Studio Art Major, B.A.

The B.A. degree is intended to expose undergraduate students to a range of studio art ideas and practices. Students should choose this degree option if they are seeking a general liberal arts education. It is also the most-often-selected degree option when pursuing a double major. Second majors are frequent with communication studies (media and technology studies and production), journalism (design track), biology, drama (costume and set design), and psychology (art therapy), but any field can be augmented by studying the visual arts. While the major consists of 36 credit hours, students may earn up to 45 credits in studio art courses (ARTS) that will count toward graduation. Credits taken beyond 45 will not count toward overall graduation requirements.

Learning Outcomes

The overall goal of the studio art program at UNC–Chapel Hill is for students to develop interconnected skills of creative thinking and critical making in order to produce outstanding works of art.

Upon completion of the studio art program (B.A., B.F.A.), students should be able to demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Acquire the technical skills (informed control of technique, process, and materials) and an understanding of principles of visual organization sufficient to achieve basic visual communication and expression in one or more media
  • Understand fundamentals of studio practice shared across studio disciplines
  • Document and present work (portfolio, exhibition, online gallery) that demonstrates a basic understanding of professional practices
  • Develop the ability to think and act creatively through experimentation, and analysis of options and parameters ­– enabling work to progress from idea to physical form
  • Develop an understanding of creative research as an iterative process that informs and allows artwork to evolve
  • Develop effective vocabulary and skill (both verbal and written) to engage in critical analysis of form and content relationships in their own artwork and the work of others


In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • earn a minimum final cumulative GPA of 2.000
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major core requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 in the major core requirements. Some programs may require higher standards for major or specific courses.

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
Three Tier I studio courses 9
Select one 2-D course (see list below)
Select one 3-D course (see list below)
Select one 4-D course (see list below)
Three Tier II studio courses (see list below)9
Two Tier III studio courses (see list below)6
Two studio art elective courses 1,26
One art history (ARTH) course 33
ARTS 500Senior Seminar3
Total Hours36

Only three credits of senior honors thesis can count in the B.A. major.


 Any ARTS classes, including first-year seminars.


 Any ARTH classes, including first-year seminars.

Listing of Studio Art Courses by Tier

Tier I Studio Art (Foundation) Courses
2-D Courses
Two-Dimensional Design
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Drawing I
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Photography I H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Collage: Strategies for Thinking and Making
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Painting I
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Print I
3-D Courses
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Sculpture I
Ceramic I
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Wood Sculpture
4-D (Time-Based) Courses
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Video I
Introduction to Web Media
Tier II Studio Art Courses
ARTS 205IDEAs in Action General Education logo Photography II3
ARTS 206IDEAs in Action General Education logo Video II3
ARTS 209IDEAs in Action General Education logo 2D Animation3
ARTS 214IDEAs in Action General Education logo Life Drawing3
ARTS 221Color: Theory and Concept3
ARTS 222New Technologies and Narrative Painting3
ARTS 238Screen Printing3
ARTS 243IDEAs in Action General Education logo Metal Sculpture3
ARTS 290Special Topics in Studio Art3
ARTS 302Painting II3
ARTS 313Ceramic II3
ARTS 324Drawing II3
ARTS 352Abstract Painting3
ARTS 358Letterpress3
ARTS 368Print II3
Tier III Studio Art Courses
ARTS 309IDEAs in Action General Education logo 3D Animation3
ARTS 322IDEAs in Action General Education logo Narrative Painting3
ARTS 343IDEAs in Action General Education logo MAKE: Art in the (New) Age3
ARTS 353IDEAs in Action General Education logo Phantasmagoria: Haunted Art, History, and Installation3
ARTS 354Narrative Drawing3
ARTS 355IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Practice of Representation: Portraiture in Photography3
ARTS 364IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Walking Seminar: A Territorial Investigation3
ARTS 390Special Topics in Studio Art3
ARTS 391Theory, History, and Practice of Contemporary Curating3
ARTS 402Advanced Painting Projects3
ARTS 409IDEAs in Action General Education logo Art and Science: Merging Printmaking and Biology H3
ARTS 410IDEAs in Action General Education logo Public Art3
ARTS 413Advanced Ceramic Projects3
ARTS 415Conceptual-Experimental Photography3
ARTS 416Advanced Video3
ARTS 417Advanced Mixed Media Projects3
ARTS 418Advanced Printmaking3
ARTS 423IDEAs in Action General Education logo Installation Art3
ARTS 428Book Art3
ARTS 458IDEAs in Action General Education logo Photo Printmaking3
ARTS 490Advanced Special Topics in Studio Art3
ARTS 493IDEAs in Action General Education logo Studio Art Practicum or Internship3
ARTS 515Advanced Topics in Photography3
ARTS 596Independent Study in Studio Art3
ARTS 637Social Practice and Performance Art3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Honors in Studio Art

The Senior Honors Thesis Project is designed to provide senior studio art majors an opportunity to pursue serious and substantial work that may qualify them to graduate "with honors" or "with highest honors."  Students selected for the program conduct original creative research spanning the two semesters of the senior year.

To be eligible to apply for this opportunity, students must be rising senior studio art majors and meet the minimum GPA threshold of 3.3 established by the Honors Carolina office. The application consists of the following:    

  • A completed application form
  • A proposal for the senior thesis project
  • A digital portfolio demonstrating a mature capability to perform visual research

A call for applications is announced via the department student listserv in March. Applications are due in early to mid April and are reviewed by the studio faculty within two weeks of the application deadline. If accepted as a studio art honors candidate, students enroll in the honors courses through the student services manager.

ARTS 691HIDEAs in Action General Education logo Senior Honors Thesis Project in Studio Art (fall) 13
ARTS 692HIDEAs in Action General Education logo Senior Honors Thesis Project in Studio Art (spring) 13

 ARTS 691H and ARTS 692H run concurrently with ARTS 499 and ARTS 500, and replace these course requirements for the B.F.A. major.

In addition to the scheduled coursework, studio honors students work with a thesis committee consisting of a thesis advisor – who must be a studio art faculty member – and two additional faculty members, typically the faculty teaching the ARTS 499 and ARTS 500 classes, but faculty from other disciplines may also serve on the honors thesis committee.

In studio art, the thesis project consists of the creative work produced and accompanying written components. Work is reviewed at the end of the fall semester to determine progress toward completion. In the spring semester, the completed honors project work and written thesis are presented to the honors committee for an oral defense. On the basis of this defense and the work presented, the committee determines whether or not a student graduates with an honors designation (honors or highest honors). Honors students exhibit their work in a formal exhibition either as a solo show at the time of the thesis defense and/or as a participant in the Senior Exhibition required for all graduating studio art majors. Studio art honors students also join their art history peers in a departmental honors symposium in April.

Current deadlines, details of the application process, and requirements for the senior studio art honors project (research, work and written components) are available on the art and art history majors’ Sakai site or from the student services manager.

Special Opportunities in Art and Art History

Independent Study

Students may pursue independent study coursework with individual faculty members. Such work may be undertaken only with the permission of the sponsoring faculty member. Students should consult individual faculty members prior to registration to secure permission. A proposal and a contract must be approved by the appropriate director of undergraduate studies (studio art or art history) before students may enroll. (See the the departmental majors’ Sakai site for instructions.) Since faculty members are limited to supervising only two independent study students each semester, students are strongly advised to contact the faculty member with whom they wish to work early in the registration period for the upcoming semester.

Independent study work requires a minimum of three hours per week per credit hour. For example, a typical three-credit-hour class would require at least nine hours of work per week. Once the semester begins, students must meet with the faculty member initially to confirm goals, review expectations, and establish semester deadlines. Thereafter, students must meet regularly to review work in progress, with a suggested biweekly frequency. Total time spent in direct interaction with the faculty member for the semester must average 45 minutes per week. This may be in the form of face-to-face meetings, blog or e-mail exchanges, or group critiques with other independent study students and their advisors.

Departmental Involvement

Students have opportunities to see and interact with a variety of arts professionals through exhibitions in the Allcott Galleries, installations of sculptural works in the Alumni Sculpture Garden, an artist-in-residence program, the Visiting Arts Professionals Program, and the Hanes Visiting Artist Lecture Series.

There are several undergraduate student organizations serving the visual arts at Carolina. The Undergraduate Art Association (UAA) is a campuswide social club that supports and develops undergraduate visual artists at Carolina — regardless of their enrollment in art classes — and strengthens the impact of visual art in the University community. The Studio Art Majors Association (SAMA) is aimed at developing community and professional opportunities that augment the experience for studio art majors and minors, especially through programming of the SAMple Gallery in the Hanes Art Center. ArtHeels is a service-based organization that is passionate about bringing arts (visual, performing, and literary) to the healthcare setting. The Art History Liaisons is the undergraduate art history group. Kappa Pi is the department majors' honors society which includes both studio and art history majors. These groups serve as an important link between the majors and the department’s administration. The department utilizes these organizations to facilitate communication about matters of interest, including participation in departmental initiatives or other extracurricular opportunities.


Art and art history majors are encouraged to pursue internships at local, regional, or national arts institutions or businesses. Students have worked in many art career contexts including museums and galleries, arts programming, and local businesses specializing in art-related production (photo studios, printmaking studios, illustration, design firms, and publishing). The departmental majors' Sakai site has useful information about the requirements and how to set up the contracts for ARTH 293 and ARTS 493 as well as a partial listing of organizations that have worked with our students in the past. If you would like to discuss specific ideas about a possible internship, speak to any faculty member or the relevant director of undergraduate studies (art history or studio). All internships taken for UNC credit are subject to governmental guidelines, and students must have internships preapproved and under contract before enrolling for either ARTH 293 or ARTS 493

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to pursue study abroad opportunities. While there are many opportunities to study art abroad, the Department of Art and Art History maintains a special affiliation with the Studio Art Centers International (SACI) and the Lorenzo di Medici — both in Florence, Italy — and the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. Students should discuss their study abroad plans with the undergraduate advisor in studio art to obtain prior approval for courses taken abroad. Basically, courses that have an equivalent in the UNC–Chapel Hill curriculum usually are approved. Courses that fall outside the UNC–Chapel Hill curriculum must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. No guarantee exists that a course will transfer for credit unless preapproved. Contact the Study Abroad Office to discuss the procedures for approval.

Undergraduate Awards


The studio program awards more than $24,000 annually to students, with individual awards ranging from a minimum of $500 to $3,000. A portfolio review each year allows studio art majors to submit up to four works to be considered for the following scholarships:

  • The Alexander Julian Prize (one award to our best student)
  • The Sharpe Scholarships (multiple awards for students receiving financial aid)
  • George Kachergis Studio Art Scholarships (multiple awards chosen by a student-designated committee)
  • The Anderson Award
  • The Penland School of Craft Scholarships (two awards cover expenses for a summer course at the Penland School of Craft)
  • A design honorarium to develop proposals for the Alumni Sculpture Garden (see below).

Every year, the Department of Art and Art History commissions student work for the Alumni Sculpture Garden. Commissions are a minimum of $5,000, and the department awards up to three commissions. The selection process occurs in three stages: identifying interested students, a design phase, and the production of the work. During the November Awards Competition, interested students compete for one of six $500 design honorariums that are to be used to develop proposals. Winners of this first phase are required attend a session early in the spring semester to learn about how to develop a proposal and the components that must be included. Proposals are reviewed in March to select winners.

Undergraduate Research

Opportunities for undergraduate research in the Department of Art and Art History exist in several forms. Detailed descriptions and application guidelines are available on the art majors’ Sakai site and from the department's student services manager.

Allcott Travel Fellowships support two summer research projects in studio art and/or art history.

The Beatrice Pearman Fund supports special projects in both art history and studio art. Competitions for art history research funds are held in the fall and the spring. Studio art students may request funds for special projects by submitting a proposal to the director of undergraduate studies in studio art. Awards are $500 or less. 

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) are administered through the UNC Office for Undergraduate Research. These $3,000 awards support undergraduate research projects over the summer. UNC's broad definition of research includes creative practices, and the James Boyd Gadson SURFs are specifically designated for studio art. SURF applications from studio art majors are automatically considered for these Gadson Fellowships. This fund typically supports at least two awards. Application deadlines (usually in February) are set by the Office for Undergraduate Research. Students interested in pursuing summer research should contact possible faculty sponsors toward the end of the fall semester.

The Jacquelyn Friedman and Marvin Saltzman Fund in Art provides supplemental monies for painting supplies for students who for economic reasons may be hindered from working to their full potential. Any undergraduate student with need, regardless of major, enrolled in a departmental studio art painting class during the fall and/or spring semesters is eligible. Students can contact their course instructor or the student services specialist for further information.

Department of Art and Art History

Visit Program Website

101 Hanes Art Center, CB# 3405

(919) 962-2015

Director of Undergraduate Studies (Studio Art)

Mario Mazán

Interim Chair

Jeff Spinner-Halev

Director of Undergraduate Studies for Art History

Eduardo Douglas

Director of Undergraduate Studies for Studio Art

Mario Marzán

Student Services Specialist

David Rashidi