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.

Julie Ganser, Director of Undergraduate Art Studies

Shannon Jones, Undergraduate Programs Assistant


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

Our undergraduate art education major 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 to the right to learn more.

BS-Art Ed: Program Guide

To learn more about the Art Education Program structure, review a sample of a four-year course plan, and identify art education internship/volunteer opportunities in the Madison area, click here.

BS-Art Ed: Eligibility & Application

Most of our students apply to the art education program in the spring of their sophomore year. See this document for eligibility requirements and directions for completing an online application to the program (which has a February 1 deadline).

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.

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.

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.

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.

FIG Benefits

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.