A small number of schools offer fully online Bachelor of Fine Arts degree programs, although such programs are rare due to the hands-on nature of the fine arts. Available programs often require the purchase of specialized software. Artists are not required to hold a bachelor's degree, but such degree programs can help graduates improve their technical skills and build a portfolio. Studio art is one such major that includes art courses. Online requirements include a digital camera and/or a scanner and art software programs.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art
In a BFA program, students undertake substantial original artistic projects in the media of their choosing, such as painting, photography, printmaking or sculpture. They take courses in artistic techniques and art history, and complete general education requirements. Coursework in a BFA program is very intensive on the art studio work, with about three-quarters of a typical degree program devoted to major courses and art electives.
Program Information and Requirements
Because BFA programs require substantial hands-on work from both students and instructors, all-online programs are relatively rare, though a few do exist. They combine recorded lectures with textbook readings and discussions in online forums. Students must buy their own materials and submit their artwork to be evaluated by instructors, usually in the form of a photograph or digital reproduction. Purchase of specialized graphic design or image editing software may be required.
Students who cannot find suitable all-online programs may also consider taking courses in general education or art history online and transferring credits to a local university to complete their fine arts courses in person. Programs usually take 4 years to complete, though program completion time will vary if students enroll in classes part-time or intermittently.
List of Common Fine Arts Courses
Most courses in a fine arts program focus on a particular artistic medium. Students learn about the aesthetic theories underlying various techniques and create many works in accordance with the principles taught.
A composition course covers the aesthetic principles of composing a scene for painting or drawing. Color theory, pattern, value, staging and mood are all considered.
Students learn about the anatomy and proportions of the human form. They practice rendering various poses in charcoal, paint, ink or another medium, and they scan them to be submitted to their instructors for evaluation.
Students use a program such as Adobe Photoshop to modify digital photographs or scanned images. They learn about techniques to clarify, re-color, and otherwise edit digital graphics.
The career paths and incomes of visual artists vary widely. Graduates of BFA programs may pursue careers as self-employed artists sustained by the sale of their works. They may also seek out positions with art galleries, entertainment companies or design firms. Students specializing in photography or digital art may find opportunities available to them in a variety of industries.
Continuing Education Information
Artists who have completed their bachelor's degrees may consider a Master of Fine Arts degree program. MFA programs, which are often available online, train students in advanced artistic techniques and guide them toward the creation of substantial artistic works. With the appropriate teaching licensure, graduates of MFA degree programs may be able to teach art in high school or junior college settings.
Students enrolled in online bachelor's degree programs in studio art learn about topics such as figure drawing and digital editing and must have access to a camera, computer software and extensive art materials, such as paint and charcoal. Programs can be completed in about four years, and graduates can pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree to further their skills.