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 and integrate 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 begin to explore their academic interests. In the second year, students begin taking elective studio courses and continue to pursue academic courses beyond the Stamps School, and are encouraged to make interdisciplinary connections that will inform their work for the next three years. Year three and four are extraordinarily flexible, as students continue with elective studios and interdisciplinary courses outside of the Stamps School, culminating with advanced, 400-level studio work.


Studio Courses 66-72 credits
Required Studio Courses 21
Elective Studio Courses 45-51
Non-Studio Courses 56-62 Credits
Required Academic Courses 17
Elective Academic Courses 39-45
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

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. Students will take a minimum of fifteen elective studios (45 credits) at the 200- to 400-level, from their second through their fourth years of study, distributed in the following way:

  • One studio must be an Engagement Studio
  • Four studios (12 credits) must be at the 200-level
  • Four studios (12 credits) must be at the 300-level
  • Five studios (15 credits) must be at the 400-level. Students may choose to take the 9-credit 400-level Integrative Project course, a 2-semester studio, which culminates in a senior project
  • One studio (3 credits) is to be taken at any level (200-400). It is also possible to take three studio mini-courses (for a total of 3 credits)

Students have the choice of taking two additional studios at any level (for a total of 51 elective studio credits), or they can choose to put those 6 credits toward academic courses.

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".

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.