What Can I Do with a Fine Arts Degree? - Typical Courses & Careers

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  • 0:01 Overview of Fine Arts Degrees
  • 1:21 Fine Arts Majors
  • 2:51 Careers
  • 3:42 Get More from Your Degree
  • 6:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

This lesson will review different majors within a fine arts degree program. In addition to majors available, possible careers in the fine arts will also be investigated.

Overview of Fine Arts Degrees

Hi! If you are viewing this video, there is a good chance that you are already somewhat committed to having fine arts as a part of your life in the future. This lesson will review some of the degree options for fine arts programs and investigate types of careers available for fine arts students. Fine arts refers to visual art that is created primarily for beauty and meaning. Examples of fine arts fields are painting, sculpture, drawing, graphics and, recently, many universities are adding theater to their fine arts programs.

As I said earlier, if you are watching this, you probably are already at least somewhat committed to and passionate about a fine arts degree. You probably have a passion for your particular art. And passion is a good thing. But I'm sure you've had others ask you how you intend to support yourself with a degree in fine arts. Their concerns are not unfounded, as there is a relatively high unemployment rate for fine arts students. I hope this lesson helps you see what some of your options will be and gives you more information for making your choice of major.

Fine Arts Majors

Now, one of the most important things to remember about a degree in fine arts is that it is a very competitive program in any university. Most universities will require that you already have established skills in the area of the arts in which you hope to study. A portfolio is a collection of your best work to showcase your current skills. You will need to submit a portfolio with your application to the school. For performing art majors, expect to have to audition for a spot in the program.

The primary degrees available under the fine arts umbrella are:

  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Animation
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Dance
  • Film and television
  • Musical theater
  • Theater

Each area of fine arts is specific, but there are some overlapping courses you should expect to take no matter what field you choose. You will certainly have to complete your school's general education courses. These are courses that cover a wide range of information in many disciplines, normally taken within the first two years of a program. Additional common courses for the arts are courses such as art history and art appreciation. These cover all the arts in general, giving students an understanding of the entire field before they begin to specialize in their chosen area.

Careers in Fine Arts

A 2012 Georgetown University report found that the unemployment rate for fine arts majors is over 12%. While that rate is comparable to a liberal arts degree, it does not account for the many fine arts graduates who are not working within their degree fields.

It is said that artists must suffer for their art, which becomes clear as students begin to try to find work. After completing a fine arts degree, graduates face fierce competition for permanent positions related directly to their degrees. These positions could include:

  • Sculptor
  • Illustrator
  • Photographer
  • Artist in an ad agency
  • Broadway performer
  • Actor
  • Animator
  • Museum curator

How to Get More From Your Degree

A degree in fine arts is fine, however, pairing your fine arts degree with another discipline could lead to greater marketability in areas that are only indirectly related to fine arts.

A few examples would be:

  • By adding a minor course of study in computer programming or computer graphic design, a fine arts grad may be able to become a gaming art designer.
  • The addition of interior design coursework could prepare a student for a career in interior design specialist.
  • A double major in psychology might lead a fine arts student to a career in art therapy.
  • A double major in education could lead the fine arts student to an art teacher position.
  • As a final example, pairing a fine arts degree with a concentration in business management could lead to a job as a fine art buyer/seller or art gallery manager.

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