Requirements for Graduation: Liberal Arts BFA

Degree Requirements

There are three requirements for a Liberal Arts BFA at the SMFA at Tufts University. You must:

  1. Earn a minimum of 120 Semester-hour units (SHUs).
  2. Complete 76 Semester-hour units (SHUs) of studio coursework and 42 SHUs of Liberal Arts Distribution requirements.
  3. Satisfy the residency requirement of eight full-time semesters, according to the stipulations outlined in The Bulletin.

Distribution Requirements

Writing Requirement

Writing is fundamental to an undergraduates arts education. All BFA students are required to take two semesters of college writing in order to graduate. You should complete this requirement in your first year except under extraordinary circumstances. Most students complete this requirement by taking English 1 or English 3 in the first semester or English 2 or Philosophy 2 in the second semester.

History of Art

All BFA students are required to take 5 courses (at least 3 Semester-hour units (SHUs) each) in the History of Art as part of their academic requirements. In their first semester, first-time BFA students take Introduction to Visual and Critical Studies. The other 4 courses in the History of Art requirement can be satisfied by completing courses in the Visual & Critical Studies department based on the SMFA campus or in the Art History department based on the Medford campus.


There are a variety of ways the Language/Culture requirement can be satisfied including: Foreign Language study or study of a specific culture through courses taught in English. Please consult with the SMFA Advising team regarding courses that satisfy this requirement.


The BFA Science/Technology requirement can be satisfied by any course that satisfies the Mathematics or Natural Science requirement for Liberal Arts students. On SIS, students should look under the LA-Natural Science or LA-Mathematics course attribute to find out what courses satisfy the Science/Technology requirement.

In addition to the above distribution requirements, students must also complete 1 full-credit course in the Social Sciences and Humanities as well as 3 Liberal Arts elective courses, which can be any academic course offered on either the Fenway and Medford campus. One Liberal Arts elective requirement can be satisfied by an art history course either through the Visual and Critical Studies department on the SMFA campus of the Art History department on the Medford campus.

Below is an outline of the BFA degree requirements:


Studio Requirements

Academic Requirements


Studio Art

Art History

English I and II


Social Science





76 SHUs

15 SHUs







Review Boards

The Review Board is an essential aspect of the SMFA experience. At the Review Board, students engage in a conversation about their work with faculty and students, which often provides the basis for the student's revision of his or her own artistic aims.

The process affords students and faculty the opportunity to think about the art at hand as the effect of an organic creative process, rather than as a set of isolated pieces created in different classes. By seeing the semester's work as a whole, faculty and students at the Review Board are able to recognize the explicit and implicit relationships between the pieces presented. This ability to understand the work, where the context is determined by the artist, allows the Review Board participants to draw out the work's organizing questions, ideas and aims that might not have been readily apparent. This experience furthermore provides an opportunity for students to articulate and understand more fully the integration of their research-based practices with their studio projects, and to that end often involves Visual and Critical Studies faculty.

By requiring that students experience the Review Board at the end of each semester, SMFA helps students to cultivate the ability to articulate their own artistic direction and questions, to evaluate their needs and achievements and to theorize and plan their own development as an artist. The Review Board is one of the most valuable and unique experiences at SMFA, an experience very much in line with the school's mission as a teaching institution devoted to cultivating the artist as intellectual, as interdisciplinary-informed and, above all, as self-directed.