3 Paths to an Art Degree

Oregon State University

Oregon State University

Want to help your artistic son or daughter find the best college fit? Two key decisions made early in the search process can lead to a simpler and less stressful college search. Help them figure out what type of degree they want to pursue and what type of environment suits them best. The two go hand-in-hand, and it’s easier than it sounds. Here are three paths you’ll need to consider:


1 – Art and design colleges provide the ultimate in immersion. Most of your son’s time will be spent studying the arts, just like all his peers. Living and breathing art and design, and preparing for a future in the field are the focus here: 24/7. This is study with commitment. Roughly two-thirds of your teen’s time will be focused on the arts. Math, science and humanities play supporting roles, with subject matter that informs the arts. A BFA is most common.

Kenyon College

2 – One-on-one attention is in the DNA at liberal arts colleges. The emphasis is on teaching strong foundational skills like writing, critical thinking, and communication. Classes are typically small, with lots of discussion and opportunity for professors to get to know their students. Approximately one-third of students’ study time will focus on the arts and most graduate with a BA. Students major in a variety of subjects.

3 – Amenities are the name of the game at large college campuses. You want it; chances are the university will offer it. Football games, fraternities and sororities, and an affiliation with every organization known to mankind come to mind. So do opportunities to study across fields and even create your own major; think design and engineering, or biology and art. Interdisciplinary studies create endless learning possibilities. And, once on campus, if your daughter decides design isn’t her thing, she’ll have a wealth of other majors to consider.

Maine College of Art

Maine College of Art

Getting clear about what your teen wants to study, and what type of environment will be best for them will get everyone off to a great start. Begin your family conversations early, and include a visit to each type of campus if you can.

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5 thoughts on “3 Paths to an Art Degree

  1. For anyone considering an Art degree: I loved my time in Art College in Ireland, and don’t regret it at all. Before I started, many people told me that I wouldn’t be able to find a job once I graduated, and even now I get a lot of comments from people to the same effect. Quite a few people don’t take it seriously as a subject, and have this pre-conceived notion that we are all unemployed, lazy and unrealistic. I’ve been working in my field since I graduated, and have to say that the majority of artists I have met are extremely hard working, down to earth people; a pleasure to work with.

    You are absolutely right about lecture contact, and it is fantastic to have that connection to your mentors. You feel that you are regarded as a person on a visual arts course, and not just a number on an accounts book. Finally, you really do learn to think (and clichéd as that sounds), and voice your opinions. The very best of luck to anyone considering this field.

    • Sinead: Thanks for sharing your experiences. I know that parents and aspiring artists worry about future jobs and career paths. The skills gained are immeasurable. Thanks again!

      • No problem, I was really glad to find this post. There needs to be more discussion around career paths relating to the arts. It’s a really wonderful field that matures your entire thinking process, and there are a lot of opportunities to be had within it!

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