Program details

Our four-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Art and Design degree program explores academic paths in art and design. The non-studio-based curriculum has two options of study: Art and Culture or Visual Culture Studies. Both options require students to complement their coursework with a secondary program of study, within or outside of the College of Design. This provides students with a solid liberal arts educational experience that can springboard into a variety of career paths. 


In general, students interested in a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design will first complete the Core Design Program before declaring a major in Art and Design. The degree program is not enrollment managed. Once declared, students will have the option to choose from curriculums in Art and Culture or Visual Culture Studies.

Both options offer flexible curricula and the freedom to select courses outside the Art and Design major and require students to complement their art coursework with study in another area inside or outside of the College of Design. This can include a second major or minor. Exciting second majors or minors to pair with the degree include journalism, advertising, business, history or psychology.

Art and Culture Option

The Art and Culture curriculum option in the degree program provides a general studies degree in which students combine art with another area of interest. You create your own program of study, which can include another major or minor in a subject taught outside of the College of Design. This concentration emphasizes studio components.

Visual Culture Studies Option

The Visual Culture Studies curriculum option explores art history and museum studies. This degree track does not require the first year Core Design Program. Students in this degree track take two classes in a foreign language and are often interested in pursuing museum work, a graduate degree in art history, or work as an art cataloguer.

  • Students Presenting in DSN 102

    Core Design Program

    The undergraduate curricula in design are divided into two phases: the Core Design Program and the professional or general degree program. Classes in the Core create a shared experience and community that exposes students to all nine majors within the College of Design.

  • Three Students Showing Print Making Project

    Integrated arts studios

    As part of the Department of Art and Visual Culture’s degree programs, students have opportunties to take classes and work with the tools of the trade within art studios. These studios include painting, metals, ceramics, woods, textiles, photography, and printmaking.

Iowa State’s undergraduate BA in Art and Design degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The College of Design offers or participates in eight undergraduate minors that are available to all undergraduate design students. In addition, many minors throughout the university can be combined with a design degree program.

View College of Design minors
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Two students conversing in the College of Design atrium.

Success in Design

Students graduate career-ready with internships, capstone projects, professional practice and portfolio classes integrated into the Design programs, and support from the Design Career Services Office. The college also hosts an annual Design Career Fair focused only on design majors. It attracts more than 125 firms recruiting for jobs and internships, with College of Design alumni making up more than half of the recruiters in attendance.

Possible career paths

With numerous opportunities for students to pursue internships or advanced education, and with support from the college’s Career Services office, we make it easy for students explore career opportunities. Some recent graduates of Iowa State’s art and design program have pursued careers in the following:

  • Museum administration
  • Art gallery staff
  • Art exhibit coordinator
  • Art criticism and journalism
  • Art teacher
  • Art sales and corporate art collections
  • Advertising and design
  • Tour guide/ event organizer
  • Art therapy
  • Communications and marketing
A student paints project on the floor.

An Artist in the Making

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.