Northern to offer BFA in studio art, digital media

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Starting in January, Northern State University will offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Media.

The degrees were approved by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, making Northern one of only two universities in the state accredited to offer these degrees.

The accreditation means Northern has faculty at the Ph.D. level in the area of art history and criticism, which not many schools have, said NSU Art Department Chair Sara Christensen Blair.

“It shows that at Northern, we have specialized teaching even in a small, six-person department,” she said. “It also keeps us competitive – getting a professional-level degree with a small-school feel.”

The movement for these new programs was a faculty-led initiative.

“We’re really excited,” said Christensen Blair, professor of art. “We also know it’s going to be successful because it’s so much a part of our existing core.”

Professional-Level Degree

While Northern’s current B.A. in Art is a liberal arts degree offering more general knowledge, Christensen Blair said the BFA is a professional-level degree and will offer more specialization in the upper-level courses.

The curriculum amongst the B.A., B.S.Ed., and BFA is similar until the third year, with the main difference being that BFA students are required to take more upper-level studio courses and more art history. There’s more art criticism and theory – more preparation for graduate school.

The BFA will offer more rigor and give students a competitive edge in areas such as the crossover of art and curatorial studies, preparing them for gallery work, public service, or community art.

New courses will include Undergraduate Research Projects, a senior-level, seminar-style course involving independent learning groups coming together to critique, collaborate and learn from one another, led by faculty.

Information Sessions Planned

Students interested in learning more about these new programs can attend upcoming information sessions:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 28: 3-4 p.m., Dacotah Hall 205
  • Tuesday, Dec. 4: 5-6 p.m., Dacotah Hall 205

For more information, contact Christensen Blair at 605-626-2514 or

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions