Our program is built on two central ideas: first, you will become a maker with technical and conceptual depth; second, you will drive your own education with the choices you make about which classes to take and how you approach art making. All our students benefit from participating in our interdisciplinary curriculum and can choose to concentrate in painting, photography, printmaking, or sculpture.
Why the Sam Fox School?
The College of Art is a high-energy place, where aspiring designers and artists come together. During your time here, you will learn to make things; carefully examine people, communities, and situations; communicate with diverse audiences; and advocate for positive change in the world. Your study will be rigorous and rewarding, challenging and fun. Washington University is an internationally recognized research institution where you can take courses in art history, psychology, gender studies, computer science, literature, business, science, and everything in between. Our classes are taught by leaders in their fields, working on global challenges.
The BFA Fundamentals
During your freshman year, you will take several required courses, including two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, two semesters of drawing, and a weekly lecture course. As a sophomore, you will explore disciplines across art and design, taking a digitally oriented class and selecting from introductory courses in fashion design, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and typography.
Courses for Art
During your junior and senior years, your coursework will be more advanced. You’ll take seven Art Practice courses, which will help you to acquire technical and conceptual strategies as you move toward independent work. We offer these courses in a range of areas each semester; recent offerings include:
- Body Image
- Collage: History and Practice in Contemporary Art
- Conceptual Methods in Drawing
- Documentary Photography and Social Practice
- Expanded Cinema
- Extra Dimensional Printmaking
- Matter in Hand
- Mediated Performance
- Propaganda to Decoration
- Slow Image: Large Format Photography
- Sonic Space: Sound Art
Taught by teams of faculty during your junior year, Methods and Contexts courses will help you understand your own artistic interest within the contemporary, professional field of art. As a senior, you’ll commit to an artistic position — evidenced through studio production, presentation, and writing — in capstone courses. Your work will culminate in a spring exhibition.
Courses Across Campus
Our curriculum provides all students with a strong liberal arts base. You are likely to take at least 15 courses outside of the Sam Fox School, and you can take as many as 20. You can choose from offerings across WashU’s undergraduate divisions: Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Business, and Engineering & Applied Science. With proper planning, you can pursue a minor or a second major. Dual degrees are also possible and typically take five years to complete.
Throughout your four years, you will be guided, inspired, and challenged by our nationally and internationally distinguished faculty — practicing artists, designers, and architects. With our close-knit community and small studio sizes, you’ll get to know your faculty well. Their research and studio practices are often interwoven with the courses they teach.
We offer two study abroad options in Florence, Italy; a semester-long program and an eight-week summer experience. Both programs make use of the Italian language, as well as the rich artistic and cultural environment of Florence and the surrounding countryside. Studio work is supplemented by courses and lectures focused on Renaissance art history and Italian art and design culture.
Beyond the Studio
The Sam Fox School provides numerous opportunities to apply lessons learned in the classroom to real world situations, and to take advantage of St. Louis’ vibrant arts and culture scene:
- At Island Press, WashU’s research-based printmaking workshop, students assist professional artists with every- thing from the conception of projects to printing
- The Public Lecture Series brings internationally recognized artists, designers, architects, landscape architects, urban designers, historians, and critics to campus to speak about their work.
- Faculty, alumni, and students frequently participate in and attend exhibition openings and other art and design events throughout St. Louis.
- Our students, faculty, and staff are committed to working with communities to address systemic social, environmental, and economic challenges. Our Office of Socially Engaged Practice provides a hub and a resource to support these initiatives.
- Elective courses — ranging from documentary photography and filmmaking to visual journalism and reportage drawing — that ask students to collaborate with community groups to tell their stories through visual narratives.
- Programs such as WashUCity, in which WashU design students develop curriculum, teach, and mentor graphics students at University City High School.
- The University City Public Art Series, in which students develop works of public art for temporary installation in University City.
- Design for America at WashU, which brings together students from majors across campus and challenges them to use human-centered design for local impact.
- Interaction design courses that allow students to learn research methods and collaborative processes in design thinking while working on innovative solutions for health care challenges.
Internships & Careers
The world needs visual thinkers, and your degree in art or design will equip you to make an impact in your community and in your profession. The College of Art has a dedicated Career Services office. Our career advisers will guide you through specialized programs, help you structure your career search, and give you the tools you need to reach the best prospects for internships, residencies, fellowships, graduate schools, jobs, or other professional placements. They’ll also facilitate connection with leader in the field, including our extensive network of alumni working worldwide.