Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)
The B.F.A. program allows the student to map a highly individualized curriculum with the goal of evolving a mature artistic practice at the earliest possible stage.
B.F.A. Degree Requirements
Students matriculating in Fall 2020 must complete the following degree requirements:
Introductory 2000-level studios
||ART 2201 , 2301 , 2401 , 2501 (first fall semester), 2601 , 2701
Advanced 3000-level studios
||Any four classes from the following: ART 3092 , 3201 - 3299, 3301 - 3399 , 3401 - 3499 , 3501 - 3599 , 3601 - 3699 , and 3701 – 3799
||ART 3006 (Spring only)
||ART 4003 and 4004
|Shop & Tech
||ART 2900 (Fall only)
|Theory and Criticism
||ART 2103 , ART 4100 , and one additional theory and criticism elective
||One modern/contemporary, one global, and one additional art history elective
||Any two writing classes from the following: First-Year Writing Seminars (FWS), ENGL 2880 , ENGL 2890
||Any academic class at Cornell chosen in consultation with faculty advisor
||Any PE class at Cornell
* P.E. classes do not count as academic credit.
Studio Practice Requirement: 13 classes; 52 credits
1. Introductory 2000-level Studios: 6 classes; 24 credits
B.F.A. students are required to complete the following 2000-level studios by the end of the third semester:
*ART 2501 must be completed in the first fall semester of study.
2. Advanced 3000-level Studios: 4 classes; 16 credits
B.F.A. students are required to successfully complete four 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 four 3000-level studios is a pre-requisite for ART 4004 .
3. Pre-thesis: 1 class; 4 credits
B.F.A. students are required to complete ART 3006 in the Spring of the third year. ART 3006 is a pre-requisite for ART 4003 .
4. Thesis: 2 classes; 8 credits
In the final year of study, B.F.A. students enroll in ART 4003 and ART 4004 . ART 3006 must be completed before ART 4003 , and all advanced 3000-level studios must be completed before ART 4004 .
Shop & Tech: 1 class; 1 credit
B.F.A. students are required to successfully complete ART 2900 - Shop and Tech in the first Fall semester of study to be in good standing. This requirement must be completed at Cornell.
Theory and Criticism Requirement: 3 classes; 12 credits
B.F.A. students are required to successfully complete the following three classes for a total of 12 credits in the area of theory and criticism:
In the first Fall semester of study, B.F.A. students enroll in ART 2103 . The ART 2103 requirement cannot be fulfilled with transfer credit.
After ART 2103 has been completed, B.F.A. students must successfully complete a theory and criticism elective. Student may satisfy this requirement with ART 3102 (Cornell in Rome), ART 3103 (AAP NYC), or another approved theory and criticism elective .
In the final Fall semester of study, B.F.A. students enroll in ART 4100 .
Art History Requirement: 3 classes; 12 credits
B.F.A. students are required to successfully complete three classes totaling 12 credits in the area of art history:
Writing Requirement: 2 classes; 6 credits
B.F.A. students are required to successfully complete two approved writing classes totaling 6 credits by the end of the second year and before participating in off-campus study. Approved writing courses include all First-Year Writing Seminars (FWS), ENGL 2880 - Expository Writing , and ENGL 2890 - Expository Writing . B.F.A. students can apply advanced placement credit toward a maximum of one writing class. Only the Knight Institute can approve substitutions for the writing requirement.
Elective Plan Requirement: 37 credits
The Elective Plan requirement allows students to develop a curricular plan comprised of a cross-disciplinary cluster of electives. Students work closely with their faculty advisor and other departmental faculty to integrate these classes into their developing art practice that is critically, intellectually, and materially advanced. When enrolling in elective classes, up to nine credits of electives may be taken under the S/U grading-basis. Concurrent degree students can apply a maximum of 12 credits from the elective plan toward the B.F.A. and their other degree.
Total Academic Credits: 120
B.F.A. students may take advantage of off-campus study opportunities at AAP NYC and/or Cornell in Rome. Both off-campus options combine studio classes with seminars, studio visits, field trips, and internship possibilities aimed at providing added exposure to professional and global art worlds. Students should consult with their advisor to plan how their B.F.A. curriculum will coordinate with off-campus study.
B.F.A. students in good standing with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.000 or better and who are on track with the B.F.A. degree requirements are eligible to apply to study at Cornell in Rome and/or AAP NYC. Students apply to the Cornell in Rome and AAP NYC semesters through a competitive application process determined by the department. Meeting the minimum eligibility criteria does not guarantee acceptance into the off-campus option, and off-campus study is contingent on the student’s continued good academic standing and adequate program enrollment.
The AAP NYC semester utilizes the remarkable resources of New York City. Faculty members include practicing artists, theorists, critics, and curators. Field trips to galleries, museums and artist studios are integrated into the curriculum. Within the context of AAP NYC’s course offerings, optional internship, and immersive exposure to contemporary art and artists, students get an inside look at the urban NYC art world. Each student has access to studio space where they are encouraged to develop work according to their independent practices and may take advantage of group exhibitions in the AAP NYC space. Learn more about AAP NYC.
Cornell in Rome
The Cornell in Rome semester draws upon the extensive contemporary and cultural resources of Italy and greater Europe. Each student has access to studio space where they are encouraged to develop work according to their independent practices. The semester provides an experience unparalleled for artistic, intellectual, and personal growth where students may develop their studio practice in any medium. Designated art faculty from Ithaca and Rome plan a rich schedule of field trips that relate to the art curriculum. Fieldtrips during past semesters have been to Milan, Venice, Padua, Florence, and Naples as well as nearby Berlin, Germany. Cornell in Rome participants have the opportunity to exhibit in galleries and art spaces locally. Learn more about Cornell in Rome.
B.F.A. Program Policies
B.F.A. students are expected to satisfy all B.F.A. degree requirements and comply with the following B.F.A. policies. Any deviation must be petitioned prior to the act. Petition forms can be found online on the AAP Academic Forms page. Failure to comply with any department policies or petitions decisions may result in review by the College Academic Review Committee (ARC).
To be in a good academic standing in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, a B.F.A. student must:
- Successfully complete a minimum of 12 academic credits each semester
- Earn a minimum semester grade point average (GPA) of 2.300
- Comply with department curriculum and program policies
At the end of each semester, the college’s ARC goes over the record of each student who is not in good academic standing and decides an appropriate action. For additional information, refer to Academic Review section.
All B.F.A. students are required to take a minimum of 12 and not more than 20 academic credits per semester.
To enroll in more than 20 credits, students must petition for permission. Petitions must be submitted prior to the act. All petitions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
B.F.A students are required to enroll in a minimum of two and a maximum of three 2000-level art studios each semester for the first three semesters. B.F.A. students are required to enroll in a minimum of one and a maximum of three art studios each semester from the fourth semester through to the end of the program. Students are expected to be present during regular class hours for instruction and criticism.
All required classes must be taken for a letter-grade. A maximum of nine elective credits may be taken for an S/U grade. In addition, all college and university grading policy apply to B.F.A. students.
- All Cornell courses numbered 1000–1099 do not count toward graduation.
- All ART courses numbered 1100–1999 count as elective credit only.
Additional information regarding the ART course numbering scheme can be found below under Art Course and Fee Information.
Advanced Placement Credit
For B.F.A. students, advanced placement credit is applied as elective credit only, with the exception of up to one First-Year Writing Seminar. B.F.A. students may apply a maximum of nine advanced placement credits toward their degree requirements. In addition, all college and university advanced placement credit policies apply to B.F.A. students. Please refer to the Advanced Placement section of this catalog for additional university guidelines regarding AP credit.
Independent study classes in the Department of Art are offered on the Ithaca campus in the Fall and Spring semesters only, and are open to students in the 3rd-year or higher. Students enroll for variable credit, for up to a maximum of 4 credits. Independent studio classes of 4 credits taken for a letter grade are applied as advanced 3000-level studios. Independent studio classes of fewer than 4 credits and/or taken for an S/U grade are applied as elective credit only. Enrollment in an independent study requires an approved Independent Study Form, which are found online on the AAP Academic Forms page.
Eligibility requirements for enrolling in an independent study (independent studio, directed readings, directed research ):
- Third-year (junior) standing or higher;
- Successful completion of the 2000-level and one 3000-level ART studio in the studio practice area;
- A cumulative GPA of 2.700 or better; and
- Enrollment in Ithaca during the Fall or Spring semester
The above information must be verified by the Department of Art on an Independent Study Form prior to enrollment. The Independent Study Form are found online on the AAP Academic Forms page. Standard University add/drop deadlines apply to enrollment in an Art independent study. Any exception to the above eligibility requirements or add/drop deadlines must be approved by petition. The petition form is found online on the AAP Academic Forms page.
- The B.F.A. program is an eight-semester program.
- The B.F.A. concurrent degree option requires ten semesters.
- Students who transfer into the B.F.A. program must complete a minimum of four semesters in residence (Ithaca/Cornell in Rome/AAP NYC).
- B.F.A. students are required to spend the last three semesters of candidacy in residence in Ithaca.
The general college transfer credit policies apply to B.F.A. students. In addition, the following B.F.A. requirements cannot be satisfied with transfer credit and must be successfully completed at Cornell:
Further, the modern/contemporary art history and global art history requirements cannot be fulfilled with transfer survey of art history courses. Such courses will be applied toward the elective plan requirement.
Additional Information for Transfer Students
To ensure a timely transfer of credit, incoming transfer students are required to submit course equivalency requests immediately upon acceptance. Students should also meet with the academic services staff as soon as possible but no later than orientation to review how their credits are applied toward the Cornell degree and for course enrollment planning.
Students who transfer into the B.F.A. program must successfully complete:
- A minimum of four semesters in residence
- A minimum of 60 academic credits at Cornell
- A minimum of 30 of the 60 credits in the Department of Art
Deviating from Curriculum, Policies, or Procedures
Students wishing to deviate from requirements or and/or policies must petition the art department for permission. Petition forms, which are found online on the AAP Academic Forms page, are submitted to AAP Office of Student Services, 235 Sibley Dome. Petitions must be submitted prior to the act. Petitions should be submitted only if there are clearly extraordinary circumstances that merit special consideration. Once submitted and acted upon, petitions can only be reversed by subsequent petition.
Appeals: A student has ten days from the time of the petitions decision to appeal the decision in writing. Appeal forms are found online on the AAP Academic Forms page. Appeals should be submitted directly to the Department of Art, 224 Tjaden Hall, for review and vote by the full tenure/tenure-track art faculty. The faculty decision on the appeal is final. No further appeals will be considered.
Concurrent Degree Option
The five-year concurrent degree option allows students to earn a B.F.A. as well as a bachelor of arts (B.A.), or a bachelor of science (B.S.) from another college at Cornell University. Students usually apply to the concurrent degree option during their second year. Concurrent degree candidates must satisfy all requirements for both degrees and earn a minimum of 150 academic credits. At least 64 of the total credits must come from courses offered in the Department of Art. Concurrent degree candidates are eligible to participate in AAP NYC in the Spring semester of the second or third year and Cornell in Rome in the Fall semester of the third or fourth year. It is expected that a concurrent degree candidate will complete ART 3006 in the fourth year, and ART 4100 , ART 4003 , and ART 4004 in the fifth year.
Minor in Fine Arts (for Non-Departmental Students)
The art minor is an opportunity for students who are not enrolled in the Department of Art and who have a serious interest and/or background in studio art to continue their commitment to art at the college level.
The curriculum for the minor in fine arts totals a minimum of 20 credit hours. All coursework must be completed at Cornell University, and a grade of C or better is required. In addition, any coursework used to fulfill the minor cannot also be used to fulfill specific requirements of the student’s major.
Specific Course Requirements for the Minor:
Interested students must complete an Intent to Minor form in order to receive priority in the studio enrollment process. Completed forms should be submitted to the Department of Art. Upon successful completion of all minor requirements, students must submit an Application to Graduate with a Minor in Fine Arts to the Department of Art at least one month prior to graduation. The Department of Art will verify completion of the minor and the minor will be recorded on the official transcript at the time of degree completion. Both the Intent to Minor form and the Application to Graduate with a Minor in Fine Arts are found online on the AAP Academic Forms page.
Questions regarding the minor can be directed to the Department of Art, 224 Tjaden Hall.
Graduate Study in Art
The Department of Art offers a two-year Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) program that encourages both interdisciplinary and medium-specific practices, and questions a pedagogy informed solely by Western models and traditions of art.
For additional information regarding the M.F.A. program, please refer to the Graduate School section of this catalog.
Art Course and Fee Information
Course offerings may vary by semester and year. Students should consult the Class Roster to determine which courses will be offered in a given semester.
All ART courses have a 4-digit course number. The first two digits of each ART course number have been assigned in the following way:
1st Digit = Level
1 = Introductory course (in/out-of-college elective credit for BFA students)
2 = Lower-division course
3 = Upper-division course
4 = Thesis year, upper-division course
2nd Digit = Medium/Requirement Area
1 = Theory and Criticism
2 = Painting
3 = Print Media
4 = Sculpture
5 = Drawing
6 = Photography
7 = Digital Media
8 = Art History
9 = In-College Elective
0 = Unspecified
Art students should expect to spend a minimum of $1,000 and up to $3,000 for expendable supplies each academic year, depending on academic level, courses selected, and projects chosen.