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Department of

Art, Architecture + Art History

Visual Arts

About Visual Arts
Visual Arts Degree Requirements for Majors
Visual Arts Degree Requirements for Minors

Visual Arts

A primary objective of the Visual Arts program is to guide the student, major and non-major alike, to a practical understanding of many of the languages and traditions of visual expression. The program encourages a holistic exploration of the arts, while simultaneously requiring Art majors to develop advanced skills in at least one of the following sub-disciplines: Drawing; New Media; Painting; Photography; Sculpture/3D Studio Art; Visual Communications: and Art, Technology and Critical Studies (ATaCS). Visual Arts majors who are considering graduate study are encouraged to complete a minor in Art History.


The Film/Video courses focus on the representation of time in contemporary video art and experimental film. They examine how the moving image aligns and differentiates itself from the other artistic disciplines and from cinema--and how artworks activate curatorial spaces for spectatorship. Instruction centers on producing and editing videos with unique consideration of time and narrative. Upper-level courses further expand definitions of time-based art--including sound art, media installation, performance, participatory forms and social practice.

Painting and Drawing

The primary objective of the painting and drawing programs at USD is to enable each student to discover and articulate their creative voice in the expressive languages of painting and drawing. Rigorous technical and conceptual training enables the students to develop images that are visually, emotionally and intellectually compelling while emphasizing honest and meaningful exploration of each artist's concerns.


The Photography program is built around balancing the needs of the students providing a broad base of photographic education, and nourishing the individual voice of a creative art student. The curriculum regularly includes courses in Basic, Advanced, Portrait and Color Photography. A variety of Special Topics including Photo Strategies, Documentary Photography and Large format Photography are available on a cyclical basis, while internships and independent projects round out the curriculum. For digital image making our students utilize the Macintosh computer labs, and will soon be the beneficiaries of a new darkroom facility in Camino Hall.


The Sculpture Program is designed for students wishing to explore sculpture through a multidisciplinary approach to methods and materials. After completing the introductory Foundations in Form Space and Time and Introduction to Sculpture classes, students are able to choose from intermediate and advanced studio courses that are offered in a variety of mediums including metal, wood, concrete, and clay. Students will develop not only technical proficiency in working with these various mediums, but moreover the conceptual foundation from which their unique creative practice will be built. Experimentations with object making, installation, and intervention are actively encouraged and explored as a means of facilitating a critical engagement with the concerns of the student. Facilities include a fully equipped metalshop, woodshop, sculpture facility, and semi-private studio spaces, which students are able to apply for in their senior year.

Visual Communications

The Visual Communications program at the University of San Diego focuses on developing an in-depth understanding of the visual design language, and how to use this language to solve design problems. Visual communications students work on projects to acquire conceptual, theoretical and practical knowledge in design, while exploring and examining the role of design history in shaping contemporary design practice.

Art + Intermedia

Art + Intermedia focuses on the interdisciplinary study of art, technology and culture, supporting a wide range of projects and practices. It is structured to encourage students to apply multiple media and integrate disciplines into new forms of expression. Students prepare to be independent artists and cultural producers in a world of new media representations and strategies. Integrating the production of art and critical studies, the lower- and upper-division requirements are drawn from equal amounts of studio art and art history courses. It is designed specifically for creative uses of media beyond singular discipline areas of study in photography, film/video, sound, music, sculpture, performance or theater. Students choosing a concentration in Art + Intermedia must complete a different set of degree requirements.

*Please note that some courses may be taken more than once for course credit and that under certain circumstances substitution of classes will be allowed with advisor approval.


Degree Requirements for Visual Arts Majors



Complete 31 upper-division units (10 courses plus senior thesis)

  • Select at least one area of specialization from the sub-disciplines, and take three upper-division courses in that area
  • Complete ARTH 334 ‚ Art of the Twentieth Century in Europe and the Americas
  • Participate in a Junior Review during the second semester of the junior year
  • Complete ARTV 478 ‚ Senior Thesis Studio Seminar during the first semester of the senior year
  • Complete ARTV 495 ‚ Senior Thesis during the second semester of the senior year
  • Students must take at least one upper-division course in their chosen area(s) of specialization during their senior year
  • Students selecting Drawing or Painting as an area or areas of specialization must take ARTV 302


Requirements for Students Choosing an Emphasis in Art + Intermedia


  • ARTV 105 - Introduction to Sculpture
  • ARTV 108 - Introduction to New Media in Art
  • ARTV 160 - Photography
  • ARTH 101 - Introduction to the History of Art 
  • ARTH 109 - Introduction to Sound Art
  • ARTH 138 - Art and Visual Culture or ARTH 135 - Introduction to Modern Architecture


Students are required to complete 5 of the following upper division Visual Arts courses: 

and also 4 of the following upper-division Art History courses: 

  • ARTH 345 - The Avant-Garde and Mass Culture: Art and Politics,
  • ARTH 354 - Art Since 1960
  • ARTH 382 - Public Art Studio Seminar
  • ARTH 336 - History and Theory of Photography
  • ARTH 393 - Critical Methods in the Analysis of Visual Culture
  • ARTH 334 - Art of the Twentieth Century in Europe and Americas 
  • ARTH 394 - Seminar
  • ARTH 495 - Senior Thesis
  • THEA 370 Performance Studies
  • THEA 369 Contemporary Theatre
  • ARTH 356 - Race, Ethnicity, Art, and Film

Participate in a Junior Review during the second semester of the junior year

  • Complete ARTV 478 - Senior Thesis Seminar during the first semester of the senior year
  • Complete ARTV 495 - Senior Thesis during the second semester of the senior year


Degree Requirements for Visual Arts Minors


Please Note: If you have already declared the major under the old Bulletin and you decide next year to change from a minor to a major (or vice-versa), this change will automatically put you under the new Undergraduate Bulletin.