Whether you are a high school student looking to explore your creative options in college or a career-changer looking to go back to school, you have stumbled onto this blog, likely, because you are looking to explore your creative potential more deeply and build a career path within the fields of visual arts.
Congratulations! Your are taking a bold first step towards an exciting new life-journey.
The creative landscape is continuously changing. Like with most fields, technological advances, social implications, and environmental factors are changing how artists and designers learn, work and live. Understanding this creative landscape and what your prospective art school has to offer you is the first step in making a sound decision for how and where you will invest the next few years of your life.
Each art school is different.
Each school has a curriculum which is continuously evolving. So when making your decision to pursue formal education in the arts, you have to figure out which program is right for you.
Art school is not a one-size-fits-all model, and different schools, locations of schools, majors and minors will have their strengths and weaknesses.
What Can Art School Offer You?
Because all art schools are not one-size-fits-all, it’s important to understand some of the basic language and options that are available.
Majors, Minors and Concentrations
When enrolling for an academic program at a college or university, you will (either upon enrollment or within the first year or so) need to select a major. Some programs will offer a minor or a concentration in a subject, too. Here’s the difference.
Major – When a student is seeking a degree (Associate, Bachelor or Master), the primary field of study is considered a major. For a four-year degree, this structured plan of study consists of a minimum of 30 credit hours for a 120 credit hour program, and the specific title of the major will appear on a students’ transcript.
For example – A Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting. The Degree is the Bachelor of Fine Arts (or BFA) and the major is Painting.
Minor – A minor is an optional, secondary focus of study for a degree-seeking student. If a student declares a minor, it must be in a different specialization as the major, and will require a minimum of 15 credit hours, and no more than 29 credit hours. The minor will require a significant amount of extra coursework, so it is not uncommon for students to attend the college or university for an additional length of time (such as an additional semester or year). The minor will also appear on the transcript.
For example – A Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting, Minor in Drawing.
Concentration – Depending on the school, concentrations may or may not be available within a course of study. They may also be required within a degree track. The required credit hours vary from school to school, so it is important to speak to an academic advisor if you are considering pursuing a concentration.
What’s the Difference Between a BFA and a BA?
If you are considering a four-year degree in the arts, you must consider what type of degree you wish to earn – Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or a Bachelor of Art (BA) degrees.
The main difference between a BFA, BS, and a BA degree is simple… the amount of Liberal Arts Classes.
What’s Liberal Arts?
Liberal Arts courses fall within the humanities side of the academic spectrum, and include your more traditional classes such as English, Philosophy and Sociology. (Book-learnin’ Classes).
BA- A BA Degree is a Liberal Arts Degree. This means that 50% of the curriculum must include liberal arts classes. The other 50% will include subject-matter or “major” classes like ceramics, design, painting, book-binding, etc.
BFA- A BFA Degree is considered a Professional Degree. This means that up to 75% of the curriculum will focus on subject-specific, “major” courses, and 25% will focus on liberal arts classes.
Other Things to Consider
Because seeking a degree in the arts is a big deal, there are many other things that you will want to consider before you sign on the dotted line. Future posts will provide more detail, but for now, you should consider the following:
- Is the school a college or university?
- Is it a Liberal Arts College or an Art School?
- Is it Regionally Accredited?
- Is it Programmatically Accredited?
- Does it have a strong career service office?
- What are their graduation rates?
- How are their alumni performing in the job market?
You also need to think about your decision from a logical, financial standpoint. Learn about the financial aid options and scholarships that are available. Apply for any free money that is available.
Check back in with Your Mentor to learn more about filing for financial aid and art scholarships.
Above all, be proud of your decision to move forward and take your art to the next level. I am proud of you and looking forward to helping you along your journey!