARTS 450 3
COM ARTS 454 3
COM ARTS 456 3
COMP LIT 201 3
COMP LIT 202 3
COMP LIT 203 3
COMP LIT 371 3-4
COMP LIT 681 3
COMP LIT 690 3
COMP LIT 691 2-3
COMP LIT 692 3
COMP LIT 771 3
COMP LIT 975 3
COMP LIT 990 1-12
DANCE 255 2
DANCE 265 3
ENGL 207 undefined
ENGL 219 undefined
ENGL 236 undefined
ENGL 270 undefined
ENGL 360 undefined
ENGL 417 undefined
DS 221 3
DS 355 3
DS 421 3
DS 422 3
FOLKLORE 342 3-4
GEN&WS 101 3
GEN&WS 102 3
GEN&WS 222 3
HISTORY 142 3-4
HISTORY 201 3-4
HISTORY 260 3-4
HISTORY 302 3-4
HISTORY 303 3-4
HISTORY 309 3-4
HISTORY 318 3-4
HISTORY 336 3-4
HISTORY 341 3-4
HISTORY 344 3-4
HISTORY 351 3-4
HISTORY 353 3-4
HISTORY 359 3-4
HISTORY 361 3-4
HISTORY 378 3-4
HISTORY 418 3-4
HISTORY 425 3-4
HISTORY 434 3-4
HISTORY 438 3-4
HISTORY 466 3-4
HISTORY 508 3-4
HISTORY 681 1-3
HISTORY 682 1-3
HISTORY 691 1-3
HISTORY 692 1-3
ILS 201 3
ILS 202 3
ILS 204 3-4
ILS 205 3
ILS 206 3
ILS 251 3
LITTRANS 234 3-4
LITTRANS 240 3-4
LITTRANS 274 3-4
LITTRANS 275 3-4
LITTRANS 335 3-4
JEWISH 279 3
JEWISH 301 3
JOURN 201 4
JOURN 560 4
JOURN 561 4
MEDIEVAL 309 3-4
MEDIEVAL 318 3-4
MUSIC 101 3
MUSIC 103 3
MUSIC 105 3
MUSIC 106 3
MUSIC 113 1
MUSIC 211 3
PHILOS 101 3-4
PHILOS 201 3-4
PHILOS 341 3-4
PHILOS 430 3-4
PHILOS 432 3-4
PHILOS 553 3
RELIG ST 361 3
RELIG ST 370 4
RELIG ST 444 3
SOC 125 3-4

Major Requirements

The requirements listed here are effective for students admitted to the Art or BFA program effective summer, 2016. Students admitted prior to this time can find their major requirements listed in previous editions of the Undergraduate Catalog and on their DARS reports.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Program: Complete a minimum of 72 studio credits, including the specific coursework below. The BFA degree requires 126 total credits. Admission to the BFA program requires the completion of (or concurrent enrollment in) ART 102, ART 104, ART 107, ART 108, ART 208, ART 212, and one course in each of the 2D, 3D, 4D and graphics areas. Students must have a 3.0 GPA in their studio coursework to be considered for the BFA program and have attained a minimum of sophomore standing. Successful participation in a portfolio review is also part of the selection process. Application may be made during the semester that the required courses will be completed. See How to Get In for details about the application process.

Major residency requirement. The BFA program requires that at least 36 credits of major studio coursework be completed in residence at UW–Madison.

Art and BFA degree students have priority access to studio courses. Note: Some courses are offered for 3 or 4 credits; it is preferred that the course be taken for 4 credits.

Required Studio Foundations Courses

Complete the following:

ART 102 undefined
ART 104 undefined
ART 107 undefined
ART 212 undefined

Required Studio Breadth Courses

Select one course in each of the 2D, 3D, 4D, and Graphics areas. Students will also take ART 508 at least once and complete a 500-level or 600-level art studio course in at least two disciplines. BFA candidates are required to participate in an exhibit and concurrently enroll in a capstone course.

2D Studio

Select one of the following:

ART 222 3-4
ART 232 4
ART 242 3-4
ART 302 4
ART 312 3-4

 3D Studio

Select one of the following:

ART 214 4
ART 224 4
ART 244 3-4
ART 334 3-4
ART 343 3-4
ART 354 4

4D Studio

Select one of the following:

ART 309 4
ART 318 4
ART 338 2
ART 409 4
ART 428 4
ART 429 4
ART 470 3-4
ART 521 4
ART 531 3-4


Select one of the following:

ART 306 3-4
ART 316 4
ART 326 4
ART 336 3-4
ART 346 4
ART 348 4
ART 376 4
ART 446 4

Art Colloquium

Complete the following:

ART 508 (Students are encouraged to enroll in this visiting artist lecture series multiple times)1

Advanced Studio Requirement

Complete a 500-level or 600-level Art studio course in two disciplines. ART 508, ART 608, and ART 699 will not fulfill this requirement.

Exhibit Participation

BFA students must participate at least once in the department-sponsored exhibit, held in the spring semester. Requires concurrent enrollment in the professional practices/capstone course.

Professional Practices/Capstone Course

BFA students must enroll in this course during the required semester of participation in the department-sponsored exhibit. Currently, offered as ART 448 section 10; a unique course number will be forthcoming.

Elective Studio Courses

Select elective studio courses to reach the minimum of 72 credits.

Areas of Concentration

Although a specific emphasis is not required, students may wish to develop an area of interest within the requirements of the BFA program. Concentrations in multi-media, 2D studio, 3D studio, and printmaking are some of the available tracks listed on the art department's website. Students wishing to concentrate in graphic design should declare the Graphic Design Named Option when eligible.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

These requirements are based on UW–Madison coursework.

  • 2.5 minimum cumulative grade point average. This may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • Cumulative major grade point average: 3.0 cumulative grade point average in all major studio coursework.
  • Upper-level major coursework: 3.0 cumulative grade point average in all upper-level major coursework (Art courses numbered 214 and above, excluding ART 236 and ART 338 ).
  • Major Residency: Students must complete at least 36 major credits while enrolled in residence on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior Residency. Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus, excluding retroactive credits and credits granted by examination.
  • Total Credits: A minimum of 126 credits are required for graduation in the Art–BFA degree program.

Degree Audit (DARS)

UW–Madison uses “DARS” to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree, including any additional majors and certificates. A DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) report shows all the requirements for completing a degree and, against courses that are planned or completed, shows the requirements that have been met, and those that are unmet. A report can offer suggestions about courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning and enrollment process. Students can access a DARS report in the Course Search & Enroll app or Student Center via My UW.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program, major or certificate. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE), or Pre-Kinesiology should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

More information on how to request a DARS report is available on the registrar’s website.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is used as the document of record for degree program, major and certificate completion in the School of Education.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Learn the fundamentals of art and design through investigation of form, technology and concept within a cohort of like-minded and diverse artists and designers.
  2. Develop skills in research, creative problem solving, and professional practices.
  3. Expand knowledge of historical, thematic, critical, and theoretical issues as a means of strengthening verbal and visual vocabulary.
  4. Demonstrate a broad understanding of distinct concepts and practices in two-dimensional media, three-dimensional media, four-dimensional media, printmaking, photography, or graphic design media.
  5. Demonstrate competency at an advanced level in at least two disciplines of student's choice. (Graphic design named options: one of the two disciplines must be in graphic design.)

 Bachelor of Fine Arts: Art - Sample Four-Year Plan

This four-year sample graduation plan is designed to guide your course selection throughout your academic career; it does not establish a contractual agreement. Use it along with your DARS report, the Guide, and the Course Search and Enroll app to create a four-year plan reflecting your placement scores, incoming credits, and individual interests. Consult with your academic advisor(s) to develop a personalized plan of study and refer to the Guide for a complete list of requirements. You will likely revise your plan several times during your academic career here, based on your activities and changing academic interests.

A minimum of 126 credits are required. Six credits of liberal studies course work must be aesthetics-related and will count toward both liberal studies and aesthetics requirements.

Communication A (fall or spring)3Communication A (fall or spring)3
ART 1083ART 2083
ART 1023ART 1043
ART 2123ART 1073
ART 5081Additional Studio Elective (508 recommended)1
Liberal Studies course work2-5Liberal Studies course work2-5
 15 15
Aesthetics Elective4Aesthetics Elective4
Two Art Studio Breadth courses from 2D, 3D, 4D or GR categories8Two Art Studio Breadth courses from 2D, 3D, 4D or GR categories8
Additional Studio Elective (508 recommended)1Communication B3
Quantitative Reasoning A3Liberal Studies course work3
 16 18
BFA Application Art Studio Elective course work8
Art Studio Elective course work12Quantitative Reasoning B3
Liberal Studies course work4Ethnic Studies3
 Liberal Studies course work3
 16 17
Area 1 Advanced Studio Elective4Participate in BFA Group Exhibition
Studio Elective course work8Capstone Professional Practice Course2
Additional Studio Elective (508 recommended)1Area 2 Advanced Studio Elective4
Liberal Studies course work3Additional Studio Electives2
 Liberal Studies course work5
 16 13
Total Credits 126


Art Department Advising

Prospective freshmen and art/design certificate students will meet with undergraduate art program advisor Shannon Jones, Students declared in the B.S.–Art or BFA–Art major, as well as potential transfers into art, will meet with undergraduate art program advisor Julie Ganser, Both advisors are located at 6241 Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street. Appointments can be made by calling 608-262-1660; current students can schedule an appointment online through the Starfish app in MyUW. Students are also strongly encouraged to confer with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office on a regular basis, see below.

General School of Education Advising

Dedicated to supporting and promoting student success, the School of Education Student Services office coordinates a number of student-related services for prospective and current School of Education students in all programs. Student Services staff offer support in academic advising, career advising, mentoring and advocacy for underrepresented and international students, requirements monitoring, interpreting academic policy, and more. Students in the School of Education are encouraged to make Student Services a vital part of their academic and employment journey.

To schedule and appointment: Call 608-262-2651 or stop by 139 Education Building. Current students can schedule an appointment online through the Starfish app in MyUW.

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Art can be found on the department's website.

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.


National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2025-2026.