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.


Studio Courses 72 credits
Required Studio Courses 33
Elective Studio Courses 39
Non-Studio Courses 56 Credits
Required Academic Courses 17
Elective Academic Courses 39
Milestone Requirements no credit
Sophomore Review
International Experience
BFA in Art & Design - Total 128 credits


Required Studio Courses

Foundation Studios

During the first and second years, 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 learn more, visit our course guide and choose "Required Studio Courses".

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
Second Year Studio ARTDES 220 3

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

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 thirteen elective studios (39 credits) are 200 to 400 level courses taken from the second through the fourth years of study.

  • One course must be an Engagement Studio (ARTDES 310-319)
  • Four courses must be at the 200- level
  • Four courses must be at the 300- level
  • One course must be at the 400- level
  • The three remaining elective studios can be any level. Students may take three ARTDES mini-courses in place of one of these studios.

Six credits (2 courses) of elective studios may come from other UM schools or departments. Studio courses taken abroad during the required international experience are considered as ARTDES credits.

Elective Studio courses vary each semester; visit our course guide to learn more.

Required 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. To view more information about Stamps Academic Courses for upcoming semesters, visit our course guide and choose "Required Academic Courses".

Course Title Course # Credits
Art & Design in Context ARTDES 150 3
Art & Design History ARTDES 151 3
Stamps Lecture Series ARTDES 160 8
Writing in Art and Design ARTDES 399 3

Elective 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. 39 Academic Elective Credits are required for a BFA.

U-M's 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 should to be directed to the Smucker • Wagstaff Academic Programs Center staff.

Requirement credits
First Year Writing (FYWR) 3
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
2 Art or Design History/Theory/Criticism electives 6-8

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.

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.