The main accrediting organization for art programs is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). NASAD’s objective is to ensure that art schools maintain the highest standards for their students and faculty.
The United States Department of Education has designated NASAD to accredit schools that offer both degree and non-degree training in art and design. A school with an NASAD accredited online art program is encouraged to consistently provide students with the motivation to succeed in their future achievements.
Students can obtain either of Bachelor of Arts in Art, Graphic Design or a related field. Many schools offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). Note that a combination of online and brick-and-mortar classes may be necessary for a BFA.
Candidates for these programs typically should have either a bachelor’s degree in art or in a related field, such as Studio Art, Communications, Theater, Media Studies, Multimedia Communications. Many people have a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree.
A variety of master’s degrees in art are offered. In the Master of Arts (MA), students pursue concentrations in order to become an expert in a specific discipline. A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is considered a terminal degree (the most advanced) and will qualify students to teach art at a college level. Most MFA programs have portfolio requirements.
Common areas of focus for an MA offered online include:
- Art History tracks the evolution of Eastern and Western art forms. You will develop your skills combining key parts of different art genres to create original, compelling works.
- Creative Writing focuses on specific disciplines and study prominent examples of great fiction. Expect to dissect narratives, trace literary motifs and discuss characterizations in order to refine your craft.
- Art Education teaches students to build curricula that promote exercises including short story composition and illustration, which will help students grasp artistic concepts such as theme and characterization. You may also identify and develop your unique form of visual or written expression.
- Music Education examines how musical theories and works differ among diverse cultures. This specialization focuses on how to develop students’ musical competencies from a technical standpoint at early grade levels or to teach more complex musical concepts such as combining music genres and lyricism at the post-secondary level.
- Media Design teaches brand development through the use of broadcasting and social media tools. Students will evaluate promotional tools used by individual artists as well as large business enterprises including social media and viral marketing.
Students at the undergraduate and graduate level can expect courses in:
- Art and Design History: Students gain an understanding of the practices, criticisms and societal implications of art. Major art movements such as Realism, Impressionism and Cubism are discussed as well as the emergence of graphic design in the twentieth century.
- Studio Practices: Students concentrate on best practices for producing art in a studio. This involves hands-on work, such as creating storyboards for animation or preparing plates for printmaking.
- Graphic Design: Students experiment with theories of design and their applications in commercial settings. Students learn about page layout, color theory and typography.
- Color Theory: Students learn how to manipulate color in their work to produce a variety of visual effects.
- Criticism: Students learn how to generate new ideas and perspectives while analyzing, investigating and seeking meaning behind works of art and design.
- Drawing: Drawing classes cover a wide range of styles and teach students to translate 3D space onto a 2D surface using texture, depth, line and value.
- Art Marketing: Students will analyze PR strategies, media relations and social networking tools. They will learn how to clearly promote the content of their art and generate public anticipation using new viral marketing techniques and mobile technology.
- Art and Public Policy: This course introduces students to different public institutions and policies that protect artistic expression and provides a promotional platform for specific works. They will learn about the processes and politics surrounding ratings boards, location scouting and the creation of public art installations.
Students pursuing an art degree often seek work in advertising, film production, television production and interior design. All of these industries need art directors, animators web designers, graphic designers and fine artists with bachelor’s degrees. Although accreditation is not mandatory, a company is more likely to favor a job candidate with a degree from an accredited program. Students interested in graduate school should know that jobs that require a graduate degree in art are mostly in the museum and education fields.
A student with an online masters degree in art can become an art instructor in higher education, an art historian or a curator in a museum. To become an art professor or museum director, students should pursue an advanced degree.
Some careers graduates can choose from include:
- Art Directors: Art directors work with creative departments and clients to develop the visual style of films, magazines, newspapers and products. The median annual wage for this profession is approximately $80,600. By 2020, this field is expected to grow by 9 percent as less directors are needed for print publications and more are needed for digital media and graphic design firms.
- Museum Curators: Museum curators acquire, store, trade and display large collections of art and historic artifacts. The median annual salary is roughly $42,300. Over the next ten years, this field will grow by 25 percent since museum attendance is expected to grow and more curators will be needed to coordinate renovation and restoration projects.
- Post-secondary Art Teachers: Postsecondary art teachers teach a variety of artistic disciplines – including drama, music and graphic design – to college students. The median annual salary for this profession is approximately $62,300. Over the next decade, this field is expected to grow between 10 and 19 percent, as postsecondary enrollment is expected to increase and more aspiring artists turn to a formal education to further train in their craft.