Bachelor of Fine Arts: more than just a degree


Trenedy Parks, Staff Writer

Any student pursuing an arts degree has heard of the sophomore and Bachelor of Fine Art reviews. These are benchmark reviews that allow a student to present their portfolio and help the professors in the art program determine if pursuing a BFA is the best course of action for a student.

The difference between fine art and any other art degree is the deeper understanding of art, as well as being able to explain and defend a process of creating any given piece of work rather than it solely being aesthetically pleasing. Fine art is technical and focuses on the details and processes that create the end product.  

The sophomore review occurs in the second semester of a student’s sophomore year and requires that one builds a portfolio of about fifteen pieces to present in front of a panel of professors. In the portfolio, the student should present different types of visual art and show the full range of what they can create. This review is there to help guide the students down a certain path of art or another bachelor’s program entirely. It is seen as a preparation for the BFA review. 

The sophomore review was developed within the last several years. It was implemented so the professors in the Visual Arts and Design program can meet with each student early on in their education and help determine what they should pursue. 

“Sophomore review came out as a way to give [the students] a better view of higher education in the arts,” said Professor Aaron Benson, department chair of the Visual Arts and Design program and Sculpture and Ceramics professor. “It gives [the professors] a glimpse of their talent level and skills, as well as allowing us to have a better conversation about what they want to do.” 

The BFA review is what determines whether a student pursues a bachelor’s in fine arts or another degree. It takes place during the second semester of junior year. The concept is the same; however, this portfolio should be more cohesive and follow a theme or idea. During this review, the panel of professors will observe and question the art while allowing the student to defend and explain their choices. The BFA reviews now happen earlier than they used to, so if a student does not pass theirs, they have time to perfect their skills and reasoning and can try again.

“[The panel of professors] evaluate our portfolio and determine if we have professional pieces, what we are going to bring to the world and if we are going to make an impact with our art,” said Megan Ergle, a junior majoring in digital media.

The purpose of the reviews is to measure where you are as an artist and help decide between continuing to pursue that bachelor of fine arts or a different degree. It questions where a student sees themselves going with art, and how they will be able to establish themselves as an artist. 

“[The sophomore and BFA reviews] allow us to have the conversion earlier about all of their options and allow them as much time as possible to achieve these goals,” said Benson.