What is Art?

UCSB’s Department of Art offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the visual arts and its related fields of research, including theory and media studies. Through a comprehensive foundations program, students are first introduced to the diversified and hybridized practices of contemporary art, including study in history, theory and process. At the upper division level, students are given the opportunity to focus and individualize their aesthetic practice while still maintaining an open attitude towards art and its ever-evolving contextual relationship with contemporary culture.

In order to accommodate optimum student learning, UCSB offers two different ways to major in the practice of art.  You can be an art major in the Department of Art (BA) in the College of Letters and Science, or at the College of Creative Studies (BA). There are many different ways to succeed as young artists in our programs.

Both majors are serious, challenging paths in which students are expected to develop a mature body of creative work by the time they graduate. We encourage students to take courses in each art program, exhibit their work in both student art galleries, and share ideas and resources.  Our excellent laboratory facilities reside mainly in the Dept. of Art building, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

The Dept. of Art offers a structured program that guides students through beginning courses to advanced.  We offer a highly flexible, rigorous, and opportunity-filled program that includes our selective Honors Program, (a one year seminar, studio space, and final exhibition). The majority of art courses at UCSB take place in the Dept. of Art and include a full range of materials and subjects.  The genesis or our curricula derives from the idea that thinking and making are intertwined. Students who do not apply as art majors upon entering UCSB enter the major by taking 3 introductory courses successfully. For more on courses offered: (undergraduate courses). Many Art Department majors pursue a double major or minor in other Letters and Science academic departments very successfully.

The College of Creative Studies art program is designed for students who are prepared to work independently as artists from the start. CCS art students are admitted by portfolio review, attend smaller classes, work closely with faculty advisors, go through a rigorous mid-residency review process and stage a senior exhibition.  Most students have studio space by their sophomore year.  Emphases include Spatial Arts/Sculpture, Painting, and Book Arts: (CCS Art)  If you apply to CCS and do not get in, your admission to UCSB allows you to start the major in the Dept. of Art if you list it as your second choice.

The two programs collaborate on many things.  Please check out our cohosted speaker series: the Colloquium 1C, open to the public, that features exciting artists from around the world and our own accomplished faculty: (Art Colloquium).

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Art?

Art as a major encompasses many topics. Therefore, there is a wide range of individuals who will enjoy taking art as a major. Artistic individuals that are able to draw, paint, write or design are primary candidates for this major. They may also have a keen sense of music and know how to play an instrument. Hobbies for art students may involve playing music, painting, attending plays, attending the theater, analyzing movies, writing creatively, drawing, or reading.

According to the Department of Art, curriculum specializes in critical thinking and adaptable visual and conceptual skills that are key to any future plans in any field. Many parents and students are concerned about their futures in the current economic crisis.  Here are a few wise words from our colleague, Professor Adriene Jenik at Arizona State University.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

Spatial Studies
Digital Intermedia

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.


General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be.  The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Art majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields.  Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

Advertising Specialist
Art Teacher
Business Lawyer
Desktop Publisher
Special Effects Technician
Web Designer
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
See what UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn.
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.


Graduate and Professional Schools
Search this online database of art schools. Narrow search by country and program type.

AICAD Art Schools
This page describes what an MFA is and what MFA programs involved. By clicking on ‘Find a School’ you can search for AICAD art schools such as the California Institute of the Arts. The ‘Career Information’ page is also extremely helpful if you are considering pursuing a career in the arts.
This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

California Arts Council
Job listing for careers in the Arts

Print Jobs
A constantly-updated list of over one hundred job openings in the industry. They provide job candidates and employers the opportunity to submit information for inclusion in their database. There is no cost to applicants to register.

Art Deadlines
You can subscribe to a newsletter or just check back regularly for upcoming gallery submissions, competitions, job positions, etc.

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.


Professional Associations

College Art Association
College Art Association includes among its members those who by vocation or avocation are concerned about and/or committed to the practice of art, teaching, and research of and about the visual arts and humanities.

American Institute of Graphic Arts
AIGA, the professional association for design, is committed to furthering excellence in design as a broadly-defined discipline, strategic tool for business and cultural force.

National Art Educator Association
This dynamic community of practice is where visual arts teachers, scholars, researchers and professors, students, administrators, and art museum educators, and artists come together around a shared belief in the power of the arts in developing human potential.

UCSB Resources