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Studio Art, BFA - Illustration Area

Bachelor of Fine Arts - Illustration Area

The heart of a degree in Illustration is storytelling. It takes skill and creativity to craft images that evoke a narrative. You’ll find both aspects of the art richly supported by the University of Central Missouri’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art, Illustration.

Over the course of our undergraduate program, you’ll develop, explore and refine your unique visual language, learning how to use contemporary digital and traditional art techniques to bring your ideas to life on the page or screen.

This BFA program will also prepare you for what you can do with an illustration emphasis, studio art degree after graduation. Developing an entrepreneurial drive while building a well-rounded portfolio will support your future success, whether you choose to pursue graduate school or a job as an illustrator in industries such as publishing, advertising, editorial and comics.

A personalized art school experience at state school rates

At the University of Central Missouri, we keep tuition low while maintaining high standards of quality. We offer industry-leading technology in two accessible computer labs and a state-of-the-art studio. Work toward your bachelor’s degree in Studio Art with an emphasis in Illustration at UCM in a collaborative atmosphere with attentive faculty mentors who are practicing professional illustrators and art directors. Student-centered teaching under the guidance of contemporary professional artists puts your needs first.

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Master digital & traditional art skills

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Art school experience, state school cost

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NASAD-accredited Art degree

A university

150 years of art education

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Build a portfolio with faculty mentors

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Collaborative, diverse environment

What you will study

Your UCM bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, Illustration area includes a foundation in core art skills and digital practices, an understanding of historical and cultural context and insight into the contemporary practices of the profession. Classes are held in the collaborative spirit of all of our Art and Design programs and typically feature a peer critique format for reviewing each other’s work. Sample classes include:

  • Illustration Concepts
  • Illustration in the Digital Frontier
  • Comics and Graphic Storytelling

The goal of our Studio Art BFA is to help you fully realize what you can do with an illustration degree after graduation. You’ll receive training in digital and traditional practices and explore what is most appropriate for your artistic practice and career trajectory. Many of these techniques are used across the contemporary landscape of art, design and illustration, expanding career opportunities for UCM graduates with a Studio Art, Illustration degree. 

In your senior year, you’ll build your portfolio targeted at your market of interest by completing projects that are inspired by current trends in the profession. With assistance from your faculty mentors, your portfolio will be a polished, professional asset to your career search.

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Excellence in Illustration

  • UCM offers a tradition of excellence in Art education. Our Studio Art BFA, Illustration Area degrees, has been a NASAD-accredited program since 1986.
  • Best in Missouri Offering Design & Applied Arts (Plexuss Global, 2021)
  • #2: Best Value Bachelor’s Degree College for Design & Applied Arts in Missouri (College Factual, 2022)
  • A Best Value College for Fine Arts (College Factual, 2022)
  • A Best Value Bachelor’s Degree College for Fine Arts (College Factual, 2022)
  • A Best Value Bachelor’s Degree College for Fine & Studio Arts (College Factual, 2022)
  • Top 15%: Best Value Colleges for Design and Applied Arts (College Factual, 2021)
  • Top 15%: Most Popular College for Design and Applied Arts (College Factual, 2021)


Unique learning opportunities in illustration

Our student-centered approach to learning, emphasis on mentorship and state-of-the-art technology resources set UCM’s Studio Art, Illustration program apart from illustration degrees offered by public art schools. 

  • Internships: Students pursuing undergraduate illustration degrees are not required to complete internships while at UCM, but many choose to. Internships are an excellent opportunity to gain insights and experience in the working world of illustrators. Our Fine Arts majors have achieved exciting placements with companies such as Signal Theory, Bumble, Andrews McMeel Universal, Barkley, Whiskey Design, Gear for Sports and Vahalla Studio.
  • Professional exposure: Meet successful alumni at our First Friday events and working professional artists through the Kleppe Visiting Artist Lecture Series. Submit your work for external review in our annual juried art show. Reach the broader community in the Design-a-thon, a pro bono design marathon that allows you to support a nonprofit of your choice while producing work for real-world clients.


What can you do with an Illustration Area, Studio Art degree from UCM?

UCM graduates are well-prepared for the professional world, trained in modern techniques with a solid grounding in digital and traditional art. We expand what you can do with an undergraduate stuio art degree by helping you develop a professional portfolio and preparing you for competitive jobs in the illustration field.

With your bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, Illustration Area in hand, you could get a job right away doing in-house design work or freelancing. Many of our graduates with studio arts degrees have gone on to lead ad agencies and galleries, and one recent graduate achieved worldwide publication of a graphic novel adaptation of “The Secret Garden”. 

You could also choose to build on your bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, Illustration Area by studying at the graduate level. Past graduates of our undergraduate program have received additional degrees at art schools such as Washington University, the Sam Fox School of Design and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

A variety of creative work opportunities 

Illustration based degrees qualify you for numerous creative roles. As more content becomes digital, the need for skilled illustrators and designers will increase across industries. This includes film, digital and social media and higher education. Use the interactive tool below to gain insights on job outlooks, salary potential and more.




Financial assistance options for your degree in Studio Art

You deserve a first-rate arts education, as well as a stable financial future. That’s why we keep our tuition fees as low as possible and offer a wide range of financing options. We’ve been recognized by LendEDU for our leadership in minimizing our students’ debt.

What can you do with an Illustration focused Studio Art degree? At UCM, we believe your answer shouldn’t be limited by financial concerns. Keep your college education affordable by taking advantage of these arts-specific financial aid opportunities:

  • Portfolio-based scholarships for incoming students
  • Endowed scholarships for current students
  • Cash prizes at the annual, juried Citation Student Show

Learn more about program-specific scholarships for Studio Art majors using the UCM Scholarship Finder.


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Take your degree further:


Study at the graduate level to further explore what you can do with an Illustration degree from UCM:

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Explore programs related to Illustration:


If a bachelor’s degree in Illustration doesn’t feel like the right fit for you, consider these other undergraduate programs in Art and Design. 


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