Distance Learning Degree Programs in Fine Art: Overview of Degrees

Learn about online degrees with fine art courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Online fine art programs award a range of degrees, from associate's to master's. An associate's degree program can typically be completed in two years, whereas a bachelor's program usually requires four years of study. Programs on the master's level often involve exhibitions and a summer residency, as well as mentoring. Students should have access to a digital camera and webcam in order to pursue these degrees in an online format.

Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees

Students are introduced to the fundamentals of fine arts in distance learning associate and bachelor's degree programs, including drawing, design, color and composition. While completing the programs, students are encouraged to develop their own unique artistic style and direction. Fine arts courses are designed to build technical expertise and professionalism.

Course Topics

Some courses that may be included in a fine arts distance learning degree program at the undergraduate level include:

  • Still life painting
  • Silkscreen
  • Watercolor painting

Still Life Painting

Students learn about form, light, warm and cool colors, shadows and composition, while painting still life forms.


Participants learn how to create fine works of art using the photo-emulsion stencil method.

Watercolor Painting

Participants receive an introduction to basic watercolor materials and techniques, including flat brush, graded wash, dry brush and wet-on-wet techniques.

Length of Coursework

Associate of Fine Arts degree programs have fewer required courses, and distance learning programs at the associate level can be completed in a minimum of two years. Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees usually require four or more years to complete via distance learning programs, since the pace is typically slower than in structured classroom courses.

Master's Degree

Master of Fine Arts programs allow students to concentrate on their areas of expertise. Some specialties include fine art, media design, creative writing, painting, sculpture and theatre. Typically, students create a portfolio of work throughout the course of the program.


Additionally, a student's work may be presented in an exhibition and undergo critical review by faculty and professionals. In a distance learning program, the exhibition and review may be conducted online via video, live Web conferencing and online slideshow presentations.

Residency and Mentoring Components

Some master's programs require students to attend an intensive summer residency program, where they complete most of their fine art projects; in others, they meet periodically with an assigned mentor in their geographic area. Professors and mentors for distance-learning master's programs are usually successful artists working in the area they teach.

Learning Requirements

Fine art students enrolled in distance learning programs need an at-home or local studio, where they can work on assignments. Most distance learning programs use Web-based education software and conferencing to conduct classes online. Through the Internet, e-mail, phone, fax and mail, students complete required coursework and communicate with faculty and classmates.

Outlines for distance learning courses include the requirements for textbooks, art supplies, hardware and software. Art supplies can typically be purchased online for convenience or from a local art supply source. Students upload photos of their class assignment projects for professor review; they are also frequently required to submit artwork by mail for distance learning classes.

Because of the visual nature of fine arts' degree programs at any educational level, students who enroll in these programs online can still expect to complete traditional on-campus program components, like exhibitions and reviews, but in an online format. Some programs, especially at the master's level, will require students to complete summer intensives to work on art projects.

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