The Lumberjack

New Bachelor of Arts degree is coming to HSU

A decorated hallway on the second floor of the Art A building, Feb. 2. Photo by Bailey Tennery.

A new degree has resurged in the art department: the Bachelor of Fine Arts.

The program is a cohort system of 24 students who want to focus on their studio artwork. The BFA program helps prepare students for a professional art career or graduate school.

The first group of BFA students will be juniors this fall, and will graduate in spring 2020. Applications are due this spring on Feb. 28.

Department chair of the HSU art history department Heather Madar says that this program has been in the making for a number of years.

“So at this point we are about to look at our first round of applications and have our first cohort,” Madar said. “Yeah, this is our first one and this is really exciting.”

The difference between the two degrees is the coursework. The BFA requires 70 units of art classes while the BA requires 54 units. With the BFA, students won’t have the ability to have a minor or a second major.

“It is a pathway to a degree that really focused in a whole lot of depth on their studio artwork making,” Madar said. “The BFA is seen in the field as a slightly more professionalized degree, so it gives them an additional credential if that is something that makes sense for their future career plan.”

Art major Ann Valdes has always put an importance on creativity. This year, Valdes is graduating without having the opportunity to be part of the BFA.

“I guess it just sucks for people who are in the transition and is between HSU not having a BFA and having a BFA,” Valdes said. “But in the future, I guess people will get to choose what they want.”

HSU students who are in their first two years can become part of the BFA degree by taking the required lower division coursework.

“We are not requiring them to declare which of the areas they are in,” Madar said. “It is a general BFA program, but generally most of them do identify with their previous coursework, what areas they really want to focus on, like ceramics, for example.”

Art major Kiya Rutherford enjoys making functional art, but likes painting things for an aesthetic reason – it allows her to express certain ideas.

“I think it’s pretty important, because I know a lot of people look for art programs,” Rutherford said, “but only go to certain schools if they have a Bachelor of Fine Arts rather than just art. I think it helps with grad school, too.”

Art major Kiya Rutherford working in the ceramics lab on Feb. 2. Photo by Bailey Tennery.

Valdes sees the BFA degree as an overdue improvement to Humboldt State’s art department.

“I think for the school to have a BFA is amazing,” Valdes said. “It makes HSU way more competitive.”

The tenured faculty will be involved in reviewing student applications. After reviewing the applications, they will have a meeting to decide who will be accepted.

Valdes considers the BFA degree as a positive addition to HSU, but it wasn’t the right program for her.

“Having a BA doesn’t mean you can’t be a fine artist, so it is a decision you have to make pretty early on,” said Valdes. “I feel like for me, that wasn’t really the best idea at the time, but I think it is great for people in the future, and that is great for HSU to have.”

The Feb. 28 application deadline was put together by Madar and the Office of Admissions to make it easier for transfer students to apply to the BFA program.

“This is not a better degree,” Madar said. “It is just a different degree and for different students, depending on what they are wanting to do with their college career.”