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 33 credits.
  2. Complete 19 credits of studio coursework and 14 credits 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 undergraduate 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 and English 2 or Philosophy 1 in the second semester, when the majority of such classes are offered.

History of Art

All BFA students are required to take 5 credits 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 credits 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





19 credits

5 credits

2 credits

1 credit

1 credit

1 credit

1 credit

3 credits

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.

First Year Experience

First year students in the BFA program take all their coursework (studio and academic) on the SMFA campus. We believe that immersing oneself academically on one campus for the first year allows students to focus on their studies, orient to the studio departments and curriculums that are core to their BFA experience, and adjust to life in college. Although students are based on the Fenway campus for their coursework, they are encouraged to go to Medford to engage in the wealth of extra-curricular activities afforded to all Tufts undergraduate students.

In the first semester, students will take 2 credits of studio coursework, Introduction to Visual and Critical Studies (VISC 0001) and English 1. In the second semester, they will take 3 credits of studio coursework and English 2. First year students will work with the SMFA Advising team during orientation to review degree requirements and make fall 2017 course selections.

The first year in the BFA program should have a focus on exploration in relation to the studio curriculum. Students are encouraged to select studio coursework in media and techniques that they have not previously had access to. There is a wide selection of introductory studio coursework that allows this foundational exploration of new techniques and practices.

Transfer Students

Transfer students will be contacted by the SMFA Academic Advising team before the start of the Fall 2017 Orientation programming to discuss transfer credits awarded, outstanding degree requirements and a path of study for the fall semester.