In 1905, these course offerings were organized under the newly established School of Fine and Applied Arts (later to become the College of Fine Arts) and, within two decades, formal degree programs were established and the College of Fine Arts building, one of the university’s landmark structures, opened in 1916 to serve as a home for critical inquiry and creative production. From their earliest days, the schools of the College of Fine Arts have been demanding of their students, academically rigorous and professionally focused. The result is a constellation of internationally top-ranked conservatory schools in the arts, design and architecture.

Carnegie’s vision of the role of the arts in education created an environment unique in higher education: the integration of professional conservatory education and practice within a tier-one research university, offering great depth and breadth of intense professional arts education within the larger educational context of academic spirit and rigor.

At its core, the College of Fine Arts is human-centered, trans-disciplinary in its intellectual capital and approach, committed to community engagement, supportive of creative risk-taking, and actively embracing diversity. The pedagogy across the college is built on the principles of “thinking through doing” and “learning through doing” in a studio-based environment, and respect for tradition while encouraging innovation. The College of Fine Arts aspires to increase local, national and international impact and transformation of the creative professions by advancing leadership in multidisciplinary research and education, and through well-educated and professionally successful graduates. The college’s success derives from its capabilities in identifying and nurturing interdisciplinary opportunities both within the college and across the university, and by integrating research, scholarship, education, practice and service within its schools.  

Interdisciplinarity, a core value for the College of Fine Arts, is realized not only in individual exploration and scholarship of our students and faculty across various colleges and disciplines, but also through the BXA Intercollege Degree Programs and a number of degrees offered in collaboration with other academic units. BXA, with degrees offered jointly through Dietrich College of the Humanities and Social Sciences (Bachelor of Humanities and the Arts), Mellon College of Science (Bachelor of Science and the Arts) and the School of Computer Science (Bachelor of Computer Science and the Arts), provides individualized educational experiences and supports undergraduate students’ quests for new forms of knowledge from the fusion of multiple fields of inquiry.  

Andrew Carnegie recognized the power of art and instilled within all of us at the university a deep appreciation for art’s ability to inspire engineers, technologists, scientists and policy-makers in changing the world. Not unlike the scientists, engineers and scholars across Carnegie Mellon who push their discoveries and invention to the limits of human experience and understanding, the students and faculty within CFA test those same limits, and they have a critical role to play in reflecting on the human condition, stimulating creativity across sectors, and affecting change in our society.  

The “genius of the place” (as a former School of Music head once referred to it), is that the schools of the College of Fine Arts, unlike stand-alone arts conservatories, are rooted among top-ranked programs in technology, science, engineering, management, policy and the humanities, all of which serve to enrich CFA students’ educations. Carnegie Mellon is a home for academically gifted architects, designers and artists who, through this rich and deep intellectually diversity, have the opportunity to achieve extraordinary artistry, to be ever inquisitive, and to move into their futures with a sharp sense of confidence and purpose.