Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan

Undergraduate Programs

BFA in Art & Design

Our BFA program focuses on creativity: critical thinking, project development, community engagement and collaboration, as well as mastery of technique and craftsmanship. You'll also have the opportunity to take part in the wide range of areas of study available at the University of Michigan.

During the first year, students complete a foundation of studio courses and fulfill Stamps Academic requirements. In the second year, students begin taking elective studio courses and academic courses outside of the Stamps School. The third and fourth year are extraordinarily flexible, as students continue with elective studios and academic courses outside of the Stamps School, culminating with the Senior Integrative Project.



Foundation Studios Integrative Project University Academics Stamps Speaker Series A&D Academics University Academics Elective Studios

This chart represents basic credit distributions for a sample plan of study. Schedules will vary for each student.

Studio Courses 72 credits
Foundation Studio Courses 18
Elective Studio Courses 42
Integrative Project 12
Non-Studio Courses 56 Credits
Lecture Series 8
Art & Design Academic Courses 16 - 18
University Academic Courses 30 - 32
Milestone Requirements no credit
Sophomore Review
International Experience
BFA in Art & Design - Total 128 credits


Foundation Studio Courses

During the first year, BFA students complete a series of required Foundation Studio courses. These courses provide a foundation of skills in a wide variety of physical materials and processes.

Course Title Course # Credits
Studio: Drawing 1 ARTDES 100 3
Studio: Drawing 2 ARTDES 105 3
Studio: 2D ARTDES 115 3
Studio: 3D ARTDES 120 3
Studio: 4D ARTDES 125 3
Methods of Inquiry ARTDES 130 3

Life-Casting with Alginate


Using coloring books to study abstraction


A crash course in the sculptural potential of paper and fibers


Students create fantastic architecture in Digital Studio.



Elective Studio Courses

Students begin taking Elective Studio courses during their second year. These courses allow students to explore and develop specific areas of interest.

The fourteen elective studios (42 credits) are 200 to 400 level courses taken from the second through the fourth years of study.

Four of the courses must be at the 200 level, nine courses can be chosen from offered 200-400 level studios, and one course must be an engagement studio (ARTDES 310-319), in which students interact with a segment of the local community.

Six credits (2 courses) of elective studios may come from other UM schools or departments.

Elective Studio courses vary each semester.

For the Fall 2014 semester, 200-400 level elective studios include:

Course Title Course # Credits
Organizing Visual Space 205.001 3
Typography 210 3
Sign and Symbol 211.001 3
Fabrication: Wood and Metal 215.001 3
Entanglement 225.001 3
Documentary Photography 230.001 3
Introductory Printmaking 235.001 3
3D Modeling and Animation 240.001 3
Building Web Interfaces 245.001 3
Contemporary Sculpture 260.001 3
Cinematography and Editing 265.001 3
Visualizing and Depicting 270.001 3
Color 275.001 3
Making Pictures 300.005 3
TBD Design 300.001 3
Physical Computing: Control the World 300.002 3
Digital Painting and Visualization 300.003 3
Electronic Books 300.004 3
Metals/Jewelry: Color + Image 306.001 3
Directions in Fibers 308.001 3
Video Active* 310.001 3
Experimental Architecture* 310.002 3
Detroit Connections: In the Classroom* 311.001 3
Change by Design* 314.001 3
Dressing Up and Down 332.001 3
Color Woodcut Printmaking 335.001 3
Graphic Narrative 336.001 3
Science Illustration 339.001 3
Photo Magic 344.001 3
Visual Identity and Branding 349.001 3
Painting and the Artificial Eye 357.001 3
Print Publications 358.001 3
Sustainability Design: More with Less 367.001 3
IPD 416.001 3

* - This course fulfills the Engagement Studio requirement.


Read about the first SmartSurfaces course.


Learn about a class that taught students to make carillon bells.


Stamps students work with specimens from the Museum of Zoology.


Check out projects created in Furniture Making.


Students create ads in Animation for Broadcast.


In Paper Sculpture, students design pop-up books and more.


Students create audio to experience under starry skies.


Students on an intensive 3D animation production pipeline.


Collaborating with students from Detroit Community Schools.


Students design solutions for an off-the-grid art space in Detroit.


Detroit Connections: Keeping Art Alive in Detroit Public Schools



Integrative Project

In the 12-credit Integrative Project, seniors use the techniques, concepts and skills they've learned to plan, conceptualize, and build a single project of their choosing over the course of their final year. With the help of faculty advisors, they manage their own creative process and working schedules, and work in their own dedicated studio space. The IP Critique, which takes place in December, is an opportunity for students to receive constructive advice and feedback from faculty midway through the year-long Integrative Project.

The project culminates in a final presentation where the student engages the public through exhibition, publication or performance, and is documented in a written thesis, website, and digital portfolio. Students must have completed twelve of the fourteen elective studios before they are allowed to register for IP.

Course Title Course # Credits
Integrative Project 400 12

Read about four A&D seniors and their Integrative Projects.


Check out the work featured in the 2011 Senior Show.


Check out the work featured in synthesis: the 2012 a&d senior show.


Check out the work featured in AggroCrag: The 2013 Senior Show.


Read about a student's Integrative Project experience.


IP students come up with new ways to display their projects.


A&D Seniors work on their first project: customizing their studios.


A look at the conceptual progress of an IP Project.



Penny Stamps Lecture Series

The Penny Stamps Lecture Series brings respected emerging and established artists/designers to the School to conduct a public lecture and engage with students. Students must enroll in the 1-credit/semester Lecture Series and attend the weekly lecture each semester through all four years of the program.

Course Title Course # Credits
Penny Stamps Lecture Series (8 Semesters) ARTDES 160 8 total

Read one student's impression of the Stamps Speaker series.


Check out upcoming and past presentations.


Watch videos of past lectures on PLAY.


MOMA design curator Paola Antonelli, interviewed by MFA candidate Mia Cinelli.


Senior Teshia Treuhaft interviews designer Ayse Birsel.


An interview with Robert Hammond, co-founder of NYC's High Line.


An Interview with Type Designer Matthew Carter



Art & Design Academic Courses

Stamps academic and experiential requirements are designed to engage students in both the history of art and design and the current practice of emerging artists.

Students in the BFA program must take five required Stamps Academic courses (16 - 18 credits).

For the Fall 2014 semester, academic offerings include:

Course Title Course # Credits
Art & Design in Context 150 3
Art, Design, and the Environment 250.001 3
Professional Practice for Artists and Designers 391.001 3
Exhibition Development and Management 392.001 3
Dialogues in Feminism, Technology, and Culture 398.001 3
The Mandorla of Life Sciences and the Arts 398.002 1
The Mandorla of Life Sciences and the Arts 398.003 4
Writing in Art & Design 399.001 3


University Academic Courses

Students in the Stamps School participate in the rich intellectual and academic life of a top tier university by taking University Academic courses. The Stamps School requires liberal arts coursework, but also allows for elective choices. Students may undertake coursework to complete a minor in an academic area or they may tailor their academic selections to complement their studio practice or other career goals.

Liberal Arts Requirements are designed to develop basic familiarity with the three traditional components of liberal arts - humanities, social sciences and natural sciences; to enhance analytical reasoning; to encourage empathy with other cultures; and to understand contemporary environmental issues. Students fulfill seven specific liberal arts requirements and choose additional elective courses to equal 30 - 32 credits. Students must earn at least three credits in each specific area of the liberal arts, but may use one course to meet two or even three requirements. Students may use required and elective courses in their pursuit of a minor. Students may use AP/IB credit to fulfill any of the academic requirements with the exception of First Year Writing. Questions about specific requirements need to be directed to the Smucker • Wagstaff Academic Programs Center staff.

Requirement Course Info Credits
First Year Writing LSA Course Guide: "FYWR" 3-4
Upper Level Writing LSA Course Guide: "ULWR" 3-4
Social Science LSA Course Guide: "SS" 3
Natural Science LSA Course Guide: "NS" 3
Analytical Reasoning LSA Course Guide: "MSA",
"QR/1", "QR/2", or any course in logic.
Environmental Studies LSA Course Guide: Any course offered in "ENVIRON" or NRE; Bio 101, 102, 109, 171; ENGLISH 320, 328; GEOSCI 148; STDABRD 303. 3
Race and Ethnicity LSA Course Guide: "RE" 3
Academic Electives Choose additional courses to equal 30 - 32 credits.  


Sophomore Review

At the end of their second year students present their work to date before a committee of three faculty members. In preparation for the sophomore review, students supply faculty committee members with résumés, statements about their work, and reflections on their development to date. Special meetings for sophomores are held prior to the reviews in order to help them prepare.

A successful Sophomore Review is required for continuation in the program. Students who perform unsatisfactorily on their Sophomore Reviews may be asked to re-review at a designated date; some may be asked to take time off or improve deficiencies prior to advancing; and a small minority may be directed to leave the program. These reviews are a significant assessment component of the program.


International Experience

The international experience prepares Stamps graduates to enter the globalized economy, makes them more competitive for graduate study, fellowship opportunities, and employment, and helps them to become informed global citizens. International study provides first-hand knowledge of other cultures, fosters creative insights and new life experiences, encourages independence and flexibility, and prepares students to negotiate difference, adapt to changing situations, and to solve problems from a new perspective.

Students are required to participate in a Stamps School approved international experience during their undergraduate study. The experience need not be credit bearing, but must occur after the student has matriculated. Students whose permanent address is not in the United States are exempt from this requirement. Requests for an exception to this policy should be directed to the International Engagement Coordinator.

Learn more about the International Experience Requirement.


Teshia Treuhaft on furniture design in Denmark


Charlie Michaels leads students on a 3-week West African trip.


Tumblr: Students head to Indonesia to work with Javanese artists.


Tumblr: Students learn how art can affect social change in Japan.


Tumblr: Students travel to Ghana in August, 2012.


Tumblr: Students work and learn in Florence, Italy.


Tumblr: Building better cook stoves with a Maasai tribe.