Undergraduate Programs

BFA Curriculum

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.


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
Stamps 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. To view more information about Foundation Studio Courses for upcoming semesters, visit our course guide and choose "The First Year".

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

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; visit our course guide to learn more.

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

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

Stamps 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. 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 in the BFA program must take four required Stamps Academic courses and two Art or Design History/Theory/Criticism electives. To view more information about Stamps Academic Courses for upcoming semesters, visit our course guide and choose "The First Year" or "Required Academic Courses".

Course Title Course # Credits
Art & Design in Context ARTDES 150 3
Art & Design History ARTDES 151 3
Intersections: First Year Seminar ARTDES 155 3
Writing in Art and Design ARTDES 399 3
Art or Design History/Theory/Criticism elective 3-4
Art or Design History/Theory/Criticism elective 3-4

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 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.

Use the code next to the title (SS, NS, MSA, QR/1, QR/2, ENVIRON, RE, FYRW) to locate courses that satisfy Liberal Arts Requirements on Wolverine Access.

Liberal Arts Requirement Credits
First Year Writing (FYWR) 3-4
Social Science (SS) 3
Natural Science (NS) 3
Analytical Reasoning (MSA, QR/1, QR/2) 3
Environmental Studies (ENVIRON) 3
Race and Ethnicity (RE) 3

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.