Skip to main content


We are a community of professionals and students committed to excellence in visual art, design and scholarship. We cultivate artistic and scholarly work that engages in innovative problem solving and critical thinking. Rigor, skill, inquiry, and innovation stand at the core of our values.

We support and embrace the mission and goals of the Caine College of the Arts by

Recruiting, supporting and graduating exceptional students;

Embracing diversity in all its forms;

Attracting and retaining an outstanding faculty;

Providing high quality arts education and experiences;

Serving, enriching and engaging the community.

In concert with the mission of Utah State University, we also are also dedicated to

Enhancing the University’s reputation for learning, discovery and engagement;

Infusing new energy into graduate programs;

Nurturing and promoting a culture of international engagement;

Communicating our success to the world;

Supporting the University’s central proposition that academics come first.

We evaluate the effectiveness of our undergraduate programs in several ways:

A. Ongoing Accreditation by National Organizations

The Department’s curriculum is designed with an awareness of the requirements for accreditation by several national accreditation organizations and other professional organizations.

These include:

The department was accredited for the first time by NASAD in 2015 and we are scheduled for our next site visit and evaluation in 2021. We also received CIDA re-accreditation in 2015 and evaluators will revisit the department in 2021 when we seek re-accreditation. The department is engaged in ongoing assessment of our programs in order to maintain our accreditation. Department faculty also participate in national societies and organizations and through their activities assess how well the department is meeting its goals in terms of student learning

B. Curriculum Committee

The Department has established a Curriculum Committee which meets monthly and as needed. This committee consists of faculty members from every emphasis area in the Department and is responsible for overseeing and approving every curricular change before it goes on to college and university committees. A member of the committee also serves on the College Curriculum Committee and is thus aware of curricular changes across the college that may impact our programs. The Department Head serves on the University Gen Ed committee and is thus aware of an involved with curricular decisions made at the University level.

C. Departmental Ongoing Assessment

In additional to regular coursework that is designed to assess student learning, the department assesses learning outcomes regularly through a series of reviews that students must pass in order to continue on in their degree programs.

D. Foundations Courses and BS Review

The Department recently evaluated and revised its foundation program and review process. All students who are admitted to USU as undeclared-art (UND-ART) undeclared art education (UND-ART ED), or undeclared-interior design (UND-ID) must take a series of courses during their first year that we call “Foundations.” They must earn a minimum 2.75 GPA in all the courses shown below:

Course Title                       University
Offered   Credits
ART 1020 Drawing 1 BCA Fall 3
ART 1120 Two-Dimensional Design   Fall/Spring 3
ART 1130 Three-Dimensional Design   Fall/Spring 3
ARTH 2710 Survey of Western Art I BHU Fall 3
ARTH 2720 Survey of Western Art II BHU Spring 3

E. BS Review for all students other than Interior Design

Students who wish to be admitted to the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree as an art major must participate in a rigorous review of their foundations course work in early March of their first year in the program. Acceptance into the BS degree does not guarantee acceptance into the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) degree track in an emphasis area. Each emphasis area conducts its own BFA reviews annually, and in general, candidates must already have been admitted to the BS program. Notification of acceptance or non-acceptance will take place before the beginning of priority enrollment (April 1).

BS Review portfolios and application materials include

Portfolios will include:

  • Three examples of specified assignments from each foundations class (9 total): ART 1020, 1120, and 1130;
  • Three additional examples of artwork (this can be work done for a class or independently);
  • An unofficial transcript with first semester and mid-term grades for the second semester showing that students are on track to earn a minimum 2.75 GPA;
  • A brief (150-300 word) statement about any one of the three elective examples of artwork included in the portfolio;
  • A non-binding declaration of no more than two emphasis areas in which students hope to pursue future study.

Criteria for Evaluation:

Faculty from across the department review completed portfolios and make recommendations for admission or non-admission based on how well students demonstrate:

  • Technical ability and understanding of principles of art and design (portfolio)
  • A strong work ethic and active commitment to learning (grades)
  • A clear sense of direction and purpose (written statement and declared emphasis area)

Admission to BS Degree:

Students who pass the review will be admitted into the Bachelor of Science in Art (BS-Art) degree and will be able to enroll in ART courses for the following fall semester. Students admitted to the BS are encouraged to immediately begin working toward admission to the BFA program in the emphasis area of their choice. Students pursuing a BS degree have second-tier registration for ART classes, especially for advanced courses, and need to demonstrate ongoing progress toward their degree. Acceptance into the BS degree does not guarantee acceptance into the BFA degree in the emphasis area indicated on the application. BFA admission requires a separate review process.

F. Interior Design First Year Review

In addition to taking all the foundations classes listed above, all first-year students considering the Interior Design Program must enroll in ID 1790 and participate in the First-Year Review spring semester of your first year. The review assesses basic skills, creativity, and will consist of portfolio work from foundation courses as well as the completion of an additional project. The Interior Design faculty has sole responsibility for selecting students for admission to the Bachelors of Interior Design (BID) degree. Only students who successfully pass the first year review will be allowed to register for second-year courses.

G. BID Sophomore Review

Acceptance into second-year courses does not guarantee acceptance into the third-year courses. Second-year ID students are required to submit a portfolio for review by the ID faculty prior to advancing into third-year courses. The portfolio includes second-year studio work and occurs during spring semester of your second year. Students who do not pass the BID or second-year review cannot enroll in ID classes. If a student is not admitted into BID degree, he or she may choose to declare a minor in Art; successful completion of all five foundation courses and ID 1790 will give a student sufficient credit to do so.

H. BFA Review

The Bachelor of Fine Arts is considered a higher-level credential in art and design. Each emphasis area has its own requirements for entry into the BFA program. Rising second-year students are encouraged to work with the College advising staff and register for core courses in accordance with the requirements of their intended BFA program. Students may apply for entry to the BFA in no more than two emphasis areas. A student who passes the BFA review in two areas may emphasize in both simultaneously. Students may only submit a portfolio for admission to the BFA two times.

I. Capstone Courses and Activities

Capstone courses are specific to each emphasis area. Capstone courses for Art & Design degrees are as follows:

  • ID 4770 Senior Exhibit
  • ART 4450 Senior Capstone (for Graphic Design)
  • ART 4910 Senior BFA Exhibition
  • ARTH 4900 Senior Capstone Research Seminar in Art History
  • ARTH 4910 Senior Thesis in Art History and Visual Studies

Each of these courses culminates in a significant research project or a public event (eg., a solo or group exhibition) that allows students to demonstrate their professional skills and abilities while allowing the faculty to assess their accomplishments and preparation for graduation.

Students need a faculty advisor’s signature in order to register for capstone courses and they are only allowed to take the courses if their advisor believes that they are sufficiently prepared.

Students in capstone courses work closely with faculty members and participate in group activities that include developing a professional portfolio, writing resumes, and producing documents like artist’s statements. Faculty convey information about student achievement from these courses to the Department Head and to the Art & Design Curriculum Committee.

J. Post Graduate Surveys

Students are surveyed regularly after they graduate and the results are reviewed by the Department Head and brought to the attention of the faculty at the annual College retreat. Several surveys are conducted regularly:

  • Upon graduation application: The Office of Analysis, Assessment, and Accreditation conducts a Graduating Students Survey when students apply for graduation. This survey assesses student satisfaction with their educational experience and campus facilities.
  • During the year after graduation: USU Career Services conducts surveys of graduates 3, 6, and 12 months post graduation. These surveys are designed to determine: 1.) the proportion of graduates employed or continuing their education, 2.) the average starting salaries graduates earn, and 3.) which employers are hiring our graduates.
  • Additionally, the Caine College of the Arts participates annually in the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP). This online survey, data management and institutional improvement system is designed to enhance the impact of arts-school education.

K. Contact with Employers

The Department Head and faculty members periodically conduct informal interviews with employers to determine how well our graduates are performing and meeting the needs of a range of employers. These interviews occur in the course of arranging internships, receiving feedback from our graduates, professional conferences, seminars, and a variety of other types of meetings. Reports on these interactions are regularly shared at monthly faculty meetings, annual faculty reviews, and the annual department retreat.

L. IDEA Course Evaluations

The courses that collectively comprise our degree programs are evaluated every semester using the IDEA instrument. The results from these evaluations are compiled by the Office of Analysis, Assessment, and Accreditation and made available to Department Heads who consult with individual faculty about results during mandatory annual reviews. While these evaluations are not program specific, the process and the results are used by the Department Head and faculty when evaluating, discussing, and modifying program curricula.

View the department assessment plan for the MFA program.

A. Mission

The Master of Fine Art degree is the terminal degree in the visual arts field. USU’s MFA degree is designed to provide a rigorous program of study that enables students to attain a high level of professional experience in art-making. Related courses in disciplines outside of art/design augment this intensive studio-based program.
The MFA program supports the Caine College of the Art’s primary mission by “cultivating artistic and academic excellence, by preparing our students to realize their full creative potential as artists and citizens, by increasing the visibility of the college and university, and by fostering professionalism and collegial relationships in all aspects of our operations. See full CCA Mission Statement.
The MFA program supports the mission of Utah State University “by fostering the principle that academics come first, by cultivating diversity of thought and culture, and by serving the public through learning, discovery, and engagement.” See the full USU Mission Statement.

B. Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment Measures assessmentgraphic

C. Assessment Timeline


D. Assessment Cycle

MFA in Art & Design
Data Collection: Spring Semester
Analysis and Interpretation: Following Fall Semester
Program Modifications: Subsequent Spring Semester
Dissemination: Following academic year
Note: Data collection for these assessments will begin in AY 16-17, we did not assess this data in prior years.

E. Measurement Tools

Rubrics used to measure the SLOs are under development by the faculty committee.
During the fall review and analysis cycle the Department Graduate Committee will review the data answering key questions such as: What does the data show us about each individual SLO, and what changes do we want to make, based on these observations?
Should there be observations that lead the faculty to consider revisions, the faculty would have the option to:
               *change the SLOs and ALC
               *change the data collected (assignments, etc.)
               *change the curriculum


The Department of Art & Design has established specific learning objectives for all first-year students enrolled in the foundation program. They are as follows:

  • Vocabulary: Uses vocabulary of the elements and principles of art and design in critique, class discussion,  written communication
  • Technical Proficiency: Employs materials and tools combined with a level of proficiency demanded by their concept.  The resulting work demonstrates a mastery of the techniques and processes required for the assignment.
  • Design and Composition: Demonstrates clear understanding of formal principles of art and design appropriate to medium and assignment.
  • Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving: Work engages with the terms of the assignment and examples shown in class through a synthesis of form, content, and concept, going beyond adaptation or reproduction.
  • Professionalism: Demonstrates a high level of engagement through asking questions, making contributions, and actively participating in class, critique, and extracurricular art and design activities. Remains focused and on-task while in studio, creating a work-centered environment.

Each additional level of coursework has specific learning objectives consistent with competencies expected for that level. They are as follows:

A. 2000 Level Course Competencies

  • Become familiar with major works, artists, schools, styles, and historical events and figures within a defined periods of art history and specific art disciplines
  • Use visual evidence to support ideas about are works in various media
  • Build understanding of historical and cultural contexts for the production of works by art.
  • Analyze relationships between formal elements (style, medium), and thematic or ideological context of works.
  • Compare and contrast works of art in order to elucidate the way they articulate meaning.
  • Write short analytical essays that emphasize the logical organization and development of ideas

B. 3000 and 4000 Level Course Competencies

  • Engage with theoretical and methodological questions in art, art history, and visual culture
  • Learn and practice discipline-specific research skills
  • Write between 10 and 15 pages of critical analysis on course related topics (over course of semester).
  • Read and analyze classic and contemporary scholarship in discipline specific areas
  • Investigate interdisciplinary approaches to art production, art history and visual culture including literary analysis of primary texts, application of cultural theory, and incorporation of other relevant disciplines
  • Demonstrate understanding of a variety of critical perspectives through written or oral presentation

C. 5000 Level Course Competencies

  • Study specific critical approaches to the visual arts in detail
  • Think about art as one part of a larger cultural discourse
  • Conduct art-historical and interdisciplinary research toward the end of writing a longer (10-30 page) analytical investigation that incorporates analysis of multiple critical perspectives

D. 6000 Level Course Competencies

  • Produce substantial work of original scholarly (MA) or creative (MFA) content related to course topic
  • Present original scholarly or creative work in a public forum (i.e. lecture, slide presentation, gallery talk)

Additional specific learning objectives are associated with each undergraduate course, minor/emphasis area, certificate, and degree program. These learning objectives are explicitly outlined in each course syllabus (individual syllabi can be accessed from the Art & Design course list) and are summarized for each degree program. The assessment of individual student achievement within individual degree programs is accomplished as described in the course syllabi.


MFA students in the Department of Art & Design are prepared to become independent master practitioners upon graduation. In order to accomplish this and assess their progress MFA candidates undergo annual reviews while enrolled in the program. They meet regularly with an advisory committee made up of department faculty and they are required to show their work, which is critiqued by the committee. They also participate in a graduate level class that is centered on Interdisciplinary Critique. They are expected to show their work regularly in this course and demonstrate consistent progress towards independent artistic achievement. Finally, all graduate students must show their work in a solo MFA exhibition the final semester they are enrolled in the program. They schedule a defense, which is held by their advisory committee in the exhibition space, and they are required to articulate the critical and methodological underpinnings of their MFA work.

During the BS, BID and BFA review processes, faculty come together to assess student portfolios. The discussions about student work center primarily on individual student achievement, but this also hinges on students getting what they need from their courses. This form of assessment directly informs the curriculum and our review processes going forward.

Our BS and BFA portfolio review rubrics can be viewed by clicking on the links below.

BS Rubric

BFA Rubric

Once students are in their BFA or BID programs we engage in ongoing assessment of their work in their individual courses as well through periodic reviews. The BFA exhibition screens their preparation for graduation because they cannot register for the class without faculty permission and they must exhibit their work in a public forum where it is critiqued and evaluated by the faculty. Faculty assessment of this work is factored into ongoing curricular development.

The post-graduate surveys are also used to assess how well our graduates are prepared for graduation and post-graduate employment.

A. Ongoing Accreditation by Professional Societies

Further review of achieving departmental outcomes is provided through the accreditation process through the accrediting organizations listed above.

B. Curriculum Review and Revision

The curriculum is reviewed annually and revised when, based on the data generated by our established assessment procedures, the department deems revision necessary.

The Department of Art & Design is committed to ongoing assessment of our programs, to gathering data, and to making decisions about improving student learning outcomes based on this data. The current assessment plan was initiated in 2015, data collection is in progress and more data and information about data-based decisions will be forthcoming.

2015 assessment