In addition to course requirements for a BFA (fine arts)BA (studio art), double concentration (studio & fine arts), or BA (art history) degree, art majors must also complete the following requirements.

Portfolio Reviews

Portfolio Reviews of all art students’ work are held once each semester. At this time, the faculty of the Department review the work completed since your previous Portfolio Review and make a general assessment of your ongoing progress in the program. You are required to display your work and participate in Portfolio Reviews if you are a major or studio minor in the Department of Art. Failure to participate could lead to probationary status in the department. Those art majors not currently enrolled in a studio course or attending a study abroad program are exempted.

During Portfolio Reviews, the faculty discuss the work displayed. Such discussion may focus on one work, relationships within a group of works, or expand to touch on issues which broadly relate to art. The faculty believe that the Portfolio Review provides an important opportunity for interaction and encourages art majors, and non-majors as well, to attend as many of these sessions, in addition to your own review, as possible. Studio art classes are cancelled the days of Portfolio Reviews.


You should carefully select and present a balanced body of work from all studio courses taken that semester. Presenting three works from each course is standard, although this may vary according to such conditions as complexity of presentation, size of work, and the number of courses for which work is being presented. You should neatly mat, install and label your artwork. It is important to bring sketchbooks and other supporting coursework for the faculty to view as well.

Portfolio Evaluation

The results of Portfolio Reviews are sent to you in letter form and will include the Portfolio Review Evaluation Form with the combined faculty’s assessment of your work. The grades, Outstanding, Satisfactory, Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory, are assessed in each of the following categories:

Overall Evaluation

  1. Level of involvement in work (and in classroom).
  2. Effective oral and visual presentation of work.
  3. Overall quality of work.

First Year (or foundation courses)

  1. Understands and applies design elements and principles.
  2. Demonstrates basic technical skills.

Second Year (or 100-200 level courses)

  1. Integrates knowledge across studio areas.
  2. Gaining competency in technical, aesthetic and conceptual aspects of artmaking.

Third Year (or 200-300 level courses)

  1. Familiar with multiple art/design techniques and technically fluent in one or more areas.
  2. Demonstrates a conceptual and aesthetic understanding in artwork.
  3. Finding a personal direction.

Fourth Year

  1. Developing a personal vision.
  2. Demonstrates an ability to work independently.

The final Summary Evaluation of your Portfolio Reviewresults in a grade of Commendation, Pass, or Fail. Commendation recognizes superior performance in your studio coursework and its presentation. Pass denotes satisfactory achievement and growth. Lastly, a failed review reflects inferiorwork and/or the lack of acceptable progress in your work and results in a letter of probation. This letter informs you that you will have one semester to improve your work in the Department in order to be removed from probationary status. If you fail two Portfolio Reviews, you are required to seek another major.Likewise, if you receive two finalcourse grades below “C” in your Art Department courses, you will be required to seek another major (see The Bulletin for more information).

Advanced Writing Proficiency

This program fosters continuing growth in writing skills in art-related areas and develops proficiencies that are important for maintaining a career in art. The “Advanced W” is a College degree requirement. As an art major, you will compile a portfolio of three writing samples: Two papers from an art history and/or studio art class, and your senior comprehensive proposal. You are encouraged to consult your advisor about the appropriateness of independent samples.

Procedure for Submitting your Advanced W Writing Portfolio

Spring Semester Junior Year:

  1. The Department Chair will distribute the Advanced W procedures, along with cover sheets for your paper submissions at the beginning of the semester. Students who are unable to attend this meeting need to contact the Chair in order to receive the necessary paperwork.
  2. The Monday prior to Easter is typically the first deadline for your Advanced W Portfolio submission. Two papers from an art history and/or studio art class should be submitted by this deadline.
  3. You need to make three clean copiesof each paper submission. No faculty comments or grades should be visible on your paper submissions. You will receive a cover sheet to attach to the copies designating the paper type. 
  4. Papers are reviewed by two department faculty members; they are assessed as either passing -or – unsatisfactory.
  5. The Department Chair will notify you in writing of the status of your Advanced W submissions after faculty have reviewed them.
  6. If a paper is assessed as unsatisfactory, the faculty readers will return the paper to your advisor with comments for improvement. Often students will be encouraged to seek additional assistance from the Writing Center. Any revisions and your third paper (your Senior Comprehensive Proposal) will be due fall semester of your senior year.
  7. Remember: Submitting papers is NOT the same as passing this requirement. Students often mistake submission for acceptance; your papers must be assessed as passing in order for you to meet this College requirement.

Fall Semester Senior Year:

  1. The Monday prior to Thanksgiving Break will be your final opportunity to submit any revisions and your final paper; the Senior Comprehensive Proposal. The submission process is the same as outlined for the spring semester.
  2. If a paper is assessed as unsatisfactory at the fall review, you will be notified in writing by the Department Chair, and your paper will be returned to you through your advisor with comments for improvement.
  3. An additional deadline will be made for January of your senior year for revision. If the paper is deemed unsatisfactory again, your next deadline for submission is the following November.
  4. Please note that students cannot receive their degree until after the Advanced Writing Proficiency requirement has been completed.

Examples of acceptable writing samples for the Advanced W Portfolio:

  • Exhibition review (for a general audience)
  • Formal analysis of a single work of art (for a professional audience)
  • Contextual analysis (for a professional audience)
  • Research paper in art history (for professional audience)
  • Film review (for a general or professional audience)
  • Book review of an art book (for a general or professional audience)
  • An interview with an artist or gallery/museum professional (for a general or professional audience)
  • Grant proposal (for a professional audience)
  • Essay about art literature or issues (for a general or professional audience)
  • Art history method or theory demonstration paper (for a professional audience)
  • Senior comprehensive proposal (for a professional audience)
  • Statement of academic and artistic goals (for a professional audience)

Senior Comprehensives


The senior comprehensive (ART 495) provides you with the opportunity for creative research in either a studio specialty or in art history – an opportunity for your originality, self-expression, and problem-solving abilities to manifest themselves in a final summation of your artistic and academicdevelopment at Saint Mary’s. 

The creative research for the studio major is undertaken independently in order to demonstrate your ability and skill in integrating the powers of visual perception, imagination, and expression, and is realized in work that is original and aesthetically and conceptually sound. The comprehensive should reflect the entirety of yourskill and training in your chosen area. Four courses in your area of emphasis should be completed.

The art history student’s comprehensive is a research paper or comparable written project of approximately twenty pages demonstrating conceptual originality, research skill, and appropriate methodology. You will also present your research at a public lecture and curate and install an interactive exhibit in the Moreau Art Galleries. You must have completed at least one course in the research area of the comprehensive and ART 485 (a research and methods course).


1. Informational Meeting: Students will meet with the faculty in the spring of their Junior year to review the procedures and guidelines for the comprehensive.

2. Preliminary preparation and written proposal: All comprehensive candidates will meet with the entire department faculty in general session early in the first semester of the senior year to present and discuss their comprehensive proposals. The written proposal for both art history and studio comprehensives should be articulate in outlining the idea, research processes, and scope of investigation. 

You must bring copies of the proposal to the meeting for each faculty member.

The studio proposal should reflect the character of the work, with the concept justifying the use of materials selected. Expensive materials do not guarantee success. Students who feel it might be necessary to outsource certain aspects of their Senior Comprehensive (e.g., special welding, mounting, etc.) must receive permission for this from the faculty of the Department of Art during the proposal process or by special request after their proposal has been accepted. Studio proposals need to identify the 4 requisite courses completed in the area of emphasis. An example of comprehensive work “in progress” should accompany your presentation.

When the faculty approves your comprehensive proposal, you are free to select two faculty advisors. You should contact the prospective faculty members as soon as possible for their written agreement to participate. A copy of the signed comprehensive proposal must be provided for each advisor and the Art Department Chair. This should be completed within the week following the approval of the comprehensive proposal and before the end of the first semester.The comprehensive proposal is the third paper required to fulfillthe Advanced “W” proficiency portfolio.

3. Research and consultation: Start early on your research; this project cannot be completed quickly or without time for thought. Periodic consultation with advisors throughout the course of research is important. 

You are required to meet at least twice with each of your advisors before you will be allowed to present your comprehensive. Forms signed by your comprehensive advisors must be submitted to the Department of Art Office bythe assigned dates. It is imperative that you have in-progress work to present to your advisors at your meetings.

4. Presentation: For studio comprehensives, the work is of primary importance, not the opening. Openings are not mandatory and should be kept within reason financially. The Gallery Directormust be consulted to arrange a time for your exhibition, but you alone are responsible for all aspects of the showing of your work. The degree of finish and presentation of the work reflects yourattitude toward your work. You are required to include an artist’s statement with your work. You are responsible for returning the gallery to pristine condition after your show.

For the art history comprehensive, you will complete a paper or comparable written project that demonstrates conceptual sophistication, appropriate methodology, and research skill. You must present the material at a public lecture and curate and install an interactive exhibition of your research in the Moreau Art Galleries. The Gallery Director must be consulted to arrange your exhibit, but you alone are responsible for all aspects of the showing of your exhibition. The degree of finish and presentation of the exhibit reflects yourattitude toward your research and curatorial work. You should include a curatorial statement with your exhibition. You are responsible for returning the gallery to pristine condition after the show.

5. Senior Comprehensive Standards: The BA degree requires a satisfactory comprehensive in studio or art history. The BFA degree requires a superior comprehensive in studio. As with all work undertaken and submitted during your course of study at the College, it is expected that your senior comprehensive will be solely a result of your individual physical execution, creative judgments and decision-making processes. 

6. Grading: — Honors, Pass, or Fail — is done by all faculty members independently. You are strongly encouraged to request a critique from each of them.