2024-2025 Undergraduate Course Catalog 
    Jul 22, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Course Catalog

College of Visual and Performing Arts

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Michael Tick, Dean
200 Crouse College

About the College

The College of Visual and Performing Arts is dedicated to nurturing the creative and scholarly abilities of its students. The college, which is at the center of the University’s cultural life, is organized into six areas: the School of Art , Communication and Rhetorical Studies , the School of Design , the Department of Drama , the Department of Film and Media Arts , and the Setnor School of Music . Recognizing the link between education, understanding, and cultural knowledge, the College of Visual and Performing Arts is also committed to providing sites for learning about diversity throughout its curricula.


The college’s programs in art, design, and film and media arts are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). In addition to NASAD accreditation, our environmental and interior design program is also accredited with the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). The Setnor School of Music and its programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Programs in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies and the Department of Drama engage in regularly scheduled Self-Studies involving programmatic review and site visits by a panel of external reviewers from their respective disciplines.

Shared Competencies

The College of Visual and Performing Arts participates in students’ knowledge and skill development through the Shared Competencies, Syracuse University’s institutional learning goals that highlight the knowledge and skills students can expect to gain through their major courses, liberal arts requirements and co-curricular activities.

Educational Mission

The College of Visual and Performing Arts is committed to the education of cultural leaders who will engage and inspire audiences through performance, visual art, design, scholarship, and commentary. The college provides the tools for self-discovery and risk-taking in an environment that thrives on critical thought and action.

General Regulations

For academic rules and regulations that apply to all University students, see the Academic Rules  section of this catalog, which also contains special regulations that apply to all undergraduate students matriculated in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Intra-University Transfer

Students interested in transferring into VPA must attend an IUT informational session in order to understand the process and obtain the application materials. These sessions are held throughout the semester. Minimum requirements include a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, and a completed application form. Some programs require an audition, portfolio review, or a questionnaire. Please contact the VPA Office of Academic and Career Advising, 200 Crouse College, for additional information. Application deadlines vary by program; admission for all programs is on a space-available basis.

PED General Electives

Up to 6 credits in any combination of physical education (PED) or dance appreciation (DAP) courses numbered 100 to 299 may be included among academic elective credits toward a degree in the college for singly enrolled students. If the minor in Dance Appreciation is declared, the 6 credit cap is waived given the structure of the program.

Transfer Credit

Transfer of credit is considered only for courses that may be applied to the program in which the student is interested. In the School of Art , School of Design , Department of Drama , Department of Film and Media Arts , and the Setnor School of Music , transfer students often have an excess of credits in academic subjects that cannot be applied to a specific program due to the high number of studio credits required. The result may be that the period of undergraduate study is extended beyond the typical four years. In the Setnor School of Music , placement examinations in music theory and applied music are also required before credit is accepted.

In all cases, transfer credit is evaluated after admission specifically for the degree program to which the student is admitted, and may change if the student moves into a different program. Credits - not grades or honor points - are transferred from other institutions. Only credits earned at Syracuse University are counted in the grade point average. If the student subsequently takes a course at SU for which he/she had previously received transfer credit, the transfer credit will be removed, as courses completed at SU take precedent. This includes credits transferred for academics or studio electives.


All students matriculated in a VPA major or minor are charged a program fee each semester that covers certain expenses such as applied music instruction, specialized studio art supplies, dramatic productions, visiting artists, and equipment and technology. Non-VPA students are charged an applied music fee for private instruction and a per credit fee for other VPA courses. See the SU Tuition, Fees and Related Policies bulletin for specific charges.

The First-Year Experience

All first-year students are assigned faculty advisors to help them plan their programs. In all six areas of the college, first-year courses and programs address the adjustment and integration of first-year students into college life. In each area, the emphasis is on small class size, one-to-one contact with faculty, the development of skills, and the personal appropriateness of each student’s choice of professional pursuit.

The School of Art  offers an exciting, energetic culture of students who are encouraged to cross-conventional boundaries with their work. The first-year experience includes both required and elective academic options.

The School of Design  first-year experience provides a focused design studio-based education, critical to the development of a solid understanding of the fundamental elements of the design disciplines.  Students learn basic visualization and making skills, as well as an ability to apply iterative thought and action processes to a given problem. In addition, students receive a focused introduction to the ethical and philosophical grounding of the various design professions.

In the Department of Film and Media Arts , the first-year student experience is designed to introduce students to studio practice, history, and theory of media, with an emphasis on the interconnectedness of all four areas of transmedia. The Transmedia Colloquium brings to campus a wide array of contemporary artists working with photography, film, video, computer art and animation. First year students take a sequence of studio classes that build up a basic set of competencies for editing still and moving images, sound and animation. Together, these classes work toward developing the necessary conceptual and practical skills to maintain a creative edge in a rapidly changing world of art and commerce.

In the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies , first-year students are part of a comprehensive introductory program led by faculty and staff, incorporating a lecture series, information meetings, alumni panels, and advising. The entire first-year class takes two courses that involve small discussion groups of approximately 20 students. In the courses, students meet with faculty and teaching assistants to address issues of concern in their discipline.

In the Department of Drama , student involvement in theatrical activity is immediate. During the first year students participate in the department’s foundation program. Each week drama faculty and students gather for Wednesday Lab, which includes presentations of scenes from class, guest artists, talks with alumni, and other panel discussions.

In the Setnor School of Music , a weekly student convocation brings the entire school community together for performances by their peers, faculty, and many guest artists. In addition to many hours of individual practice, the school encourages the development of skills needed for functioning in group situations. Thus, students are required to be involved in one of the school’s large ensemble groups each semester.

Study Abroad

The College of Visual and Performing Arts recognizes the immense value that study abroad opportunities add to our students’ educational experiences, and we strongly encourage all students to begin the exploration of one or more potential study abroad experiences from day one of their Syracuse University experience. A good place to start is to have conversations with your academic advisor and to visit the Syracuse Abroad website at http://suabroad.syr.edu/, or schedule an appointment to meet with an Syracuse Abroad advisor. Our college offers specific study abroad semester programs in Florence, London, Strasbourg and Prague. Summer programs include Berlin, Bologna, Florence, and Venice. Short-term spring break programs include Brazil and Spain. Funding opportunities include the undergraduate Dean’s Award for International Education.


The College of Visual and Performing Arts provides an extensive array of facilities that support our academic programs, including:

ART - extensive studio facilities in the Comstock Art Building on south campus and the Shaffer Art Building and Smith Hall on main campus. These facilities are supported by wood and metal shops. At the Comstock location, we have five studio areas. The Art Education facility includes studio and classroom space. Our recently renovated Ceramics facility includes a state-of-the-art materials room, critique gallery, clay making room, mold/plaster room, dry and wet glaze labs, a resource room, throwing studio/classroom, sculpture studio/classroom, as well as indoor and outdoor kiln facilities (Blaauw, Geil, Anagama, and others). The Jewelry and Metalsmithing facility includes a well-equipped main studio with individual work stations, small machine and plating/anodizing rooms, plus casting, soldering, and finishing equipment. The Printmaking facility includes a 6,400 square foot studio space, housing a wide range of relief, intaglio, lithography, and letter presses, serigraphy/silks-creening capabilities, and hand papermaking equipment. Our Sculpture facility offers ample workspaces for assembly, project spaces dedicated to installation and performance, gallery spaces for student exhibitions, outdoor casting and large-scale fabrication capabilities, and semi-private studio spaces for undergraduate students. Shaffer Art Building houses two studio programs. The Illustration facility includes studio and classroom spaces, while the Painting facility includes well-lighted studios with special skylights receiving north light, and a complete workshop. Finally, Smith Hall serves as the College’s graduate and multidisciplinary hub as well and home to various functions of the Schools of Art and Design and Communication and Rhetorical Studies Department.

DESIGN - Our Design programs are housed in The Nancy Cantor Warehouse, Syracuse University’s seven-floor building in downtown Syracuse. The Warehouse’s open, industrial space was recently renovated to contain professional studio facilities for each design program; a shared computer lab; a printing lab; and Design Works, a fabrication lab. A student lounge, café, and gallery are conveniently located on the first floor.

FILM AND MEDIA ARTS -  Facilities supporting the Department of Film and Media Arts are located in the lower level of Shaffer Art Building. Art Photography students have access to professional scanning and digital printing equipment which include the world-class production facilities at Light Work as well as fully equipped lighting studios and a wide array of high end digital and analog cameras for student use.  Computer Art and Animation facilities include a main computer lab, an advanced audio production and recording studio, a green screen room, digital and traditional object fabrication facilities, and VR equipment. Art Video sports a multi-use, multi-format facility, in which production is executed with digital film camcorders, digital audio recorders, and necessary peripherals. Post-production suites are equipped with Macintosh-based non-linear editing systems equipped with the Adobe Creative Cloud, Da Vinci Resolve 14, and our color grading stations have Flanders Scientific Professional broadcast monitors. Video projectors are available for presentations and exhibition. There are digital, multi-track audio studios, plus access to other Syracuse University facilities to complement production, post-production and exhibition activities. The Film production facilities include 4K Hi-end digital film cameras such as the Canon C500 and Sony F3 with Odyssey 7Q+ recorders 4K RAW enabled; Blackmagic Design 4K production cameras; Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras with Metabones Speed boosters; High quality Zeiss film lenses; and a large array of Canon PL lenses. We also offer students the possibility of shooting 16mm and Super 16mm with our Aaton XTR Production camera as well as Arri SR1, CP16, and Bolex cameras. We have a large range of location lighting and grip gear such as the Arri M18 HMI, Arri Compact HMI Fresnel 1.2K, 4x4 Kino-Flo Banks, Kino-Flo Diva Lite, Joker-Bug 800W HMI and a large variety of LED lighting. In addition we have a lighting studio with a green screen and a cinematography room that can be configured for studio based productions.

DRAMA - The Regent Theatre Complex, which houses the Department of Drama and Syracuse Stage, contains three theaters and a cabaret space. These four performance spaces provide the broadest range of design and staging possibilities, from conventional proscenium to theater-in-the-round. Included in the complex are The John D. Archbold Theatre, a 499-seat proscenium theater; The Arthur Storch Theatre, seating up to 250 people, can be configured as a proscenium, thrust, or avenue stage; The Loft Theatre is an intimate and flexible space that seats 65 audience members in a variety of configurations, but is most often used for short plays, readings, workshops and experimental efforts; The Sutton Pavilion provides a versatile cabaret space, often for late-night entertainment for Syracuse University and the greater Syracuse communities. The complex also includes dance studios, performance/rehearsal studios, lecture rooms, seminar rooms, musical practice rooms, locker rooms, and showers - as well as the professionally staffed technical shops that build the Syracuse Stage and Department of Drama productions. Facilities adjacent to the complex provide theater design and technology studios, classrooms, and CAD lab.

MUSIC - The Setnor School of Music, located in Crouse College, is home to the acoustically rich, 700-seat Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium, with its 3,823-pipe Holtkamp Organ. Approximately 200 recitals occur in this space each academic year. The school has classrooms and rehearsal spaces in Crouse College and Shaffer Art Building, as well as a recording studio in the Belfer Audio Archives.

COMMUNICATION and RHETORICAL STUDIES - located in recently renovated space in Sims Hall, the department’s facilities include classrooms designed for video capture and replay of student speech-making, along with multi-purpose room for hosting meetings and events.

All VPA programs are supported by wood and metal shops which are located in the Warehouse, Comstock Art Facility, and Smith Hall.

Research Centers and Institutes

The College of Visual and Performing Arts supports and celebrates a culture of research. Both faculty and students across departments and programs engage in a variety of individual, group and cross-disciplinary initiatives that seek to expand human knowledge through creative analysis, innovation, and insight. These efforts are disseminated in a variety of ways including publishing, presentations, exhibitions and performances. The College’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies facilitates both internal and external funding to support these efforts and the colleges’ mission of providing an environment that thrives on critical thought and action.

University Requirements

In addition to FYS 101, the B.A., B.F.A., B.I.D., BMus, and B.S. Degrees require completion of an IDEA course (chosen from a select list). The IDEA course requirement may be fulfilled by a Liberal Arts Course, Elective Credit, or Major Credit depending on the course taken and the student’s program of study. Please see the undergraduate course catalog for a full listing of IDEA Courses .

FYS 101 - First Year Seminar  

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