Bachelor of Fine Arts & Design Degree Programs

Bachelor of Fine Arts & Design Degree programs offer today’s visual artist the opportunity to cultivate both the professional skills required in the marketplace as well ...

as the chance to develop a unique creative voice and portfolio of artwork. Whether you are a traditional artist or enjoy blending creativity with technology, a bachelor’s degree in fine art, computer graphics, animation or other related field is considered the entry-level education for many of the trending careers in art and design-oriented careers.[i]

Bachelor of Fine Arts & Design Degree: Basics

Bachelor of Fine Arts & Design degrees are usually 4-year undergraduate programs that offer students interested in a professional visual arts-related career to fine tune their talents and learn some of the marketable skills required of contemporary art and design occupations. Most bachelors in fine arts programs require prospective applicants to have a High School diploma, GED, or transfer credits from an accredited associates degree program. Some art schools may also require a portfolio of artwork or have college-specific entrance requirements.

DID YOU KNOW?

Art directors need at least a bachelor’s degree in an art or design subject and previous work experience. Depending on the industry, they may have previous work experience as graphic designers, fine artists, editors, or photographers, or in another art or design occupation before becoming art directors.[ii]

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What Does it Mean to Be a Fine Arts & Design Major?

If you are hoping to cultivate your creative abilities, choosing to major in fine arts and deign can mean different things depending on what type of program you choose. A fine arts degree has usually meant painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry. With the advent of all things digital (from smart phones to special effects in motion pictures), artists are needed across a variety of media (multi media). Today’s bachelor of visual arts and design student can study film, photography, video production, editing, storytelling, conceptual art, printing and typography. Furthermore, whereas years ago graphic designers used pencils and sketch pads, technology has stepped in with computer assisted design software. One can be computer-science driven and yet still pursue an art career. To help you find the right Bachelor of Art and Design program, use the subject selection to choose from:

  • Bachelors in Graphic Design and Multimedia Degrees
  • Bachelors in Video Game Design

Potential Fine Arts & Design Curriculum

Curricula vary depending on what type of program you are in. Some Bachelor of Fine Arts and design programs are more arts related, while others focus on digital media, software design and computation. Many programs also encourage students to choose a specialization in an artistic field or cultivate business skills. Potential core courses in art and design might include:

  • Color theory
  • Principles of design
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Printmaking
  • Two dimensional drawing
  • Three dimensional drawing
  • Computer science
  • Drawing, animation
  • Film
  • Interactive media
  • Game design
  • Art history

Types of Bachelor Degrees in Fine Art & Design

Three main Bachelor’s degrees are awarded in art and design programs; the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.). The one you choose should reflect your interests and career aspirations.

B.A. Fine Art & Design

The Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art & Design is an academic degree. Typically, a B.A. in art requires more liberal arts in relation to visual arts; this could mean one-third art and design to two-thirds liberal arts and social sciences.

B.S. Fine Art & Design

The Bachelor of Science in Fine Art & Design is an academic degree. While the context is liberal arts, because it is a science degree, you may find more technical courses (math, computer technology, software design) and problem-solving than with a B.A.

B.F.A.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts is a professional degree, as is the Bachelor of Graphic Design. The B.F.A. traditionally includes liberal arts courses, but with a greater ratio of courses devoted to your major, more studio time, and more specialized training in your field of choice. Usually this ratio is one-third liberal arts to two-thirds study in the arts.[iii] Some BFA programs may take longer than the usual 4 years to complete, others may be accelerated.

Campus or Online Fine Arts Degree?

Do you look forward to a social learning environment? Are you excited to study amongst others, learn from your teachers in real-time, and participate in college activities? Are you eager to access your university’s facilities like art studios or computer labs? If so, a campus program may suit you and you should start to consider where you would like to study.

On the other hand, if you have a job that you don’t want to leave but you do want to earn your Bachelor of Fine Arts, you might consider the convenience of an online degree. Distance-learning requires you to be self-motivated, but you can usually make your own schedule, study wherever you have Internet and submit assignments through a web portal. You may have to make arrangements for your lab or art studio work, unless the program is a hybrid. These are blended online and on-campus so you get the flexibility and a low residency learning format. Whatever you choose, refine your search by ‘campus’, ‘online’ or ‘hybrid’.

Accreditation

Accreditation for postsecondary colleges, universities and independent art schools with programs in art and design may be accredited by a regional organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Continued Education

If you are working with technology, you may find that keeping up with updated computer graphics or design software becomes a necessary process, and you may do that formally through a professional association, informally, or through a graduate fine arts degree.  Some students continue their academic education with a Masters in Graphic Design and Multimedia or  a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree, as a graduate degree may help with a managerial role such as art director[iv] or art conservator.[v]  Graduate school is often an opportunity not just to fine-tune your craft and build your portfolio, but also to conduct research, and learn specific skills for the career you have chosen to pursue.

Take the Next Step   

Ready to search for a Bachelor of Fine Arts & Design degree program? Start reviewing the directory of sponsored listings such as Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Marketing & Design and Bachelor of Science in Visual Media & Graphic Design, among others. Each school and program has unique features, so don’t hesitate to request more information from all prospective colleges so you can make the choice that best aligns with your academic and vocational goals!


sources:[i] bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm | other sources: bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/art-directors.htm |[iii] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachelor_of_Fine_Arts[iv] bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/art-directors.htm[v] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/curators-museum-technicians-and-conservators.htm

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