The broad instructional concept of Art Education is to integrate the components of art history, art criticism, and studio art courses, university courses, and Western's Gallery Exhibition Program and permanent collection. Students learn to interpret, analyze, and make intelligent judgments about art and the skills and concepts of the studio. A grasp of the dynamic nature of a culture and the continuing extension of its visual language is a fundamental objective.

Western's Elementary Art program prepares students to teach at the elementary grade level. The program introduces curricular design in the arts and the four components of Discipline Based Art Education—criticism, history, aesthetics, and art studio. Art education prepares students to become either elementary classroom teachers or art specialists. Elementary classroom teachers must specialize in one area in addition to the Elementary Education courses.  

This major satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in Elementary Education and must be accompanied by the professional program in Elementary Education. See Elementary Education for program admission, completion, and teacher certification requirements. 

Western’s Art Department is part of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. Western’s Elementary and Secondary Education departments are part of the Woodring College of Education.

Majors are also eligible for the Arts Enterprise and Cultural Innovation minor (“AECI”), a unique program of WWU focused on launching successful creative careers in the arts. Scholarships are available to students pursuing the AECI minor.

Beyond the Classroom

Elementary Art students have unique opportunities to gain hands-on, practical experience for a future career in the art world. Faculty assist students in handling and installing artworks, learning and expanding research skills, or improving critical analysis and essay-writing abilities. 

Western Art Galleries

Students play an active role in the operations of Western’s three galleries, including the Western Gallery and two student run galleries—the Viking Union and B galleries. 


Art faculty encourage students to explore the academic world through research assistantships—an invaluable experience for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the field.

Study Abroad

The Department of Art offers many opportunities to travel abroad and domestically. Students participate in unique, life-changing encounters with art and art history.

“I couldn’t have asked for better experiences in teaching students and creating work. The authentic instruction in art taught at Western will keep graduates in the forefront of the job market.” – Mariah Klemens, Student

Careers and Graduate Studies

Western Art alumni have gone on to pursue their passions, including:

  • Robert McCauley: National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient and professional painter
  • Eugenie Tung: Head Teacher for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Education Program
  • Jim Goldberg: Author of seven books, National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, and professional photographer
  • Virginia Troy: Associate professor of Art History at Berry College

Sample Jobs

  • Art Educator 
  • Art Therapy
  • Elementary Teacher

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.