Art Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)

About Bachelor of Fine Arts

Join the ranks of the global creative class with a degree in fine arts.

Learn how to become a creative thinker at PennWest California. As an undergraduate fine arts major, you will learn the skills and knowledge you need to thrive in the changing workforce of the future.

Through studio art classes you will gain a mastery of various art forms, studio techniques, tools and materials, as well as training in post-studio practices. Seminar and lecture courses will a strengthen your visual literacy and art historical knowledge of contemporary themes and artists.

PennWest California's Bachelor of Fine Arts is a professional degree that prepares you for a wide range of art, art-related and creative careers. In this program, you will prepare a strong artist's portfolio in order to gain entry to top graduate schools, leading to more specific skills in the fine arts and design world. 

Discover PennWest California's collaborative environment.

  • Participate in hands-on learning as you explore craft, technology and design in studio art courses led by professors who are active artists.
  • Take advanced-level courses in digital arts, painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, drawing and jewelry/metals.
  • Thrive in a college degree program that fosters close collaboration and individual attention.


Top Accreditation: PennWest California's bachelor of fine arts degree aligns with top standards for undergraduate art programs and is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Experiential Education: Visit galleries and museums, as well as major art venues in cities such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, New York and Washington, D.C. PennWest California's art program hosts workshops and lectures by notable artists, as well as trips each semester for students to experience firsthand the art and architecture they are studying in class.

Learn more about applying

Our professors are members of top regional, national and international art associations, including Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, College Arts Association (CAA), National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), and more.
Our professors are members of top regional, national and international art associations, including Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, College Arts Association (CAA), National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), and more.
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Learn the skills employers value most. In this program you will:

Develop a professional portfolio of artistic work. Strengthen critical thinking, problem solving, time management, communication and presentation skills. Learn to work independently and collaborate with others. Master an artistic medium of your choice with six advanced concentration courses. Gain competence in a second artistic area with four advanced minor courses. Participate in art-related internships that help you graduate career-ready.

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Graduate Outcomes

Study at the New York Academy of Art. Teach in Pennsylvania schools and throughout the United States. Win full scholarships to M.F.A. programs. Work as freelance illustrators. Show and sell their artwork in galleries, jewelry stores and elsewhere. Open their own art-related businesses. Work in art outreach programs and various art-related arts organizations.

Art: Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree
Vulcan Hall art studio at PennWest California.

Dedicated Facilities

PennWest California's bachelor of fine arts students work in dedicated facilities such as a two-story painting studio; fully equipped ceramic, jewelry/metals, drawing and printmaking studios; and state-of-the-art computer labs.

Joe Mruk - artist.

What Can I Do with A Fine Arts Degree?

Meet PennWest California fine arts alumnus Joe Mruk, '10. He's currently working as a freelance illustrator in Pittsburgh, creating illustrations for bands, music venues, record labels and small businesses. He's also worked at The Andy Warhol Museum and has led art courses for children and young adults.

A student sells art on campus.

On-Campus Student Arts Club

Show and promote your art with Associate Artists - PennWest California's student organization that collaborates with other independent and college-affiliated art groups in nearby Pennsylvania counties. The group provides networking opportunities, career development programs in the fine arts and art education, gallery management training, and club-sponsored trips.

Other clubs include:
Ceramics Club
Art Education Club
Vulcan Metals - Jewelry and metalsmithing club

Art - Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree Courses

This 4-year bachelor's degree program prepares students for a career as an artist or art professional. Students hone technical expertise by completing18 credits in one advanced-level studio as an area of emphasis, as well as 12 credits in one advanced-level studio area as a minor area.


Course Credits
General Education Courses 40 or 41
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
Any Public Speaking Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
Any Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy Course
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
Any Technological Literacy Course*
Any Humanities Course**
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course***
Natural Sciences
Any Natural Sciences Course
Social Sciences
Any Social Sciences Course
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • Additional General Education Courses (three courses)
Laboratory Course 3
Any Laboratory Course (ART 233  Natural Sciences Drawing  OR  ART 130  may be used here)
Required Major Courses 33
ART 110  Drawing I 3
ART 119  Design 2-D 3
ART 120  Design 3-D 3
ART 310  Advanced Drawing  OR  ART 438  Figure Drawing 3
ART 350  Printmaking: Relief  OR  ART 351  Printmaking: Intaglio  OR  ART 295  Surface Design  OR  ART 352  Printmaking Processes 3
ART 376  Jewelry/Metals: Casting  OR  ART 377  Jewelry/Metals: Fabrication 3
ART 382  Ceramics Studio 3
ART 383  Painting Studio 3
ART 385  Sculpture Studio 3
ART 388  Critical Writing in Art 3
ART 490  Senior Studio Thesis 3
Required Art History Courses 12
Select one of the following:
  • ART 212  Art History I AND ART 214  Art History II
  • ART 106  Art Appreciation
3 or 6
Select two to three courses from the following:
  • ART 109  Landmarks of World Art
  • ART 118  History of Making
  • ART 212  Art History I
  • ART 214  Art History II
  • ARB 343  Images of Islam: From Spain to Iran
  • ART 244  Seminar in Black Art
  • ART 243  Introduction to Asian Art
  • ART 323  Women in Art
  • ART 324  Modern Art
  • ART 326  Contemporary Art
  • ART 345  Methods of Art History
  • ART 420  Contemporary Issues in Art
  • ART 422  Art History: The Art World After Modernism
6 or 9
Area of Emphasis (select one concentration) 18
Single Studio Area Concentration: Students complete 18 upper-level credits in any single ART studio area, including ART 329 and 490.
  • Drawing Studio: ART 130, 233 310, 438, 458, 490 and 329
  • Painting Studio: ART 215, 383, 496, 490 and 329
  • Figure Studies Studio: ART 438, 448, 458, 490 and 329
  • Printmaking Studio: ART 295, 350, 351, 352, 490 and 329
  • Jewelry/Metals Studio: 376, 377, 490 and 329
  • Ceramics Studio: ART 382, 493, 490 and 329
  • Sculpture Studio: ART 385, 448, 458, 498, 490 and 329
  • Graphic Design Studio: ART 261, 262, 327, 427, 490, 329; and CDC 120, 150, 210, 220, 310, 350, 497
0 or 18
2 Dimensional Concentration: Students complete 18 credits in any combination of the following courses:
  • ART 130  Biological Illustration: Form and Function
  • ART 227  Graphic Design Studio I
  • ART 233  Natural Science Drawing
  • ART 262  Color Theory
  • ART 266  Selected Topics
  • ART 295  Surface Design
  • ART 310  Advanced Drawing
  • ART 312  Introduction to New and Emerging Art Media
  • ART 315  Digital Immersive Worlds
  • ART 329  Art Internship
  • ART 350  Printmaking: Relief
  • ART 351  Printmaking: Intaglio
  • ART 352  Printmaking Processes
  • ART 383  Painting Studio
  • ART 438  Figure Drawing
  • ART 458  Figure Drawing and Modeling
  • ART 490  Senior Studio Thesis
  • ART 496  Advanced Painting
0 or 18
3 Dimensional Concentration: Students complete 18 credits in any combination of the following courses:
  • ART 118  History of Making
  • ART 266  Selected Topics
  • ART 329  Art Internship
  • ART 376  Jewelry-Metals: Casting
  • ART 377  Jewelry/Metals: Fabrication
  • ART 382  Ceramics Studio
  • ART 385  Sculpture Studio
  • ART 448  Figure Modeling
  • ART 458  Figure Drawing and Modeling
  • ART 490  Senior Studio Thesis
  • ART 493  Advanced Ceramics
  • ART 498  Advanced Sculpture
0 or 18
Digital Media Concentration: Students complete 18 credits from the following courses:
  • ART 127  Introduction to Graphic Design
  • ART 315  Digital Immersive Worlds
  • ART 261  Typography
  • ART 262  Color Theory
  • ART 266  Selected Topics
  • ART 227  Graphic Design Studio 1+
  • ART 329  Art Internship
  • ART 427  Graphic Design Studio 3
  • ART 428  Graphic Design Studio 4
  • ART 490  Senior Studio Thesis
  • CDC 120  Visual Communication 1
  • CDC 252  The Art of Film
  • CDC 150  Imagine, Design, Create
  • CDC 210  Special Topics in Communication, Design and Culture
  • CDC 220  Visual Culture
  • CDC 310  Seminar in Communication, Design and Culture
  • DMT 101  Time-Based Media
  • DMT 180  Multimedia Foundations
  • DMT 225  Digital Layout and Design
  • DMT 240  Electronic Desktop Publishing
  • DMT 300  Digital Photography
  • DMT 320  Digital Video
  • DMT 331  Web Publishing
  • DMT 340  Computer Animation and 3-D Imaging
  • DMT 365  Color Imaging
  • DMT 410  Digital Portfolio
  • DMT 945  Graphic Communications Internship
  • GET 130  Introduction to Engineering Technology
  • CIS 120  Application Programming I
0 or 18
Art Electives 9
Select any three ART courses 9
Free Electives 3 to 5
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): ART 490 Senior Studio Thesis
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): ART 388 Critical Writing in Art AND ART 490 Senior Studio Thesis
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): Any Laboratory Course (ART 233 Natural Science Drawing OR ART 130 Biological Illustration may be used here.)

* DMT 180 is a pre-requisite for many digital media courses and is recommended for students who plan to take digital media courses.

** Students are encouraged to consider taking courses in art, music, theatre, philosophy or languages related to their interests.

*** ART courses may be used here.

+ Pre-requisites for ART 227 (Graphic Design Studio I) include ART 120, CDC 120, ART 261 and ART 262, and students must pass a Portfolio Review in February of their sophomore year, which admits only selected students to the two-year junior-and-senior-year cohort of Graphic Design Studios 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Program Notes:

  • 35% (42 credits/14 courses) of the required 120 credits must include upper-division courses (300-400 level).
  • All art studio courses 300 level and above are repeatable.
  • Requirements in Major: Students must complete 18 credits in one of the four listed concentrations as an area of emphasis.
  • Students are eligible and advised to declare a Certificate in Studio Art. If planning to pursue an MFA in Art, they should complete four courses in a single studio area for their Certificate in Studio Art.
  • Students preferring additional free electives may make room to do so by meeting general education course requirements with courses listed on the general education menus from their major.
  • Graduation Requirements: Minimum GPA - 2.0; Minimum Credits - 120; all major and general educations courses completed.
  • Academic Advisement: Consult your adviser to discuss your appropriate schedule and all other issues relating to your major.
  • Graduation: Students must apply during the first month of their last semester with the College Office.
  • Additional Reminders: Developmental courses do not count toward the 120 credits necessary for graduation but are calculated in your overall GPA.


  • Studio Art Minor in Drawing
  • Studio Art Minor in Ceramics
  • Studio Art Minor in Jewelry/Metals
  • Studio Art Minor in Painting
  • Studio Art Minor in Printmaking
  • Studio Art Minor in Sculpture
  • General Art Major

Art Faculty

Maggy D. Aston
Associate Professor

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James B. Bove

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Laura DeFazio

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Dr. Cindy Persinger
Associate Professor

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Todd Pinkham
Associate Professor

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