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Art is a major offered by the School of Art, Design and Art History, a program within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Concentrations (BFA Degrees Only)

Fiber Arts and Weaving
Metals and Jewelry
Painting and Drawing

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

The School discerns five distinct goals for the teaching of art at JMU: 1) to prepare future professional artists and designers; 2) to educate future art historians and museum specialists with a global perspective on the visual arts; 3) to develop and license future elementary and secondary art teachers; 4) to enrich the general education of non-art majors; 5) to supply professional instruction in the visual arts for students who wish to enrich their education by studying art as a second major or minor.

The School of Art, Design and Art History offers the following three undergraduate degrees:  Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Science. The Bachelor of Arts degree offers majors in art history and art. The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree offers a major in art with distinct areas of concentration. The Bachelor of Science degree offers a major in art as well as an emphasis area in Industrial Design).

Teaching licensure in art is available as part of all degree programs. A minimum of 120 credits is required for all degrees. There are special admission requirements, including a portfolio review, to become an art major. Students should contact the School of Art, Design and Art History for more information. A student may also declare a minor in Art.

More About the Field 

A degree in visual arts is for students interested in working with both their head and their hands. This course of study mainly teaches the student the language of vision and the exploration of ideas along with history and philosophy. While many artists go on to become self-employed by producing and marketing their own art work, others find work inside organizations as designers, craftsmen, or technicians. Some become successful small business owners such as printers, artists/craftsmen, graphic designers, as well as museum workers, curators, gallery workers, educators, and administrators. Many continue on to graduate studies in the arts.


Art offers three degrees. Students completing the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree can choose a Concentration in one of the six areas of Ceramics, Fiber Arts, Metals & Jewelry, Painting & Drawing, Photography or Sculpture or can select an Emphasis in Integrated 3D that includes Ceramics, Fiber Arts, Metals & Jewelry and Sculpture. BFA students are prepared to pursue the professional production and exhibition of their own art or to continue more in-depth study at the graduate level.

The other two degrees, the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Art, are intended for students who want a breadth of knowledge in the visual arts. The BA is for those who also have an interest or background in the humanities, including as foreign language and philosophy, while the BS is for those who have an interest or background in math and the social or natural sciences.  

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Many Architectural, Graphic, and Industrial Design majors choose to Minor in Art. Complimentary majors and minors include: Anthropology, Art History, Biology, Communication Studies, Computer Science, English, Film Studies, Media Arts and Design, Psychology,, Theater & Dance, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Successful art and design students are creative, skilled at problem solving, and have an entrepreneurial approach to their work and life. 


Art students at JMU have the opportunity to prepare for a wide variety of art and art-related career fields. Because the School educates art students as critical thinkers and creative problem solvers, graduates have an enhanced ability to think independently, respond flexibly, work productively and compete successfully for employment in career fields that value original and thoughtful creativity. Some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Advertising Designer
  • Animator
  • Architect
  • Art Buyer
  • Art Curator
  • Art Director
  • Art Educator
  • Art Therapist
  • Arts Administrator
  • Book Designer
  • Cartoonist
  • Ceramist
  • Computer Animator
  • Computer Graphics Designer
  • Conservator
  • Craftsperson
  • Cultural Affairs Director
  • Dental Ceramist
  • Environmental Designer
  • Exhibit Designer
  • Fashion Designer
  • Freelance Artist
  • Furniture Designer
  • Gallery Assistant
  • Gallery Director/ Owner
  • Illustrator
  • Imaging Artist
  • Industrial Designer
  • Interpretive Artisan
  • Jeweler
  • Jewelry Designer
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Layout Artist
  • Metalsmith
  • Model Maker
  • Multimedia Designer
  • Museum Curator
  • Outreach Coordinator
  • Package Designer
  • Painter
  • Photo Lab Manager
  • Photographer
  • Potter
  • Preservationist
  • Printmaker
  • Production Artist
  • Sculptor
  • Stain-Glass Artist
  • Textile Designer
  • Visual Effects Designer

Who Employs Graduates?

Many artists are self-employed working in their own studios. However they also work for: Advertising Agencies, Architecture Firms, Art Studios, Book Publishers, Colleges/Universities, Craft Stores, Department Stores, Design Firms, Discovery Centers, Galleries, Industrial Design Companies, Interior Design Companies, Magazine Publishers, Manufacturing Companies, Motion Pictures Studios, Museums, Newspapers, Online Services Companies, Performing Arts Centers, Private Schools, Public Schools, TV Stations, and Website Development Companies.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities

Fine Arts organizations, Museums, and Industrial Design firms regularly employ interns. Involvement in student clubs and organizations, such as Kappa Pi, the student chapter of the National Art Education Association, artWorks Gallery, and Sawhill Gallery are also great ways to gain experience. Students should consult with their advisors about internship opportunities. 

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles

Art Directors
Arts and Design Occupations
Craft and Fine Artists
Industrial Designers
Jewelers, Precious Stones and Metal Workers
Multimedia Artists and Animators
Art Therapists
Commercial and Industrial Designers
Fashion Designers
Fine Artists – Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrator
Graphic Designers
Multimedia Artists and Animators

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to

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