Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art & Design (BFA)

Works by BFA graduate Ally McIntyre, who has now completed her MFA degree at Goldsmiths College in London, England


Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA): Art Design Program Overview

Prepare for a career in Art & Design fields by building your innovative problem solving, critical thinking, research abilities, and presentation skills in our studio courses.

Our BFA students can focus on:

Our Fine Art programs will develop your ability to use your technical, formal, and critical thinking skills in order to explore contemporary issues through visual art. Learn to see the world more clearly; investigate video, installation and public art; build your painting skills; learn traditional printmaking techniques and combine them with the latest digital technologies; or sculpt with welded steel, clay, plaster and anything else you can imagine.

Self-portrait by Agata Garbowska

Flexible Program

  • Customize your BFA experience by concentrating in one or more of our studio areas, or combine them all
  • Option to add to your skills with Design courses
  • Draw inspiration for your studio classes from a wide range of courses from our History of Art, Design and Visual Culture division
  • Options courses can be selected from among thousands of U of A courses - you can choose to concentrate in one area, or study a broad range of subjects from Departments within the Faculty of Arts or Faculty of Science.
  • If you choose, you may replace up to two of your Arts/Science options with courses from other Faculties. Students interested in fashion could take Human Ecology (HECOL) courses; students interested in medical illustration could take Anatomy (ANAT) courses; students interested in sports and recreation can take physical activity (PAC) courses.

Extra Credentials and Marketable Skills

Strong Community

  • Your instructors and technicians are all professionally-active artists
  • Dynamic and collaborative campus environment
  • 24 hour studio access in many studio areas

Prepare for Your Future

  • Gain valuable experience with a BFA internship
  • Join the Visual Arts Students Association for exhibition, leadership and professional opportunities
  • Graduate with the innovative capabilities, critical thinking, visual literacy, visual, verbal and written communication skills to aid you in your visual art career as you pursue exhibition, grant, and residency opportunities, and/or make you an asset to employers, clients, colleagues and graduate schools

Your Studies

First Year: Art Fundamentals

All BDes and BFA students share a common set of first year courses which will introduce you to the basic, foundational concepts of visual art and design. In studio courses you will develop skills in drawing, use of colour, and two and three-dimensional studies. During this year, you will also be introduced to the history of art and design. Courses in this subject area place specific works of art and design within their historical and social contexts. This knowledge is essential throughout your four-year course of studies.

Progression Through the Program

After completing your foundation year, you may choose to concentrate your studies in Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Drawing/Media Arts, or pursue a combination of these four disciplines. Not only will your study of art teach you technical skills and theory, it aims to stimulate intellectual and creative growth to develop advanced thought processes and conceptual skills.

Program Requirements

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree:

  • has a specialized portfolio admission requirement
  • is a full time program. Students must complete a minimum of 24 course weights (4 courses per term) in Fall/Winter Session to meet promotion requirements to the next year. The full normal course load is 30 course weights
  • has a minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement. Students in the program must achieve a minimum 2.7 GPA in all courses taken in Fall/Winter Session for promotion to the next year, and for graduation requirements.


You can download a draft program checklist for planning purposes. Please note that students can adjust the sequencing of courses.

Important Notes about BFA Program Requirements

  • BFA students must carry a minimum course load of 24 credits (eight 3-credit classes) over each Fall and Winter. Therefore the program will generally take between 4 and 5 years.
  • Arts and Science options can not be met with ART, DES or HADVC classes. The only exceptions to this can be found in the final line of the Year 4 program requirements (please see below).
  • "Senior" level options must be 200-level courses or higher
  • If you transfer into the BFA program with credit from ART 134 and DES 135 (or 6* of equivalent first year studio courses), they will take the place of ART 136 and DES 138. You will make up the missing 6* of studios with any ART or DES courses at any point in your degree.
  • Students may adjust the sequencing of some of the courses below provided that prerequisite course requirements are met for any courses you wish to take.
  • You can generally replace a lower level course with a higher level course for unspecified ART, DES, and options requirements, but not the other way around. For instance you can replace an open "300-level ART" requirement with a 500-level ART class, or a 100-level arts/science option with a 300-level arts/science option.

Year 1 (*30)

  1. ART 136 and 137 (*6)
  2. DES 138 and 139 (*6)
  3. ART 140 or 240 (*3)
  4. HADVC 1XX or HADVC 2XX (*3)
  5. HADVC 1XX or HADVC 2XX (*3)
  6. 100-level ENGL (*6)
  7. Arts or Science option (*3)

Year 2 (*33)

  1. ART 340 (*3) Note: this course is often taken in the Summer term, which is why there are 33* written in Year 2.
  2. HADVC 2XX (*6)
  3. ART (300-level) (*12)
  4. ART or DES (300-level) (*6)
  5. Arts or Science options (*6)

Year 3 (*30)

  1. One of HADVC 206, 226, 246, 256, or 257 (*3)
  2. HADVC 2XX or 3XX (*3)
  3. ART (300-or 400-level) (*12)
  4. ART or DES (300-or 400-level) (*6)
  5. Senior Arts or Science options (*3/*3)

Year 4 (*27)

  1. HADVC 3XX or 4XX) (*3)
  2. ART (500-level) (*12)
  3. ART or DES (300-,400-, or 500-level) (*6)
  4. Senior Arts or Science options and/or HADVC 4xx (*3/*3)

Program Regulations

Promotion to each year is by recommendation of the Department for which a grade point average of at least 2.7 is normally required.

A grade of either D or D+ in a core subject (ART, DES, or HADVC) may normally be allowed only once in a BFA student's program.

Final-year requirements include a minimum grade point average of 2.7 on the last *27 taken toward the degree and Departmental recommendation. Students who are not recommended to continue in the program at the end of the first, second, or third year of study must withdraw from the program. Such students may transfer to another program in the Faculty of Arts, except the BDes (Art and Design) program, provided the entrance and promotion requirements for such a program are met. After transfer all requirements for the new program must be completed.

Readmission to the BDes or BFA program will only be considered following the completion of *24 in one Fall/Winter with a GPA of 2.7 in another program in the Faculty of Arts or elsewhere and a successful portfolio submission. Only one readmission to the BDes or BFA program following a recommendation not to continue will be considered.

Students who fail to meet the final-year requirements for the program will be permitted to fulfill those requirements only with the approval of the Department and the Dean of Arts. A Bachelor of Fine Arts program may be interrupted only with the consent of the Department.

The following regulations also apply:

  • Students proceeding toward the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree must meet residence requirements of the Faculty of Arts.
  • When enrolled in the BFA program, students are required to take a minimum of *24 during Fall/Winter. The Department may recommend to the Dean exemption from this regulation.
  • The 500-level ART (*12) and 300-level HADVC (*3) program requirements must be taken at the University of Alberta.
  • A minimum of (*30) must be completed while registered in the BFA Art and Design degree program.