Fine Arts & Design Programs

Fine Arts and Design programs include graphic design, digital art and video game design. Students are likely to learn the tools and techniques needed to develop and ...

enhance their creative expression. While visual arts can encompass drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking or video, today’s artists and graphic artists also use desktop publishing, animation, and a variety of multimedia arts and digital platforms.

Fine Arts and Design Programs: Basics

Fine Arts and Design programs encompass both 2-year associates and 4-year Bachelor of Fine Arts Programs. Future applicants to associate art and design degree programs typically need a high school diploma or GED. Some students earn this degree to then transfer to a Bachelor’s Degree program, otherwise students who are seeking enrollment in a 4-year fine arts degree program also need a high school diploma or GED but may also have to submit a portfolio of their work. Some programs incorporate classroom teaching, studio art time, portfolio development and may require an internship, a capstone project or a finished portfolio. Make sure to verify all entrance requirements with your art school or college as they vary.


62% of Graphic Designers hold a Bachelor’s degree, 15% an Associate’s degree.[i]

Click To Tweet

What is a Fine Arts Degree?

A Fine Arts Degree is usually based in the visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, music, poetry) or the performing arts (theatre, dance). With the advent of digital platforms (websites, video games, movies) the fine arts has expanded to include film, photography, video production and editing, design, sequential art (animation, comics, storyboards) conceptual art (installations) and printmaking.ii

What Does it Mean to Study Graphic Design & Multimedia?         

A Graphic Design Degree is typically rooted in visual communication. Today’s graphic designer uses typography, visual arts, and page layouts to produce designs that can be utilized in things like advertisements, logos, branding, websites, manuals, and visual story telling. Since contemporary mediums are more and more digitally-based, some design takes place using computer assisted drawing (CAD) software and designers often work with moving as well as static images. The overlap of art and technology is incorporated into multimedia degree programs (such as video game design).

Why Consider an Undergraduate Fine Arts & Design Degree?

To the extent that a Fine Arts degree could prepare you for a potential career, arts and design occupations include many possibilities:iii

  • Art directors
  • Craft and fine artists
  • Visual effects specialist
  • Video game designer
  • Fashion designers
  • Floral or jewelry designers
  • Jeweler
  • Graphic designers
  • Industrial designer
  • Interior designers
  • Multimedia artists and animators
  • Web developers

While it does not take a degree to be a creative person (jeweler, florist), many of the fields listed do require a Bachelor’s degree as entry-level education, with the exception of web developers, where the minimum is an associate’s degree.iv

Types of Fine Arts & Design Undergraduate Programs

Fine Arts and Design programs are varied. Students may choose a general degree or choose to concentrate in a specific visual art, a performing art, or a specific type of design process (fashion, graphic art, web design, game design). To narrow down the type of program you hope to enroll in, you should avail yourself of the hyperlinks in our subject selection to choose from:

  • Graphic Design and Multimedia Degrees
  • Video-Game Design Degrees

Types of Fine Arts & Design Programs

The next thing to determine is what degree level you are looking for within your specified field – associate of fine arts or bachelor of fine arts. There are different degrees within each category and this somewhat reflects whether you are looking into a technical school, an art academy or a 4-year college or university.

Associate of Fine Arts Degrees

The main Associate of Fine Arts degrees awarded are the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.), the Associate of Arts (A.A.), the Associate of Science (A.S.) and the Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.). These 2-year degrees are either vocational, meaning they prepare you to enter the workplace after you graduate or they are transfer degrees, meaning they lay the foundation for a 4-year degree.

Bachelor of Fine Arts Degrees

The main Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees awarded are the Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.). Of the three, the B.F.A. is considered a professional degree, while the other two are regarded as academic degrees.

Campus or Online

Another thing you will want to consider is whether you are interested in on campus or online fine arts and design programs. On campus fine arts and design programs may provide access to facilities (art studio, libraries, gym) as well as opportunity to interact with your classmates and teachers. Distance education means usually that you can log into your coursework via a web portal and fulfill your studio requirements at an art studio nearby. Use either ‘online’ or ‘campus’ and different search results will show up.


Even though a visual arts degree is about creativity, accreditation for Fine Arts & Design Undergraduate programs does matter. The National Association of Schools or Art and Design accredits about 320 postsecondary institutions with art and design programs.v Otherwise, either the U.S. Department of Education or the Council For Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes 6 regional accreditation agencies.

Continued Education

If you plan to work in graphic design, chances are you will have to keep abreast of new computer graphics and design software, either on your own or through a professional association such as the Just as the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree may be the continuation of an Associate of Fine Arts Degree, graduate studies in Fine Arts and Design can be pursued into graduate school with the Master of Fine Arts Degree (M.F.A.), a Masters in Graphic Design or other specialized program.

Take the Next Step

Ready to search for fine arts and design programs? Browse our directory of paid listings and select from A.A.S. In Business Administration-Retail Management, Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science in Visual Media and Graphic Design or Graphic Design Associate’s –Animation and Motion Graphics Specialization. Make sure to request program details from the collegeson your list. This may help you make an informed decision about your fine arts and design degree.

sources: [i] |[ii] |[iii] |[iv] |[v] | other sources: | |[vi]


Learn More About Fine Arts & Design