Guide to Art and Design School Degree Programs

There are many art and design degree programs available so make sure you choose the one that's best for your needs.
Student and teacher during painting lesson

Which Art and Design Degree is Right for You?

With a clear idea of your career goals and a little information about your options, you can answer the question "What kind of art degree do I want to get?" with relative ease.

Other factors depend on what career path you choose to take. Will you need a license in addition to a degree? For some art careers, earning a certificate and getting started as soon as possible is the better choice.

Continue reading for an in-depth description of different types of art degrees and why you should consider them.

  • Certificate Programs: Generally more concentrated than degree programs, certificates are credentials representing proficiency and skill in a particular area of study. A certificate program is normally intended for students with limited experience and begins with fundamental arts courses. Your studies in a certificate program will focus on your area of interest with few or no general studies requirements. Certificate art and design school programs may take as little as one semester or as long as 2 years to complete.
  • Associate's Programs: Associate's degree programs are generally 2-year programs offered by technical institutes or community colleges. They are designed to give students a general education in the arts or to prepare university-bound students for the eventual completion of a bachelor's degree in the arts.
  • Bachelor's Programs: Bachelor's degrees, or undergraduate degrees, generally take 4 years to complete if entered directly from high school. In the arts, there are two types of undergraduate degrees, according to the National Association of School of Art and Design (NASAD), the nationally recognized accrediting agency for programs in art and design. It delineates two types of bachelor's degrees: professional programs, granting the BFA; and liberal arts programs, granting the BA. Read more about how to choose between a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Bachelor of Arts.
  • Master's Programs: A master's degree requires a student to complete a bachelor's degree prior to enrollment. A master's degree at art and design school may take one to three years to complete. As with undergraduate degrees in art, there are two types of graduate degree programs. The Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) are the graduate counterparts to the BA and BFA degrees. Read more about how to choose between the Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts.