Art has been part of human culture throughout history. Today, art influences almost every aspect of our lives, from clothing fashions, culinary presentation, and advertising to building and landscape architecture, leisure pursuits, and much more. Artists constantly create art in countless mediums, and art historians study, interpret and document those works and their influence across time.

Why Study at Iowa

Iowa was one of the first universities in the nation to combine studio art and art history in one school. The School of Art and Art History continues to offer both programs, reflecting its philosophy that artists benefit from the study of artistic traditions, historians learn from personal experience with the creation of art, and teachers need a firm foundation in both. The school also offers a BA in Art History.

Iowa also pioneered the concept of an artist as a teacher. As an art or art history major, you’ll work with faculty members who have national and international reputations and whose art and publications are included in collections all over the world.

At Iowa, you’ll find yourself surrounded by art. You will encounter sculptures everywhere on campus, and you may study in university buildings designed by well-known architects, present and past. You’re sure to visit the Iowa Memorial Union, where you’ll see UI Stanley Museum of Art exhibits and countless works by university artists, including your professors.

If you’re a studio artist, you’ll choose from disciplines in ceramics, graphic design, 3-D design, drawing, intermedia, jewelry and metal arts, painting, photography, sculpture,  printmaking, and animation. U.S.News & World Report ranks Iowa’s printmaking program 5th in the nation.

Course Work

Students majoring in art earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. All students begin in the BA program and must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education (CLAS Core) program.  

The BA program provides a foundation in art history as well as an understanding of the formal traditions and contemporary practices in studio art. Students take courses in the school's studio arts programs, including animation, ceramics, graphic design, three-dimensional design, drawing, intermedia, jewelry and metal arts, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. 

Bachelor of Arts (BA) Program in Art

Courses for students in the BA program include:

  • Four art history courses
  • Two studio art foundation courses
  • Two courses in 3D studio art programs: ceramics, intermedia, jewelry and metal arts, sculpture, and 3D design
  • Two courses in 2D studio art programs: drawing, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking
  • Two upper-level studio art courses and elective courses

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Program in Art

BA students interested in pursuing concentrated work in a studio art discipline may apply to the BFA program through a process called "clearance." Clearance is a portfolio review conducted by each discipline once per semester to determine a student's readiness for BFA study. Students who wish to enter the BFA program should consult the faculty in their major studio art discipline for information about the required portfolio review. 

BFA students choose one studio art discipline from within one of the areas listed below. (They may not select bookbinding, calligraphy, or papermaking as their discipline.) Although students may choose only one BFA discipline, they gain exposure to other studio areas through the BFA program of study. 

Dimensional Practice

  • 3D Design
  • Ceramics
  • Jewelry and Metal Arts
  • Sculpture

Media, Social Practice, and Design

  • Graphic Design
  • Intermedia
  • Photography

Painting and Drawing

  • Drawing
  • Painting


  • Printmaking

Students admitted to the BFA program will complete the requirements of the BA art degree as well as additional art hours and studio art course requirements. BFA students also must present a show of their work before they graduate.  

See Art and Art History in the UI General Catalog to learn more about this degree and graduating with honors.   

BA with Teacher Licensure

Art majors interested in teaching in elementary and/or secondary schools must apply to the Teacher Education Program (TEP). Application information can be obtained through the Office of Student Services. 

See BA with Teacher Licensure in the UI General Catalog for more information. 

Minor in Art

See Art & Art History in the UI General Catalog to learn more.

Admission Requirements

All art majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in Art is selective, and interested students must first be admitted to the BA program in art. Once admitted, students should consult a faculty adviser in their major studio art area for guidance on applying to the BFA program.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

Art Building West opened in 2006 only to be flooded in 2008. After extensive renovation, the building reopened for classes in January 2012. This extraordinary facility was designed by New York architect Steven Holl and has received numerous architectural awards.

Steven Holl Architects collaborated with BNIM Architects to design the stunning Visual Arts Building, which opened in fall 2016. This building, adjacent to Art Building West, replaces the 1935 Art Building, which was heavily damaged during a flood of the University of Iowa campus in June 2008. 

As an art student, you’ll have access to a variety of specialized studio art facilities, including:

  • Wood and metal shops
  • Steel sculpture welding and fabrication facilities
  • Painting and drawing studios
  • 3D printers, CNC and laser cutters
  • Graphic and 3D design computer labs
  • Photography and silk-screen facilities
  • Digital and darkroom photography labs
  • Electroforming equipment
  • Audio and visual recording studios
  • Kilns

The Art Library houses 100,000 volumes, an outstanding collection of periodicals, and extensive microfilm and microfiche collections.

The school's Office of Visual Materials contains a rapidly growing collection of 325,000 slides; 30,000 digital images; 350,000 35mm slides; 30,000 mounted photographs; and a video collection. 


Many art and art history graduates pursue careers that match their degree specializations, such as commercial or graphic designer, conservation or museum curator or administrator, art educator, public artist, or community art center coordinator or instructor.

Others go on to graduate study or enjoy success in areas such as art therapy, art appraisal, restoration, architecture, theater design, medical illustration, studio art, or disciplines outside of art.

Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships. 

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Art (BA)
Art (BFA)
Areas of Emphasis
Graphic Design
Jewelry and Metal Arts
Three-Dimensional Design
Teaching Licensure
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
Selective Admission
for the BFA (See BFA Program below)


A Design Major
A Design Major