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Advising for Current East Bay Students

As you will have heard, Cal State East Bay is converting from Quarters to Semesters starting Fall 2018. In the Art Department, we are making significant changes with the creation of new concentrations, and a differentiation of our Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees.

We chose to make big, exciting changes for three reasons:

  1. First is the need to keep up with student demands and offer new concentrations. A concentration is what most of you casually refer to as a major. You may say, “I am majoring in Photography”, but technically you are majoring in Art with a concentration in Photography.
    In response to student demand, we are ending our general Multimedia concentration and creating new concentrations in Video & Animation, in Interaction & Game Design, and in Illustration. The details of each concentration are listed on the linked Degree Roadmaps
  2. Second is that conversations with alumni and with employers showed that hiring standards have increased in our fields – there are a lot of talented people who want to move to the Bay Area – and our students weren’t leaving with the skills they needed to compete for the good jobs. Our response has been to add more required skills-based courses to allow students to build up their portfolios. When you are looking for a job, you need the degree to get you past HR, but you need a strong portfolio to get hired. We have moved all these specific career-focused art and design concentrations into our BFA degree. It’s not an honors degree, but it is the degree that will give you the portfolio you need to get a good job or get into graduate school.
    This is true of every concentration except Art History & Visual Studies. In the field of Art History, you don’t need a portfolio, so the BA is the top degree. With a BA and good grades in Art History you can get into graduate school or find a job at a museum, but for Art and Design Practice, you want to go for the BFA.
  3. Third is that for our students, sometimes tough reality gets in the way. Someone loses a job, gets badly sick, gets pregnant, and the student just can’t hold it all together. We don’t want students to drop out without any degree to show for all their work, so we have redesigned our BA degree to have two simple options, one in Studio Arts and one in Design, that are faster to graduate than either the BFA or our old quarter-based BA. These don’t deliver the heavy hitting portfolio or the cutting-edge skillset, but they do mean that if you do need to get out soon, there is still a path that lets you say “I graduated from college. I got my BA.”

Nothing special. Just take the quarter classes you need to graduate with your chosen quarter option. Make sure you get signed off by an advisor in January and you should be good to go.

First, look over the concentrations below and open the linked roadmaps for any you are interested in. Compare the Cal State East Bay classes you have taken with the requirements the concentrations you might want. If you transferred in with Community College credits in art or design, these may be able to count differently.

Then you need to decide whether to choose to go with one of the new Semester concentrations or stick with one of the old Quarter ones.

If you decide to go with a new concentration, look at the linked degree roadmaps below and work out which course you have already taken equivalents for and which you will need to take. If you are not sure, make an appointment with an advisor to construct an Individualized Advising Plan (IAP). You will need to file a change of major form to the new concentration. In theory, all the correct courses will populate into your Degree Audit Report at once the Change of Major is processed.

If you decide to stay with one of our quarter options (they were called options in quarters and they are called concentrations in semesters), look at our Quarter Option Roadmap with Semester Equivalents for Multimedia or Graphic Design students, or at this list of Quarter Semester course equivalencies and map out what you think you will need to take. Then make an appointment with an Advisor to check it over and construct an Individualized Advising Plan (IAP).

When you graduate from the Art Department you walk out with four things:

  • a title on your degree (like Photography, or Video & Animation);
  • a portfolio of your work;
  • a set of skills (like video compositing or throwing an elegant, thin-walled vase);
  • and a transcript.

So, useful questions are: Is there a new degree title (like Illustration) that I can only get in the semester catalog? Will my portfolio be better in the area I want to find a job if I chose the BFA? Will my skills be better with the BFA semester classes?

If you are going to graduate in December 2018, the odds are strong that staying with the quarter catalog is the smart thing to do. And if you are going to graduate in Spring 2020, going with the semester catalog is the right choice. In between, we recommend talking to an advisor.

Professional Bachelor’s Degrees in the Semester Catalog

The Art Department’s new concentrations are focused on preparing art and design students for a competitive job market by giving them more thorough instruction with more focus on portfolio development. This more professional degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts, rather than a Bachelor of Arts.  Increasingly employers (most recently Google) are only hiring designers and artists with BFA degrees rather than the more general BA degree. The only exception is the Art History & Visual Studies concentration, where a BA is recommended.

The 3D Art and Design concentration combines the fabrication skill sets of sculpture and industrial design with digital 3D modeling to enable students to create work at the growing overlap of design and fine arts. Increasingly sculptors need to use state of the art 3D printers and modeling software, and designers need to prototype their ideas in clay or welded steel. The emphasis is on carefully aligning form and concept through agile use of a variety of media and creating objects that speak clearly to their chosen audience, from the fine art gallery to the commercial production line.

The concentration in Art History and Visual Studies trains students in the critical and historical study of art and other visual media. Students in this concentration learn how to approach art objects and images with respect to the sociopolitical and cultural conditions of their making and reception. This fosters sensitivity for diverse viewpoints and promotes critical awareness of the ethical and aesthetic dimensions of how we see the world. Coursework introduces comparative studies of world cultures, critical investigations of old and new media technologies, and examination of the global impacts of contemporary visual cultures. Students are also encouraged to broaden the scope of their studies by locating cognate courses on visuality and visual practices outside the department. The concentration prepares graduates for a wide range of careers in the arts or for graduate work in art history, film and media studies, law, and education.

The Fine Arts Practice concentration is offered for students who wish to delve deeper into their art practice, develop their key concepts, and create a focused body of work to propel their career in the Arts to the next level. Through intensive hands-on studio courses, thought-provoking academics, and BFA critiques, faculty work with students to hone their skills, widen critical thinking, strengthen creative expression, and form a deeper understanding of their role as a cultural maker. Students can specialize in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, or hybrid approaches to artmaking which may incorporate multiple media and digital media. Bridging traditional and contemporary art practices, the program prepares students with skills to produce and sustain a culturally responsive practice that embraces the emerging issues and technologies that impact society and cultural production. This degree is chosen by students who intend to become professional working artists, work in art related fields, or apply for graduate work.

In the Graphic Design Concentration students build a professional body of knowledge and the skills required for career entry as a visual designer. Projects enable students to acquire refined visual skills in research, aesthetics awareness, humanistic sensibilities, design composition and organization of information. Multifaceted design briefs require individual and collaborative teamwork, greater sophistication of design thinking, and skill sets for working within a broad application of traditional and new media formats. Students develop the ability to respond to more complex communication challenges with creative conceptual solutions and with enhanced technical expertise. 

The concentration in Illustration prepares students for careers focused in various areas of this professional field.  Illustration occupies an artistic space between creativity and communication and is influenced by society, culture and technology. Our program offers courses to enhance knowledge, skill, creative and professional development. Illustration has areas of specialty including publishing, games, film, concept art, graphic novels, cartoons, children’s books, and editorial. Our program begins with practiced emphasis on core and pictorial work then goes on to familiarize the student in ideas and tools specific to the Illustration field, including career and portfolio preparation. The program covers traditional and digital tools to give students a foundation with which to branch out into their own creative endeavors.

Interaction Design focuses on the creation of meaningful experiences expressed as interactive applications and objects. Game Design applies this to entertainment, both experimental and commercial. Students analyze interactivity in art, design, and everyday life, acquire skills and develop prototypes, and work in collaborative teams to produce successful games and creatively solve real world problems.

The Photography Concentration provides well-grounded studies in the aesthetic and practical areas of contemporary camera-generated imagery with an emphasis on digital technologies. Students take a wide range of classes, including fine art, studio lighting, and advanced digital imaging which culminate in capstone classes designed to prepare the students for a career in photography or to apply to graduate school. Our goal is to provide students with the visual, technical, conceptual, and professional vocabulary they need to succeed in their field.

The concentration in Transdisciplinary Arts prepares students to tackle complex real world problems that demand multiple ways of knowing. The program is designed with flexibility, to permit new pathways for learning between, across, and beyond traditional disciplines. Coursework is completed in two or more departments so students acquire a breadth of skills with which to creatively answer future design challenges. Students are also trained in visual arts research and the integration of theory and practice. They practice strategies for successful collaboration that will prepare them for careers as Art Directors, Medical Illustrators, Information Designers, Game Developers, Imagineers, Medical Animators, Science and Technical Illustrators, Executive Communications and Marketing Specialists, Creative Technologist or continue their education to become Art Teachers and Professors or Art Therapists.

Based on a broad range of critical, conceptual, and production courses in the Video and Animation Concentration, students create artworks that gives expression to their ideas while engaging their audiences whether it is on monitors, theater screens, hand-held devices, or installations.  Students’ interests and films range from traditional to experimental, fictional to factual, and simply entertaining to highly conceptual. Upon graduation, students are prepared for further study in a graduate program or for entry into the work force.

Fallback Bachelor’s Degrees in the Semester Catalog

These don’t deliver the professional portfolio or the career-focused skills of the Professional Degrees above, but provide alternatives for students who need to get a degree faster and will work on their portfolio and job skills later.

The Studio Arts concentration in the Bachelor of Art degree program is offered for students who want to develop a rigorous foundation in fine art practice. With an emphasis on 2D, 3D and emergent art media, students will gain a working knowledge of drawing, painting, digital media and photography. Following 2-3 semesters of study, faculty advisors work with students to design a coherent course of study, with focus in at least one area. Through hands-on studio courses, as well as art historical research, students will conclude their studies with a solo art exhibit and demonstrate a critical understanding of historical and contemporary art practice. (Intermediate and upper division courses in hands-on media are available to students pursing either the BA or the BFA degrees.)

The Design Concentration introduces students to processes of design thinking, critical discussion and fundamentals of visual communication. Design projects balance learning of conceptual development with technique and design tools. Students address communication problems with concept-focused solutions that integrate images, text and graphics through hands-on and digital production skills.

Students who plan on graduating with the Quarter Catalog

For students studying Graphic Design or Multimedia who plan on graduating using the Quarter Catalog, especially those graduating in December 2018 or June 2019, this version of the Quarter Roadmap showing Semester Equivalent courses should be helpful.

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