Guide To Majors - Arts & Humanities

Art Major

Table of Contents

What Is Art?

"Art" is commonly thought of in terms of the fine arts or commercial arts, but here we will look at the Arts & Humanities Degrees that are in between - taking parts of both fine and commercial art and applying them to specialist pursuits such as art history, arts education, and administration of arts. These careers include an extensive background in arts education with appropriate courses in business, teaching, or history.


Career Education in Art

Fine Arts & Design Degrees: Studio Work

Applied art degrees can cover a lot of media - painting, sculpture, graphic design, interior design, film & theater, and music, to name a few. If you have a particular talent or passion that you'd like to nurture into a career, some formal education is the best way to start. Depending on your medium, building a career can be easy or hard--but if it's something you love, it's worth it, no matter what. Here are just a few of your options for on-campus and online college courses in various fields of art.

Visual Communications & Graphic Design

This is an easy one (at least in terms of the job market). As technology gets more advanced and consumers get savvier, there's high demand for professionals with college degrees in visual communication and graphic design. Whether you prefer to work with print media or computers, you'll have opportunities in the fields of advertising, Web design, book publishing, TV and film, and much more.

Fine Art

When we think of starving artists, we generally picture painters, sculptors and performance artists. It can certainly be hard to make a living in these areas--but it's not hard to start doing it on the side. Many full-time artists start out as hobbyists, and only move into the field full-time when they have been doing it long enough to be sure of a steady income. The first step is an art course.

Media Arts & Animation

Sometimes this can overlap in the industry with graphic design, but the important difference is that animators make their images move. From hand-drawn sketches to high-tech computer programs, animation is becoming an increasingly popular medium--especially in the video game industry. If you want your images to literally jump off the page, consider taking online college classes in animation.

Art Degree Programs for the Non-Artist

Undergraduate and graduate degrees in art

You don't have to be Picasso to succeed in a career in the arts. If you love the field but aren't nursing any particular talents of your own, what you'll want is an extensive background in arts education with appropriate courses in business, teaching, or history. Having a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is a minimum starting point for anyone wanting to specialize in art history, arts education, or arts administration and management. To advance your career further, you will eventually need a master's degree or MFA. In three years or less, a master's degree can provide you with more credibility and give you an advantage in the job market at a management level; and enable you to oversee public programming.

You could start your academic training with generalist courses at the associate's degree level that provide a solid base of English, social sciences, liberal arts, as well as history, education, or business courses, depending on your future specialization. Training in computer techniques may also be offered. Computers are widely used in the visual arts, so technology training is critical for many jobs in these fields.

Art History

In art history, you learn to view not only the aesthetic and technical qualities of an art piece, but you study the cultural, historical, philosophical, scientific, and religious context of the society it was created in and the individual who created it. You see the how and why of each piece. Training in art history differs from archeology and classics, because it deals strictly with the formal visual assessment of an object of art. You develop a "visual literacy" and often focus on art in high culture - what is considered to be representative of refined taste and superior intellect in any given cultural or historical context.

Most art historians will specialize in one period or region, and take supporting classes to give them that extensive knowledge. Foreign language, classical civilization, anthropology, religion, fine arts and, of course, history classes are part of the art history curriculum. The best skills to have, on top of the obvious creative ones, are abstract reasoning ability and visual memorization.

Arts Education

Arts education degrees are perfect if you want to use your art background to work with other people. You should be creative, organized and able to inspire the creative expression of those you teach. If you want to teach fine arts at public schools you should have a teaching certificate in addition to a bachelor's degree, and a master's or doctorate degree to teach at the college level. Many positions within adult education, museums, social rehabilitation, and community programs do not require additional certification. Your courses will combine principles of art with teaching concepts. Art therapists also take specialized art courses and psychology to practice their trade.

Arts Administration

Arts administrators, arts managers, or artistic directors handle the business end of providing access to arts exhibitions and programming. They emphasize and enhance the role of the arts within the community, and the cultural and economic contribution the arts make to society. Arts management requires strategic planning, artistic creativity and social commitment - calling on management and financial education, knowledge of the artistic process and an awareness of the dynamics and educational needs of their communities. An arts manager should recognize the social, cultural, economic, political, technical and ethical contexts of art through his or her education in arts, education, business, and law.

Prerequisites for online, self-directed graduate study can include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum of two years of paid or volunteer post-baccalaureate work experience in the nonprofit arts arena.

An advanced degree in fine arts or arts administration is necessary for management or administrative positions in government, in foundations or for teaching in colleges and universities. An example is the Master of Arts in Arts Administration (MAAA) that offers training in administrative leadership. Coursework will further explore financial management of public arts programs, fundraising, staff and volunteer management, and public relations. Some programs will have on-campus residency requirements.

What Can You Do With a College Degree in Art?

Career Specializations within Art

The job prospects for art majors are relatively wide open because the main credential employers are looking for is your solid background in arts education and your on-the-job training and experience. For example, art historians, arts managers, and arts educators can all compete for a museum curator job if they have the right work experience. Employers can teach you the specifics of the job after you have your art degree, which shows them you have learned how to think about art.
At the same time, keen competition is expected for both salaried jobs and freelance work, because many talented people are attracted to the visual arts--without a steady increase in available positions. You should prepare to be flexible in your job hunt.

Possible job opportunities for art history, arts educators, or art administration majors include:

  • Antiquarian Book Trade
  • Antiques Dealer
  • Architectural Conservation
  • Art Gallery
  • Art Investment
  • Artist Representative
  • Art Law
  • Art Librarian
  • Arts Organization Consultant
  • Curatorial Consultant
  • Freelance Collection Manager
  • Museum Work
  • Preservation and Conservation
  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Visual Resource Curator

Art dealers use their business and social skills to sell art and to develop a stable of artists to represent. They establish a reputation for good taste and talent to provide a win-win situation for both the artist and the buyer. Starting salaries are about $32,000, but with growing credentials the average salary is about $75,000 after five years in the business, depending on the location.

Museum curators oversee permanent collections and new acquisitions for their institutions. They usually specialize in particular media, eras, or locations. They will work on a team to decide on what is displayed and how to present supporting materials such as guidebooks or information plaques.

Arts educators at a museum will design and arrange various educational programs - classes, workshops, lectures, tours, and outreach programs for school or community groups. Previous studies in history or anthropology can enhance your presentation, as can your interpretive and interpersonal skills. You will need to relate to diverse groups of people, so polish your written and oral communication skills for everyone from the wide-eyed preschooler to the well-heeled arts patron.

Certification and Licensure

No specific certification exists for arts administrators, art historians, or arts educators. To teach art in the public system or to work as an arts therapist, you need further education and professional certification in those fields.

Return to the top

Pursue your Art Major today…

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.

Searching Searching ...

Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
2 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
Remington College , Fort Worth
  • Dallas campus named 2013 School of the Year by the National Association for Health Professionals (NAHP).
  • Tuition covers course-required materials for campus students, including books, lab equipment, and class supplies.
  • Offers flat tuition rate to continuously enrolled students who are on track toward program completion.
  • Campus accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
  • 18 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Students who qualify may apply for the Opportunity Scholarship, which can help lower education costs.
  • Offers career-focused, degree programs to over 70,000 students at over 140 ITT Technical Institutes in 35 states.
  • Classes are offered year-round, with day and evening course options.
  • Online courses can be accessed from anywhere, 24 hours a day.
  • Nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
4 Program(s) Found
  • Operates out of a modern, state-of-the-art studio space in the heart of downtown Toronto overlooking Dundas Square.
  • Provides students with access to industry-standard equipment and resources, such as green screens and cameras.
  • Offers specialized assistance services for international students, including housing support and peer tutoring.
  • A part of the RCC Institute of Technology group of schools.
  • Faculty and alumni are regular credited and involved in films at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
  • 2 campuses located in Dundas and Steeles in Toronto, Ontario.
Show more [+]
5 Program(s) Found
  • Based in Winter Park, FL, Full Sail University offers an innovative approach to learning.
  • Entertainment and media design programs are offered on campus and online.
  • With more than 37,000 alumni, Full Sail University graduates have worked in many different roles for some of the industry’s most well-known companies and contributed to countless notable projects
  • Through Project LaunchBox™, students in most programs receive a MacBook Pro pre-equipped with professional software at a deep institutional discount.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available for students who qualify.
  • Offers programs in film, game production & design, animation & VFX, music production, and more.
  • Features several on-campus facilities, including recording studios, sound stages, threatres, and more.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid