B.F.A. with an emphasis in Painting

  • painting
  • outside the "never not" exhibition
  • paint brushes with paintings behind it
  • students painting in a studio

Program Overview

The Painting Area exposes students to a diverse range of media and approaches to creative problem solving. The area provides them with the discipline and professional skills to be successful visual artists, creative thinkers, designers, and entrepreneurs. Students are encouraged to develop strong painting and drawing skills; consider explorations of old and new forms of artmaking (representational, abstraction, 2D, 3D, and alternative materials and processes); and to develop independent, unique, personal forms of expression. Our facilities accommodate research in drawing, painting, mixed media, and experimental approaches – including (but not limited to) acrylics, oils, encaustics, watercolor, gouache, paint sticks, cold wax, graphite, charcoal, pastels, oil pastels, colored pencils, inks, dyes, and aqua dispersion pigments.

Career Opportunities

Graduates have a number of opportunities for employment across multiple industries including:

• Professional Artist or Designer

• University or Secondary Educator

• Entrepreneur

• Fabricator or Studio Assistant

• Art Handler or Preparator

• Artist-in-Residence

• Arts Administration, Museum and/or Non-Profit Positions

• Gallery Manager, Owner, Curator, Exhibition Designer

• Art Writer, Librarian, or Consultant 



Curriculum: Bachelor of fine arts with an Emphasis in Painting (B.F.A.)

Basic Studies Requirement — 18 credits 

  • ART 1040 Object Drawing
  • ART 1050 Drawing Studio
  • ART 1070 Form and Surface
  • ART 1080 Form and Space
  • ART 2170 Writing About Art and Design
  • ART 2360 Professional Practice

Art History — 12 credits

Two of the four 2000-level Art History courses (6 hours)

  • ART 2200 Caves to Cathedrals
  • ART 2210 Modern and Postmodern
  • ART 2220 Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
  • ART 2230 Introduction to Asian Art History


Two additional Art History courses at the 3000 or 4000-level, or at the 5000-level with instructor approval.

Painting emphasis requirement—22 credits

  • 2400 Painting I (3 credits) 
  • 3400 Painting II (3 credits) 
  • ART 3020 Topics in Painting (3 credits) – repeatable for credit
  • ART 4200 2D Contemporary Practices (3 credits) 
  • ART 4700 Topics in Studio Art (3 credits) – repeatable for credit
  • ART 4830 Senior Project I (fall 3 credits) 
  • ART 4840 Senior Project II (spring 4 credits)

Art studio electives—33 credits

Three hours of non-western art history, and all art education credits, may be applied to the elective requirement.


Art Major—85 credits
Western Essential Studies —37 credits
Total Credit Hours—122 credits

Students should consult the WMU catalog for the painting program course descriptions and requirements.

WMU Catalog

Visiting Artists 

The mission of Frostic School of Art’s Visiting Artist program is tri-fold: to provide students direct, meaningful contact with working artists, both established and emerging; to elevate the regional, national, and international profile of the Frostic School of Art and Richmond Center for Visual Arts; and to nurture a sense of community among students, faculty and staff within WMU’s College of Fine Arts. Recent visiting artists and scholars that supported the painting curriculum include; Robyn O'Neil, Carolyn Case, Emma Powell, Lisa Pressman, Curtis Rhodes, Delna Dastur, Jonah Elijah, Reni Gower, and Rachel Campbell.

Portfolio Reviews

Portfolio reviews for admission into the B.F.A. program with an emphasis in painting will be held in the second week of November and March.


Student Group

Modern Painter's Society—MPS—seeks to further the knowledge and love of painting for students here on Western Michigan University’s campus, empower BFA students to gain confidence in their abilities as an artist, and provide opportunities to create connections in the art world. In addition, MPS looks to promote a higher regard and appreciation for the arts in the public eye.