Undergraduate Art Degrees & Certificate Programs

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Art Department offers three undergraduate degrees and a studio certificate program. All art majors complete a foundations year which includes courses in modern and contemporary art, drawing concepts and methods, and both analog and digital design for two, three and four-dimensional art practices. Students may select their breadth and elective studio courses from a list of incredibly diverse studio offerings offered by one of the most diverse and comprehensive programs in the country.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA):

Bachelor of Science in Art (BS-Art):

Bachelor of Science in Art Education (BS-Art Ed):

  • Foundations courses & first year interest group (ART FIG)
  • Art Education Admission and Program

Certificate in Studio Art

Visit the Undergraduate Catalog for more information.


To apply for admission, visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison application for undergraduate admission. It is important to select ART or PRE-ART ED as the intended major so the Art Department can follow the progress of the application. This selection does not obligate students to major in art, once accepted.

B.S. and BFA Programs in Art

The Art Department’s three degree programs provide students with the critical and artistic skills needed to excel in contemporary, multi-disciplinary art and design practices. Degree programs are highly ranked at both the national and the international level, attracting talented students with excellent academic credentials and a passion for art and design.

UW-Madison art graduates are experts in creative problem solving, visual communication, teamwork and collaboration, and project management. These acquired skills and experiences can lead to fascinating and rewarding careers in animation, ceramics, glassblowing, metal fabrication, graphic and multi-media design, illustration, videography, photography, teaching and, of course, as a gallery artist.

Our graduates also work as iPhone and iPad app designers, medical imagists, technical assistants for major film companies, book designers, costume and float designers, jewelry fabricators and more. The Department of Art believes that hard-working students who learn to harness and nurture their creative energies today will be the people influencing progress tomorrow.

The art curriculum fosters positive collaboration and innovative art production while encouraging diverse points-of-view. Students develop unique, creative voices while enjoying the close-knit atmosphere of a department that prides itself on having a very low teacher-to-student ratio, with an average class size of 10–12 students.

Degree programs feature a rigorous foundation program, a set of six courses that students often complete by participating in the popular Contemporary Art & Artists First Year Interest Group (FIG), before branching out into one or more specialized areas such as ceramics, drawing, glass and neon, graphic design, papermaking, performance, photography, etc.

The art department has a remarkable history. UW–Madison was the first university to create a glass-blowing laboratory for art students. The printmaking programs are consistently ranked first in the country and the art metals program is currently ranked third. A large number of undergraduates go on to study in some of the most prestigious MFA programs in the country, and to exhibit their art in regional, national, and also international venues. The school’s large faculty of world class artists is committed to the development of their undergraduate students.

The new Art Lofts Building is the home of state-of-the-art ceramics, glass, papermaking and bronze foundry facilities and a large art performance space. The Humanities Building houses a student gallery, and printmaking, painting, drawing, design, comics, photography, multimedia/digital, video/performance, metals, wood, and sculpture facilities, as well as art education classrooms.

The department offers three degree programs: the Bachelor of Science in Art, the Bachelor of Fine Arts, or the Bachelor of Science in Art Education. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree program in Art differs from the B.S.–Art degree by requiring a larger number of studio and aesthetic courses. This degree program is often selected by students wishing to develop a refined visual art portfolio in preparation for a career as a professional artist and/or for graduate study.

The Bachelor of Science in Art Education degree program certifies students to teach in both elementary and secondary schools.

Julie Ganser, Director of Undergraduate Art Studies

Mary Hoefferle, Director of Art Education Programs

Branden Martz, Graduate Student Services Coordinator


The most studio-intensive, professional-level degree for artists and designers. Approximately 44 of the 72 required studio credits are spent in intermediate and advanced-level studio courses, allowing art and design students to graduate with a highly advanced portfolio. Most art majors decide to follow this degree path during their sophomore or junior years. With excellent planning and time management, this degree can be completed in four years.


Approximately 17 of the 45 required studio credits are spent in intermediate and advanced-level studio courses, allowing students to graduate with a high-intermediate level portfolio. The smaller number of studio credits required in the BS-Art degree affords the flexibility for students to pursue second majors, certificates, or simply take more courses in other areas of academic interest. This degree can be completed in four years.

BS-Art Education

Endorsed by the National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), our Art Education Teacher Certification Program provides essential preparation for careers in art education. Graduates of our program earn a Bachelors of Science degree, a Wisconsin teaching license in k-12 art education, and gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to teach the visual arts in public and private schools, at the elementary and secondary levels, and in community settings such as art museums, maker spaces and senior centers. Follow the links below to learn about our program goals and structure, view a sample plan of courses for a four-year degree, and print a worksheet to help you visualize and plan your academic career at UW-Madison.

Program Goals

Throughout the program, Art Education majors experience teaching art as a creative, contextual process, requiring research, revision, honest self-reflection, and a supportive community. Through studio, art history, and education courses, plus extensive field experiences directly working with children and adolescents, students in our program:

  • Learn to think, solve problems, and see the world as artists and designers by exploring a range of 2D, 3D and 4D artistic processes and media.
  • Research the multifaceted roles art plays in society and in the lives of children and youth, and then use this research to inform curriculum development and instruction.
  • Develop procedural knowledge to plan and facilitate substantive, engaging art experiences for diverse student populations.
  • Utilize a variety of effective teaching strategies, instructional technologies and assessment methods.
  • Examine and discuss art education’s historical antecedents and influence its contemporary developments.

Our program has five integrated components: liberal studies, foundations, aesthetic/art history studies, studio experience, and education courses with accompanying fieldwork. See below for more details about these five components, check out our timeline for a year-by-year snapshot of the program, and review the sample four-year plan to see a full picture of the art education pathway at UW-Madison.

BS-Art Ed: Five Components
  1. During the first two semesters, students work through the Foundations Program, a series of interrelated studio and lecture courses, preparing them for further study in studio art and design. Art Education majors move through foundations with other first-year students, often forming friendships that continue throughout their undergraduate careers. U. W. Madison also offers First Year Interest Groups and The Studio: Creative Arts and Design Residential Learning Community to help transition into college life and establish connections to other like-minded peers and professionals.
  2. Aesthetics work gives students an opportunity to study both the history of art and contemporary developments in the visual arts. As part of its aesthetic programming, the Department of Art Also hosts the fabulous visiting artist series, in which contemporary artists from around the world visit our campus to share their work, provide specialized workshops, and/or critique student projects.
  3. The Art Education program’s extensive studio experience provides students a broad introduction to a variety of media and artistic processes, including 2D, 3D, and 4D courses. Once students complete their required studio classes, they meet with the Art Education Program Director to map a focus of study for their remaining 12-15 elective studio credits. For example, depending on the student’s personal and professional goals, he/she may decide to take a series of digital media or design courses, concentrate on community-based art practices, or focus on narrative through book arts and comics classes.
  4. Throughout their undergraduate academic career, art education majors make liberal studies selections from a wide variety of humanities, literature, social studies, science, math, and English courses. These provide students wit an incredible opportunity to develop interests and skills outside their discipline and add dimension to their major area of study, preparing them not only for the work world but also to lead interesting and fulfilled lives as educated, creative, engaged citizens.
  5. Education courses and fieldwork include a four semester sequence of classes introducing students to the teaching profession, including child development, learning theories, inclusive schooling strategies, curriculum and instruction, history of American education, and rigorous Art Education methods courses, plus 200 hours of practicum and 18 weeks of student teaching.
BS-Art Ed: Program Timeline


  1. Students interested in pursuing an Art Education degree complete a short Pre-Art Education application to indicate their intent during SOAR or in an advising visit with Julie Ganser or an advisor from Education Academic Services.
  2. Complete foundations courses and make liberal studies selections.


  1. Continue taking liberal studies, studio and aesthetics courses.
  2. During the spring of year two, officially apply to the Art Education Program, if all eligibility requirements are met.
  3. Once officially admitted to the program, meet with the Art Education Program Director for advising on studio elective courses, required exams, and extra-curricular art education opportunities.


  1. Begin professional education courses and fieldwork in school and community settings.
  2. Continue taking liberal studies and studio courses.
  3. Take and pass Praxis II Art Content Exam.


  1. Take art education methods courses and practicum in the fall semester.
  2. Complete 18 weeks of student teaching in the spring.
  3. Complete and pass the edTPA exam during student teaching
  4. Apply for state licensure in k-12 art education and graduate!

Visit the School of Education website for more specific details on degree and graduation requirements, standardized tests related to the art education program, and application and admission information.

Students are invited to apply to the Art Education program once these eligibility requirements are met:

  1. Completed a minimum of 54 credits of college-level coursework by the end of the spring semester of application
  2. Completed 6 aesthetics credits + 20 studio credits
  3. Meet the minimum, cumulative GPA of 2.75 based on the last 60 credit rule.
  4. Meet ONE of the following basic skills requirements:
  • ACT: Earned a composite score of at least 23, with minimum scores of 20 on English, Math and reading within the last ten years.
  • SAT:  Earned a composite score of 1070, with minimum scores of 450 on Math and Verbal within the last ten years.
  • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators:  State-mandated minimum scores are Reading 156, Writing, 162, and Mathematics, 150.  Scores must be from within the last ten years and then submitted to Education Academic Services by March 1. Visit the Education Testing Services site for test dates and times.
  • CGRE:  Composite score of 298 with minimum score of 150 on verbal and 145 on math (scores must be from within the last ten years and then submitted to Education Academic Services by March 1).
BS-Art Ed: Eligibility & Application

Most students apply to the art education program in the spring of their sophomore year. If all eligibility requirements are met, students may visit this link, complete and submit the web application by February 1. Be prepared to included these materials with the application:

  1. Transcripts for all college-level coursework. If you have only attended UW Madison, no need to submit transcripts.
  2. Submit scores for ACT, SAT, CRE or Praxis I.
  3. Images of your artwork:  Submit 6-10 high-quality images that best represent your skills, knowledge and interests in art. Formats: a URL if you have a website with images, a PowerPoint presentation or PDF with digital images and titles.
  4. A written statement (maximum of two pages, single spaced), addressing your experiences relevant to art and art education. The written statement will be reviewed for clarity of communication and quality of writing as well as depth and variety of life experiences relevant to art and teaching. As suggestions, students may want to choose one or more of the following topics to address in the statement:
  • How or why did you choose to pursue a career in art education?
  • What experience do you have working with children and/or diverse populations in formal programs or informal settings?
  • What leadership roles (paid or volunteer) helped you prepare for a career in art education?
  • What is your professional involvements in fine arts, design, community arts, or art curriculum development?
  • Have you conducted research, published articles or pursued travel related to art education?

Notification of Admission into the Program

  1. The EAS Student Status Examiner and Art Education faculty will review program application materials during February and March. EAS will notify students of official admission into the Art Education Program by April 1 via email.
  2. The offer of admission will specify a deadline for the acceptance of this offer. Students must respond to EAS by this date; those who do not will forfeit their position.
  3. Admission is not final until EAS receives the acceptance and eligibility is confirmed through spring semester grades.
  4. Criminal background checks will be run on all students ad admission. Applicants must also complete a disclosure statement. More detailed information is available here.
  5. Once a student has been officially admitted to the program, the Art Education Program Director will contact them via email before the end of spring semester for advising and conversation.
BS-Art Ed: Certification Only

Students who already have earned a degree in art, design or related field and wish to obtain a k-12 art license to teach in public schools may apply to our “certification-only” program, which is tailored to the needs of individual candidates. Click here for more information.

BS-Art Ed: Faculty & Advisors
Julie Ganser
Undergraduate Art Programs Director/Undergraduate Advisor


Art Education students meet with Julie Ganser during their first semester at UW Madison and complete the Pre-Art Education designation form. Students typically set appointments with Julie at least once a year for the first two years at UW-Madison to determine a course plan, address scheduling issues, and keep abreast of application deadlines and eligibility requirements for the Art Education program. View her curriculum vitae here.

Dr. Mary Hoefferle
Art Education Program Director


Once students are officially admitted into the program, they meet with the Art Education Program Director, Dr. Mary Hoefferle. She helps students determine an area of studio concentration, alerts them to art education opportunities on campus and in the community, and offers art education resources and advice for maximizing their educational experience at UW-Madison. Dr. Hoefferle also teaches the art education methods courses (Art Ed 323 and 324), supervises art education majors in their practicum and student teaching placements, and continually evolves the program to respond to changes in contemporary art and education. View her curriculum vitae here.

FIG & Foundations

The Art Foundations Program is a series of related studio and lecture courses to be taken by Art and Art Education majors in their first year as preparation for further study in studio art and design. The program addresses the fundamentals of art through investigation of formal, technical and conceptual issues. The drawing, 2D and 3D design, digital media, and art historical lecture classes are designed to expose, broaden, and challenge students’ understanding of contemporary art production. The classes are meant to be taken concurrently and the information covered in them is interrelated, creating a network of corresponding experiences and a peer community that will continue throughout the program and beyond. Most freshman art majors complete their foundations courses through participation in the Contemporary Art and Artists First-Year Interest Group (FIG). 

First Year Interest Groups are learning communities designed specifically for first year students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In Art, sophomore students new to art are also included. FIGs are a unique cluster of UW courses, linked together to explore a common theme or topic. Students enroll in all of the linked courses as a set. Most FIGs are limited to only 20 students, and all of the students in each FIG enroll in all of the courses in the set– this forms the basis of their “cohort” or “interest group.” The purpose of the FIGs Program is to provide an interesting, intimate, and interdisciplinary experience that helps students make a successful academic and social transition to the university.

Benefits of Participating in the Art First Year Interest Group:

  • Extra attention: You’ll have the dedicated attention of an instructor who really wants to work with first-year students like you.
  • Make friends: Studying together and helping each other, you’ll get to know the students in your FIG well, making your first campus year easier.
  • Better learning: Integrating ideas from different courses will help you learn in a more interesting and holistic way.
  • Proven popularity: One of every five UW freshman enrolls in a FIG.

These entry-level courses are required for students in Art & Art Education degree programs:

  • Art 102 2D Design
  • Art 104 3D DesignDrawing class with Gail Simpson
  • Art 107 Intro to Digital Forms
  • Art 108 Foundations of Contemporary Art (history)
  • Art 208 Current Directions in Art (theory and history)
  • Art 212 Drawing Concepts & Methods (most art majors begin here)

Incoming freshman Art majors are strongly encouraged to participate in the Contemporary Art & Artists First Year Interest Group Program (ART FIG) by enrolling in reserved sections of Art 102, 108 and 212 in the fall semester and Art 104, 107 and 208 in the spring.

Faculty: Douglas Rosenberg, Meg Mitchell, Gail Simpson, Fred Stonehouse, Aris Georgiades

FIG & Foundations: Courses

Introduction to Theory & Criticism – Art 108 & 208

One of the great strengths of the Foundations Program is that beginning Art majors take survey classes in modern and contemporary art at the same time that they’re becoming immersed in studio practice, allowing them to grow technically while developing an understanding of current practices and ideas in their field. The survey courses establish a context in which our undergrads can make well-informed choices about their own work, which helps them become more articulate in their discussions about historical and contemporary practices.

Art 108 Foundations of Contemporary Art

Addresses the artists’ formal, technical and expressive concerns; the principal ideas of movements which have significantly influenced the major tendencies in contemporary art.

Art 208 Current Directions in Art

Examines current artists’ motivations, intentions, and processes and their relationship to general developments in contemporary art.

Three-Dimensional Design – Art 104

Apply design principles to 3-D investigations which includes lectures, sculptural studio exercises, discussions and critiques.

Introduction to Digital Forms – Art 107

An introduction to a range of digital media techniques for artists and designers, including digital imaging, vector graphics, web design and 3D digital modeling. Emphasis on creative development along with technical skill building.

Drawing and Design (102-2D Design) & (212-Drawing Methods & Concepts)

Through digital and analog projects, students in Art 102 (basic design) develop perceptions, use of perspective, line, light and dark, development of space, and expressive qualities in design. In Art 212, the entry-level drawing course for art majors, students focus on varied drawing experiences, lectures, demonstrations, and individual and group critique. Non-art majors seeking a basic drawing class, please look for Art 112 Drawing I.

Introduction to Art – Art 100

For non-art majors only, this course is especially loved by students completing the Studio Art Certificate Program. Students explore the elements of visual language, their nature, functions, and relationships in the visual arts. Focus is on the development and application of visual literacy, critical thinking skills, artwork evaluation and hands-on creative skills. This course also has an art historical overview. Seats in this highly popular class go fast!

Introduction to Digital Photography for Non-Art Majors – Art 176

Another very popular course with students completing the Studio Art Certificate Program.