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Virginia Commonwealth University

School of the Arts

United States Full Member Institution

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Mission Statement

Virginia Commonwealth University and its academic health sciences center serve as one national urban public research institution dedicated to the success and well-being of our students, patients, faculty, staff and community through:

  • Real-world learning that furthers civic engagement, inquiry, discovery and innovation
  • Research that expands the boundaries of new knowledge and creative expression and promotes translational applications to improve the quality of human life
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations and community partnerships that advance innovation, enhance cultural and economic vitality, and solve society’s most complex challenges
  • Health sciences that preserve and restore health for all people, seek the cause and cure of diseases through groundbreaking research and educate those who serve humanity
  • Deeply engrained core values of diversity, inclusion and equity that provide a safe, trusting and supportive environment to explore, create, learn and serve

International Role

The School of the Arts actively participates in a broad range of international activities. Notably it was the first US program to open an international campus in Doha, Qatar in 1998. Now an international branch campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU Qatar offers accredited undergraduate and graduate design programs as well as painting & printmaking and art history programs for students from the region and around the world. VCU’s School of the Arts holds the Hamad bin Khalifa Endowed Chair in Islamic Art, held by noted scholar Dr. Hala Auji, funding art history seminars in Richmond and biennial international symposia in Richmond and, Doha of 2022). Research, teaching and study activities developed by faculty in the School of the Arts include summer design courses offered in Florence by faculty in fashion, graphic, and interior design and communication arts; art history faculty archival research in Venice to examine cultural exchange between the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks after the Conquest of Constantinople funded by a Samuel H. Kress Fellowship administered through the Renaissance Society of America; and art history faculty research in Berlin on the impact of pedagogy on art and music in twentieth century West Germany, funded in part by the Freie Universität, Berlin. Other international teaching and research collaborations include two recent projects funded by the Global Education Office at VCU: development of a cross-cultural online course and exchange experience between Art History at VCU and the University of Cordoba, and a teaching/learning exchange between the Music and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Kinetic Imaging recently established a relationship with K Arts in South Korea.

The VCU Global Education Office is dedicated to supporting the University in increasing the global impact of our research, teaching and service and in expanding our role on the world stage. Over the next decade, the Global Education Office will support the University’s efforts to increase the number of international students and scholars who succeed academically and are fully interwoven into the VCU experience; expand the global engagement of VCU students, faculty and staff in the classroom and beyond; and strengthen VCU’s impact on the global stage while building sustainable bridges linking Richmond to the world. The university offers exchange courses in Richmond for international students as well as international exchange opportunities for students enrolled at VCU.

National Role

VCU’s School of the Arts resides within a major research university in a city that recognizes the importance of the arts. A wide array of undergraduate professional programs as well as highly selective graduate arts and design programs are offered to a regional, national and international student body. US News & World Report ranks the School’s fine art and design graduate programs among the best in the nation, receiving top ranking among public university peer institutions. Faculty, students and alumni have achieved national and international recognition. The School’s location within a Carnegie Research University with recognized programs in medicine, engineering, business, education and the social sciences provides opportunities for students and faculty to connect to the broader university. A founding partner for VCU’s da Vinci Center for Innovation, the School interacts with corporate and government entities through sponsored projects and course offerings, including entities with headquarters in Richmond. Corporate sponsorship within the School of the Arts includes exhibition grants from Altria and project grants from Cotton, Inc. Community engagement is an integral aspect of education and research for many programs. For example, faculty in interior, graphic and fashion design jointly established the Middle of Broad (mOb) design studio near campus to serve non-profit organizations in the city of Richmond, funded by a VCU Community Engagement grant and the School of the Arts. The Fashion department provides annual fashion shows featuring work of graduating seniors in large scale venues such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for a sold out audience from the community, business and educational sectors. The School provides significant cultural benefits for the city and region in the visual and performing arts. The "Anderson" offers curated/juried art and design exhibitions and departments of music, dance and theatre offer numerous public performances and events for students, and the broader community. The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University presents the art of our time and provides an open forum for dialogue and collaboration across the region and throughout the world. Opened on April 21, 2018, the ICA is a non-collecting institution that showcases an ever-changing slate of exhibitions, performances, films, and special programs that translate our world into every medium.

Virginia Commonwealth University takes pride in being part of a city that understands the importance of its creative community and fosters and supports the arts.

Main Focus

The School of the Arts offers 25 degree programs and comprises more than 3,000 students. With the inclusion of our campus in Qatar come an additional four programs. It all began as one night class taught by Theresa Pollak in the fall of 1928.

The school strives to be a stimulating community of students and teachers who cross the boundaries of conventional art and design disciplines, apply aesthetic and intellectual vision to the expression of complex ideas, value artistic tradition and experimentation in the search for creative solutions, connect international experience with professional education, integrate technical skills with theoretical understanding and care about the impact of their work on people.

It is widely recognized in the US for a number of top-ranked MFA Fine Art and Design programs and all programs in the School are recognized for the excellence of faculty, students and alumni. Faculty and alumni have received multiple Guggenheim Fellowships, MacArthur “Genius” Awards, US Artist award, Academy Awards, Joan Mitchell Awards in the Visual Arts, Pollock-Krasner Awards, a Ziegfeld award, Emmys, Clios and many others. Faculty and alumni have published or been reviewed in Architectural Digest, Art Forum, Fortune, Vogue, Communication Arts, Graphis, Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times, New Yorker, international media, and countless refereed journals. The work of VCUarts faculty and alumni has appeared in the Chicago International Film Festival, Whitney Biannual, Venice Biennale, New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Joffrey Ballet, Carnegie Hall, Sundance Film Festival, Disney Studios, and in museums including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim, Hirshhorn, Tokyo, MoMA, Whitney, Museum of Modern Art, Mass MOCA, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. The School's International campus in Qatar offers design and art degree programs to students from the region and around the world and close association with new museums and government entities. VCU is affiliated with numerous international partnership universities around the world (https://global.vcu.edu/outreach/partnerships/), and is a Carnegie level Research institution with a renowned Medical Campus and research record – https://research.vcu.edu/.

Faculties and Departments

School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, including the departments of Art Education, Art History, Communication Arts, Craft/Material Studies, Dance and Choreography, Fashion Design & Merchandising, Film (Cinema), Graphic Design, Interior Design, Kinetic Imaging, Music, Painting & Printmaking, Photography & Film, Sculpture and Extended Media, Theatre.

Bachelor Level Programs

All bachelor level degree programs listed below require 4 years of study except Film/Cinema – a 3 year + 1 semester program. Art Education, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Art History, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Communication Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Craft and Material Studies, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Dance and Choreography, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Fashion (design), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Fashion (merchandising), Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Film/Cinema, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Graphic Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Interior Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Kinetic Imaging, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Music, Bachelor of (B.M.) Music, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Painting and Printmaking, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Photography and Film, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Sculpture, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Theatre, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Theatre, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)

Master Level Programs

Master's level degrees are 1-2 years in duration; MFA and MAE degrees are 2 years in duration. Art Education, Master of (M.A.E.) Art History, Master of Arts (M.A.) Design, Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.): Interior environments; Visual communications Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.): Craft/Material Studies (Ceramics, Fibers, Furniture design, Glassworking, Jewelry/metalworking); Kinetic imaging; Painting; Photography & film; Printmaking; Sculpture and Extended Media; Theatre.

Research Activity and Main Areas

Faculty and students in the School of the Arts engage in creative and scholarly research supported by internal Dean's Grants, VCU grants, and external grants from government and corporate entities. In addition to services provided by VCU's Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, the School of the Arts Research Office offers support to faculty and students provided a highly qualified administrative team with national and international experience. It assists in project conceptualization, identifies and submits competitive funding proposals to private foundation and federal government sources, develops partnerships to expand opportunities between the School of the Arts, the ICA, the College of Engineering, the School of Business, School of Medicine, da Vinci Center, Office of Sponsored Programs, Tech Transfer, VCU Office of Development, and others and promotes connections with local, state, national, and international organizations. Research is conducted by faculty and students in many areas related to the visual and performing arts ranging from creative expression and practice-based research in studio and performing arts programs, to scholarly research in Art Education and Art History as well as a sizable number of cross-disciplinary research and development projects. A new research cluster in ARTS/MEDICINE is under development but due to the targeted funding for the arts and design at the national level, research topics are based on faculty interests, community engagement, social and environmental issues, and disciplinary expertise. For example, Theatre faculty received funding to develop an innovative training program for Standardized Patients used to educate and evaluate assessment and communication skills among medical residents; Art Education faculty collaobrated with School of Nursing clinical faculty on a funded project to enhance skills of observation and analysis through guideda experiences in art museums. Art History faculty received a Global Education Office grant to develop an international hybrid online course on cross-cultural influences in art and architecture in collaboration with the University of Cordoba. Faculty in Communication Arts collaborated with faculty in Physics to develop a computer-based color model and specification system with applications in education and industry. Faculty in Music mentored a team of undergraduate students on a funded project to develop a psychophysical model for the assessment of chronic muscle tension in trumpet players. Faculty in Kinetic Imaging collaborate with faculty in medicine while considering engagement with Virtual Reality Research, and with faculty in the College of Engineering in working on teaching robots how to dance. There are many other examples of research driven through the curriculum and entrepreneurial ventures that evolved from research projects supported.

Doctorate Level Programs

PhD concentration in Art Education

Subject Areas for Exchange Students

For incoming exchange Students who wish to attend Virginia Commonwealth University as international exchange students for one or two semesters must be nominated by one of our partnership or departmental exchanges or through ISEP. VCU Partnership institutions: University of Guadalajara University of the West of England University of São Paulo Curtin University of Technology Fudan University University of Córdoba St. Petersburg State University Beijing Foreign Studies University Departmental affiliates: VCU-Qatar (School of the Arts’ Design Department only) University of Westminster (School of the Arts Fashion Merchandising only) FHS Kufstein Tirol, Austria ISEP members: Students from all members are eligible to apply for ISEP-Direct programs worldwide. Students from US ISEP-Exchange members are eligible to apply for ISEP-Exchange programs at the international institutions below. Students from the international institutions listed below are eligible to apply for ISEP-Exchange programs in the US and ISEP-Direct programs worldwide. If your university is part of the International-to-International (I-to-I) Exchange network, you are eligible to apply for any other designated I-to-I program. The list of member institutions can be found at www.isep.org/students/Directory/members_outside_usa.asp.

Application Deadlines

ISEP has rolling admissions, but preference is given to students who apply by the priority application deadline. Priority deadline for ISEP Exchange programs is February 15; late applications may be accepted for some programs. ISEP Direct programs have rolling deadlines. http://www.global.vcu.edu/abroad/incoming/index.html

Teaching Languages


Semester Dates

Fall semester: mid-August through mid-December; Spring semester: mid-January through mid-May

Cost of Living Per Month (Studying and Living)

The cost of studying abroad varies depending on the program. There are programs that are cheaper than studying at VCU for a semester and programs that are financially comparable to studying on the VCU campus for a term. Federal financial aid, institutional scholarships and more can be used to pay for your study abroad program.


Bachelor: 3064
Master: 106
Doctorate: 14

Exchange Students

Incoming: 20
Outgoing: 60

Teaching Staff

Professors: 171
Part-time Teachers: 188

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