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Undergraduate | In-Person

Art Education, BFA

If you see yourself pursuing a career as an art teacher, our Art Education program offers a wide range of options to prepare you for any challenge.

Why Major in Art Education? 

A drawing made by a young student surrounded by art suppliesThe Watkins College of Art Art Education (B.F.A.) program offers you a variety of preparation options, training pre-service teachers for a wide range of teaching possibilities. We recognize that art teachers can teach in public, private and parochial elementary, middle and high schools, but they can also teach and manage educational programs at art museums, children's museums, community arts centers, family support agencies, hospitals and numerous other organizations.

You will receive the same foundational coursework as students studying Studio Art, plus 90 hours in the teaching field prior to the start of your student teaching semester. This nested design promotes a significant balance of breadth and focus; a balance of art studio, art history, art criticism and aesthetics with educational theory and first-hand teaching experience.

Graduates of Belmont’s program can earn a Tennessee Kindergarten through Grade 12 Art Teaching Certification upon passing your licensure exams. Students interested in exploring other geographic locations after graduation should note that our teacher certification pathway is reciprocal with the certification pathways of 46 other states.

What You'll Learn 

  • Curriculum Planning & Lesson Development
  • Effective Classroom Organization & Management
  • Media Exploration & Modification for Classroom Use
  • Historical & Philosophical Foundations of Art Education
  • Identification of Museum & Community Resources
  • Assessment Strategies in the Arts
  • Contemporary Issues, Ideas & Technology Specific to Art Education

Career Possibilities

  • Elementary, Middle or High School Art Teacher (public or private)
  • Art Therapist
  • Fine Artist
  • Gallery/Museum Curator
  • Museum Education
  • Community Art Centers
  • Family Support Agencies
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Hospitals

Program Details


The art education major leads to a bachelor of fine arts. It requires 129-131 hours of coursework:

  • BELL core requirements: 38 hours
  • Professional Education requirements: 31-33 hours
  • Art Core requirements: 60 hours

See All Program Requirements

Courses You'll Take

  • ART 2005, Introduction to Art Education

Introduces students to the historical foundations and contemporary practice of art education. Special emphasis is given to the development of conceptual understandings and skills in aesthetics, art criticism, art history, visual culture and art production, including digital media and computer technologies. Students will investigate fundamental issues in curriculum, instruction and assessment and will explore career opportunities in both schools and community art settings through field observations. Introduction to Art Education serves as a prerequisite for further study in the Art Education major.

  • EDU 2100, Foundations of Education

This course provides an overview of the historical and sociological development of the American education systems and instructs candidates to use advocacy for children, families and the profession to uncover unconscious bias and to critically analyze the myths that exist about American education. (Approximately 20 hours of practicum required, which may be within the scheduled time of the class.)

  • EDU 2110, Educational Psychology

A study is made of the processes of education, including such topics as learning, motivation, human growth and development, individual differences, evaluation of achievement, personality and techniques of studying education. (Approximately 20 hours of practicum required, which may be within the scheduled time of the class.)

  • EDU 3800, Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners in the Classroom

Overview of exceptionalities; introduction to pedagogical, curricular and social considerations involved in educating diverse learners in the classroom. The course has a practicum component. (Approximately 20 hours of practicum required, which may be within the scheduled time of the class.)

  • ART 4200, Student Teaching Seminar

This seminar deals with practical issues associated with the student teaching experience, ART 4240, which is taken concurrently. Students will meet periodically to discuss classroom practice and procedures for seeking employment.

  • ART 4240, Student Teaching

This laboratory course gives the student-teacher experience in the school and an opportunity to observe and use appropriate classroom procedures under the direct supervision of an experienced teacher. This course requires a satisfactory presentation of a professional portfolio and includes a seminar that meets periodically during the full-time student teaching experience.

  • ART 3810, Elementary Art Education

Examines the elementary school culture and the practical application of child development theories to the development of thematic units of study. Students will explore age-appropriate materials and processes, develop and investigate instructional strategies for facilitating, learning and develop comprehensive lesson plans as a basis for micro-teaching in local elementary schools.

  • ART 3820, Secondary Art Education

Examines middle and high school cultures and the aesthetic development of the pre-adolescent and adolescent learner. Students will explore media and processes appropriate for the secondary student, and develop comprehensive, concept-driven lesson plans as a basis for micro-teaching in local secondary schools.

  • ART 4250, Contemporary Issues in Art Education

Examines significant and often complex issues in art education, including contemporary curriculum theories, assessment methodologies, art dialogue and inquiry strategies, and approaches to art education in community settings. Research and theory supporting these topics will be applied to actual classroom practice.

Art Core

  • ART 1000, Intro to Visual Interpretation

An introductory study of Art and Design (open to Art majors only) emphasizing the analysis and interpretation of images drawn from various global and historical contexts. Conceptual and formal links between the visual arts and the cultural frameworks through which they are produced, viewed and critiqued are stressed. This is a required foundation course for all first-year art majors. Students will also be introduced to the ePortfolio concept that will serve as a unifying foundational requirement through all ART/ARC courses to foster opportunities for self-critique and the development of reflective practices that bring coherence to synthesize and integrate learning inside and outside of the classroom.

  • ART 1010, Creative Visualization

This course serves as a studio-based investigation of visual creativity and is based on core concepts introduced in ART 1000. The course experiences will focus on the active exploration, analysis and practice of the multiple stages of other creative process, which includes the use of formal procedures, experimentation and accidental discovery. The course topics will examine the root sources and processes of inspiration, while the course projects will cultivate the use of borrowing, synthesizing and remixing of visual forms. Students will actively learn to observe, reflect, brainstorm and self-critique while engaging in visual expression, and be able to demonstrate this knowledge and skill required of all creative visual practitioners.

  • ART 1020, 3-D Design

An introduction to the basic principles of 3-dimensional design, this course combines design theory with projects created by each student. Students will explore the basic components of 3-dimensional art, which includes subject, form and content. A variety of materials and techniques will be introduced. Projects and discussions centered around 3-dimensional design and creative ideas help foster an understanding of basic 3-dimensional concepts and serve as a foundation for sculpture, ceramics and design.

  • ART 1030, Drawing I

This course will introduce the basics of drawing practices and concepts through various materials that will be used to explore topics such as space, shape, proportion, scale, contour line, linear perspective, mark making and value. An emphasis is placed on the process of perception through hands-on assignments that focus on accurately creating the illusion of three-dimensional forms in space on a two-dimensional picture plane, most often from direct observation.

  • ART 1011, 2-D: Principles of Color

An introduction to subtractive color mixtures, using the 12-hue subtractive color wheel as a basis. Projects will include studying value, saturation, disharmony, color matching and emotional color.

  • ART 1400, Introduction to Digital Imaging

This introductory course in digital imaging will introduce students to the basic Macintosh hardware and operating system. In addition, the course is a survey of basic animation, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Project may incorporate a variety of mediums including print and motion media.

  • ART 1040, Figure Drawing I

The course practice will consist primarily of observing and drawing the human figure in a wide range of poses, lighting conditions and time frames, and learning to use a variety of media and techniques. Special emphasis will be on placing a figure within a composition and using correct anatomical proportions. Additional out-of-class drawings with figurative elements will be assigned in order to further develop perceptual sensitivities. Students completing the course should be able to draw the human figure using conté crayon, charcoal and graphite, as well as understand several historical approaches used to make successful figure drawings.

  • ART 1050, Painting I

An introduction to the techniques, materials and methods used in acrylic, oil, watercolor and mixed-media. Exercises include color wheels, color matching and brushwork techniques. Painting assignments include landscape, portrait, watercolor and mixed-media. Composition, color mixing and problem-solving are stressed.

  • ART 1060, Introduction to Darkroom Photography

An introduction to the basics of black and white photography. This class emphasizes the basic parts and operation of an SLR (manual) camera, black-and-white film processing and darkroom use. Students will study the basics of composition, design, lighting, printing, processing and final print presentation. Students will learn to develop film, process prints and other printing controls such as dodging, burning, split filtering, experimental printing techniques and the use of filters. Concentration is on photography as a fine art medium. Students must have a 35mm manual control camera.

  • ART 1070, Clay I

This course provides an introduction to the design and creation of ceramic forms. Students will be introduced to a variety of clay bodies, basic construction methods—including pinch and coil pots, slab-building and wheel throwing—and the demonstration of different firing techniques. Additional focus will be made on the use of glazes, slips and engobes. Students will gain a visual awareness of the aesthetics of original ceramic pottery and/or sculpture and learn to identify and use the techniques, tools, processes and materials associated with them.

  • ART 1080, Sculpture I

This course emphasizes the development of artistic expression in sculptural form. Students will explore traditional and contemporary sculptural materials, techniques and concepts. Media explored include: woodworking, modeling, carving and fabrication. Students are encouraged to explore sculpture in more conceptual depth a medium they find to be of interest. Students will be exposed to historical and contemporary artists with an emphasis on sculptors.

  • ART 1090, Printmaking I

This course will explore the potential for fine art image-making within the field of printmaking through an introduction to the techniques and materials of monotype, relief, intaglio, lithography, serigraphy and other print media. An emphasis is placed on developing an understanding of the medium and its processes through critical judgment and print assignments that promote creativity and artistic growth. The historical and contemporary context of printmaking in the visual arts is examined and explained through lectures, readings, demonstrations and studio practices that reinforce the basics of this course.

  • ART 2800, World Art - Pre-Modern

This course offers an introductory overview of visual art, material objects and architecture representing cultures from around the world beginning in the era of Prehistory to ca. 1300. Visual analysis of forms, techniques, styles, subjects and symbolism is grounded in an understanding of related historical contexts and societal beliefs.

  • ART 2810, World Art - Early & Modern

This course explores visual art and architecture across many cultures and geographies from the early modern period to the present day. Visual analysis of forms, techniques, styles, subjects and symbolism frame global narratives and cross-cultural connections within a chronological overview.

  • ART 4740, Contemporary Art

A study of the visual arts from 1980 to the present. This course moves beyond the considerations of modernism to examine the revolutionary theories and practices in contemporary visual art and explores how these works reflect current social, political, psychological and technological realities.

  • ART 4900, Senior Exhibition / Portfolio

This course is for all graduating art majors. The objective is to develop the skills and impart the information necessary for being a working artist or designer, culminating in an exit review in the form of a formal portfolio review for Design Communications majors and a gallery exhibition for Studio and Art Education majors. Design Communications majors may also have a gallery exhibition. Students will develop a resume, business card and promotional material and gain first-hand experience working with printers and other professional resources. Students will focus and get advice on the formal development-planning, preparation, execution- of their portfolio or exhibit. In addition, career-oriented discussions in a seminar atmosphere will relate to concerns and issues in the professional art and design world including but not limited to graduate school, job searches, networking as well as visits to area galleries, studios and design firms. Upon the completion of the course, students are required to submit a slide portfolio and copies of their printed collateral (resume, business card and self-promotional piece) in addition to their exit portfolio/exhibits.

  • Study abroad (Semester, Maymester, or Summer)
  • Belmont USA program in alternate markets (N.Y.C., L.A., Washington D.C.)
  • Four campus gallery spaces to professionally exhibit your work
  • Opportunities to present at campus wide research symposiums and professional conferences
  • Kappa Pi, an international honorary art fraternity
  • Compete in local and international art/design competitions

The Watkins College of Art requires all students applying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree to submit a portfolio as a part of the admissions process. You must first be admitted to Belmont before hearing a decision from Watkins. 

Portfolios submitted before December 1 will be considered for the Watkins Merit Scholarships. Any applications submitted after December 1 will be considered for admission, but not for departmental scholarships.  

View all Portfolio Guidelines

Deadlines for the Portfolio and Belmont application: 
December 1 for scholarship consideration 
April 1 for incoming freshmen students 
June 1 for incoming transfer students 

What if I am accepted to Belmont but not the BFA program? 
Any applicants not accepted into a BFA program will have the option to be enrolled in a second major of their choice. We encourage applicants to select one of our Bachelor of Arts (BA) majors (See below). At the end of the student’s freshman year and completion of foundational courses, the student will be eligible to reapply to the BFA program through another portfolio review. 

The Watkins College of Art has significant scholarship opportunities for students. Last year, the college offered more than 55 scholarships to incoming students valued over $380,000.

Applicants who intend to pursue a degree in the Watkins College of Art and wish to be considered for the merit-based scholarship must submit an essay and portfolio of work in art and/or design. Students must have their Belmont application and portfolio submitted by December 1 to be eligible for the scholarships.

Please visit the Portfolio Guidelines page for more specific details.

Learn more.

Need-based scholarships will be determined from a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the official form that families use to apply for college financial assistance from the federal government.

Senior Art Education majors are eligible candidates for the program-specific Larkin Art Education Scholarship; the Larkin Award is determined via demonstrated excellence in the field and leadership in the art education community.

In addition to Belmont University's Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation, the Watkins College of Art is a fully accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The Art Education program is also accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The Art Education degree path leads to certification upon successful completion of degree and passing the required Art assessment exams. The State of Tennessee certification for Art Education has teacher license reciprocity with many states. Click here to view a list of member states of the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement who have signed reciprocity agreements with Tennessee.

Alumni Testimonials

Tara Woods

"As part of the Art Education program, I was able to see what Art Education looked like in the school, museum and non-profit settings. With this knowledge, I was able to seek out the opportunities that would best prepare me for the career I wanted."

Tara Woods, Class of 2020

“My time at Belmont really prepared me in every way for my current teaching job, from lesson planning to making deeper connections with students in meaningful ways. My studio classes really deepened my ability to teach a variety of artistic mediums to my classes, and I think Watkins is a space that encourages questioning and exploration in the pursuit of art in every form.”

Lauren Dingmann, Class of 2021

Student Testimonial

“There are so many experiences that have touched my heart during my time at Watkins – The environment here is super welcoming and comfortable, most of the students and staff know each other, which allows the community to grow stronger and closer, the art that connects us all in that building creates this enjoyable atmosphere that makes me feel like I belong and can feel comfortable in my skin.”

Ever Turcios, Class of 2025

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Watkins College of Art

Elise Haines
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