Bay Area Art Classes with Degree Program Information

Jul 31, 2019

There are more than 25 schools near the San Francisco Bay Area that have art degree programs. Read an overview of 10 of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Essential Information

Art degrees prepare students for a range of visually-oriented career paths, from print-making and photography to graphics and animation. There are many schools around the San Francisco Bay Area that offer art degrees at the associate and bachelor's levels. Degrees in art will typically consist of courses in ceramics, painting, drawing and art history, in addition to electives and general education requirements. Students spend considerable time honing their hands-on skills in studio art sessions, and many programs incorporate exhibition opportunities.

Below is a list and comparison table covering 10 of the largest Bay Area schools that offer art degree programs.

College of San Mateo

The College of San Mateo offers Associate of Arts (AA) degrees in art history and studio art. With 27 major units, the history program covers art from Medieval times through the Renaissance and up to the 20th century. The 30 major units of the studio program also touch upon art history, but place greater emphasis on painting, drawing and mixed media. Studio art is also available as an Associate of Science (AS) degree, which is configured for transfer to a 4-year program, while art history can be alternately pursued as an 18-unit Certificate of Achievement (CA).

Contra Costa College

Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif., has an art degree program that leads to an Associate in Arts degree. The major consists of 27 credits comprised of core drawing and art history courses plus a grouping of at least two foundational courses leading to two intermediate courses in ceramics, painting, hot metals or figurative sculpture; the ceramics course requires two additional courses. Completion of the program also requires 33 general education credits for a minimum of 60 units.

Diablo Valley College

Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif., has AA degree programs in digital media and in fine arts. For the fine arts degree, students must earn a minimum of 24 core credits in topics ranging from 3-D design and motion graphics to Asian art and the Baroque period. The AA degree for digital media requires courses such as digital imaging, dimensional design and multimedia portfolio development; students then add on courses in a specialty area such as character animation, 3D modeling and animation or motion graphics. Certificates are also available in those three specialty areas. The Art & Photography Department at Diablo also offers certificate programs in ceramics, printmaking and painting/drawing.

Foothill College

Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif., offers AAs and Certificates of Achievement in art history and studio art. The studio program combines ethnic art studies with focuses on ceramics, painting and drawing. In the art history program, students are led through in-depth period studies that start in prehistoric times, proceed to the Middle Ages and slowly work through to the 1900s. Foothill's associate programs are 90 units total, but the certificates range from 18 to 60 units.

Los Medanos College

The Art Department at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, California, offers AA degrees in fine arts and graphic communications. Requirements for both programs include classes in digital photography, 2- and 3-dimensional design, visual arts and Western art history. Both degrees require 30 units of art classes in addition to general education courses, though the graphic program also has a certificate option that students can earn with 30 units alone.

Mission College

Mission College in Santa Clara has creative arts programs for certificate and degree-seeking students. In order to earn the AA in Art, students must complete at least 20 units of foundational courses in topics like Western art, drawing and design, plus 2 additional art-related electives. For the AA in Creative Arts, students must earn 12 units in art history or theory and 6 units in applied arts. Certificates of Achievement are available in the foundational topics (18 units) and in the 2- and 3-dimensional arts - both at 15 units.

Ohlone Community College

Ohlone Community College in Fremont offers a 60-unit AA degree in art and an AA in fine arts. Students in the fine arts track choose from a list of courses that ranges from descriptive, perspective and life drawing to painting, computer graphics and digital photography. Courses are also required in the other fine arts disciplines of music or theater and dance. The degree in art calls for a set of major courses in 2-D and 3-D design, art history, color and museum techniques. Certificates in fine arts, ceramics, drawing and glass are available, and Ohlone also offers an AA in Digital Art, where students can learn about computer graphics and digital graphics.

San Francisco State University

The Department of Art at San Francisco State University (SFSU) offers Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees in various concentrations, including art history and studio arts. BA programs require 12-15 units at the 200 level, with an additional 31-34 units at the 300 level, for a total of 46 credits. SFSU also has a 3-year Master of Fine Arts in Art that allows students to focus on an area of interest, and a Master of Arts (MA) in Art History program, where at least 50 percent of credits must be earned above the 700 level, such as in seminar courses involving art theory and art history.

San Jose City College

San Jose City College offers a 61-unit AA in Art. Major requirements include courses in expressive drawing, 2- and 3-dimensional art and courses that cover art history from the prehistoric, Gothic and Renaissance time periods. Split between 21 major courses and 39 general education requirements plus one physical education credit, the program gears students for careers in animation, illustration, photography and interior/textile design.

Solano Community College

Students at Solano Community College in Fairfield can earn 60-unit AA degrees in art history, 2- or 3-dimensional art. In order to earn the art history degree, students need between 28 and 32.5 units in major topics like acrylics, etching and print-making, in addition to elective and general education courses. The 2-dimensional program includes courses on drawing and painting, while the 3-dimensional major emphasizes sculpture and ceramics.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Art Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
College of San Mateo 2-year, public, city AA in Art History,
AA in General Studio Art,
AS in Studio Art,
Certificate of Achievement in Art History
$1,344 in-state,
$6,300 out-of-state*
Contra Costa College 2-year, public, Suburb AA in Art $1,312 in-state,
$8,564 out-of-state*
Diablo Valley College 2-year, public, suburb AA in Art Digital Media,
AA in Fine Arts,
Certificates of Achievement in Character Animation, 3D Modeling, Animation, Ceramics, Printmaking or Painting/Drawing
$1,312 in-state,
$8,564 out-of-state*
Foothill College 2-year, Public, suburb AA in Art - Studio Emphasis,
AA in Art History,
Certificate of Achievement in Art or Art History
$1,563 in-state,
$7,503 out-of-state*
Los Medanos College 2-year, public, suburb AA in Fine Arts,
AA in Graphic Communications,
Certificate in Graphic Communications
$1,312 in-state,
$8,564 out-of-state*
Mission College 2-year, public, rural AA in Art,
AA in Creative Arts,
Certificate of Achievement in Art,
Certificate of Achievement in Creative Arts,
Foundational Certificate of Achievement
$1,192 in-state,
$6,280 out-of-state*
Ohlone Community College 2-year, public, rural AA in Art,
AA in Fine Art.
AA in Digital Art,
Certificates in Glass, Ceramics, Fine Arts and Drawing,
$1,164 in-state,
$6,828 out-of-state*
San Francisco State University 4-year, public, City BA in Studio Arts,
BA in Art History,
MA in Art History,
MFA in Art
$7,260 in-state,
$19,140 out-of-state*
San Jose City College 2-year, public, City AA in Art $1,358 in-state,
$7,994 out-of-state*
Solano Community College 2-year, public, rural AA in Art History,
AA in Art - 2-Dimensional,
AA in Art - 3-Dimensional
$1,140 in-state,
$6,324 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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