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 new art in countless mediums, and art historians study, interpret, and document their works and influence across time.

Why Study at Iowa?

Iowa was one of the first universities in the nation to unite 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 of Art and Art History also offers a BA in Art History.

Iowa also pioneered the concept of artist as 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 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, printmaking, sculpture, and animation. U.S.News & World Report ranks Iowa’s printmaking program 4th 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.

BA Program in Art

Courses for students in the BA program include:

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

BFA Program in Art

If you apply and are admitted to the BFA program, you'll complete additional work in studio art, and you’ll present an exhibit of your work before you graduate.

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 BFA program in Art is selective. Interested students must first be admitted to the BA program in art, then work with a faculty member in their major studio art area for information about admission to the BFA program.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to having nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Living-Learning CommunitiesStudy Abroad Programs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Art students may enjoy living in the Arts Living-Learning Community in the residence halls.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

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

Studio Arts, a large building in Iowa City, was refurbished extensively with huge studios and new equipment. Classroom space, studio areas, and faculty offices are housed there and at other locations on campus. Studio Arts will be replaced in 2016 by a new building on the arts campus designed by Steven Holl Architects.

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 3-D design computer labs
  • Photography and silk-screen facilities
  • Digital and darkroom photography labs
  • Electroforming equipment
  • Kilns
  • Audio and visual recording studios

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


Many art and art history graduates pursue careers that match their degree specializations, for example, 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 in areas such as art history, art therapy, architecture, design, medical illustration, studio art, or disciplines outside of art.


Consult multiple sources for scholarship information, including the Office of Admissions, the Office of Student Financial Aid, and departmental websites.

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
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
Selective Admission
for the BFA


A Design Major
A Design Major