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Bachelor of Fine Arts

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The Bachelor of Fine Arts program is a highly selective program oriented toward advanced professional study in the studio arts. Students in this program have additional opportunities to specialize in a studio art discipline in preparation for graduate study for the M.F.A., the terminal degree program in this field, and/or careers in professional art fields.

BFA students earn more credit hours in Art than other bachelor's students. They do more independent study and they have more one-on-one interaction with faculty.

Our BFA graduates are among the best prepared students in the nation for going on to graduate-level study or for beginning their studio careers. In recent years our students have been accepted into some of the most prestigious and selective graduate art programs in the United States, and several of our Junior BFA students were recently awarded full scholarships to the very competitive and prestigious Yale University Summer Art program.

Why Study Bachelor of Fine Arts?

Individuals working towards a degree in Art investigate the achievements of artists, architects and musicians as well work on pieces themselves. Students analyze, evaluate and create many forms of artistic expression such as paintings, sculpture, architecture, music and cinematography.

Related Majors

Related Skills

  • Save artwork for a strong portfolio - too much is better than too little.
  • Be prepared to relocate to the larger markets of metropolitan areas where more opportunities exist.
  • Join art related professional and student organizations.
  • Volunteer with fundraising efforts for the arts.
    Gain valuable experience through volunteering, internships, part-time and summer jobs, and apprenticeships.
  • Conduct informational interviews with professionals in areas of interest to learn more about opportunities and strategies for these areas.
  • Learn to network.
  • Strong work ethic and professional behavior
  • Flexibility in thought and adaptive to new ideas
  • Imagination and creative skills
  • Basic computer skills, knowledge of computer software a plus
  • Good writing skills
  • Ability to verbally communicate principle skills and art appreciation
  • Ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure

Being Successful in the Field

  • A career in the arts takes dedication, patience, flexibility, talent, and some luck.
  • A bachelor’s degree is valuable for entry-level positions, but an advanced degree is usually necessary to attain competitive, upper-level positions.
  • An art degree can and should be tailored to areas of specialization.
  • Be prepared to begin career in entry-level positions.
  • Pair an art degree with other career interests to increase opportunities and provide supplemental income.
  • Develop skills in business management, computers, marketing, and other related areas to increase marketability.

Related Fields

Art Museums/Galleries

  • Education
  • Administration
  • Curatorial
  • Conservation
  • Registrar
  • Collections Management
  • Sales
  • Publications
  • Development
  • Public Relations
  • Exhibit Design/Preparation
  • Archivist
  • Tour Guides/Docent


  • Government or private museums
  • Local historical societies
  • Galleries


  • Intern or volunteer in an art museum. Develop strength in art history areas.
  • Enhance computer skills.
  • Earn a business minor.
  • Acquire strong skills in research, fund-raising, speaking, and writing.
  • Earn an advanced degree in an academic discipline or museum studies for greater career opportunities.
  • Each specialty has varying qualifications and required training.
  • Develop good interpersonal skills, including the ability to work well on teams.

Fine Arts


  • Self-employed
  • Shared studios
  • Historic sites
  • School/Community programs


  • Prepare a strong portfolio.
  • Participate in juried shows.
  • Secure guild membership.
    Consider developing a source of supplemental income.
  • Learn to network and make contacts.
  • Develop strong skills in area of interest.
  • Obtain experience through apprenticeships, internships, or volunteering.

Commercial Art

  • Graphic Art
  • Computer Graphics
  • Illustration
  • Advertising


  • Newspapers
  • Publishing houses
  • Advertising agencies
  • Design firms
  • Large companies - product design divisions
  • Department stores
  • Television and motion picture industry
  • Non-technical and technical books, magazines, and trade publications
  • Internet media companies
  • Self-employed (freelance)


  • Prepare a strong portfolio.
  • Gain computer and technical skills.
  • Find an internshipin a design firm.
  • Work on campus publications in design or layout.
  • Obtain summeror part-time experience with book, magazine, or newspaper publishers.
  • Develop attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines.
  • Supplement curriculum with coursework in advertising or business.


  • Studio Art
  • Fine Arts
  • Art History


  • Art schools
  • Public and private schools (K-12)Colleges and universities
  • Adult and community programs
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Alternative schools
  • Group homes


  • Obtain certification for public school teaching.
  • Graduate degree usually requiredfor post- secondary teaching.
  • Develop a specialty area.
  • Work or volunteer as a tutor, camp counselor, Big Brother/Sister, or after-school program counselor.
  • Become a member of art clubs.
  • Obtain substitute-teaching experience.
  • Develop strength in art history areas.

Art Therapy


  • Hospitals, nursing homes
  • Mental health facilities
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Nonprofit organizations


  • Requires specialized training and certification, usually a master's degree in art therapy.
  • Supplement curriculum with psychology, social work, or counseling courses.
  • Gain experience working with diverse populations.


  • Sales
  • Programming
  • Design
  • Video
  • Production
  • Editing
  • Art Journalism
  • Illustration
  • Art Criticism
  • Animation/Cartoons


  • Corporate media departments
  • Federal, state, and local government
  • Nonprofit agencies
  • Public relations and advertising firms
  • Independent production companies
  • Art-related publications
  • Publishing houses
  • Newspapers and magazines


  • Compile an up-to-date portfolio.
  • Gain knowledge of a variety of technical equipment.
  • Develop strong computer skills.
  • Participate in student theatrical productions.
  • Serve as audio-visual aide for campus films and lectures.
  • Act as photographer for campus events.
  • Work on student publications.
  • Gain experience through internshipsin media or related areas.
  • Supplement curriculum with courses in business, journalism, or broadcasting/electronic media.

Other Professions

  • Advertising Artist
  • Advertising Designer
  • Aerial Photographer
  • Airbrush Artist
  • Animator
  • Antiques Dealer
  • Architectural Model Builder
  • Architectural Renderer
  • Art Administrator
  • Art Agent
  • Art Buyer
  • Art Instructor
  • Art Specialist
  • Audio-Visual Specialist
  • Book Designer
  • Bookplate Artist
  • CAD Designer
  • Calligrapher
  • Car and Bus Card Artist
  • Caricaturist
  • Cartoonist
  • Catalog Illustrator
  • CD/Record Cover Designer
  • Ceramic Artist
  • Children’s Book Illustrator
  • Cinematographer
  • Comic Strip Artist
  • Consultant
  • Corporate Designer
  • Custom Decorator
  • Desktop Publishing Artist
  • Elementary Art Teacher
  • Exhibit Designer
  • Fashion Artist/Designer
  • Filmmaker
  • Flatware Designer
  • Floral Designer
  • Freelance Letter/Designer
  • Furniture Designer
  • Gallery Owner
  • Gemologist
  • Glass Blower
  • Graphic Arts Technician
  • Graphic Designer
  • Graphic Designer Billboard Artist
  • Greeting Card Artist
  • Illustrator
  • Interior Designer
  • Magazine Designer
  • Medical Illustrator
  • Motion Picture Artist
  • Motion Picture Animator
  • Motion Picture Scenic Designer
  • Municipal Graphic Designer
  • Mural Artist
  • Museum Artist
  • Newspaper Artist
  • Newspaper Illustrator
  • Newspaper Layout Artist
  • Package Designer
  • Photographer
  • Printing Crafts Worker
  • Printing Store Manager/Owner
  • Production Artist
  • Production Coordinator
  • Production Manager
  • Professor of Art/Art History 
  • Stylist
  • Tattoo Artist
  • Technical Illustrator
  • Textile Designer
  • TV Graphic Designer
  • Visual Merchandise

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Mark Fauble  110 Student Services Building  (309) 438-5825 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Nancy Fewkes  Center for Visual Arts 119  (309) 438-5627 

Applying to Illinois State

This program is only available to current Illinois State University students.

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Applying to Illinois State

This program is only available to current Illinois State University students.

Minimum GPA


Middle 50% GPA

3.28 - 3.57

Required Courses


Recommended Courses

Art core fundamentals (2-D, 3-D, drawing)

Additional Information

Portfolio required for admission.

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Nancy Fewkes  Center for Visual Arts 119  (309) 438-5627 
Deanna Deatrick  Center for Visual Arts 119  (309) 438-5605 

Middle 50% GPA

3.28 - 3.57

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Application Period

Application Information

Current students can use the Apply to Your Program tool on

Major Requirements

For readmitted students only. Students interested in this program will apply to Art, then be asked for more specific information as current students to gain admission to the sequence.

Digital Portfolio Requirements

With the exception of Art History students, all students seeking to major in art must submit a digital portfolio for review directly to the School of Art. Once you have submitted your completed application to Illinois State University Admissions, you will receive an email from the School of Art including directions about how to submit your portfolio. For admission to the Art Major, the portfolio will be considered in relation to all other admission materials, including class standing, ACT/SAT scores, and prior college-level records. Transfer students: work submitted should re ect college-level art classes already taken. Each review session lasts approximately 2-3 weeks. At the end of that time, decision letters will be mailed to the address you supplied in your portfolio. Decisions will NOT be available over the telephone. Late portfolios will be considered, but you must submit to one of the official deadlines below in order to be considered for School of Art scholarships.

When ready, attach all necessary materials to an email, and send to either Nancy Fewkes ( or Kelly Peiffer ( Along with your application, your digital portfolio must include:

  • Five artworks that you consider to be your best work in any medium. Digital images should approximately meet these specifications:
    File Format: JPEG file format only
    Resolution: 300 dpi
    File Size: Approximately 1.0 MB (1000 KB) EACH
    File Name: identify each image with name and number (e.g., Redbird-001.jpg; Redbird-002.jpg;)
  • One indexed list of these five artworks
    Include the title, description, medium, and size of each artwork on the list, identify each with the same number as the JPEG filename..
  • Any necessary weblinks (including YouTube and Vimeo) may be embedded into the indexed list, a PDF, or a document file.

Make sure that the artwork is squared in the view finder, is well-lit, and in focus. It is important to record color and exposure accurately, so be sure to set the proper camera "White Balance" and exposure for the lighting conditions. (Consult your camera manual.) It is also important to eliminate distracting backgrounds by filling the view nder as much as possible with the artwork without cropping the artwork itself. Use a neutral cloth or wall as a backdrop. If these cannot be controlled, then you are encouraged to carefully crop out any distracting background in a photo editing program. Accurate and simple representations of your artworks are paramount.

Transfer students: work submitted should reflect college-level art classes already taken.

Portfolio review sessions (2016-2017)

All portfolio review sessions are open to both freshman and transfer applicants.

Applications valid for Spring and Fall 2017

  • September 19: Ensures consideration for advanced registration
  • October 10: Regular submission date
  • October 24: Regular submission date
  • November 14: Regular submission date
  • December 5: Final review session for spring 2016 semester

Applications valid for only Fall 2017

  • February 6: Ensures consideration for advanced registration
  • February 20: Transfers are strongly encouraged to submit by this date
  • March 13: Final review session for spring 2017 semester

Portfolios should be submitted to:

The School of Art Admissions Committee
Illinois State University
Center for the Visual Arts Room 119 
Campus Box 5620
Normal, IL 61790-5620

Portfolio Delivery and Return

For return shipping, include a self-addressed mailing container and sufficient postage. Portfolios must be mailed to the address below or delivered to the office of the ISU School of Art, Center for Visual Arts (CVA), room 119. Portfolios not ready for return shipping will be held for pickup, and will be discarded according to the following process: When the review committee has made a decision, you will receive a letter from the department informing you of your admission status. You will have 3 weeks from the date of that letter in which to pick up your portfolio if you did not include postage. Please note: any portfolios not picked up within the 3-week time period will be discarded.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Nancy Fewkes  Center for Visual Arts 119  (309) 438-5627 
Deanna Deatrick  Center for Visual Arts 119  (309) 438-5605 
2016-08-03T11:23:40.188-05:00 2016