Southwest offers a B.S. in Art Education, a B.A.. with emphasis in Studio Art, and a B.A. with emphasis in Graphic Design. Minors in both art and graphic design may be combined with other majors. Elementary education majors may also take a concentration in art by completing the art minor. Students take a set of courses which will satisfy core requirements in all the majors and minors in art. Remaining courses are selected by the student as a concentration in the studio area(s) that are of the most interest to them and most closely related to their anticipated career. Because of the variety of art courses offered, students receive an excellent breadth of experience in the arts and are well-prepared for a variety of teaching opportunities in the classroom. Students may apply most of the hours completed in one discipline to the next if they decide to switch majors or concentrations within the Art Program. Art education students may also take graphic design courses as their studio concentration so that they can teach art through the exciting medium of digital applications.

See the Program Goals and Student Learning Outcomes for Art.


The Art Program has several goals:

  1. To enrich the educational experience of all students by providing them the opportunity to view, discuss and produce works of art.
  2. Provide quality baccalaureate degrees in art and art education.
  3. To provide a vocational orientation to art through preparation in such areas as art education and graphic design.

Where You Belong!

Colored Pencils


SMSU has well-equipped art studios that are managed by professors:

  • Graphic Design and digital photography in lab areas.
  • 2-D art in drawing, painting, and printmaking labs.
  • 3-D art in a newly renovated and equipped industrial sculpture, ceramics and jewelry/metalsmithing lab, indoor and outdoor facilities.
  • Art Education and fibers lab area
    * Students may obtain studio passes for extended access to specified labs outside of class time.

You need the right tools to do your job, and we provide labs with computers, software, scanners, and printers for your use. You will have access to e-mail and the Internet via Southwest’s Macintosh and IBM labs. The on-line computer system is available for library research.


SMSU galleries feature international artists, regional artists, local artists, and SMSU student exhibitions. Campus exhibition venues include the William Whipple Art Gallery in the SMSU library, the Fine Arts 221 Gallery, and the Student Center Gallery. In addition, much art is displayed in the hallways throughout campus.

Graphic Design

The Graphic Design Program at Southwest Minnesota State is specifically aimed at the strategic side of the art world. We provide a balanced approach to art. With an emphasis in Graphic Design you will take the traditional studio arts (painting, drawing, and sculpture), but you will also learn how to prepare art for a printing press or for the World Wide Web. Our faculty has experience in the real world of graphic design, and can help you prepare a portfolio so you can begin a career in graphic design. You will learn about the theory and practice of graphic communication, as well as develop creative approaches to professional practice. SMSU also offers a graphic design minor for students as well.

Color Swatches

Studio Arts

The Studio Art major provides students with the opportunity to study and experiment in the visual arts. Professors focus on developing the individual student’s creative interests and directions. Students work closely with professors in a tutorial approach with relatively small studio classes and individual discussion and attention. Professors’ studios are on campus so students can observe them working on their projects and meet with them when they have questions outside of class and lab. A group of core courses are offered every semester, and additional elective courses are offered on a rotational basis. Creative freedom is stressed in studio courses as well as personal exploration of ideas, concepts, materials, form, content, risk-taking, and experimentation. The studio courses are repeatable to encourage artistic evolution and development. SMSU also offers a studio art emphasis minor.

Art Education

The art education major combines the art major with education courses and student teaching experiences in art. This course of study provides art education graduates with the real experience of a creative artist, which is transferred to young students in the classroom.

The Art Program provides students with the opportunity to study and experiment in the visual arts, while preparing for a professional career teaching art at the elementary or K-12 level. Art faculty concentrate on developing the individual student’s creative interests and directions. Education faculty focus on developing the student’s ability to teach effectively and transfer their artistic abilities and experiences to their students.

Students work closely with professors in a tutorial approach to learning. Relatively small studio classes help provide individual discussion and attention. Professors’ studios are on campus so students observe them working on their projects and meet with them when they have questions outside of class and lab.

“The professors didn’t just teach. They were artists themselves. Having such experienced instructors gives you a big head start in the business.”

Terrence Fogarty ‘82
Studio Art
Freelance Artist

Terrence Fogarty


University Gala Fine Arts Scholarships are available to art and graphic design students with artistic ability and good academic records. Students are evaluated for these through presentations required at the Sophomore and Junior reviews. If you meet our criteria, we will find a way to assist you when possible.


Students have the opportunity to work closely with professors as assistants in the studio classes and help with projects, activities and demonstrations.

The graphic design emphasis requires you to fulfill an internship at any site that creates corporate, industrial, government, educational, or private sector communications. There are jobs in advertising, television, multi-media, newspaper and magazine publishing, Internet publishing, CD-ROM publishing, commercial photography, illustration, entertainment or any industry that needs text, photos and art manipulation. Many designers do freelance work in addition to holding a job in design or another occupation.

Studio Art graduates pursue exhibition opportunities at galleries and other venues. Some students further their creative education by attending graduate school in the visual arts or by obtaining a teaching certification.

Art education graduates have an excellent placement record. They find careers in teaching, professional studio work and graphic design, as well as in art galleries, photography studios, and printing businesses. Some students earn an art major, then return to Southwest to obtain a teaching certification. Other students further their creative education by attending graduate school.


Art Program - Office

FA 207, Southwest Minnesota State University
1501 State Street
Marshall, MN 56258


The Academic Commons is a study center located in IL 224. Students are invited to study, meet friends, and seek assistance with coursework.

Our Mission is to create enhanced opportunities for learning by bringing an array of student academic support services together in a central, visible, and academically-identified location to facilitate seamless access to services for SMSU students and education resources for the wider community.


  • Complete Application
  • $20 Non-refundable Application Fee
  • Official High School Transcript(s)
  • ACT or SAT Test Scores

Schedule Your Visit Today!


  • Rank in the upper half of graduating class
  • or
  • Score a composite of 21 or above on the ACT or 990 on the SAT

Last Modified: 10/19/18 2:25 PM