Art B.A.

Information and Policies


The Art Department offers an integrated program of study in theory and practice exploring the power of visual communication for personal expression and public interaction. The department provides students with the means to pursue this exploration through courses that provide the practical hands-on learning skills for art production in a variety of media within the contexts of critical thinking and broad-based social perspectives.

The art program at University of California, Santa Cruz, is composed of courses in drawing, animation, painting, photography, sculpture, print media, intermedia, critical theory, electronic art, public art, environmental art, social art practice, and interactive technologies. Baskin visual arts studios provide world-class facilities for art production in these areas. The Art Department is committed to pursuing a continuing dialogue about what constitutes basic preparation in the arts while offering students experience in established practices, new genres, and new technologies.

Students graduating with a major in art may become professional artists or pursue careers in such diverse areas as arts administration, arts management, museum education, art direction, communication design, web design, digital imaging, curating, art education, multi-media specialist, industry consultant, model maker, and publishing.  Many students who want to teach at the college level continue their education in graduate school.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Art will gain the skills, knowledge, and understanding that will enable them to:

  • demonstrate proficiency in a range of techniques and media;
  • demonstrate the ability to imagine, create, and resolve a work of art;
  • demonstrate familiarity with and ability to analyze, both verbally and in writing, issues and forms of contemporary art with a clear understanding of historical precedents; and
  • demonstrate critical thinking through the ability to articulate an insightful response and analysis of a work of art in order to participate in discussions and studio critiques.

Academic Advising for the Program

For more information and advising on the art major, please contact the undergraduate advisor at artadvisor@ucsc.edu. For junior transfer students, please also see more detailed information below under Transfer Information and Policy.

Getting Started in the Major: Frosh

Acceptance to the Art Major

This is a course-intensive and/or sequential program, and students who intend to pursue this major must begin taking classes for the major in their first year at UC Santa Cruz. Students should contact the undergraduate art advisor if they are interested in pursuing an art major and should meet with the advisor in their first quarter at UC Santa Cruz if they intend to enroll in art courses their frosh year.  A portfolio is not required for entering frosh. Students are recommended to pass two foundation courses in their first year in order to meet the campus deadline to declare the major. However, all three foundation courses (ART 10D, ART 10E, ART 10F) are requirements for the major. Delaying taking these classes until the sophomore year may delay a student's graduation.

Getting into Studio Classes

Studio art classes are very small (average 25 students) compared to courses from other departments on campus that can accommodate large numbers of students. Frosh may  not take any lower division studios until they complete all three of the Art 10 series foundation courses.

General Education Requirements

If you are not able to get into a foundation or studio course in a particular quarter at UC Santa Cruz, you can enroll in courses that fulfill the general education (GE) requirements. You should balance major requirements and GE requirements throughout your career at UC Santa Cruz and not focus completely on your GEs in your frosh or sophomore years, as this could delay your graduation.

Transfer Information and Policy

Transfer Admission Screening Policy

Transfer students interested in the art major must pass a highly competitive portfolio review prior to entering UC Santa Cruz. Students must have completed a minimum of three lower-division studio art courses (comparable to UCSC art lower-division courses -- listed on assist.org) prior to entering UCSC. Applicants who do not pass the portfolio review and are accepted to UC Santa Cruz will not be allowed to take art classes at UCSC during the fall, winter, and spring quarters and must pursue another major if they decide to attend the university.

Admission to UC Santa Cruz does not guarantee eligibility to declare the major, nor does passing the portfolio review guarantee admission to the campus.

Transfer students must identify themselves as proposed art majors when applying to the university in order to receive information on the portfolio review deadlines and the materials required for the review. 

For timely graduation, transfer students should also complete two history of art and visual culture courses prior to transfer, including one in Western art and culture and one in non-Western art and culture.

Prospective students are encouraged to prioritize required and recommended major preparation, and may additionally complete courses that articulate to UC Santa Cruz general education requirements as time allows.

Getting Started in the Major: Transfer Students

Once a student is accepted to the university, has passed the portfolio review and has submitted their Statement of Intent to Register, the undergraduate advisor will be in contact with the student to declare their major and set up a program of study.

Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process

Major Qualification

Students entering UC Santa Cruz as frosh can qualify for admission to the art major after completing two of the following:

ART 10D2D Foundation


ART 10E3D Foundation


ART 10F4D Foundation



A portfolio is not required for entering frosh students. Students should contact the undergraduate art advisor if they are interested in pursuing an art major and intend to enroll in foundation courses (ART 10 series) their freshman year. Acceptance into the art major is contingent on passing two of the three foundation courses that we offer. All three foundation classes are prerequisites to lower-division studios. Consequently, it is essential that students interested in pursuing the art major take the three foundation courses in their freshman year.

Transfer students should consult the Transfer and Information Policy section.

Appeal Process

Students who are informed that they are not eligible to declare the major may appeal this decision by submitting a letter to the department chair within 15 days from the date the notification was mailed. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student and college of the decision. Appeals should be send via email to artadvisor@ucsc.edu.

How to Declare a Major

Students who complete the major qualification requirements may declare the major by meeting with the academic advisor (artadvisor@ucsc.edu) and filling out the declaration form.

Students should submit a petition to declare as soon as they complete the major qualification requirements or reach their declaration deadline quarter (whichever comes first).

Students petitioning when the campus declaration deadline is imminent (i.e., in their sixth quarter, for students admitted as frosh), will either be approved, denied, or provided with conditions (e.g.,  completion of some courses with certain grades)l that will be resolved within at most one more enrolled quarter, even if they have not completed major qualification courses.

Letter Grade Policy

This program does not have a letter grade policy.

Three-Year Pathway

The Art Department has a three-year pathway designed for students who want to complete their Art B.A. in three years. It is an intensive program that includes all of the courses for the current art B.A. major, as well as all of the general education requirements and electives for the university.  Students should begin this pathway in their frosh year to be able to complete the required courses in three years. Summer Session attendance is required for all three years. For more information, contact the undergraduate advisor.

Study Abroad

The UC Santa Cruz Global Learning office offers students the opportunity to study away through a variety of programs. Art students typically participate during their junior year or over the summer, but can participate anytime during their studies after completing their three lower-division studio courses. When considering participation in one or more of these programs, the student should be mindful that only three courses may be substituted in the art major and each must go through a review process upon return to UCSC. 


Honors in the art major are awarded to graduating seniors whose academic performance demonstrates excellence at a grade point average of 3.95 or above in their upper-division art studio courses and ART 190A. Highest honors in the art major are awarded to graduating seniors whose academic performance demonstrates excellence at a grade point average of 4.0 in their upper-divison art studios and ART 190A.

Materials Fee

Art students should be aware of the materials fee required for some studio courses. The fee is billed to the student’s account for specific course materials purchased by the Art Department through the university. Fees generally range from $15 to $175 per course. Students may incur additional expense purchasing individual supplies.

Requirements and Planners

Course Requirements

The minimum requirements for art majors who were admitted to UC Santa Cruz in their frosh year are completion of nine lower-division and eight upper-division courses (consisting of seven upper-division studio courses and ART 190A) and satisfaction of  the senior comprehensive requirement. Junior transfer students complete seven lower-division and eight upper-division courses and their senior comprehensive requirement. The comprehensive requirement may be fulfilled by ART 190B, Senior Project, as part of the required seven upper-division studios. The comprehensive requirement may also be fulfilled by a review of the students artwork by a ladder rank faculty. If the latter choice is selected, the student must then complete seven upper-division studios. A maximum of three courses total from outside the Art Department (including UC Education Abroad Program [EAP] courses) may be substituted for regular art courses with the approval of a major advisor. In courses taken outside the UC Santa Cruz Art Department, students must have received a grade of C or higher.

Students plan their course of study in consultation with a faculty advisor.

Lower-Division Courses

Students complete nine courses as follows:

The Foundation

All of the following (two of the ART 10 series are waived for junior transfers):

ART 10D2D Foundation


ART 10E3D Foundation


ART 10F4D Foundation


Introduction to Contemporary Art Practice

Three of the following (junior transfers should complete them at community college):

ART 20GIntroduction to Print Media and Drawing


ART 20HIntroduction to Sculpture and Public Art


ART 20IIntroduction to Photography


ART 20JIntroduction to Drawing and Painting


ART 20KIntroduction to New Media and Digital Artmaking


ART 20LIntroduction to Drawing


Digital Tools

Students must take:

ART 80TDigital Tools for Contemporary Art Practice


Critical Theory and Historical Context

Students complete two courses from History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC), one in Western Art and Culture and one in non-Western Art and Culture. Students take one course from each of the sections below:

Western Art and CultureHAVC 30-HAVC 46, HAVC 48, HAVC 85, HAVC 133A-HAVC 143B, HAVC 143D-HAVC 143G, HAVC 157B-HAVC 157D, HAVC 186, HAVC 190O-HAVC 190S, HAVC 191B-HAVC 191N, HAVC 191P-HAVC 191S.

Non-Western Art and CultureHAVC 10-HAVC 27, HAVC 50-HAVC 80, HAVC 110-HAVC 127F, HAVC 143C, HAVC 151-HAVC 155, HAVC 160A-HAVC 179, HAVC 190A-HAVC 190N, HAVC 190T-HAVC 191A, HAVC 191O.

Note: Students may use Advanced Placement (AP) in Art History in lieu of the Western-emphasis HAVC requirement.

Students may contact the undergraduate advisor for updates to these lists.

Upper-Division Courses

Students complete eight courses as follows:

Studio Work

Students take seven upper-division studio courses. These include courses numbered ART 101ART 189, ART 190B, ART 194, ART 196, ART 198, and ART 199ART 190B satisfies both an upper-division studio as well as the comprehensive requirement.

Transfer students are strongly encouraged to take ART 194 during their junior year.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major’s upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in art is satisfied by completing:

ART 190AWriting for Artists


Comprehensive Requirement

All art majors satisfy the capstone/comprehensive requirement with the following:

ART 190AWriting for Artists


Plus one of the following options:
  • Presenting an exhibition and, by appointment, meeting with a faculty member for review and critique of the exhibition; or
  • Submitting a portfolio and, by appointment, meeting with a faculty member for review and critique of the portfolio; or
  • Completing the following course:
ART 190BSenior Project


No course credit is given for either the exhibition or portfolio submission. Consequently, students choosing one of these options must complete seven upper-division studios. Students utilizing ART 190B, Senior Project, for their comprehensive requirement may use this as one of their seven upper-division studios.

Senior majors should meet with their faculty advisor about this requirement.


The tables below are for informational purposes and do not reflect all university, general education, and credit requirements. See Undergraduate Graduation Requirements for more information.

Art Major Planner (Incoming Frosh)

The following is a recommended academic plan for students to complete:

Year Fall Winter Spring
1st (frosh) ART 10E ART 10D ART 10F
2nd (soph) ART 20 series ART 20 series ART 20 series
3rd (junior) UD studio ART 190A UD Studio
  UD studio  
4th (senior) UD studio UD studio UD studio or ART 190B
UD studio     

*Courses from history of art and visual culture (HAVC) (one with a Western emphasis, one with a non-Western emphasis). See Course Requirements section.

In addition to the specific courses shown in these planners, a student must complete courses satisfying the CC, ER, MF, SI, SR, TA, and C General Education requirements.

Art Major Planner (Junior Transfers)

The following is a recommended academic plan for junior transfers who have completed three lower-division studios across three different media and partial IGETC:

Year Fall Winter Spring
1st (junior) UD studio ART 190A UD studio
ART 10 Series†  ART 80T 
2nd (senior) UD studio UD studio UD studio
HAVC*  UD studio  UD studio or ART 190B 

† Art 10 series:  Only one of the three ART 10 series courses is required for junior transfers. Other Art 10 series courses are offered in winter and spring.

*Courses from history of art and visual culture (one with a Western emphasis, one with a non-Western emphasis). It is highly recommended that junior transfers take history of art and visual culture courses at the community college. Western emphasis courses are listed as “Europe and the Americas,” all others are non-Western on assist.org.