Associate's degree programs in applied arts provide students with experience in art forms, including visual arts, digital arts, fiber arts and metalwork. While some schools offer general applied arts curricula, others offer areas of specialization, such as crafts, photography or fine arts.
In most programs, students gain extensive hands-on studio experience; many schools have state-of-the-art studios, including dark rooms for photography and computer labs for publishing and illustrating programs. In addition to training in art techniques, students also learn about history as it applies to various art forms.
Associate's degree programs in applied arts are generally offered at 2-year community colleges and technical schools. Applicants are required to hold a high school diploma or equivalent education, and most programs will require applicants to be at least 18 years old. Some 2-year schools may also require students to submit SAT or ACT scores, but this is generally more common among 4-year colleges and universities.
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Associate's Degree in Applied Arts
Students in associate's degree programs in applied arts receive a foundation in universal art concepts and history. The bulk of the coursework is split between hands-on art courses.
- Fundamentals of design
- Western art history
- Introduction to pottery
- Digital drawing and painting
- Introduction to fashion design
Popular Career Options
While many students pursue an associate's degree in applied arts for personal enrichment or to develop their art skills, many entry-level career options are available, such as fine artist, curatorial assistant, commercial framer, art supply service representative, or an entry-level or volunteer art instructor.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), craft and fine artists will see a slower than average projected job growth of 2%, from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators, earned an annual average wage of $54,170.
Continuing Education Information
Many students transition from associate's degree programs in applied arts to bachelor's degree programs in an area of interests in the arts. Master of Fine Arts programs are also popular; these programs provide students more opportunities to develop their skills and techniques in studios under the supervision of experienced arts.
Ph.D. programs in arts typically focus on art history or education more than studio arts. Students at the doctoral level are interested in careers at universities, museums or other institutions where they teach and perform research. Additionally, many applied arts associate's degree graduates continue to take independent art classes outside of degree programs, primarily to further develop an area of previous study or to explore a new branch of the arts.
An associate's degree in applied arts provides students with a solid foundation of knowledge about art history and techniques. These programs are often taken as standalone courses to improve the student's artistic ability, but graduates can use the degree to find work in entry-level positions within the art industry or prepare themselves for further study.