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Areas of Emphasis FAQ

Updated Dec. 8, 2021


Since Spring 2021, the College of Creative Arts has been engaged with the campus-wide Academic Transformation initiative.


How does a degree with an area of emphasis differ from a degree in a specific program?

You will be receiving the same level and quality of education with no changes in your overall curriculum. The only difference will be the title of your degree displayed on your transcript and diploma.

Does having an area of emphasis listed on my transcript appear less valuable to graduate programs or employers?

No, the Areas of Emphasis structure for Art & Design degrees is common within our peer group. Separate program distinctions are more common in visual arts only institutions, whereas the use of Areas of Emphasis is more common in public Land Grant Universities. Employers and graduate programs are generally more interested in the type of degree (Bachelor of Fine Arts reflects the abundance of studio coursework), what accreditation the institution held (National Association of Schools of Art & Design accreditation confirms the quality of the studio space in which you trained as well as the qualifications of the faculty) and ultimately, the quality of the work you produced in your time there.


How does this affect studio area degrees in the School of Art and Design?

The BFA and MFA programs in art and design are being reorganized so that students can explore different areas of interest in their first two years before specializing in a studio area. This is similar to the way the programs were structured prior to 2015 with a general BFA and MFA in Art and Design. This process is supported by our Art and Design faculty and will still meet the standards of our national accreditation. Students will be able to take an area of emphasis in ceramics, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture or time-based art.


What are the changes being made to programs in the School of Music?

There will be a restructuring of the BM in Music Performance degree to include areas of emphasis in instrumental, piano and voice. The BA in Contemporary and Integrative Performance is in consideration to be combined into other current music degree programs.


What are the changes being made to programs in the School of Theatre & Dance?

The BFA in Puppetry program, initially recommended for deactivation, has been granted an extension so we can create a vigorous recruitment plan and review the program’s curricular offerings.


What happens if I have already started my education in a degree that is being changed to an area of emphasis?

You will continue on with the degree listed in your catalog year (the year you began the program at WVU), unless you specifically request a change to the new degree name and area of emphasis listing.

What programs are slated for deactivation?

At this time, the only programs slated for deactivation in the College of Creative Arts are the Master of Arts in Art History and the BA in Contemporary and Integrative Performance. The Piano Performance degree is being reorganized under the general Music Performance and will be included as an area of emphasis.

What happens if I have already started my education in a degree that is being deactivated?   

The deactivation only affects new, incoming students. If you are a current student in the program, then as long as you are continuously enrolled with WVU in Fall and Spring semesters, you will be able to complete the degree you enrolled for.

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