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Art & Design Degree Programs: Certificates, Degrees, Majors & Important Info

Further your artistic career with art and design degree programs. Learn essential principles like color theory, critical thinking, and more.

Arts & Design Degree Programs

Are you seeking to further your educational journey with a degree that cultivates and promotes creativity while offering thrilling career opportunities?

Then, consider adding an art and design degree to your portfolio.

Plus, you won’t be alone! Thousands of students in the United States apply for art and design programs each year to turn their passion into a profession.

With the increasing demand for visual and digital media, the future looks bright for those pursuing an education in art and design.

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of art and design programs, including the skills you’ll learn, the types of certificates, degrees, and majors available, the curriculum, career outlook, and salary potential. We’ll also provide a list of popular colleges and universities and answer common questions both students and parents may have.

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What are Art & Design Degree Programs?

Art and design programs encompass various disciplines, including fine arts, graphic design, fashion design, digital media, and more.

It allows students to turn their creativity into real works of art,  learning about traditional art methods using paint, charcoal, pencils, and clay. Additionally, modern technology, such as computers, is used to create digital artwork, including photography, video editing software, 3D modeling, web development software, and more.

This combination of traditional and modern techniques allows students to gain a thorough understanding of artistic creation from a variety of perspectives.

Students learn to think creatively, problem-solve, and develop their artistic voice while also gaining a solid grounding in their chosen field’s technical and theoretical aspects.

Uncovering the ins and outs of an art & design program is essential before deciding to commit. Let’s delve into what these programs typically offer so you can feel confident in your choice.

Art & Design Degree Program - Skills You'll Learn

Learning the key competencies through an art & design program can give aspiring artists and designers the confidence they need to pursue a successful career in this field.

Whether you’re a beginner or already have experience in the world of art and design, there are certain skills necessary for success. Let’s take a look at some of the essential skills you will learn in such a program. 

1. Creativity and Problem-Solving Skills

The most important skill any artist or designer must possess is creativity. Creative problem-solving abilities enable creative professionals to come up with innovative solutions to complex challenges.

Creative problem-solving also involves looking at problems from different perspectives, researching solutions, and thinking outside of the box. This skill is necessary for any art or design project. 

2. Visualization Abilities

Another vital skill you will learn in an art & design program is visualization abilities. The ability to visualize a concept or idea in your mind before putting it on paper helps artists and designers bring their ideas to life.

Visualization abilities also help them make informed decisions about composition, color, texture, and light when creating artwork or designing products.

3. Understanding Culture & Trends

An understanding of current culture and trends is another invaluable skill that can be learned through an art & design program. By staying up-to-date on cultural shifts and popular trends, artists and designers can create works that resonate with their target audiences.

This knowledge can also help them create pieces that stand out from the competition by using current cultural references or incorporating new visual elements into their designs.

4. Communication Skills

In addition to technical knowledge related to visual arts fundamentals and design theory, communication skills are also important for success in the art & design field.

These include written communication (for example: writing emails or reports) as well as verbal communication (for example: presenting ideas or collaborating with colleagues).

Most programs will focus on developing these skills through various activities such as group discussions or presentations.

Common Outcomes

In addition to helping students develop key competencies, art & design programs also prepare students for certain common outcomes that they may encounter in their future careers.

Students enrolled in an art & design program can expect to gain knowledge about the history of art and design as well as its various disciplines through theory classes or seminars.

They’ll also learn about marketing strategies for selling their artwork or services as well as how to build their personal brand as an artist or designer. 

Most important, though, is the opportunity to develop technical skills in drawing, painting, sculpture, digital media production, photography and more—all while being mentored by experienced professionals in the field.

What types of Certificates, Degrees & Majors can you find in Art & Design Programs?

Art and design programs provide a multitude of certificates, degrees, and majors for students to choose from. Notable options include:

Graphic Design

Graphic design is one of the most popular majors for those who want to pursue an art and design career, but it can also be found as a major in the IT and Computer Science programs and degrees.

In the Art & Design programs, this major focuses on creating art for a purpose, such as an advertisement or company logos, and creating visual solutions to communication problems using typography, photography, illustration, and other techniques.

Graphic designers create logos, posters, website designs, magazine layouts, advertisements, and many different types of visuals for both print and digital media. They must also understand color theory and composition fundamentals to create compelling designs.


A painting major focuses on developing an understanding of colors and shapes to create stunning works of art. This major covers color mixing techniques, perspective drawing methods, and oil painting techniques.

Painting majors will also learn the basics of composition and how to use materials like canvas or paper to create beautiful works of art.  


A sculpture major focuses on learning how to use different materials like clay or wood to create three-dimensional objects that can be displayed in galleries or public spaces.

Students will learn about the history of sculpting and contemporary methods used by modern sculptors. They will also learn about anatomy to create realistic figures or abstract shapes.  

Video Game Design

Video game design is a growing field that combines elements from computer science with artistic skills like animation and 3D modeling.

This major covers game mechanics design, level development, and scripting languages for game development tools like Unity or Unreal Engine 4 (UE4).

Students attending this program will not only learn how to develop games but also gain knowledge about programming languages like C++ or Python used by developers worldwide today.  

Fine Arts

This major focuses on the traditional fine arts, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking. Students learn the technical and conceptual skills necessary to create original works of art.

Fashion Design

This major focuses on designing and creating clothing and accessories. Students learn about textiles, sewing, pattern-making, and fashion history.

Digital Media: This major covers using digital tools and technology to create art and design, including animation, video game design, and virtual reality. Students learn about programming, 3D modeling, and digital compositing.

What does the course curriculum look like in Art & Design Programs?

The Art & Design Programs curriculum focuses on the technical and creative aspects of art. Typically, courses include drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, digital media, graphic design, printmaking, and more. Students may also take critical studies or cultural history classes to understand their artwork’s context better.

Additionally, many programs offer electives allowing students to explore their interests and specialize in a particular medium or genre. With suitable classes and teachers, Art & Design Programs can help foster creativity and provide artists with the tools needed to create work that is both meaningful and impactful.

Depending on your major, art and design programs showcase an eclectic range of courses. Here are a few that you may find in the curriculum:

Drawing and Painting Course

Students will gain insight into the essentials of creating art, such as composition, color theory, and different mediums. They’ll learn to use these fundamentals to create beautiful works of art with various techniques!

Graphic Design Fundamentals Course

This course will dive deep into the fundamentals of visual communication, including typography, layout design, and color theory.

With this knowledge, they’ll be able to craft compelling visuals that effectively captivate your audience!

Digital Photography Course

Students will learn about the technical facets of photography, such as exposure, lighting, and editing, while also discovering how to create aesthetically pleasing photographs.

Textile Science Course

This course is specifically tailored for students majoring in fashion design, exploring fabrics’ various properties and characteristics and delving into the methods associated with textile production.

3D Modeling and Animation Course

For students enrolled in digital media majors, this course offers a fundamental understanding of producing 3D models and animations through programs like Maya or Blender.

Important to Know

For those aspiring to an artistic career, creating a portfolio is essential for success. 

This portfolio serves as the student’s work of art, showcasing their unique capabilities and strengths to future employers. A well-crafted portfolio allows students to stand out from the competition, so they must take the time and effort to curate their pieces carefully.

Colleges can provide resources to help students create their portfolios, such as classes and workshops on presenting professional pieces. Art and design students must also research the types of portfolios universities are looking for to tailor their own accordingly.

Whether it be an electronic database of graphic designs, a closet of designed clothes, a book of sketches, or a hallway of sculptures, students should make sure that their portfolio reflects their style and capabilities because having a strong portfolio can help them land internships and jobs.

It is also essential to keep their portfolio up-to-date, as employers will look for current work examples,  and also it provides a way for students to reflect on their progress and see the growth in their skills over time.

So, select the best of your work and give a look-through at what makes you unique. Your portfolio can be the key to unlocking your creative potential and getting closer to achieving your goals.

Art & Design Degree Programs: Career Outlook, Salary Potential & Positions

For art and design professionals, the future looks bright!

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 2% job growth for these occupations from 2021 to 2031.

Although the projected growth is slower than the usual average, did you know that in May 2021, the median annual wage was an amazing $48,220? It’s no wonder why more and more people are pursuing careers in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media.

Numerous opportunities await if you have a degree in Art & Design.

Top Art & Design Degree Jobs you can get:

Graphic Designer

Designs visual concepts using computer software or hand to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$50,710 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Fine Artist

Creates original artwork using any of a wide variety of mediums and techniques.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$49,960 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Industrial Designer

Crafting and engineering manufactured products, including cars, household appliances, and toys.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$77,030 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Fashion Designer

Express your individuality and creativity with one-of-a-kind clothing, accessories, and footwear.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$77,450 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Multimedia Artist or Animator

Bring your creative vision to life with special effects, animation and other eye-catching images through the use of film, video, computers or multiple electronic tools.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$78,790 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Art Director

Determines how best to represent a concept visually and directs others who develop artwork or layouts.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$100,890 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Web Developer

Creates and maintains websites using languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$77,030 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Game Developer

Designs, develops, and produces video games.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$75,270 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Interior Designer

Planning and designing the interiors of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$60,340 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level



Harnessing technical expertise and creativity, using composition skills to craft beautiful images that narrate a story or chronicle an event.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$38,950 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


*Please be advised that the average salary provided by the BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and occupation to occupation, depending on various factors.

Popular Art & Design Colleges & Universities

With so many universities and colleges offering art and design programs, it is hard to know where to start.

Here are the five best-rated schools for your creative pursuits:

Parsons School of Design, New York City

Known for its innovative approach to art and design education, Parsons has a strong reputation in the industry and a diverse range of majors to choose from.

Its location in New York City provides students with numerous opportunities for internships and networking with professionals in the field.

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence

This university has gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the country’s premier art and design institutions. Outstanding academics, smaller class sizes, and an intimate learning environment offer students an unparalleled opportunity to explore their creative potential.

From traditional fine arts to progressive practices, RISD offers its students a unique experience that will pay dividends long into the future.

California Institute of the Arts, Valencia

Here students are inspired by a multifaceted curriculum that combines traditional fine art with modern digital media. CalArts provides ample opportunity to foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation through its vibrant community of faculty and students coupled with its Southern California location.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

Students can dive into a world-renowned art and design education with an array of majors to pick from. Plus, being located in buzzing Chicago means students have immediate access to countless local galleries, museums, and other art-related spots that make up the city’s vibrancy.

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh

Renowned for its robust graphic design and digital media offerings, Carnegie Mellon University boasts a myriad of majors emphasizing innovation, technology, and art education. This university is the perfect choice if you’re looking to pursue your passions while remaining at the forefront of modern-day industry trends.

What you need to know about Accreditation

Programmatic Accreditation

Programmatic accreditation ensures students obtain a quality education in their desired field of study. Rather than reviewing the institution as a whole, programmatic organizations evaluate individual programs or offerings to guarantee they align with established standards and provide an adequate level of instruction within the specialty area. 

When exploring Art and Design Programs, ensure that the institution you are considering is accredited by The National Association for Schools of Art & Design (NASAD). With their national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees in art/design-related disciplines and other credentials they provide to institutions and individuals engaged in an artistic lifestyle or profession, NASAD provides a reliable source of assurance various entities can trust.

*Our website proudly displays a reputable list of colleges and universities, all accredited by either renowned regional associations or highly respected national agencies that have been acknowledged by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Featured Colleges

FAQ about Art & Design Degree Programs

Many art and design jobs require a bachelor’s degree, while others may only require a certificate or associate’s degree. Some jobs, such as becoming a fine artist, may not require a degree but rather a strong portfolio of work. 

Depending on the program structure and course load of your Accounting Degree program, it usually takes about two years to earn an Associate’s degree in Accounting or four years for a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. 

The job outlook for art and design professionals is positive, with employment projected to grow 3 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, the job outlook will vary depending on the field and location.

While the job outlook for art and design professionals is positive, it’s important to note that competition for jobs can be high. A strong portfolio of work and relevant experience can increase employability.

If you need help deciding what major to choose, it’s essential to research and explore different fields within art and design to determine what interests you the most.

You can also speak with advisors, professors, or professionals in the field to gain insight and guidance.

Additionally, many programs offer a general art and design major where students can take various courses to explore different areas before declaring a specific major.

Creating a portfolio is essential to showcasing one’s artistic abilities and skills.

It is the tangible representation of what they can produce, allowing them to share their talents with potential universities.

Colleges can be an excellent resource for helping students build their portfolios, offering guidance and constructive criticism to help polish them into something that truly reflects the artist’s best work.

Prerequisites vary depending on the program but commonly include a high school diploma or equivalent and submitting portfolio samples demonstrating your skills. 

Not necessarily. While a strong portfolio of artwork can undoubtedly help, many schools recognize the potential for growth among students who are still developing their artistic skills.

Generally, admissions boards look for applicants that demonstrate an understanding of design principles and a genuine passion for creating art.

The length of time required to complete a program can vary depending on the type of program and the institution.

Generally, a full-time Art & Design program will take two or four years to complete and may include summer classes. Some schools also offer accelerated or part-time courses that are completed in less time.


An Art & Design degree program gives you the perfect opportunity to craft your portfolio of creative work. Unlike traditional degrees, an art & design program enables you to express yourself through art and design mediums. You will be able to hone in on areas that interest you most and make use of your innate abilities as the course progresses.

With an Art & Design degree, you can become your creative franchise. From artist to photographer and beyond – the courses in this field grant students the knowledge and skills needed for any career within this realm of creativity.

So, take your time to build and refine your portfolio that will accurately reflect your skills and capabilities as an artist, and choose the perfect Art & Design program for a bright career!

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