Art and Visual Culture Studies, BA

Unlock creativity and explore art history with our Art and Visual Culture Studies major. Integrate artmaking, critical thinking and research for careers in the arts.

About this Program

Creating Art, Exploring Visual Culture, Envisioning Social Change

The art and visual culture studies major at Seattle University integrates the fundamentals of artmaking with an exploration of art history and the ways visual culture shapes our world.

It features a robust curriculum with a focus on innovative educational approaches and new technologies. Our visual arts program maintains a contemporary view of art that centers the margins and empowers students to envision social change.

Through two specialization options, students gain technical and analytical skills that allow them to participate in the ongoing innovations and critical discussions within our increasingly visually oriented society.

The visual art and design specialization encourages students to explore their own unique artistic voice. While the visual culture studies specialization offers deep, episodic dives into different cultures and historical moments while keeping questions about the ethics of representation and the power dynamics of the making, display and circulation of images and objects at the center of students’ inquiry.

Two capstone courses allow students to deeply explore the connection between creative practice and issues such as technology, gender, race and the environment.

Visual Art and Culture Studies at a Glance

Learn how an undergraduate visual art and culture studies degree will contribute to your career goals. Then, explore course requirements and see how impactful a Seattle University degree can be.

Visual Art & Design Specialization

Students in the visual art and design specialization are encouraged to develop their own artistic voice using the skills and techniques from their coursework, while integrating their university education and the vibrant urban community of Seattle.

Students work directly with faculty members that are practicing artists with active exhibition practices. In addition, there are varied co-curricular opportunities for students to find additional mentorship with international artists and curators. Through this holistic approach to education, our major prepares students for a future in the arts.

Our faculty maintains an active research and studio practice that is equally based in classic analog mediums as well as contemporary digital media and socially engaged practices.

Visual Culture Studies Specialization

The visual culture studies specialization (VCS) is where students interested in art history, museum studies, and the humanities will find their passion. Students in VCS learn to think about art, media and culture in a variety of contexts and historical periods—from the museum to the screen; from the street to ritual spaces.

Students learn to analyze, discuss and write about visual culture and the history of art using Seattle’s museums, galleries and urban spaces in order to integrate these encounters into their critical study of scholarship from a variety of perspectives. 

The 70-credit major specialization includes the required 3-course, 2-quarter Foundations sequence in the first year, 9 electives (including 2 visual art and design electives) and a 2-course, 2-quarter capstone sequence in the final year.

Art & Visual Culture Studies, BA requirements


Graduating art and visual culture studies students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in a variety of materials and techniques.
  • Interpret works of art and elements of visual culture, including your own art practice, as complex formal structures in relation to social, historical and cultural contexts.
  • Write convincingly about visual culture, your own art practice, and art in exhibition using visual and textual evidence culminating in a research and creative project in the major.
  • Produce a unified body of work for appropriate exhibition or a public or scholarly presentation and/or a professional portfolio suitable for a chosen career path.

What You’ll Learn

Learn about the classes you’ll take as a student here.

Prepared for Success


Studios and Galleries for Artists

The Department of Visual Art includes several studios and galleries that art and visual culture studies students can benefit from. Explore the light-filled spaces dedicated to developing artists and showcasing student work.

Student viewing posters on a wall

Internships in Seattle’s World-Class Arts Community

You are encouraged to connect with the rich and vibrant art scene in Seattle through internships. Students are encouraged to work with faculty to find the best opportunities to gain connections to the Seattle arts community.

A information session at Seattle University

Pathways to Professional Formation

The College of Arts & Sciences is committed to helping you through your lifetime journey of professional formation and discernment. We offer opportunities to deepen and broaden your understanding of your professional identity.

A collection of spools of thread at the Makerspace
Click to play the video

Creative Spaces for Artists

The Billodue Makerspace at Seattle University, located in the Jim and Janet Sinegal Center for Science and Innovation (Sinegal Center), provides creative spaces for art and visual culture students. You will be able to participate in a variety of maker-related activities including sewing, fiber arts, 3D printing, laser cutting, electronics, vinyl cutting, and glass work.

Rewarding Careers for Art and Visual Culture Studies Majors

Students in the major have gone on to graduate study in visual art, art history, museum studies and received Fulbright awards to study overseas.

Recent acceptances to MFA, MA and PhD programs include:

  • New York University
  • Duke University
  • American University
  • Syracuse University
  • California College of the Arts
  • Georgetown University
  • School of the Art Institute Chicago
  • University of Washington
  • University of York, UK
  • University of Essex, UK

In addition to becoming art historians, graduates have also used their degrees to become museum curators, educators, event programmers, art writers, cultural critics, auction house professionals at Christie's and Sotheby's, nonprofit arts leaders, and grant writers, among other things.

Hear From Our Alumni

SU Alumni David Strand

David Strand

“Seattle University’s excellent location in the heart of the city coupled with its knowledgeable and well-connected Art and Art History faculty helped me build a bridge from the classroom into the galleries and offices of the museum...During my time at Seattle University, I was able to pursue my own creative work while honing my research and writing skills in tandem with gaining vital professional experience."

BA Visual Art '15

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