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Last Updated: January 15, 2022

What are the Fine Arts?

The study of Fine Arts does not imply just the quality of the artwork in focus, but the nature of the discipline being depicted. Traditionally, the term included Western Art from the period of the Renaissance till modern times. However, the term can also be associated with the art genres of Eastern cultures as well.

Different Types of Fine Arts

The disciplines associated with Fine Arts can be broadly classified into two categories:

Visual Arts

These works include art forms that produce an aesthetic visual effect for the viewer. It is an artistic expression of the creator’s skill and imagination. They involve two-dimensional works such as painting and associated art forms, design, photography, and calligraphy. There are also three-dimensional works like architecture, sculpture, pottery, and conceptual art.

Performing Arts

These are art forms that are performed for audiences. They involve artistic expression through dance, theater, music, films, and poetry. It is renowned for conveying the artist’s emotions and feelings.

Degrees Available under Fine Arts

A fine arts degree involves different areas of study and the course solely depends on the art form the student wishes to pursue. It could be either in the visual or the performing arts. Many universities and colleges offer fine arts degrees at three levels - associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s.

Associate of Fine Arts (AFA):

The Associate of Fine Arts degree is a 2-year program that allows the candidate to transition to a 4-year bachelor’s program or for students who wish to pursue freelance or entry-level jobs. Students can take up different types of art courses to get foundational education. This can be supplemented with general courses or with liberal arts courses. Some schools offer Associate of Fine Arts degrees that are specific to a particular discipline. Associate degrees can also be obtained through an online mode.

Requirements for applying for Associate of Fine Arts degrees:

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA):

The degrees under Bachelor of Fine Arts are 4-year programs that enable students to enhance their capabilities and pursue a career in their chosen field. In the bachelor’s courses, students take up general education courses that complement their area of study. However, many fine arts programs recommend that students take up foundational courses in art during their freshman year that may not have a direct relation to their area of focus.
Courses in performing arts, such as theatre performance courses require that their applicants take up a foundational course related to their study for a stronger foundation, due to advanced levels present in the progression of the courses. In some courses, some parts are more advanced than the previous one.

There are options available for students wishing to pursue distance learning. Universities do offer online degrees in theatre, art, creative writing, and other fine arts disciplines.

Requirements for applying for Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees: Bachelor’s degrees in Visual Arts
Under these, students can pursue different art forms such as drawing, painting, digital art, and printmaking among others. Many universities present one broad category for Visual Arts, which may include Graphic Design, or there might be specific degrees for the preferred medium of the student.
Bachelor’s degrees in Creative Writing
The concept of the course has no consensus whether Creative Writing would come under the scope of Fine Arts or the Humanities. Some colleges offer Bachelor’s degrees in Creative writing as Fine Arts courses.
Bachelor’s degrees in Music
Students wishing to find specialization in a bachelor’s program in music is not an easy process in the US. This is due to the individual ability of the applicants, as they may either choose to train in musical or vocal training. Students can opt for a general bachelor’s program; they are not always conducive to the student’s preferences.

Bachelor’s degrees in Theater performance and Dance
Different programs provide either general or specific training in dance forms. In general courses, students are trained in all forms of dance forms. In specific programs, there are concentrations in their curriculums.
There are Bachelor’s programs for theater performance available in many places in the US, but the theatre community is prominent in New York and Los Angeles, as there are traveling theatre groups and improv shows available for honing one’s skills.

Bachelor’s degrees in Film and Photography
There are some setbacks when it comes to choosing a bachelor’s program for photography and filmmaking. In photography, their programs can be categorized as “Visual Arts’ and ‘Digital Arts’. Therefore, it is necessary to verify whether the course being offered is a specialization or not. In film-making, there is a similar issue as it is not mentioned at times whether the course offers a study in the history of Film or the basics of film making.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA):

These degrees are 2-year programs that prepare students to enhance their abilities at an advanced level. Obtaining a master’s degree would also enable students to apply for executive or managerial positions. There are no requirements for general or foundational courses for pursuing a master’s degree; some schools prefer that the applicants should complete certain courses before applying.
Requirements for applying for Master of Fine Arts degrees:
On completion of a master’s degree, students are eligible to pursue careers such as:


The study of architecture also falls under the purview of Fine Arts. It involves the conceptualizing and planning of homes and buildings. The professional courses are available at bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels: B.Arch, M. Arch, and D. Arch respectively. Non-professional courses are also available and are as follows:
A non-professional degree normally takes 4 years to complete and could be completed before pursuing a professional degree.
For example, a 4 year BA or BS in Architecture can be supplemented with a 2 year M. Arch degree. The 5 years of B. Arch and the 6 years of M.Arch are considered as equivalents.

Points to remember while applying for a degree in architecture

Career Opportunities in Fine Arts

There are many jobs available for students wishing to pursue degrees in disciplines under Fine Arts but requires the individual to possess dedication and perseverance to achieve success. The following are career options that students of Fine Arts can consider:

For the students of Visual Arts

For the students of Performing Arts

  • Actors
    The scope of work is wide as there are opportunities in stage and film, but the field is immensely competitive. Initially, the candidate will have to build up a showreel of experiences in a variety of roles, which would make the process of finding work easier. Candidates are also recommended to find an agent for more networking with others in the industry and better roles, and that would entail paying them a portion of their earning as fees.
  • Musicians
    Jobs that musicians usually pursue are that of music composers, choir singers, soloists, conductors, and symphony members. It generally requires an in-depth knowledge of musical instruments that would aid in playing musical pieces or compositions of new pieces.
  • Dancers
    Professionally, the candidate will be under the guidance of a choreographer. Dancers can either perform in front of live audiences or record projects such as TV shows, films, and music videos. Candidates are more likely to find work if they are acquainted with various styles. As actors, having an agent will increase one’s chances of landing better jobs. Dancers can also receive additional income by working as Dance Teachers or Choreographers.
  • Arts Administrator
    This job entails the organization of arts activities and services, for different organizations; such as theaters and museums. The candidate will have to be adept at administration, organization, and IT skills for the role.
  • Professor of Music
    Similar to the Professor of Fine Arts, Professors of Music train students to hone their musical talent. To pursue a career in teaching music, one requires a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in their respective fields of study, whether it may be in musical instruments or vocal training.
  • Band Manager
    This job entails managing the professional lives of musicians, such as being in charge of their schedules, contracts with music companies, and tour dates. It does not require playing a musical instrument, but rather the candidates managing skills and their ability to communicate to form advantageous connections.
  • Director of Film/Stage/TV
    This job is associated with interpreting scripts for production. To avail of these positions, one will require a bachelor’s degree. It is through the director’s vision that the project reaches fruition, as they are involved both in the production and the rehearsals associated with the film or stage production.

    Other professions include:

    Creative Writers
    Candidates will require a bachelor’s degree for jobs that would entail writing original stories, poetry, or lyrics.

    Here the candidate will have to use their ability of the written word to create an impact on the readers. Work may range from writing blogs, journals, or articles, as per the requirements of the job.

    In this, work can range from creating stories for films to television shows and even video games. The candidate will require the use of their creativity and writing skills for this job.

    Therapists for Art, Music, Dance, and Drama
    These jobs entail the use of forms of Fine Arts to aid people to overcome their difficulties - it may be emotional or physical.
    Dramatherapists: They used activities such as roleplay to help people to express their emotional difficulties and come to terms with them so that they can move beyond them. Similarly, art, music, and dance therapists use their respective art forms to help people to channel their emotions into a creative form, which helps them experience a therapeutic result. These jobs require a postgraduate degree in the candidate’s field as well as experience in helping people move beyond their difficulties.

    Thus, there are a variety of options available for students choosing different aspects of Fine Arts, both in degrees and careers. These courses will not only serve as a means for students to obtain a job, but they will also aid in achieving the full potential of the artist’s creativity. Every individual possesses unique capabilities and the courses available throughout the country helps in recognizing the talent of the applicants.