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TCU School of Art now offers Bachelor of Arts in graphic design and studio art

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Many of the BA and BFA of Graphic Design required classes overlap. Graph created by Katherine Love. The BA in Graphic Design requires two sophomore-level foreign languages courses and 36 hours of art credit. The BFA requires 84 hours of art credit. Image by Katherine Love. School of Art student Amanda Hrbacek's program for last year's Final Duel Film Festival (Old Westerns). Photo by Katherine Love.

The TCU School of Art will now offer Bachelor of Art degrees for both graphic design and studio art majors. Previously, students could only pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in these subjects.

According to Lewis Glaser, the graphic design division coordinator, the new degrees would allow students to pursue an art degree while pursuing a second major or a minor. The bachelor's will require 36 hours of art credit and six hours of sophomore-level foreign language classes, which is the same foreign language requirement as all bachelor's degrees at the university. The fine arts degree, on the other hand, requires 84 hours of art credit.

“We are hoping to encourage cross-disciplinary activity,” Sally Packard, director of the School of Art, said. “We are a liberal arts school, but a BFA is less focused toward liberal arts.”

Packard said she thinks the degree additions will be appealing to prospective students because it allows students to concentrate on more than one academic area. Likewise, she said she hopes parents will feel more comfortable that their students can attain some kind of dual degree, considering the economy’s uncertain job market and the price of a TCU education.

For the major or minor accompanying the bachelor's degrees, both Glaser and Packard said they think students will choose closely-related subjects such as strategic communication, film television and digital media, art history or business. Specifically in business, Packard coordinated with the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center to receive a grant from the Coleman Foundation. This grant offers up to $15,000 per year to other TCU departments that incorporate entrepreneurship into their programs.

In May, graphic design professor Dusty Crocker will teach a course called the Business of Art and Design, funded by the Coleman grant. The course will meet on campus for two weeks and travel to New York for the last week to explore art studios and small businesses. Twenty-two students have enrolled in the course as of January 24.

By linking art and entrepreneurship, Packard said, “What’s really valuable about an art degree is the entrepreneurship skills, the hand skills, the technological training, the critical thinking skills and problem solving.”

The two new bachelor's degrees were approved at the end of the spring 2012 semester. After sending a campus-wide email announcement about the additions, Glaser said 60 students asked about the new degree. Packard said nine students have already declared the bachelor's in studio art and six have declared it in graphic design.

The addition of the new degrees came at a good time for sophomore An Nguyen, who recently switched from a fine arts degree to a bachelor's in graphic design.

Nguyen said she developed an interest in psychology during high school, but because she also loves graphic design, she had originally chosen to pursue the fine arts degree.

“I thought it was really good timing,” Nguyen said. “I feel like with graphic design, there are some things you have to know in psychology like color and how people interpret things, so I’m hoping that with psychology I can strengthen my abilities in that direction.”

As she reworks her four-year plan, Nguyen said she might have to take summer classes to fulfill her language requirement. She said she plans to study Spanish as a part of her bachelor's.

Besides the ability to incorporate cross-disciplinary study, another benefit of the new bachelor's option will be providing a second option for graphic design students. Fine arts-seeking graphic design students must apply to the university's program and submit a portfolio. The process is highly selective and the bachelor's could allow those who do not get accepted to still attain a degree in graphic design. In the past, Packard said many students fell back on majors in studio art or strategic communications.

When asked about the response of the university administration, Packard said, “They were extremely happy. People were thrilled about it and thought it was a great move. But now we need to get the message out there.”

More information about the programs can be found online athttp://www.catalog.tcu.edu.

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