Bachelor of Fine Arts in the Philippines

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is a four year degree program designed to help students develop their artistic skills in the key areas of fine arts, namely creative writing, theater arts, visual arts, electronic media, photography, studio arts, interior design and painting.

The BFA program also equips students with conceptual tools and technical skills needed to perform different tasks in various fields of the arts. By integrating different activities into its curriculum, the program nurtures the creativity and imagination of students.

Subjects and Curriculum


The BFA curriculum contains both General Education subjects (English, Math, Filipino, Social Sciences and Humanities) and Professional Subjects (subjects related to Fine Arts).

The Professional Subjects of the BFA program are further divided into four categories:
  • Core Courses: Visual Perception , Visual communication, Techniques (1 – 2), Materials (1 – 2)
  • Foundation Courses: Art History, Art Theory, Visual Studies (1 – 2), Philippine Traditional Art Forms, Painting (1 – 2), Materials (1 – 2), Editorial Design and Illustration, Production for Electronic Media, Production Methods (1 – 2), Art Seminar (1 – 2), Art Workshop (1 – 2), Research Methods in Art
  • Specialization Courses:
    • Painting: Painting, Drawing, Advanced Visual Studies, Art Seminar
    • Sculpture: Sculpture, Art Theory, Art Workshop
    • Visual Communication: Figure Drawing, Production Methods, Design Workshop, Advertising Design
    • Industrial Design: Introduction to Industrial Design, Drawing Techniques for Industrial Design, Intermediate Industrial Design, Ergonomics, Package Design
  • Elective Courses: Figure Drawing, Visual Design, Art Education, Art Management, Word Art, Advanced Production for Electronic Media, Photography and Advanced Photography

The BFA program is taught to students through classroom lectures and hands on exercises. Students are also exposed to a wide range of activities outside the classroom such as art workshops, exhibits and fieldtrips.

To be able to reach the fourth year of the BFA program, a student has to complete a practicum in a design establishment or organization. In addition, an undergraduate thesis is required, regardless of the student’s major area of specialization. The thesis has to be successfully defended before a panel of experts designated by the school.

Is Fine Arts a profession?


Fine Arts in itself is not a profession. However, many careers related to the Fine Arts program, such as a Graphic designer, Industrial Designer, Photographer, Animator and more, are considered professions. The career paths for each of these professions are described later on.

What are the admission requirements for the Bachelor of Arts program?


Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
  • Must be a high school graduate.
    Those who did not complete high school education may opt to first attend Alternative Learning System (ALS) and pass the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) to qualify for college. However, some universities only offer selected courses for PEPT passers.
  • Qualifying Talent Determination Examination: some schools will require you to take a skills and assessment test. This is to determine whether an applicant has the artistic talent to pursue Fine Arts.
  • College entrance exam: must pass the college entrance examination with a specified rating set by the school.
  • Interview: must pass the interview conducted by the college dean/faculty.
(See sources 1, 2, 3)

What skills, traits and attitude will help you succeed in this course?


  • Artistic skills – the ability to express ideas creatively, translate concepts, feelings, and visions into useful material; being artistic is a must when taking this program because almost every concept revolves around creating art.
  • Creativity – using one’s imagination to turn ideas into a realistic piece of work.
  • Freehand skills – the ability to draw, sketch and paint.
  • Technical skills – knowledge of design techniques, computers and electronics used in the creation of visual imagery and other conceptual and production techniques.
  • Computer and software knowledge – although traditional methods are still being used to produce art, modern technology involving the use of computer softwares and applications is slowly replacing these traditional methods.
  • Communication skills – being able to effectively articulate your concepts and ideas.
  • Organization – the ability to organize thoughts and ideas into one concept; managing one’s time appropriately and prioritizing tasks according to importance.
  • Patience – classroom lectures and activities may take longer than expected in the BFA curriculum because of the nature of the lessons being taught thus patience is needed when taking this course.

How difficult is Bachelor of Fine Arts?


Bachelor of Fine Arts can be easy and difficult at the same time. Unlike other courses where most lessons can be learned while studying the program, Bachelor of Fine Arts requires students to have the innate artistic talent thus the reason why most schools conduct a qualifying talent determination exam. While you attend subjects and learn lessons, it only aims to enhance your skills and abilities. For example, if you are not capable of drawing or sketching, you will find it hard to cope with assignments related to these subjects. However, if you have a passion and love for the arts then you are likely to enjoy this program. The use of computers and professional software is a significant part of the BFA program. If you are artistic but do not have the technical ability to learn and operate these software applications, you will also have a hard time.

How long does it take to complete the BFA program in the Philippines?


The BFA program takes four years to complete. The program may be completed in less than 4 years in schools that follow the trimestral curriculum.

Practicum/Workshop Training


A student of the BFA program is required to attend a Student Practicum or Workshop Training in an art agency or institution. During the Practicum/Workshop Training, students are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and practice their skills in actual settings. The program is done under the supervision of a faculty member as well as a designated authority in the company. The required number of hours for this activity should not be less than 150 hours (See source).

Program Specializations


Here are the four main fields of specialization of the BFA program:
  • Painting: The development of perceptual and technical skills of the student is the aim of the Painting Curriculum. Within the context of the visual expression of the idea, the student is taught to analyze and evaluate the structure of the visual language. In addition, the curriculum encourages the student to explore the possibilities of painting in terms of conceptualization, techniques and methodology.
  • Sculpture: The sculpture curriculum is designed to develop and explore the interest, ideas and expression of the student in three dimensional forms. Courses in both traditional and contemporary sculptural media are offered in the curriculum.
  • Visual Communication: The visual communication curriculum is focused on the advancement of the ability to use traditional and current technologies to create effective advertising, publishing, editorial, corporate, information, website and new media design. The student is educated to become media specialist who gives form to ideas and information.
  • Industrial Design: The industrial design curriculum is directed to develop in the student an understanding of technologies appropriate to product design and development, package and systems design. The student is trained to tap a wealth of resources including historical styles, traditional and indigenous crafts, as well as the popular trends and the latest technology in the use of materials and processes in order to create well-made objects and systems that will help improve and enhance the quality of life.
(See source)

Career opportunities for BFA graduates


  • Graphic Artist – responsible for creating design solutions that have a high visual impact. The role involves listening to clients and understanding their needs before making design decisions.
  • Professional Photographer – Creates photographic images for exhibition in museums and galleries; creates images for home and office interiors commissioned by individuals and corporations; mounts or frames images for display.
  • Art Educator (Art Teacher) – work in school and community settings, instructing students in the basic principles of art and art history. In order to become an art teacher, you must first complete the Teacher Certificate Program.
  • Industrial Designer – work on new products or improve existing ones, and use their understanding of technology, materials and manufacturing methods to improve the design and usability of an item. The work involves designing, modeling, testing and producing prototypes.
  • Animator – produces multiple images called frames, which when sequenced together rapidly create an illusion of movement known as animation. The images can be made up of digital or hand-drawn pictures, models or puppets.
  • Painter – an artist who is usually self-employed; creates visual imagery, pictures and designs with the use of paint. Holds art exhibits and art shows to present their works allowing people to view and purchase their paintings.
  • Sculptor – responsible for using a variety of techniques to mold and create aesthetically pleasing three-dimensional objects, including carving, shaping clay, whittling, or chiseling. Materials used in sculpting include stone, concrete, marble, bronze, gold, plaster, and wood.
  • Museum/Gallery Curator – informing, educating and inspiring the public, a museum or gallery curator acquires, cares for, develops, displays and interprets a collection of artifacts or works of art.
  • Costume and Fashion Designers – work on the design of items of clothing and fashion ranges. Some may focus completely on one specialist area, such as sportswear, children swear, footwear or accessories. They produce designs for the haute couture, designer ready-to-wear and high street fashion markets.
  • Textile Designer – create two-dimensional designs that can be used, often as a repeat design, in the production of knit, weave and printed fabrics or textile products.
  • Photojournalist – takes photographs to tell a story. They are mostly employed by TV organizations, to take pictures for their stories. The job requires the ability to master technical features of photography such as lighting, editing work, film processing and composition.
  • Illustrator – uses creative skills in art and design to communicate a story, message or idea. Illustrators work to commercial briefs to inform, persuade or entertain a client's intended audience, adjusting the mood and style of images accordingly.
  • Cartoonist – draws cartoons for publications to amuse readers and interpret or illustrate news highlights, advertising, stories or articles; develops personal ideas or reads written material to develop ideas from context; discusses ideas with editor or publisher's representative or sketches cartoon drawing and submits drawing for approval.
  • Production Designers in Television – responsible for the visual concept of a film, television or theatre production. They realize a design style for sets, locations, graphics, props, lighting, camera angles and costumes, while working closely with the director and producer.
  • Film and theatre set designer – responsible for creating sets for use in the production of films, television programs, and performances of plays and musicals
  • Food Stylist – creating layout designs for food, create graphics for the food stylists, create commercial food advertisements and develop photographic material detailing the food layout.
  • Art Historians – also known as art conservators, evaluate, restore and preserve a wide variety of artifacts. They work at art galleries, historical societies, non-profit organizations and museums. Art historians focus on architectural finds, books, historical documents, metals, textiles, fine and decorative arts.
  • Art Critics – interpret and analyze the meaning and quality of an artist's work. Their jobs vary from reporting about local artists for newspapers to presenting art critiques for professional art organizations and universities.
  • Airbrush Artist – restores damaged and faded photographs or colors and shades drawings to simulate photographs, using airbrush: Examines drawing or photographic print to determine coloring, shading, and changes required.
  • Art Appraisers – estimate the value of artwork. Their professional opinions are used when art is sold, auctioned, insured or donated to a gallery or museum in anticipation of a tax credit.
  • Art Restorer – repairs damages done to art work such as paintings, murals, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, paper works, etc. The restoration includes cleaning the work and preserving it for the future.
  • Visual Merchandiser – develop, deliver and communicate visual concepts and strategies to promote retail brands, products and services in-store, in catalogues or online. They may also work with museums and galleries or create visual concepts for events.

Salary Levels


Salary Levels for BFA graduates depend on the field of work they are in and whether they are self-employed or working in private or public sectors.

Graphic design is one the most common career path for Fine Arts graduates. Graphic designers/artists who have less than one year of work experience earn from P9,400 to P14,000 a month. Those who have 1 to 4 years of work experience are usualy paid a monthly salary of P11,000 to P16,000. Graphic Designers with 5 years of experience or more can expect to earn P15,000 to P24,000 per month (see source).

Reviews of Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates:

A. R.
Studied bachelor of fine arts
at University of the Philippines Diliman , Quezon City
Graduated: 1999

About my college education:
My university years were some of the best years of my life. I learned to interact with all sorts of people and while my ego got knocked down a few times, the experience made me a humbler person.
Studying Fine Arts requires not only talent but also perseverance, initiative and self-reliance. You will learn not just from your professors but also from your classmates because your teachers will not spoonfeed you.
Not a lot of math skills were required in my day. Except for some classes that will require using accurate drawing to scale.

My current job:
Graphic designer for a print publication

Am I using what I learned in college:
Yes, fundamental lessons about composition, balance, color combinations, sketching the human body and photography have proven invaluable in my line of work.
But some of what I learned have been made obsolete by technology, like processing film for photography and all my darkroom techniques are unused because of photoshop.

How long did it take to find a job after graduation:
6 months

Do I recommend studying bachelor of fine arts:
Yes, I would recommend this course for employment here and abroad. Lots of companies have a high regard for graduates of my school. My former classmates are now some of the best in ad agencies, tv stations, print companies and animation studios.
Contrary to popular belief, there is money and fulfillment in a fine arts course.
I have an interesting job that also allows me to paint artworks when I'm free and I'm lucky enough that the pay is enough that I don't even have to leave my family and work abroad.
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