Bachelor of Arts in Visual Studies

Explore the role of visual culture today with the Bachelor of Arts in Visual Studies from the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University. Visual Studies is a contemporary interdisciplinary field of inquiry grounded in analyzing the methods and effects of visuality, vision, and visual culture. This 122-credit undergraduate degree program trains students to understand and articulate the latter through both studio practice (making) and critical thinking (academic research and writing).  

Students interrogate historical and contemporary understandings of the power of the image and its significance for the global community alongside Tyler’s faculty of award-winning multidisciplinary artists, art historians and designers as well as the broader Temple faculty. 

They create and examine visual culture in each year of study through four major themes. These themes are identities, narratives, sites and global citizenship and act as the lenses through which students learn. 

Your intellectual, creative and practical skills will mature in relationship to guiding questions such as the following.  

  • What kind of image is most powerful in the 21st century? 
  • How do we visually communicate what we value? 
  • How can visual culture foster social justice? 
  • How can we be creative in ways that improve our own lives and the lives of others? 

Visual Studies majors get the best of both worlds by earning half of their credits in Tyler’s studio art classes and half exploring a broad menu of courses in anthropology, art history, film and media studies, psychology, and more. The program’s culminating event is a semesterlong senior thesis research project (written or studio-based) that you’ll present in a public exhibition.  

The Visual Studies bachelor’s program teaches students how to be strong researchers and writers with an interdisciplinary perspective while supporting their growth as artists. The program is ideal for students who want to capitalize on the resources of both an excellent, intimate art school and a large research university to develop skills as makers and thinkers. Philadelphia’s vibrant arts scene serves as an extension of the classroom, where students can absorb the latest practices and innovations.


All undergraduate first-year students at Tyler begin with a yearlong immersion in our foundations program. Foundations is a multidisciplinary curriculum through which students gain knowledge in essential concepts and theories; established principles and practices; and time-honored skills and techniques in the study of art, design and the built environment. Students develop a global understanding of artistic traditions and the role of art and design in society before choosing a major in their second year at Tyler.

In the art programs, including graphic and interactive design, students begin with focused study of drawing, 2D design and 3D design. They explore diverse materials, processes and perspectives—from the traditional and low-tech to the innovative and experimental. This bachelor's degree program is highly structured and intensive, and imparts fundamental studio practices for all visual art. Through the foundations coursework, students gain an academic grounding in the forms, techniques, styles, subjects and symbolism represented in art, architecture and design. Faculty members from across the art and design areas teach the foundations courses, assuring a broad range of experience and diverse viewpoints.

Learn more about the foundations program at Tyler.

Classes & Curriculum  

Take foundational courses in drawing, 2D and 3D art principles as well as digital imaging. Explore the history of art from primordial to medieval times through the 21st century.  

Required studio courses include thematic seminars on personal identities, construction of narratives, site and place in art-making, and the components of global citizenship. Academic requirements include foreign language study such as French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Latin, Arabic or Ancient Greek. Students can complete nearly half of their coursework with non-studio electives. 

Examples of coursework for the Visual Studies Major program include the following classes. 

  • Analytical Reading and Writing 
  • Arts of the World I: Prehistoric to 1300 
  • Intellectual Heritage II: The Common Good 
  • Introduction to Visual Studies: History, Theory, Practice 
  • Visual Studies Seminar: Identities  

Learn more about the coursework for the Visual Studies Major.

Minor in Art History 

Students in the Visual Studies Major have the opportunity to complement their coursework toward earning kindergarten through grade 12 art teaching certification in Pennsylvania and becoming an artist educator with courses in the history or art. 

For more information about the Art History Minor at Tyler, contact Erin Pauwels, art history assistant professor and undergraduate advisor.
Phone: 215-777-9737  ​

Related Graduate Degrees  

A masked Tyler student holds a phone as they stand in front of their work in a gallery.
Photo credit: Tyler School of Art and Architecture

Tuition & Fees

In keeping with Temple’s commitment to access and affordability, this Bachelor of Arts offers a competitive level of tuition with multiple opportunities for financial support.

Tuition rates are set annually by the university and are affected by multiple factors, including program degree level (undergraduate or graduate), course load (full- or part-time), in-state or out-of-state residency, and more. These tuition costs apply to the 2023–2024 academic year.

Pennsylvania resident: $17,976.00 per credit
Out-of-state: $32,376.00 per credit

Learn more about our tuition and fees.


Additional Program Information