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Explaining the Significance of Having a Fine Arts Degree

Learn about the educational and career options available with a Fine Arts Degree. Get tips for finding the best school or program for your interests and budget.

Fine Arts Degree Program

A career in fine arts can be a fulfilling and exciting journey – but it all starts with getting into a fine arts degree program. 

But a fine arts education isn’t just about mastering the techniques of art – it’s also about building an excellent base for achieving success in the artistic realm.

Although the thought of beginning your art career can be intimidating, countless have gone on to thrive in the industry after graduating. It’s like constructing a home – if you build strong foundations, your craft will remain stable for many years.

Let’s dive into the details of why such credentials are so beneficial.

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What is a Fine Arts Degree?

A fine arts degree opens up a world of creative expression and allows you to explore the depths of your artistic abilities. This multifaceted program encompasses various disciplines, such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, digital art, and more. However, it continues beyond the mastery of these techniques. 

Pursuing a fine arts degree can open many doors to personal growth and career opportunities, challenging the age-old stereotype that it’s just a creative whim.

Importance Of Fine Arts Today

Fine arts remain an essential part of our lives today because they provide us with creative expression and beauty that we wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

Delving into painting, music, dance, or any other art form lets us express our innermost thoughts in ways no words can truly embody.

Despite all the digital mediums available for people to express themselves, traditional fine arts practices like painting and sculpting remain timeless. No matter what technological advances come our way, these art forms will always be cherished and admired.

What are the Fine Arts Degree types?

Studying fine arts is an excellent way to discover and nurture your creative side and develop a deep understanding of culture and expression. 

As a prospective student, exploring academic options in the creative world can be highly advantageous. You must be aware of all your potential choices to make an informed decision.

Certificate in Fine Arts

Certificates in Fine Arts are typically awarded after completing a program or course focusing on the arts. Depending on the institution, they generally range from six months to two years in length and require a significant commitment of time and effort. These programs usually offer specific courses such as drawing, painting, sculpting, design, photography, digital media, and performance.

This type of certificate is especially beneficial if you do not have an undergraduate degree in the arts or have yet to have the opportunity to pursue further education.

Entry requirements: 

  • A high school diploma or equivalent (GED)

Associate in Fine Arts

The Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) degree is an undergraduate program offered by community colleges, art schools, and some four-year colleges and universities. 

This two-year program provides a comprehensive foundation of knowledge and skills to set you up for success in fine arts. You will acquire the technical expertise needed to lead your chosen discipline while also getting acquainted with essential topics such as general education requirements.

With this degree, you can pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts or any related field.

Entry requirement: 

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Placement tests (such as SAT or ACT)

Bachelor of Fine Arts

Get the skills and training you need to excel professionally with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. This four-year program is specifically designed for those pursuing formal education in fine arts, giving you access to valuable resources that will help hone your craft. 

Unlike most college classes which are lecture-based, BFA classes focus on teaching practical skills through studio applications, almost like an arts conservatory. This is worth exploring if you strive to refine your artistic skills while obtaining an accredited visual or performing arts education.

Entry requirements:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Placement tests (such as SAT or ACT) 

*You may easily confuse a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Liberal Arts. Even though all these academic programs have “arts” in their titles, they are different.

While both BAs and BLAs focus on the development of interdisciplinary knowledge through liberal arts courses such as math, science, history, and literature, BFA programs emphasize artistic practice with a focus on developing expertise in a particular craft, such as painting, sculpture, and printmaking.

Masters of Fine Arts

Obtaining a Master of Fine Arts degree is an achievement that demonstrates dedication to the visual and performing arts, design, or creative writing. It’s typically required for those who want to work in artistic professions such as authorship, editing, playwriting, dancing, acting, or painting.

Before earning your MFA, though, you must already obtain a college degree. Once that requirement has been met, you will be eligible to apply for an MFA program which could open up many new opportunities for your future in art and creativity.

Entry requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in fine arts or an art-related field
  • Minimum GPA requirements
  • Letters of recommendation

Doctorate of Fine Arts

Doctor of Fine Arts is the pinnacle of achievement in academic pursuits within fine arts. This innovative research program merges creative theory with practical application to bring meaningful advances and contributions to modern art and design. 

As a recipient of this esteemed degree, you can make your mark on history through inspired works that stand out.

Entry requirements:

  • Master’s degree in fine arts or an art-related field
  • Minimum GPA requirements
  • Professional work experience is preferred

Disclaimer: The entry requirements for a degree in Fine Arts may vary depending on your university and state. However, here we have outlined the general qualifications that are frequently asked for.

What types of specialties and concentrations can you find in Fine Arts Degree programs?

Studying Fine Arts can be like a journey of self-discovery, where you uncover your inner creativity and express yourself in ways that are unique to you.

When embarking on this journey, you can choose from various specialties and concentrations. Many are available, making it possible to find an area that perfectly aligns with your artistic interests.

These are some of the top picks to keep in mind:


For centuries, painting has been an outlet to express the depths of emotion and creativity, making it one of the oldest art forms. Not surprisingly, many students flock toward this concentration when pursuing a degree in fine arts.

Painting classes can entail a variety of topics, from color theory to composition and abstract art. Additionally, you’ll learn how light, color, and texture combine in various paintings and master diverse painting techniques like watercolor paints, oil paints, acrylics, pastels – and more!

The end result is a comprehensive knowledge of painting that you can apply in many fields, such as graphic design, illustration, fashion design, etc.


With modern technological advances such as digital cameras and smartphones, capturing memorable photos is easier than ever before – making it more popular than ever!

If you join a photography concentration program, not only will you gain proficiency in lighting techniques and camera operation, but also delve into more intricate concepts like photojournalism and digital post-production.

This concentration allows you to practice your craft while exploring new areas, such as fashion photography or documentary work.

Creative Writing

Creative writing is becoming an increasingly popular concentration among those studying fine arts due to its versatility and ability to be used in many different aspects of life, such as marketing or web content writing.

Classes focus on honing your skills, from sentence structure and grammar to storytelling. By composing poems or short stories and receiving feedback on each piece of work, you can cultivate your specific style, which will help sharpen the quality of your craft


As technology has evolved, so too have the possibilities of design. The traditional fine arts disciplines, such as drawing and painting, are now interwoven with more contemporary practices like computer graphics and web design to create a beautiful harmony of artistry.

Design courses will give you a broad understanding of design fundamentals such as typography, layout principles, and graphic design and illustration standards. Additionally, they delve into more current topics like branding and identity establishment; motion graphics; 3D modeling; web design -allowing you to stay updated on the latest trends within the digital world.

Courses & Curriculum in Fine Arts Degrees

As a student majoring in fine arts, it is essential to have a good comprehension of the courses and curriculum that your program provides. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your education to fit your interests and goals by using core topics as a foundation and delving deeper into subjects that capture your curiosity.

Moreover, understanding the available classes can help you choose the program that best fits your goals.

Let’s look at some of the courses commonly offered in fine arts degree programs.

Drawing Fundamentals

Through this course, you will explore drawing techniques from observation, memory, and imagination to craft works that boast strong composition, emotion, and communicati

Various media will await your creative use as you delve into intensively observed processes, research-based investigations, and critical thinking applications.

Historic and Experimental Photo Techniques

In this course, you will have the opportunity to explore a range of historical and modern photographic techniques. You’ll also gain an understanding of their prominent role in history as well as how you can use them creatively today.

Introduction to Digital Art

Get a hands-on exploration of the innovative and plentiful resources available to artists and designers through computers. From basics such as letter manipulation, drawing/painting techniques, image processing, and 3D modeling to more advanced capabilities like interactive scripting and animation – this course allows you to master each area of computing with confidence.

Interactive Art & Design

Explore and embrace the creative potential of interactive computer technologies for artistic expression, knowledge presentation, and narrative dynamics. Through exposure to relevant theories from artists, designers, technologists, and other theorists in the field of new media, you will be able to develop innovative approaches that create an aesthetic within this cutting-edge form.

On-campus vs. Hybrid vs. Online Fine Arts Degrees

In the evolving landscape of higher education, aspiring artists and creative professionals are increasingly confronted with a critical decision when considering their academic pursuits: a traditional on-campus degree, a hybrid program, or a fully online curriculum.

As with any subject matter, each modality boasts unique advantages and drawbacks.

We’ll help you comprehend the finer distinctions between them so that you can make a knowledgeable decision regarding your studies.

On-Campus Fine Arts Program

Pursuing on-campus fine arts degrees remains a pivotal endeavor for creative individuals seeking to cultivate their passions in a highly dynamic environment. Surrounded by like-minded individuals, you can immerse yourself in collaborative projects, drawing inspiration from one another to enrich their artistic experiences.

Furthermore, the diverse range of courses within fine arts curricula creates a versatile foundation from which you can explore new mediums such as digital design, photography, or specialized painting techniques.

However, there are often limitations regarding class availability due to campus size and student enrollment numbers. Additionally, attending classes on campus can be costly due to housing fees or commuting costs if you live off campus.

Hybrid Program

Hybrid degree programs have sparked a lively debate, offering a multitude of advantages and drawbacks. Supporters of hybrid learning emphasize its flexibility, enabling busy individuals to balance personal and professional obligations alongside their studies. 

Digital resources empower these students to review lectures and materials at their convenience, fostering a learning experience tailored to their unique needs. 

However, critics argue that hybrid programs lack the fellowship and network-building opportunities traditional, on-campus learning offers. Some also worry about the diminished engagement between students and educators during online classes, potentially hindering academic growth.

Online Program

The rise of technology has undeniably influenced higher education, making online degrees more accessible and, for some, the preferred mode of learning. 

A notable example is the study of fine arts, which has expanded its reach beyond the walls of traditional classrooms and into the digital world. 

As appealing as obtaining an online degree in fine arts may sound, weighing its pros and cons before embarking on this educational journey is vital.


Maximum flexibility

Access to diverse range of artistic teachings and styles

No commute time or transportation costs


Lack of hands-on guidance and in-person interactions

Difficulty crafting a masterpiece without physical demonstrations and guidance

The value of networking and forging connections with fellow artists is often left unaccounted for

It could require special software or equipment, which could add additional costs to tuition

What to consider when choosing a Fine Arts Degree?

For artistic individuals with an itch to explore the world of fine arts, there are numerous paths that one can take. Choosing between them, however, is no easy task. 

A fine arts degree opens up a whole universe of possibilities and offers many doors to pursue your passion – but it’s crucial to ensure you’re picking the right program for YOU!

Before you decide, consider a few things to ensure your chosen program meets all your needs.

1. Accreditation

Accreditation is the most important factor when choosing a fine arts degree program. Accreditation is given by the relevant authorities in each field and ensures that the college or university meets certain standards of quality and excellence. 

It also matters when it comes to transferring credits from one institution to another or even being eligible for government financial aid programs.

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.

2. Internships Opportunities

Another factor to consider is internship opportunities. Internships teach you valuable skills, help you network with professionals in your chosen field, and open doors for future employment opportunities after graduation. 

Find out if the school offers internships through its alumni network or local businesses in your area, as this will indicate how well-connected they are with industry professionals.

3. Financial Aid & Scholarships

Find out what kind of financial aid and scholarships are available at your prospective school. Most schools offer financial assistance to help cover tuition costs, so look into this before committing yourself financially to any institution. 

Also, ask about scholarship opportunities; many colleges have scholarships specifically geared towards students pursuing fine arts degrees, so this could be a great way to reduce your cost burden while getting the education you need.

4. Consider Your Career Goals

Your career goals should be taken into account when deciding which fine arts degree program to pursue. Different programs have different focuses and concentrations; some concentrate on painting, while others specialize in sculpture or photography. 

Consider what type of career you want and choose a program that will best prepare you for it.

5. Research Faculty Members

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential schools, take a look at their faculty members. Research their credentials and experience; try to find out how long each faculty member has been teaching at the school and how many students they typically teach each semester. 

It will give you an idea of how much time each professor has available for individual attention versus working with large groups of students.

What can you do with a Fine Arts Degree?

We often think of art as a hobby, but there is so much more potential in having a degree in fine arts.

The fine arts are growing in popularity as more people recognize the power of creative expression and the many career opportunities available to those with a degree in the field.

Career Outlook for Fine Arts Majors

The career outlook for those with a fine arts degree is generally positive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for craft and fine artists are expected to grow 6% from 2021-2031

As the need for professionals in this field spikes, it offers job security and promising advancement opportunities.

Notably, the expected occupation growth can be attributed to economic recovery post-COVID-19 recession in 2020. This projected expansion is likely to occur during the early stages of the projection decade.

Fine Arts Degree Salary

The salary potential for those with a fine arts degree varies greatly depending on the job role and industry. 

According to the BLS, those who work in fine and performing arts may expect an average annual salary of $42,000.

On the other hand, craft and fine artists can anticipate a median wage of nearly $50k approximately 8 thousand more!

*Craft and fine artists are renowned for their distinctive style in one or multiple art forms. Here’s a list of some of the most common types of craft and fine artists:

  • Cartoonists
  • Ceramic artists
  • Digital artists
  • Fine-art painters
  • Glass artists
  • Illustrators
  • Sculptors
  • Sketch artists

Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and fine artists continually innovate to create unique art pieces for sale or display. While craft artists may specialize in making objects that can be used daily, such as pottery, glassware, and textiles; Fine Artists like painters, sculptors, or illustrators focus more on creating works with an artistic flair rather than practical purposes.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$49,960 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Graphic Designers

Skilled graphic designers use creativity, computer software, and manual techniques to develop visual concepts that captivate and inspire consumers. They are responsible for the look of advertisements, brochures, magazines, and reports – from concept through final production design.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$50,710 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Special Effects Artists and Animators

Innovative special effects artists and animators utilize their creative imaginations to design captivating two-dimensional and three-dimensional models, vivid images that appear to move, and other spectacular visual effects for movies, television shows, video games, and other forms of media.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$78,790 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Digital Designers

Digital designers are responsible for a website or interface’s aesthetic and functional appeal. They craft and analyze user experience for optimal navigation on any given platform.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$79,890 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Dancers and Choreographers

Through their art, dancers and choreographers use the joyous language of dance to craft stories that inspire audiences from all walks of life. Whether it’s ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, or jazz – every type of movement conveys a unique message about the collective human experience.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$41,060 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level



With technical savvy, creativity, and the right composition, photographers can capture moments that tell a story or record an event.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$38,950 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level

High School

*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 colleges with Fine Arts Degree Programs

For those of you who aspire to pursue a degree in fine arts, rest assured that there are numerous excellent academic programs available for you.

Take a look at the most sought-after colleges offering fine arts degree programs.

California College of the Arts (CCA)

Located in San Francisco and Oakland, CCA offers undergraduate and graduate degrees for aspiring artists. Its Bachelor of Fine Arts program includes concentrations in animation, design, film/video, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, painting and drawing, photography, prints, and digital media.

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

MICA is one of the oldest continuously operating art colleges in the United States. It boasts a thriving campus life and offers some of the most diverse fine arts programs. Its undergraduate majors include animation; art history; curatorial studies; drawing; fibers/textiles; general fine arts; among others.

Pratt Institute

Located in Brooklyn, NY, Pratt Institute offers various art-related degrees, including painting/drawing, sculpture/installation art, and graphic design. There are numerous opportunities for internships and scholarships available at Pratt Institute, so it’s easy to see why so many students choose this college for their fine arts degree program.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Ranked as one of the highest educational institutions in the nation, RISD offers an unparalleled quality of education. It has undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 20 different areas of study, including painting/printmaking, photography/video, and digital media design

Featured Colleges

FAQ about Fine Arts Degree Programs

A fine arts degree is undeniably a valuable investment. Not only will it grant you the opportunity to delve into multiple expressions of art, such as painting and sculpture, but also disciplines like photography, filmmaking, graphic design, or multimedia art.

With this degree, you will gain valuable skills like an eye for detail, critical thinking, and problem-solving. 

Additionally, many employers are looking for graduates with a fine arts degree since these skills are often highly sought after in the professional world.

A fine arts degree allows you to acquire extensive skills ranging from traditional art creation methods to more modern approaches. You will learn how to work with various tools, materials, and techniques to produce artwork, as well as hone your communication and interpersonal skills. 

Additionally, fine arts degrees often include courses that cover topics such as history, theory, and criticism which help develop an understanding of the different aspects of visual art.

The time needed to complete a fine arts degree depends on the program and institution, but typically it takes two to four years of full-time study. 

It can take longer if you are attending classes part-time or if you are taking more than one concentration within the fine arts field.

The cost of obtaining a fine arts degree will vary depending on the institution and program chosen. Generally speaking, tuition costs for an undergraduate fine arts degree range from $10,000-$35,000 per year. This does not include additional fees such as books and supplies.

After graduating with a fine arts degree, multiple options are available if you wish to continue your education. You can pursue post-baccalaureate studies in areas such as art history, studio practice, or curatorial studies. 

Additionally, many fine arts graduates pursue corporate and educational positions requiring a high level of knowledge.

A fine arts degree can open the door to many career options, including design, illustration, animation, art direction, teaching, and more. 

Additionally, many graduates pursue freelance opportunities or start their own graphic design, photography, and web development businesses. 

There is an exciting chance to explore a career involving galleries, museums, and other institutions in the creative world.


To conclude, if you are thinking of getting a degree in fine arts, you should reflect on all components before settling upon a decision:

  • A fine arts degree provides a comprehensive foundation of knowledge and skills to set you up for success. 
  • Fine arts remain an essential part of our lives today, providing us with creative expression and beauty we wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
  • Popular specialties within a fine arts degree include Painting, Photography, Creative Writing, and Design, among others. 
  • The career outlook for those with a fine Arts degree is positive, with an expected growth rate of 6% from 2021-2031 and salary potential ranging from $42k-$50k depending on the job role. 
  • Common types of craft & fine artists include cartoonists, ceramic artists, digital artists, fine-art painters, glass artists, illustrators, sculptors, and sketch artists.

Embrace the future you deserve – get your Fine Arts Degree today!

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