CVA offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in fine arts, graphic design, illustration, fashion design, and photography. The fine arts major offers concentrations in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture.
The CVA curriculum differs from that of many art and design colleges because it emphasizes integration of learning in all the disciplines involved in art and design education as well as preparation for professional practice. At CVA, students are prepared to become successful students, and also to become accomplished professional artists and designers.
The integration of liberal arts coursework in all of the art and design majors is a distinguishing feature of the College of Visual Arts; CVA offers a robust selection of liberal arts courses to round the student's learning experience. Extensive study in art history helps the students understand the context of their own work in the larger world of art and design. CVA math and science courses incorporate teaching methods that combine rigorous coverage of traditional course content with active learning through the arts. Skills in oral presentation and in critical reading, thinking, and writing are important activities across the curriculum.
CVA’s Foundation Program is a fully integrated studio and liberal arts program. Course offerings include studio arts, English and art history, and orientation to art and design. Students become proficient in the visual vocabulary, technical skills, and problem solving strategies necessary for success. Students begin their orientation to professional practice through museum tours, site visits to professional art and design studios, and the unique opportunity to meet and learn about the museum professionals behind the scene at the Walker Art Center. The foundation year prepares students to make an informed choice of one of these majors. CVA offers majors in fashion design, fine arts, photography, illustration, and graphic design.
Within the sophomore year students begin to engage in the fundamentals of their chosen discipline. Each program offers a carefully sequenced curriculum that builds the knowledge and skills required for increasingly complex and sophisticated study within their program. Core studio and art history courses provide key concepts and vocabulary essential to the discipline.
During the junior year, students are immersed in studio coursework within their major field. Liberal arts courses provide depth of expertise in professional practice and also contribute to breadth of knowledge. Critical thinking skills are further developed through professional writing and rhetoric. The third year culminates with a professional internship. Juniors have local, regional, and national opportunities to intern with the best artists and designers, as well as organization and agencies. From these internships, students gain meaningful career experience and invaluable professional contacts.
The synthesis of the first three years occurs in the senior capstone experience, consisting of Studio Thesis, Professional Practices, and Seminar Thesis. Studio Thesis is a yearlong experience providing students with the time and focus to develop a significant body of studio work. Professional Practices emphasizes applied skills and knowledge that will assist a student to enter their profession. In Seminar Thesis, students research and analyze the origin of concepts underlying their studio work, identify the contemporary context, and write an extended thesis paper. The capstone experience concludes with an formal presentation and gallery exhibition.