B.F.A. Curriculum and Requirements

Within the departmental curriculum, the first three semesters provide six introductory, medium-specific studio classes (drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, print media, and digital media) along with an intensive art seminar.

Following this, students select from advanced studios in which medium specificity accommodates and encourages developing student material and intellectual interests. In the second and third years, students may apply for semester programs at both AAP NYC and Cornell in Rome, which combine studio classes with seminars, studio visits, field trips, and internship possibilities aimed at providing added exposure to professional and global art worlds. All three campuses run robust visiting artist lecture series.

Upon return to Ithaca, the final three semesters focus on studios and seminar work based on strengthening self-directed practice while preparing for a thesis project.

Students matriculating in fall 2018 should follow this curriculum:

B.F.A. required classes and credits.
Requirement area and number of classes Specific classes Credits

5 classes of studio practice: Introductory 2000-level studios. To be completed by the end of the third semester.

ART 2201 Introduction to PaintingStudies the language of painting through color, form, materials, and techniques. Aspects of traditional and modern pictorial composition are studied including proportion, space, and color theory through the representation of a variety of subjects.
ART 2301 Introduction to Print MediaThis is an inclusive course that offers an expanded study of traditional printmaking processes through experimental print media. Print media is a critical practice grounded in the history of all printed matter and the printed form as a social medium. Students will participate in a comprehensive range of technical and aesthetic approaches centered in a range of strategies including the art work as multiple, digital and cultural production. These issues of critical discourse will challenge traditional definitions of intaglio, lithography, relief, screen-printing, digital printmaking, and laser cutting technology.
ART 2401 Introduction to SculptureThis course introduces students to artistic practice in three dimensions using a variety of materials and approaches. Problems require the student to address materials in terms of cultural and historical context. Assumes no prior knowledge of sculpture.
ART 2501 Contemporary Art Practice Through DrawingThis course provides students entering the B.F.A. program a gateway to contemporary art practice through drawing. Drawing here is conceived both as a self-sufficient medium and as a tool useful for the conceptual and practical development of ideas in other media. A wide range of technically and conceptually conceived assignments will introduce students to the breadth of contemporary practice and drawing itself. (first fall semester)
ART 2601 Introduction to PhotographyThis course explores camera and lens as devices that frame and translate three-dimensional space to a two-dimensional surface. Through assignments and individual investigation, students acquire a deeper understanding of visual perception and photography as medium for personal expression. This course introduces students to photographic processes and assumes no prior knowledge of photography.
ART 2701 Introduction to Digital MediaThis course explores the use of digital technology in contemporary art making. Students approach software programs by researching historical and contemporary art issues, with emphasis on how to differentiate between analog and digital forms. Through the investigation of the history of digital technology students will gain an understanding of digital culture and its correlation to social, aesthetic and theoretical issues. Topics explored include time-based art, network culture, image resolution, computational techniques, virtuality, and interactivity.

24 credits

5 classes of studio practice: Elective 3000-level studios

B.F.A. students are required to successfully complete five 3000-level studios from any of the six different studio practice areas. Students may enroll in a 3000-level studio if they have successfully completed the 2000-level studio in that same studio practice area. Successful completion of all five 3000-level studios is a pre-requisite for ART 4004. Sample classes include:
ART 3201 Spatial Transpositions in PaintingThis topical painting course uses traditional and experimental strategies to address contemporary issues in the mediation of spatiality. Spaces addressed include: theoretical and information spaces, virtual and cyberspaces, surveillance and control spaces, filmic and narrative spaces, and image and game spaces. The emphasis of this course will be on articulating critical approaches to these contemporary spaces through their transposition and delivery in the medium of painting.
ART 3301 Print Media: Site and DisplayIn this course, students visit campus facilities and regional sites to learn and gather information about their cultural location. These visits will be contextualized by issues of public and private space, land use, and history of place. Students plan projects in response to site visits and use the print studio as an intermediary space for production based on this research. The course concludes with an exhibition installation in the college galleries or specific sites.
ART 3401 Sculptural/Artistic PracticeThis class will concentrate on the development of a studio practice that is autonomous and based on the artist's material and intellectual interests. Students will be encouraged to experiment with different research/production methodologies to develop a practice that is self-sustaining and flexible. Sculpture here should be taken in its least restrictive sense to the point where it implies merely an awareness and integration of spatial relations. In this sense, sculpture can imply the use of any artistic medium. Critiques, discussions and student presentations will comprise a large portion of class time. Readings will be assigned according to the needs and interests of the individual students. The class will be receptive to collaborative practice in the realm of production, but also, and most importantly, in the sense of fostering a mutually supportive and intellectually engaged artistic community.
ART 3501 Drawing: Pictorial LanguageThis course explores the capacity of drawing to visualize complex representations, experience and informational systems using a wide range of materials and formats. Students pursue both experimental and more developed individual, serial, and collaborative drawing projects that challenge and question the conventional boundaries of drawing.
ART 3601 Photography: Identity and the Global LensThis course investigates the visual representation of identity in contemporary culture while considering the impact of global perspectives on the understanding and interpretation of self through the lens of race, gender, geography. This studio based course considers visual practice in relation to critical theory using lecture, group critique, and film and video screenings. Image capture will be by medium format camera and film and occasional digital SLR 35 mm camera. Advanced black and white and color negative and print processes will be taught. Medium format cameras are provided on a daily loan basis.
ART 3705 Digital Media: Art in the Age of NetworksThis project-centered studio course is designed to introduce the web as a medium for critical, aesthetic, and public art practice. Recent digital practices such as net art, generative art, telematic art, interactive environments, and network performance have led artists to see the web and related technologies as a new space for understanding art and re-thinking the role of the artist in society. By becoming familiar with these practices, and through independent research and project production, this course will ask students to challenge the notion of object-based art and approach art as an interventionist activity that creates sites of critical overlap between art, technology, and society.
ART 3001 Rome StudioThis class will concentrate on the development, through research and material experimentation, of a studio practice informed by historical and social context. Different research and production methodologies will be encouraged to develop a practice that is critical, self-sustaining, and flexible. Specific attention will be paid to implications of transferring artistic practice to Rome, i.e., the way the specificities and generalities of a new geographical setting inform one's work. Required course for B.F.A. students participating in Rome. (fall only)
ART 3003 New York City Studio This class will concentrate on the development, through research and material experimentation, of a studio practice informed by historical and social context. Different research and production methodologies will be encouraged to develop a practice that is critical, self-sustaining, and flexible. Students will be encouraged to engage the intellectual and artistic resources available in New York City that relate to the development of their work. Required course for B.F.A. students participating in AAP NYC.(spring only)

16 credits

1 class of studio practice: Pre-thesis

ART 3006 Advanced PracticeThis class will concentrate on the development, through research and material experimentation, of a studio practice informed by historical and social context. Different research and production methodologies will be encouraged to develop a practice that is critical, self-sustaining, and flexible. This course is conceived as an introduction to the concentrated studio practice developed further in the following two thesis semesters. (spring only; 4 credits; prerequisite for ART 4003)

4 credits

2 classes of studio practice: Thesis year

ART 4003 Thesis IThis course continues the independent studio research and production of the Advanced Practice course to prepare students for ART 4002: Thesis II.  During Thesis I, students begin to research, develop, and clarify their thesis proposals through dialogues, readings, and critiques with members of the Core Thesis Faculty. Emphasis is on deepening awareness of the intention and reading of the work and situating individual interests within and against historical, theoretical, and conceptual contexts.
ART 4004 Thesis IIThis course is the final B.F.A. studio semester in which students develop and present an independent body of work that may take the form of an exhibition or some other project. Students will work with members of the Core Thesis Faculty to define and refine the positions formulated within each work and to foster the ability to speak about one's own work as well as the work of others. Emphasis is placed on developing strategies of productive self-criticality to inform their work both during and beyond the thesis semester.
All required 3000-level studios and ART 3006 must be completed before ART 4003 Thesis I, and all elective 3000-level studios must be completed before ART 4004 Thesis II.

8 credits

1 class of shop instruction

ART 2900 Shop+TechThis course gives undergraduate B.F.A. students introductory experience in the usage and safe practices of Cornell AAP's machine fabrication and digital media facilities. At the end of this semester B.F.A. students will be able to apply basic shop and technology knowledge and skills into their classwork and individual creative work.
This 1-credit class provides instruction in the use of AAP's machine fabrication and digital media facilities.

1 credit

3 classes of theory and criticism

ART 2103 First-Year Studio Research WorkshopThis course considers the social, cultural, economic, political, and art historical influences that define and redefine contemporary art and artists in the twenty-first century. First year BFA students will be introduced to art as a dynamic aesthetic, analytical, subjective and social form of expression, communication, thought and material production. A wide range of works and ideas and approaches will be explored taking a non-hierarchal approach. (first fall)
ART 4100 Senior SeminarThis advanced seminar is designed to accompany the first semester of Thesis studio. The class fosters investigation of artistic intentionality and its relation to visual expression and its discursive treatment. It begins with assignments structured to identify the conceptual, social, historical, and formal considerations relevant to each student's artistic practice. Once identified, these become the basis for rigorous research and consideration. This undertaking is designed to support advanced thesis projects and art practices going forward. (final fall), and one additional theory and criticism elective.

11 - 12 credits

3 classes of art history

One modern/contemporary, one global/underrepresented, and one additional art history elective

9 -12 credits

1 class Diversity & Inclusion

One diversity and inclusion elective from a list of approved courses

3-4 credits

2 writing classes

Any two writing classes from the following: First-Year Writing Seminars (FWS), ENGL 2880, ENGL 2890

6 credits

Elective Plan

Any academic class at Cornell chosen in consultation with faculty advisor.

32 - 37 credits

2 physical education classes

Any PE class at Cornell


Swim test





120 credits

**PE classes and the swim test do not count as academic credit.

Students matriculating before fall 2018 should visit Courses of Study for the appropriate curriculum.


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