Advising for Prospective East Bay Students

In Fall 2018, Cal State East Bay converted from a quarter catalog to semester catalog. The Art department made big changes to our programs at that time. This page describes our current programs for incoming First year and Transfer students. 


Welcome prospective Art major!


We offer 11 concentrations, including both professional and general study in art and design fields:

Eight Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree concentrations train art and design students with significant depth of professional skills needed for a competitive job market or for graduate study, with a focus on portfolio development:

  • BFA 3D Art & Design
  • BFA Fine Arts Practice
  • BFA Graphic Design
  • BFA Illustration
  • BFA Interaction and Game Design
  • BFA Photography
  • BFA Transdisciplinary Arts
  • BFA Video Animation

Two Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree concentrations provide solid liberal arts breadth of study to prepare students for a wide range of career options in the arts, education, business, media, and beyond:

  • BA Art & Design
  • BA Art History and Visual Studies

The details of each concentration are listed on the linked Degree Roadmaps below.

Cal State East Bay is a great place to be an Art major because:

  • We have several computer lab classrooms as well as a fully functional Maker Space.
  • We have painting and drawing studios available to students after hours.
  • We have a beautiful, 2000 square foot University Art Gallery that shows student work annually and two student galleries that highlight individual student work throughout the year.
  • Faculty have professional practices in their fields.
  • Tuition and fees are relatively low, compared to similar programs in the region.
  • Our diverse campus community means that you encounter a rich variety of perspectives to enhance your understanding of the role of creative work in twenty-first century regional and world cultures.
Look over the concentrations below and open the linked roadmap and career prospectus for any you are interested in. If you want, look up descriptions of required courses in the Cal State East Bay catalog. If you are not sure which degree, major or Concentration will be the best fit, make an appointment with an advisor to discuss it.

Recent alumni and employers tell us that hiring standards have increased in fine arts and design fields. Our new BFA programs require more depth of study in advanced skill-based courses, allowing students to build up the portfolios they will need to get hired in these fields. The BFA degree is also an asset when applying for graduate study in Art or Design fields.

Our BA programs have slightly fewer and more flexible course requirements, as they offer greater breadth of study across multiple areas of art, design, and art history. The BA in Art History & Visual Studies is good preparation for graduate study in Art History.

Every graduate from the Art department will walk out with four things:

  • a set of skills (like video compositing, throwing elegant, thin-walled vases, or writing insightful analyses of contemporary art);
  • a degree title (like Photography BFA, Video & Animation BFA, or Art & Design BA);
  • a portfolio of work in the concentration;
  • and a transcript of the coursework completed.

Both BA and BFA programs will prepare students with skills in their area of concentration. However, the students in BFA programs will have more advanced study and skill development in their concentration, leading to a more developed and focused portfolio.

When you apply on the Cal State Apply website (, you will be asked to choose a degree and concentration. If you are applying as a first year student, know that all Art concentrations begin with Foundation classes so you will be able to sample course offerings before locking into a concentration. If you are applying as a transfer student, evaluate how your the degree program requirements and outcomes relate to your career goals; consider contacting an advisor/mentor at your current college or in our department to discuss your plans.

When you apply on the Cal State Apply website (, provide the details of your community college transcript; for most regional community colleges, your coursework will be automatically converted to equivalent courses for your chosen Cal State East Bay Bachelor’s degree program (courses that don’t transfer automatically may still be equivalent; please be patient while they are verified).

Professional Bachelor of Fine Arts Degrees

The Art department’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) concentrations are focused on preparing art and design students for a competitive job market by giving them significant depth of instruction in their concentration, with more focus on portfolio development. Increasingly employers (including Google) are only hiring designers and artists with BFA degrees, rather than the liberal arts focused BA degree.

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 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.

Bachelor of Arts Degrees

The BA degree provides solid liberal arts breadth of study for students who may use their undergraduate work to prepare for careers in a variety of fields, including education, arts administration, and business. Our BA programs require fewer courses and so may be completed more quickly than the BFA degree, or can be taken alongside other majors and/or minors.

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 Art & Design Concentration introduces students to processes of design thinking, critical discussion and fundamentals of visual communication. With an emphasis on 2D, 3D and emergent art media, students will gain a working knowledge of drawing, painting, digital media, design 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 focused senior project and demonstrate a critical understanding of historical and contemporary art practice.