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 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 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 5th in the nation.
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.
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.
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
Students interested in pursuing concentrated work in a specific studio art discipline may apply to the BFA program through a process called "clearance," in which the faculty evaluates a student's readiness for BFA study. 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.
BA with Teacher Licensure
Art majors interested in teaching in elementary and/or secondary schools may apply to the Art Education Program. See BA with Teacher Licensure in the UI General Catalog for details.
Minor in Art
See Art & Art History in the UI General Catalog to learn more.
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
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 3-D design computer labs
- Photography and silk-screen facilities
- Digital and darkroom photography labs
- Electroforming equipment
- Audio and visual recording studios
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.
Application Process Tabs
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.