Art Schools in Virginia with Degree Program Overviews

Feb 15, 2019

Virginia Schools for Aspiring Artists

Art students in Virginia can find programs with awards ranging from associate's to doctoral degrees. Learn about two schools offering such programs below, and explore their degree levels, areas of specialization and hands-on work experiences. The table in this article presents additional facts about each school.

  • Virginia Commonwealth University is centrally located in Richmond and offers bachelor's degrees in art education, craft studies, fashion design, painting/printmaking, graphic design and photography/film. This school also offers a master's degree in sculpture and a Ph.D. in art history.
  • Thomas Nelson Community College is in Hampton. This school's associate's degree in fine arts offers extensive studio coursework for students.

Comparison of Schools

Beyond looking at the locations and programs offered, students might also want to check out the table below to learn more school facts. Discover the tuition charges, graduation rates, enrollment numbers and acceptance rates in order to compare these two schools.

Virginia Commonwealth University Thomas Nelson Community College
School Type 4-year, public 2-year, public
Total Enrollment (2017) 30,675* 8,286*
Campus Setting Midsize city Midsize city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $13,624 (in-state)*
$33,656 (out-of-state)*
$4,679 (in-state)*
$10,607 (out-of-state)*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 81%* 65%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 84%* Open admissions*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 83% for full-time students* 60% for full-time students*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate 63% (students began Fall 2011)* 19% (students began Fall 2014)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Virginia Commonwealth University

Founded in 1838 as a medical school, this institution today offers more than 200 programs. In 2019, U.S. News and World Report ranked Virginia Commonwealth University second in the nation in fine arts and first in sculpture. All undergraduate art majors in their first year complete the same foundational courses before specializing in one of the university's many art programs.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education

This program prepares students to become art teachers at the elementary through high school levels. Although students are trained as artists, they must also complete an internship as student teachers.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Craft/Material Studies

Students in this specialty are expected to concentrate in metal, wood, fiber, glass or clay. Students learn to create furniture, jewelry and other crafts. Students may also minor in a second medium.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion with a Concentration in Fashion Design

This business-oriented major exposes students to styles and trends in international fashion. Junior students are encouraged to complete internships in the NYC fashion industry. Courses address textiles, draping and illustration.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting/Printmaking

Either painting or printmaking, or a combination of the two, may be emphasized in this program. Studio space is available to painters, and specialized facilities for lithography and screen printing are available to printmakers.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Graphic designers create practical, interactive visual media used for getting ideas across to an audience. Courses cover print, digital imaging, typography and other technical topics.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and Film

This program offers concentrations in either photography or filmmaking. Filmmaking students study moving pixels, lighting and cinematography, while those pursuing photography studies take courses in darkroom procedures and the history of photography.

Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture

This is one of the most well-known art programs at Virginia Commonwealth University. Students can expect research-intensive coursework. Students who are interested in this program are required to have finished 60 semester hours of undergraduate classes before acceptance. A bachelor's-level program is also available.

Doctor of Philosophy in Art History

Two tracks, curatorial and historical, are available for Ph.D. students. The historical track prepares students for careers in teaching. Courses in art history are largely organized by region. The curatorial track trains students to contribute to historical research and to manage non-profit organizations, such as museums.

Thomas Nelson Community College

Thomas Nelson Community College is the fifth largest college in the Virginia Community College System. Its campus is located in Hampton, nearly 180 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., near Virginia Beach.

Associate of Applied Arts in Fine Arts

Students seeking a terminal 2-year degree in art will find this program to meet their needs. It offers classes in design fundamentals, computer graphics and painting as well as a 4-class series in drawing. Students may complete introductory coursework in digital photography.

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