Visual Arts Program Overview

The Visual Arts program encourages a holistic exploration of the arts, in combination with a practical understanding of many of the languages and traditions of visual expression.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2019-2020, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2019. Access the catalog of record at

The Visual Arts Major

Students choosing an emphasis in Art + Intermedia must complete a different set of degree requirements (see below for section titled, “Emphasis: Art + Intermedia”).

Preparation for the Major

ARTH 101Introduction to the History of Art3
or ARTH 102 Introduction to Asian Art History
Select four of the following:12
Fundamentals of Drawing
Design Foundations
Introduction to Sculpture
Introduction to Video Art
Introductory Photography
Total Units15

Visual arts students are strongly encouraged to complete the above five courses by the end of their sophomore year.

The Major

  1. Select at least one area of specialization from the sub-disciplines of visual arts.
  2. Complete 28 Upper-Division Units of visual arts (ARTV) including ARTV 495 and ARTV 496. At least nine of the total 28 Upper-Division Units in visual arts need to be in the selected area of specialization.
  3. Complete ARTH 334 or ARTH 360, as well as one additional upper-division art history course.

Additional Requirements

  1. Students must participate in a junior review during the second semester of the junior year.
  2. ARTV 495 (formerly 478) must be completed during the first semester of the senior year.
  3. ARTV 496 (formerly 495) must be completed during the second semester of the senior year.
  4. Students must take at least one upper division course in their selected area of specialization during their senior year.
  5. Students selecting drawing or painting as an area of specialization must take ARTV 302.

Emphasis: 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 the following requirements:

Preparation for the Major (Art + Intermedia)

Lower-Division Requirements
ARTV 105Introduction to Sculpture3
ARTV 108Introduction to Video Art3
ARTV 160Introductory Photography3
ARTH 101Introduction to the History of Art3
or ARTH 102 Introduction to Asian Art History
ARTH 109Introduction to Sound Art3
Select one of the following:3
Art and Visual Culture
Theatre and Society
Introduction to Modern Architecture (formerly 135)
Total Units18

The Major (Art + Intermedia)

Upper-Division Requirements
Select five upper-division visual arts courses (15 units) from the following:15
Video Art: Site and Screen
Video Art: The Cinematic
Intermediate/Advanced Video Art
Color Photography
Photo Strategies
Advanced Photography
Intermediate / Advanced Sculpture
Designing for Social Space
Sculpture / Landscape
Digital Audio Composition
Interactive Digital Music and Arts
Art and the Soundscape
Select four upper-division art history courses (12 units) from the following:12
City and Utopia: Introduction to History of Urbanism (formerly ARTH 338)
Contemporary Architecture
Art in Public Spaces
Modern Art: 1780-1920
Art of the Twentieth and Twenty First Centuries in Europe and the Americas
History and Theory of Photography
The Avant-Garde and Mass Culture: Art and Politics
Art Since 1960
Race, Ethnicity, Art and Film
Public Art Studio Seminar
Critical Methods in the Analysis of Visual Culture
Methods in Art History
Special Topics in Art History
THEA 369
Performance Studies
Participate in Junior Review during the second semester of Junior year.
ARTV 495Senior Thesis Studio Seminar3
Senior Thesis Studio Seminar (3) during first semester of Senior year.
ARTV 496Senior Thesis1
Senior Exhibition Project (1) during final semester of Senior year.
Total Units31

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.

Recommended Elective Courses for Visual Arts Majors

Visual Arts majors and minors are encouraged to consider some of the following courses for fulfillment of core curriculum and elective requirements:

For students selecting a specialization in drawing or painting:
ARTH 333Modern Art: 1780-19203
ENGL 385Topics in Creative Writing3
For students selecting a specialization in visual communications:
COMM 300Communication Theory3
COMM 475Intercultural Communication3
COMM 435Principles of Video Production3
PHIL 338Environmental Ethics3
PHIL 274Twentieth Century Continental Philosophy3
For students selecting a specialization in photography:
ARTH 333Modern Art: 1780-1920 (and other upper division art history courses)3
ARTH 336History and Theory of Photography3
ENGL 383Intermediate Creative Nonfiction Writing3
For students selecting a specialization in sculpture:
ENGL 222Poetry3
ARTV 424Art and the Soundscape3
Total Units36

Visual Arts Study Abroad

No more than a total of two ARTV 275 and/or ARTV 375, can be counted toward Visual Arts major credit. ARTV 275 or ARTV 375 can be repeated once for credit. Two sections of ARTV 275 or ARTV 375 can be taken concurrently during a study abroad semester or summer.

Recommended Program of Study, Visual Arts Majors

Freshman Year
Semester IUnits
ARTV 101Fundamentals of Drawing3
CC or electives9-10
Semester IIHours
ARTV 102, 103,
or 108
Design Foundations
Introduction to Video Art
ARTH 101
or 102
Introduction to the History of Art
Introduction to Asian Art History
CC or electives9-10
Sophomore Year
Semester IHours
ARTV 105Introduction to Sculpture3
ARTV 160Introductory Photography3
CC or electives9
Semester IIHours
ARTH 334
or 360
Art of the Twentieth and Twenty First Centuries in Europe and the Americas
Asia Modern
ARTV 302Intermediate Drawing3
CC or electives9
Junior Year
Semester IHours
ARTV electives9
CC or electives6-7
Semester IIHours
Upper Division ARTH Elective3
ARTV electives6
CC electives6
Junior Review 
Senior Year
Semester IHours
ARTV 495Senior Thesis Studio Seminar (formerly 478)3
ARTV electives6
Semester IIHours
ARTV 496Senior Thesis (formerly 495)1
ARTV Electives9