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The BFA Program

The School of Art+Design offers four-year curricula in graphic design, painting/drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and interdisciplinary visual arts. Each of these majors leads to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree:

Graphic Design





Visual Arts: Interdisciplinary

Each student works closely with a faculty advisor to establish a program of study that allows the student to develop particular areas of interest and to prepare for the larger world of art and design. In the art school setting, the student investigates introductory courses in different visual arts disciplines and, during the four-year program, specializes in a major area of study. Students who wish to pursue an interdisciplinary course of study in which several media are investigated should refer to the visual arts interdisciplinary major and consult with their advisors or the heads of the boards of study during their freshman year to determine requirements.

Visiting Artists and Critics
The BFA program is frequently enriched by visiting artist lectures and critiques. Past visiting artists and critics include Vito Acconci, Polly Apfelbaum, John Baldessari, Mike Bidlo, Benjamin Buchloh, Willie Cole, John Coplans, Arthur Danto, Jim Dine, Rackstraw Downes, Elliott Earls, Ed Fella, Eric Fischl, Coco Fusco, Thelma Golden, Leon Golub, Alfredo Jaar, Yvonne Jacquette, Joan Jonas, Jon Kessler, Alison Knowles, Komar and Melamid, Les Levine, Donald Lipski, Ellen Lupton, T. Abbott Miller, Judy Pfaff, Peter Plagens, Tim Rollins, Dana Shutz, and Wolfgang Weingart.

BFA Overview: Requirements, Electives, and Option
At least 70 credits in visual arts courses (e.g., foundation courses, studio courses, art-specific seminars, and senior projects), plus 12 credits in art history are required for BFA students in the School of Art+Design; the academic requirements are listed under each major. To graduate, BFA students must fulfill all general degree requirements as well as the requirements for their major.

Study Abroad
Students may choose to spend a semester abroad in any of the numerous international programs offered through the State University of New York. In addition, the School of Art+Design sponsors student exchanges with the Amsterdam School of the Arts in the Netherlands, Camberwell College of Arts in London, the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland, and the Universidad Iberro in Mexico City. Students who wish to participate in any of these international programs should consult with their advisors or the director in the School of Art+Design about eligibility. (For additional information, refer to Study Abroad.)

Summer Studies
Art+Design students have a variety of opportunities to continue their studies in the summer:

  1. The college’s study abroad programs offer opportunities for interdisciplinary study.
  2. In the summer sessions at Purchase College, which are administered by the School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education, a range of undergraduate credit courses are available, including many that satisfycore curriculum requirements.
  3. Numerous summer programs in the visual arts, offered by institutions across the country, may provide a particular process, media, or topic of interest.
  4. It is possible to arrange an independent study with a member of the Purchase College faculty.
  5. It is also common for students to arrange for a professional internship as part of their summer activity.

Students should consult with their faculty advisors to discuss the particular options available.

Freshman Year
First-year requirements for BFA students include a foundation program consisting of VIS 1050/ComX, a freshman seminar based on community experience; studio courses in drawing, extended media, visual language, 3-D processes, and time- and lens-based artistic processes; and one year of art history. As part of their first-year art history requirement, all students take ARH 1020/History of Art Survey II, which also satisfies the humanities requirement in the core curriculum. Students are also required to complete WRI 1110/College Writing.

Foundation Program: Student Learning Outcomes

Freshman-Year Withdrawal Policy
Please note that students may not withdraw from any foundation program courses. If extenuating circumstances exist, a student may petition his or her advisor for permission to withdraw. Withdrawal will only be allowed with the permission of both the student’s advisor and the assistant dean of the School of the Arts.

Sophomore and Junior Years
More concentrated study in the major begins in the first semester of the sophomore year. Students should refer to both the general degree requirements for the BFA and their major requirements, and consult with their advisors for assistance in following their courses of study during the sophomore and junior years. In the second semester of their junior year and in consultation with their faculty advisor, students must submit an application for graduation to the registrar.

Senior Year
All senior-year studies must be completed in residence at Purchase. During the senior year, all students must complete a senior project (6 or 8 credits, depending on their major), as well as other remaining requirements. In the senior project—an intensive, independent study undertaken with faculty sponsorship—students pursue a particular theme or topic as a culmination of their undergraduate experience. A written thesis and visual documentation of the project must be submitted to the Library before graduation.

Art History
In addition to the general art history requirements, BFA students in the School of Art+Design have two options for further study in art history: a minor and a concentration. These options are grounded in the idea that there is a clear interrelationship between art history/critical studies and studio practice in the visual arts.

Updated June 23, 2016

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