First-Year Experience

During their first year in the Department of Visual and Media Arts, majors complete a set of core classes that are tailored to their area of study. No matter what area of study, these courses are essential in the preparation for the advanced courses and emphasize critical inquiry, discipline-specific methods and hands-on experiences.

As students continue in the department, they continue to hone these skills in the development of a personal body of work under the supervision of faculty mentors in the area. The self-direction nurtured early in the program is reinforced throughout your time at GVSU.

Art Education and Studio Art Students

Students in Art Education and Studio Art complete Art & Design six foundation courses. These courses emphasize drawing, design, and problem-solving skills. This shared curriculum provides students with the conceptual, technical, and critical skills necessary for later studio work. Upon finishing these classes, students choose a specialization from one of the eight studio emphasis areas or the art education program. Students interested in pursuing an emphasis in Graphic Design and/or Illustration must participate in the Graphic Design and Illustration Program Admission Process.

  • ART 150 - Foundations: 2D Design
  • ART 151 - Foundations: 3D Design
  • ART 152 - Foundations: Color and Design
  • ART 153 - Foundations: Making and Meaning in Art and Design
  • ART 155 - Foundations: Introduction to Drawing I
  • ART 157 - Foundations: Introduction to Drawing II

Foundations Program - Information


Art History Students

Students in Art History complete two survey courses over the course of their first year. These courses provide an overview of the chronology and methods of the discipline of art history.

  • ART 221 - Survey of Art History I
  • ART 222 - Survey of Art History II

Although there is a lot of flexibility in courses the student can take, starting off on the right track will help ensure that they meet all requirements and graduate in a timely fashion. This is especially true if they plan to earn a second major, pursue minors in other fields, or are in the Honors program.

Art History First-Year Information (.pdf)



Film and Video Production Students

Students in Film & Video Production complete two introductory courses. These emphasize a critical study of various modes of film production and a hands-on production experience. 

  • CFV 123 - Survey of Media Production Modes 
  • CFV 125 - Media Production I

Central to your success and timely graduation is taking CFV 123 and CFV 125 in the first year and applying to the major in the second semester. In addition, you will want to take CFV 226/227 in the following semester or academic year in order to have optimum success in the upper-level production courses.


Photography Students

Students in Photography should complete a total of four courses in their first-year. These courses emphasize two-dimensional composition, the basic aesthetics and techniques that underlie photographic communication, and a survey of the origins and development of photography.

  • ART 149 - Introduction to Visual Composition
  • CPH 171 - Photography I
  • CPH 172 - Photography II
  • CPH 266 - History of Photography I



Page last modified December 7, 2021