Program of Study
The major in Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) at CSUSM provides an exciting, multidisciplinary approach to the arts. A B.A. degree in VPA consists of a sequence of courses presented in the framework of a dynamic experiential, theoretical, and technological environment. The curriculum encourages interdisciplinary work, and collaborative as well as individual projects.
Within the Visual and Performing Arts major, students specialize in one area by following an “Option,” which provides a series of appropriate courses, selected in consultation with a VPA advisor.
Options for the Major in Visual and Performing Arts:
Arts and Technology Option
Designed for students who wish to work with digital arts, multimedia, photography, video, and/or web design. This interdisciplinary track emphasizes various digital media including music, video and the visual arts.
Provides course offerings in theory, composition, music technology, performance and survey courses of diverse musical cultures. Students are encouraged to explore their own creativity and musical voice.
Theatre Arts Option
Provides courses in acting, theater production, and research to performance. Survey courses include European, Latin American and American Theatre, with a strong focus on African American and Latino Theatre.
Visual Arts Option
Designed to nurture students’ innovation and creativity in drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well as with digital media. It allows the student flexibility in choosing among the program’s offerings in both studio and contemporary art history.
Student Learning Outcomes
Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts will have:
- Developed a multidisciplinary and global perspective in the arts.
- Learned the skills of critical analysis using works of art from a broad range of cultures and styles.
- Learned the tools necessary to create their own art as composers, visual artists, or performers in one or more genre.
- Discovered more about their own cultural history and ethnic identity through work in the arts.
- Become computer and technologically fluent and competent through work in the arts.
- Developed an understanding that art (music, theater, visual arts, video, etc.) is not an isolated phenomenon but that it is a single, powerful representation of culture, history and belief systems.
Career opportunities for a graduate of the VPA degree program are as diverse as the interests of VPA majors. Graduates pursue careers as actors, artists, composers, dancers, directors, filmmakers, and musicians. The major provides an excellent preparation for careers in performance, multimedia design, video and/or music production, web design and support, art history, arts management and publishing. Many students go to graduate school in the arts, or complete a credential program in education, and assume teaching positions in primary and secondary schools.
An important component in some but not all of the VPA degree options is the Senior Capstone Project, which represents a culmination of work done while in the program. Students should consult with their Option advisor regarding the capstone requirement. Students who will be doing a capstone project should begin planning in the Fall of their senior year. Public presentation of their work may occur any time during the final semester.
About the Department
The VPA Department is housed in the Arts Building, which includes two large performance spaces for dance, music and theatre with state-of-the-art sound, lighting and video equipment. The Department also maintains two music and sound recording and mixing studios with Digidesign Protools suites and A/V sync. We offer a 24-seat multimedia lab. The video editing lab consists of 15 Final Cut Pro suites, two Media 100 suites, and a streaming server. A suite of music practice rooms is available for music students. Four large art studios are designed for digital arts, painting, drawing, sculpture, and set design. An art gallery is prominently situated at the entrance of the building.
Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts
- The junior-level student seeking admission to this program normally must have completed the required number of units of lower-division work in his/her selected option. Transfer students entering with fewer than the required number of units should complete the deficiencies within the first year of instruction at Cal State San Marcos.
- Credit/No Credit grading is not permitted in courses required for the major, with the exception of up to three (3) units of internship.
- All courses counted toward the major, including Preparation for the Major courses, must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.
- At present, a number of lower-division courses are offered, but some community college courses might be needed to complete the lower-division requirements.
- All students enrolled in private or group music lessons are required to be enrolled concurrently in one of Cal State San Marcos’ music ensembles.
- All VPA majors must complete a Capstone project in the final semester of residency (in consultation with an advisor).
- Courses in the arts which satisfy an upper-division general education requirement may not be used for the major.
Student Learning Outcomes
Students completing a B.A. in VPA, Music Option will be able to:
- Articulate and demonstrate proficiency in the language of music including scales, chords, harmony, rhythm, analysis, counterpoint, form, instrumentation, reading skills, ear-training, and music technology.
- Apply knowledge of musical culture in a global context including Western concert music, American popular music, and music from other global traditions.
- Create work in performance, music technology, improvisation and/ or composition and present work in a public forum either through recitals, installations, or presentations of technology or composition work.
- Demonstrate proficiency with primary instrument or voice, in solo performance and in small or large ensembles.
Music Preparation for the Major (17-19 Units)
(Depending on transfer units for ensembles and studio instruction)
Two Semesters of Music Theory (8 Units)
One General Music Survey Course (3 Units)
Two Semesters of Studio Instruction (4-6 Units)
Two Semesters of Ensemble Performance (2 Units)
Upper-Division Music (33-37 Units)
Cross-disciplinary Studio Work (6 Units)
Choose two of the three options below, for a total of six units:
- Three units of any upper-division studio work in Dance
- Three units of any upper-division studio work Theatre Arts
- Three units of any upper-division studio work in Visual Arts
Music Coursework (30-32 Units)
Critical/Theoretical/Cultural (6 Units)
(Select two courses)
Music Ensemble Courses (4 Units)
(Four semesters, each may be repeated up to four times)
Studio Work in Music (2-6 Units)
Visual and Performing Arts Electives (9 Units)
Minimum Total (120 Units)
Students must take a sufficient number of elective units to bring the total number of units to a minimum of 120