Art & Design

pdf icon Download PDF


All academic programs offered at the UM help students develop valuable transferable skills. The study of the visual arts encompasses a variety of expressions of human thoughts, interests, attitudes, emotions, and ideas.

Visual artists generally fall into two categories: designers or fine artists. However, UM School of Art and Design makes no such distinction, recognizing that all artists are designers and all designers are artists. The curriculum promotes the development of skills, concepts, and sensitivities essential to all arts. The successful student will achieve a high level of technical competence, a sensitivity to artistic style, a broad knowledge of the history of art and design, and an insight into its role in society.

Related fields include History of Art, Theatre, Music, Screen Arts and Cultures, Communication Studies, Museum Studies, Architecture, Computer Science, and Industrial Design.



Artistic and Aesthetic Skills

Seeing, drawing, and understanding form
Visualizing shapes, relationships and functions
Mastering use of color, space, and line
Thinking creatively
Giving abstract ideas visual form
Analyzing dynamic forms
Applying theories of composition, framing, and abstraction
Understanding current issues in art and design

Analytical and Communication Skills

Gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information
Viewing issues from multiple perspectives
Weighing options
Explaining work
Presenting and displaying work
Preparing a portfolio
Creating instructions
Communicating visually
Utilizing digital media
Marketing work

Technical Skills

Understanding qualities and limitations of each medium
Understanding industrial technology
Attaining a high level of craftsmanship
Working in a variety of media
Drawing /photographing work
Making models
Monitoring quality

Organizational / Interpersonal Skills

Solving problems
Collaborating with others
Networking among artists
Planning and installing exhibitions
Assessing client needs
Managing design and product
Understanding economic and legal issues



Employers seek out individuals who can demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills, initiative, and a strong work ethic. Student organizations and campus employment offer valuable opportunities to add to the skills you are developing in your classes. Most concentrations sponsor specific student groups like an undergraduate organization or an honor society. Other options include study abroad, off-campus employment, or volunteering in the community. Finally, a summer internship may be the best way of all to test out a career field and develop marketable skills.



Art and Design concentrators develop both general and technical skills applicable to a wide range of careers. For example, aesthetic skills may be equally useful whether working as an illustrator, art teacher, or industrial designer. Many concentrators go on to graduate or professional school. The list below is a sample of careers undertaken by Art and Design graduates.

Artistic and Aesthetic Skills

Independent artist /designer
Book designer
Jewelry designer
Textile designer

Analytical and Communication Skills

Art historian open book icon
Professor open book icon
K-12 teacher
Adult educator
Art reporter/writer/critic
Media specialist
Website designer/administrator
Exhibition designer
Art salesperson
Art therapist open book icon

Technical Skills

Medical illustrator open book icon
Police/courtroom artist
Scientific illustrator
Computer graphics specialist
Model maker
Materials consultant
Restorer/conservator open book icon
Industrial designer (products, packaging, furniture)
Graphic designer (signs, publications, corporate identity)
Medical equipment designer open book icon

Organizational Skills

Gallery director
Film/video producer
Arts administrator
Art program coordinator
Arts fundraiser
Artists’ agent
Market researcher
Advertising art director
Design researcher
Design manager
Museum curator/exhibition specialist open book icon
Museum publications director open book icon

open book icon = Further Study Required

For more career information, see O*Net at



The School of Art and Design offers 3 undergraduate degrees: a BFA in Art and Design, a BA in Art and Design, and a BFA in Interarts Performance (an interdisciplinary program with the Theater and Drama Department). While the BFA program is an intense, rigorous program in Art and Design, the BA degree allows students to utilize a wide range of University resources and has fewer studio course requirements.

Both degrees allow students to pursue a highly individualized program of study. Students may focus in any of the following areas:

  • graphic design
  • industrial design
  • web design
  • interactive design
  • user interface design
  • ceramics
  • metalworking and jewelry design
  • mixed media
  • painting and drawing
  • photography
  • printmaking
  • sculpture
  • weaving, fibers and textiles.

For specific program requirements, please visit the School’s website.

School of Art and Design
2038 Art and Architecture Building



To begin connecting to professionals in fields that interest you, create your own LinkedIn account:

To identify internships or job opportunities, visit Handshake:

For more information on career development in the arts, see

On campus jobs (work-study and non work-study jobs) are listed at:

Maize Pages list hundreds of organizations for students to get involved in:

The Career Center
3200 Student Activities Building

The Career Guide series was developed by the University of Michigan Career Center, Division of Student Affairs, in cooperation with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. ©2011 Regents of the University of Michigan