Candidates for the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree are expected to complete 130 credits within eight semesters of study and within the following disciplinary credit distribution.
|Required Foundation Courses|
|Basic Drawing (Analytical and Descriptive)||61|
|Introduction to Techniques||11|
|Required Art History Courses|
|Modern to Contemporary: An Introduction to Art History||41|
|Art History Electives||10*|
|*Including 2 credits in prehistory through 17th century art and 2 credits in global perspectives on art|
|Required General Academic Studies|
|Texts and Contexts: Old Worlds and New||31|
|The Making of Modern Society||32|
|The Modern Context: Figures and Topics||32|
|General Academic Studies Electives|
|To be elected from Art History3, Foreign Language4, History of Architecture, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences||12|
|Prerequisite and Advanced Studio Courses|
|To be elected from any studio discipline||54|
|Required Senior Presentation||0|
|To be elected from courses in any discipline at Cooper Union or at other institutions approved by the dean of the School of Art||10|
|Total Credit Requirements for the B.F.A. Degree||130|
1 First-year requirement for all students
2 Second-year requirement for all students
3 Maximum of three credits
4 With permission of the dean of the School of Art
Studio Courses The student’s choice of studio courses is based on individual interest in various disciplines, on prerequisite courses for advanced areas of study and on the student’s interest in working with particular instructors.
There are limitations on the number of credits a student may take each semester in any one area of study, depending upon the student’s progress in the program (number of credits completed toward the degree). The number of credits allowed is determined as listed below:
|Credits Completed||Maximum Credits per Semester per Area of Study*|
|96 (Senior)||no limit|
* Includes related techniques courses
General Academic Studies Requirements and General Academic Studies Electives
The general academic studies requirements of the BFA degree include four core courses in the humanities and social sciences (12 credits), two required courses in art history (four credits), five electives in art history (10 credits), and science (three credits). The additional general academic studies electives must total 12 credits. Students will average a minimum of two courses per semester from the list above.
During Foundation year, BFA candidates take two core courses in the humanities and social sciences and two required courses in art history.
During sophomore year, BFA candidates take two further core courses in the humanities and social sciences and either two art history electives or one art history elective and a science course.
Throughout the last two years, students complete their remaining general academic studies requirements and general academic studies electives.
Foreign language coursework at the intermediate or advanced level, taught by language instructors with appropriate academic credentials, may be presented to the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences for possible general academic studies elective credit. A maximum of four credits of language study may be approved in this category. Intermediate or advanced foreign language studies beyond four credits may be presented to the dean of the School of Art for possible free elective credit.
Any Cooper Union course not being counted toward another requirement may be counted toward the free elective requirement. Students frequently take TE (techniques) courses toward the free elective requirement. It should be noted that students may take only one TE course per semester, unless granted an exception through the Office of Academic Advising & Off-Campus Programs.
Senior Presentation Requirement
A public presentation of each senior student’s work, normally in the student’s final semester, is a requirement for graduation. Each student may satisfy this requirement with an exhibition or, where appropriate, a screening, performance, or publication. No student will be permitted to receive a degree unless this requirement is completed to the satisfaction of the faculty and the dean of the School of Art at a mutually agreed upon time and venue. Completion of the requirement will be reflected on the student’s transcript. The 41 Cooper Gallery will be reserved for senior student exhibitions during much of the spring semester; other appropriate exhibition spaces will also be made available.
Progress Toward the Degree
Students are expected to maintain normal progress toward their degrees.
Normal progress in the Foundation year is defined as completing all courses in the Foundation curriculum.
Normal progress in any semester after the Foundation year, and for transfer students, is defined as completing an appropriate balance of fine arts, general academic studies requirements, general academic studies electives, and free elective courses such that the student can finish all degree requirements in the number of semesters allotted.
Students should use online resources and consult with the Office of Academic Advising & Off-Campus Programs in order to assess their progress towards the degree.
The School of Art offers a number of exchange programs with schools abroad. They currently include opportunities for a junior-year semester of study in the Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland. Students should consult the Office of Academic Advising & Off-Campus Programs as early as possible for information about these exchange opportunities.
Eligibility Requirements for the Exchange Program
Students who have completed at least 64 credits toward the BFA degree, have a cumulative GPA of 3.0, and have no outstanding first- and second-year requirements, may apply for one semester of exchange. The student must maintain good academic standing in the semester prior to departure, otherwise permission to participate may be revoked.
Transfer students must have completed at least 32 credits in residence at The Cooper Union before applying for exchange and must have an additional 32 credits to complete in residence upon their return. Transfer students must also have met all first- and second-year requirements and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0.
Students applying for exchange must be in residence during the semester when they are completing the application process.
Students may earn a maximum of 12 credits in studio courses for one semester of study on exchange. A maximum of 6 credits may be awarded by any one faculty member for work done while on exchange. Typically, students do not take courses toward their requirements in the humanities, social sciences, or sciences while on exchange. Students must therefore complete additional coursework in these areas in the semesters before and after exchange.
Since foreign schools may have academic calendars at variance with that of The Cooper Union, students studying on exchange who cannot return in time for the start of the next semester at the School of Art must request a discretionary leave of absence for that semester.
Students may participate in exchange only once during their stay at The Cooper Union.
Students from other institutions who are enrolled at the School of Art as exchange students may not apply to transfer to The Cooper Union School of Art while in residence at The Cooper Union.