It’s not uncommon for would-be art majors to be discouraged from pursuing an academic degree in the visual arts. Unfortunately, critics of these less-than-traditional credentials often talk about art degrees as if they’re not “real” college degrees. Some even question if they’re worth the very paper they’re printed on. While careers in the arts may not be as lucrative on average as other high-paying occupational paths, there are plenty of other benefits to becoming an art major. Read on to discover our top ten great reasons to make art your primary course of study.
1. You’ll Be Fulfilled
Are there better options than an art degree? This is a question you’ve likely pondered a lot if you’re considering art as your major. Sure, you can ditch your dream of becoming an artist and opt for a safer major like engineering or business, for example. Ask yourself, though: would you be happy? For some creative types, making art is the only thing they can imagine themselves doing for a living. If this sounds familiar, then this major could be your ticket to a career that feels more like play than work. Plus, your studies leading up to the career of your dreams won’t feel like real work either. Although coursework must be completed in a traditional classroom setting, much of your time as an art major will be spent in the studio practicing your craft.
2. You’ll Have the Coolest Homework
The burden of homework isn’t something most college students look forward to. It doesn’t have to be dreadful when you study art, though. While your roommate is making flashcards for her anatomy exam, you’ll be attending a gallery showing or checking out the new exhibit at a nearby museum. Art majors do have homework, but usually, it’s not the traditional kind. More often than not, it consists of working on a project of your choosing or studying another artist’s work. In other words, the work you do for your classes will typically be work that you find personally meaningful and interesting—not the kind that puts you to sleep at 7 pm or makes you constantly question your choice of major.
3. You’ll Be An Art Connoisseur
Speaking of coursework, the classes you’ll take as an art major will teach you about more than just your chosen craft. In addition to painting or drawing, for example, you’ll likely learn about art history, art theory, and the relationship between art and society. Moreover, many an art curriculum comes with a strong liberal arts core, meaning after graduation, you’ll be prepared for careers or graduate study outside the discipline as well. There’s nothing wrong with having a plan B, after all!
4. It Won’t Break the Bank
There’s a misconception that fine arts degrees cost more than other, more traditional types of academic degrees. While you could pay more to attend a school specializing in art instruction, there are plenty of more affordable options. Many state-sponsored schools offer top art degrees that rival more expensive private institutions regarding their academic quality and even resources afforded to art students. In fact, if you look hard enough, you’ll find respectable art schools and programs to meet almost any budget. Inexpensive options for undergraduate art degrees span $5,000 to $20,000 in tuition costs per year. Plus, there’s always financial aid to consider. Many times, schools dedicate scholarship funds for students entering their art programs. Alternatively, grants, loans, and work-study programs may also be available.
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5. You’ll Have More Career Options Than You Might Think
Another common fallacy about the art discipline is that there’s a lack of job options in the field. That’s because when most people think of professional artists, they think of studio artists like sculptors or painters, for instance. While these are valid “artist jobs” in their own right, they don’t have a monopoly on the discipline. In fact, there may be more occupational choices in the arts that are less traditional by nature. In contemporary times, art is often meshed with other thriving industries such as business and technology, creating employment opportunities for art majors in various fields and industries. Consider the following lesser-known occupational pathways in the art discipline:
- Fashion Designer
- Art Director
- Makeup Artist
6. There’s More Than One Type of Art Degree
While we’re talking about options, we’d be amiss not to mention the many different types of art degrees available to undergraduate students. These degree choices enable you to study exactly the type of art you’re interested in and may even prompt you to consider sub-fields of art you never knew existed. Below is a mere sampling of the types of credentials you can choose from as an art major:
- Bachelor of Art (BA) in Visual Arts
- BA in Art History
- BA in Graphic Design
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography
- BFA in Sculpture
- BFA in Fashion Design
- BFA in Interior Design
- BFA in Animation and Visual Effects
- BFA in Game and Interactive Media Design
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Art Education
In addition to myriad degree options, many undergraduate schools of art offer students opportunities to further specialize their studies by selecting a concentration or area of emphasis. In a few cases, you may even be able to pursue a dual major or an undergraduate certificate to add to your degree plan. Alternatively, independent study options are often options for art majors. These added specializations and enhancements to your credential of choice could make you more marketable when deciding to enter the workforce.
7. You’ll Mingle With Other Artists
For many college students, the networking opportunities in higher education are just as valuable (if not more worthwhile) than academic prospects. This is often true for undergraduates pursuing an art credential. In art school, you’ll be introduced to people who could make a huge difference in your career as an artist one day. These are highly respected professors (often artists themselves) who can provide you with job referrals once the time comes and distinguished alumni who have the connections necessary to get you an internship or gallery opening.
That’s not to mention the sheer enjoyment you’ll experience just by hanging around people who get you. Many art schools and departments comprise tight-knit communities of scholars who study together, socialize after classes, and participate in on-campus clubs and organizations related to their disciplines. As an added bonus, people who choose to study art tend to be among some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet!
8. You’ll Have True Mentors
As we mentioned, art professors are usually artists themselves. Some of them may even have notoriety in the field. That means that when you take classes from these teachers, you’ll be learning not only art methods and stylistic techniques, but you’ll also get insight into proven tricks of the trade. There’s no better way to learn how to be successful in the art field than to be mentored by someone who has experienced this success first-hand.
9. You’ll Be Poised for Grad School
Graduate school isn’t a necessity for most entry-level careers in art, but it is an option. If you want to become a true master of your trade, or if you have dreams of teaching art at the college level, then a graduate degree in art may be worth your while. Whether you decide to pursue a master’s degree or even a PhD in the field, you’ll have numerous options. Some of these choices include:
- Master of Arts (MA) in Studio Arts
- MA in Art Education
- MA in Art History
- Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
- Master of Science (MS) in Interior Design
- Master of Arts in Teaching: Art Education
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Art and Design Education
Of course, before you can even consider graduate studies, you’ll need to complete your bachelor’s degree in art.
For many art majors, the decision to go to art school is a no-brainer. Others may need a little encouragement to pursue their dreams as a professional artist. Whether you’re already committed or you’re still on the fence about whether or not an art degree is worth it, take heart that there are a number of different benefits to studying visual arts at the college level. Just remember, it’s hard to go wrong when you follow your passion. Trust your instincts and with any luck, you’ll land where you need to be, both personally and professionally.