Home » Choose Your Master's Degree in Art

Choose Your Master's Degree in Art

Read information about MA and MFA degrees to help you make the right program choice.
An artist paints abstact art on a wall

Is an MA or MFA for You?

Choosing the right master's degree in art is important step when your ready to take your education to the next level. The main difference between the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree and the Master of Arts (MA) degree is the ratio of liberal arts courses to fine arts courses you will take. When you decide to get a masters in art, consider where you want to go in your career:

  • A Master in Fine Arts is a good choice for students who want to earn their livings as painters, photographers, sculptors, etc.
  • For those who want a little more flexibility, a Master of Arts will offer a broader range of classes and prepare you for more diverse career opportunities.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Individuals wishing to receive advanced training prior to becoming a practicing musician, dancer, artist or writer often choose an MFA program. With a more intense focus on art courses (65-85 percent) and less focus on liberal arts courses (15-35 percent), the MFA provides more hands-on experience for aspiring artists. The MFA is a 2-3 year or 60-credit program.

The MFA focuses on one particular area of specialty, such as creative writing or theater arts. Here are examples of some careers you might perform once you've earned your MFA—and other options:

  • Teach at the college level
  • The MFA can help artists start their teaching certificate or get an MA in education
  • Art gallery manager
  • Museum of fine arts director

Master of Arts (MA)

The MA focuses approximately 50 percent of the course work on liberal arts and 50 percent on visual arts. An MA may be completed in as little as 1 year or 30 credits.

An MA is an academic degree, and the coursework generally focuses on scholastic, academic and critical study within the field. Examples of some careers you might choose with an MA include the following:

  • Art teacher at the K-12 levels
  • Art historian
  • Art curator
  • Art critic

Choosing the Right Master's Degree in Art

There isn't only one right answer for which degree to pick. Your choice between an MA and an MFA is very personal. When you're ready to get started, contact schools with master's degrees in art to get more details about their programs. Getting specific information about your options may help you choose the path that's right for you.