Undergraduate Degrees in Art and Design

Creative people who aspire to provide art and design for business, commerce, industry, non-profit organizations, governments and public institutions , as well as those who wish to advance culture and contribute to society through artistic production often choose to study art and design. They frequently choose between an art school and a college or university with an art school. This choice is often closely aligned with the type of education you select.

There are three types of art and design programs:

  1. Vocational Programs are most commonly chosen as preparation for an entry-level job immediately. Most of these programs confer the Associate in Arts (AA) or the Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree.  These programs are very practically focused on skill development. These programs are ideal for those whose skills are not yet highly developed and for those who have not yet decided that a career in art and design is part of their life plan. These degrees are available through community colleges.
  2. Liberal Arts Programs are offered by colleges and universities and they result in conferral of the Bachelor of Arts degree (BA). These students undertake a complete liberal arts education with a major in the arts or a particular art form. A liberal arts program is perhaps best matched to those who want to keep their career options open and explore broadly for an area of specialty. The actual amount of art and design work will essentially equal that obtained in a vocational program.
  3. Specialized Programs are also available. These are typically four-year programs in which students earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. There are, however some professional schools that confer the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in some design disciplines (such as digital game development). There are also a few schools that offer five-year degrees, such as the Bachelor of Graphic Design (BGD) degree and the Bachelor of Industrial Design (BID). In specialized programs, approximately 65% of the student’s course work will be in the area of specialty, with only about 35% devoted to liberal arts courses.

The field of Art and Design is quite broad, encompassing many perspectives, media, traditions and activities. Art and Design is commonly used to refer to any of the following specializations:

  • Fashion – Fashion marketing and management, fibers, accessory design, metals and jewelry
  • Fine Arts – Illustration, Painting, Performing Arts, Photography, Sculpture, Writing, Dramatic Writing
  • Applied Arts – Animation, Architecture, Film and Television, Furniture Design, Industrial Design, Interactive design and game development, Interior Design, Motion Media Design, Printmaking, Production Design, Sequential Arts, Service Design, Sound Design, Visual Effects, Advertising, Equestrian studies, Graphic Design, Television Producing
  • History – Architectural History, Art History, Historic Preservation

Crafts and fine arts are generally not produced within the context of traditional full-time employment. In addition, many artists and designers in all genres choose to work outside the more restricted environment of business or a traditional job. A very large number of artists and designers work on a contract basis as a freelance worker. They have the freedom from restriction and the opportunity to earn a comfortable income. As is true in most other areas and types of employment your salary will be commensurate with your talent and your ability to produce needed work when promised.

In 2002, when findings of an economic census were released by the U.S. Census Bureau, 212,000 people were employed in the fashion, fine arts, photography, film and other design industries. As the importance of the internet continues to grow and visually centered advertising and marketing grows in importance there is a steadily increasing demand for graphic artists and other designers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a high demand for artists and designers.