Visual Art Studies, B.A.

Program Code: VAST_BA

Program Description

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Art Studies offers students the opportunity to explore studio work in Art within the context of a broader liberal arts education. Students can learn fundamental techniques and concepts common to the Visual Arts. Emphasis is also put on creative problem solving through advanced investigations of artistic themes and issues. Coursework includes requirements (classes) related to the portfolio preparation necessary for employment in creative fields or for education at the graduate level.

What is Visual Art Studies?

Visual arts studies is the creative, theoretical, and critical exploration of making images, objects, and ideas through various artistic media. Visual Art Studies may be a good fit for you if are happiest drawing, painting, sculpting, designing, working with the computer or performing in unique ways. If you don’t have a lot of experience making art—no worries! Maybe you enjoy looking at art or writing or reading about it? Visual Art Studies may be for you! There are no required skillsets or portfolio reviews required for admission into Visual Art Studies. The faculty are experienced at introducing an array of tools, materials, and methods to beginning students.


You Might Like This Program If...

  • You get a kick out of seeing how things are made.
  • You have ideas and opinions about your world—big, small, and everything in between.
  • You want to be a part of a vibrant inclusive community of creative thinkers and makers.
  • You need to fill your artistic toolbox with more tools, technologies, and materials.
  • You love making or fixing stuff.
  • You customize the day-to-day things around you to make them more you.

Entrance to Major

Entry into the Visual Art Studies major requires an entrance interview. The entrance interview will be based on the student's work and academic interests and will take place during their first semester.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Art Studies, a minimum of 121 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 12
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 46

6 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 6 credits of GA courses.

0-12 of the 45 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in Electives if world language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
ART 165Artistic Concepts of Space Keystone/General Education Course3
ART 265Artistic Concepts of Color3
ART 266Artistic Concepts of Light3
ART 269Methods and Materials I3
ART 365Themes and Issues I3
ART 366Themes and Issues II3
ART 465Individual Approaches I3
ART 466WIndividual Approaches II3
ART 469Methods and Materials II3
ARTH 111Ancient to Medieval Art Keystone/General Education Course3
ARTH 112Renaissance to Modern Art Keystone/General Education Course3
GD 100Introduction to Graphic Design Keystone/General Education Course3
GD 101Design Foundation I4
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select 3 credits from the following:3
Introduction to Sculpture Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Ceramics Keystone/General Education Course
Artistic Concepts of Form Keystone/General Education Course
Select 3 credits of 400-level ARTH courses3

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

World Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one world language in addition to English. This proficiency must be demonstrated by either examination or course work. See the Placement Policy for Penn State World Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, World Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; world language credits in this category must be in a second world language in addition to English or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language). Credits must be selected from the list of approved courses.

World Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the University Cultural Diversity (US/IL) requirement.​

Program Learning Objectives

  • Critique technical, aesthetic, and conceptual competence in art works verbally an in written form
  • Apply problem solving techniques in art planning, art making and execution
  • Execute exhibition best practices, standards, and professional procedures when preparing artwork for display
  • Create professional portfolio of art work and supplemental materials suitable for gallery submission, graduate school admissions, or entrance level creative field application
  • Demonstrate competency in many forms of art making including 2D, 3D, and digital media
  • Operate rigorous and safe studio practice and material handling
  • Cite and inform upon historical and contemporary art movements in art work
  • Interpret issues in art, society, and culture via personal concepts in art work creation

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.



Sophie L. Brenneman
Assistant Teaching Professor, Visual Arts Coordinator, Visual Art Studies Program
137 Misciagna Building
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2024-25 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition.

Visual Art Studies, B.A. at Altoona Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
ART 1653ART 166, 30, 80, or ART 1203
ARTH 1113ARTH 1123
ENGL 15, 30H, or ESL 153GD 1003
World Language Course Level 14World Language Course Level 24
 General Education Course (GQ)3
 13 16
Second Year
ART 2653ART 2663
ART 2693GD 1014
World Language Course Level 34General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 16 16
Third Year
ART 3653ART 3663
ART 4683General Education Course3
General Education3Elective 3
General Education (GQ)3B.A. Other Cultures3
CAS 1003General Education Course3
 15 15
Fourth Year
ART 4653ART 466W3
ART 4693Art History 400-level Course3
ENGL 202B3General Education Course3
General Education Course3Elective 3
Elective3Elective 3
 15 15
Total Credits 121

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education


Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy Cultural Diversity Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ), Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS) and Integrative Studies (Inter-domain) requirements. N or Q (Honors) is the suffix at the end of a course number used to help identify an Inter-domain course, but the inter-domain attribute is used to fill audit requirements. Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of 'C' or better.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in World Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as World Cultures courses.

Career Paths

With Penn State Altoona’s Visual Art Studies (VAST) program, you will be equipped with the conceptual, technical, and professional frameworks needed to be a confident and productive artist, as well as the skills necessary for employment in creative fields or admission into graduate study.

Professional Resources



131 Misciagna Building
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601