Frequently Asked Questions

Why a liberal arts education instead of an art school?

The Liberal Arts offer a broad based education, exposing students to ideas and disciplines they may otherwise have bypassed. For an artist, exposure to scientific, philosophical, and spiritual discourse is vital to producing meaningful work. Within the art department, the faculty stress exposure to all art concentrations available. This makes for a well rounded student, able to see relationships within the various media, and encourages a period of receptiveness to different methods of working before deciding on an area of concentration.

What is the degree offered?

Houghton offers the BA (Bachelor of Arts) degree in Art, including a 49-hour major, a 37-hour major in art and another discipline (double-major), or an 18-hour minor. The college catalog contains complete descriptions of the degree requirements.

Is there an entry requirement or portfolio review?

No. Once you have passed the entrance requirement of the college, you may declare a major in any department. (Only the school of music has special requirements.) Frequently we will have students who take an art course solely as an elective, who then become art majors. After the first year of the foundational studio classes, the "sophomore review" process helps determine the capability of the student to continue in the major. The department does have a portfolio review requirement in place for awarding art scholarships. This is covered in detail in another brochure.

What is a "concentration?"

A concentration is an area of focus and specialization within the art major. These include painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, graphic design, sculpture, and printmaking.

Please give more detail on the Sophomore Review.

During the second semester of the art major's sophomore year, each student participates in a sophomore review. The professors in the department meet with the student, review work produced to date, and help the student decide on an area of concentration based on the strengths of his/her work. Occasionally a student elects to leave the department altogether to pursue other academic interests.

How is a student prepared for graduation?

Each student is encouraged, in the senior year, to exhibit a body of work in a special show at the college. This gives real-world experience in presentation, promotion, logistics, and documentation. The student finishes with comprehensive and coherent body of work that, while not being fully mature, does show signs of technical proficiency and conceptual complexity.

What about getting a job with a degree in Art?

The same problems beset many new graduates, whether they have degrees in Art, or English, History, or Mathematics. The primary focus of the art major is to engage in creative problem solving. Problem solving is a fundamental aspect of life, and that includes the job search. Art majors learn how to examine problems from a variety of angles, and to not settle for an ineffective method. Artists primarily are independent and self motivated, and success can depend a great deal on these qualities.

There are many other obvious factors that come into play as well, regardless of the degree. Is the applicant clean? Well-spoken? Responsible? Punctual? Energetic and engaged? Training in art can do much to build a sense of individual responsibility and self-confidence. Art majors have gone on to attend graduate school, teach, work in graphic design, film, or other media. Often students will take some time off, as the reality of life outside of school hits them, by doing some travelling, or mission work, to gain some real world insights.

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