The structure of your course will depend on the type of art degree you are studying. For example, history of art degrees are likely to be much more essay-based than fine arts degrees, which are likely to be of a practical nature and perhaps taught in studios or workshops.
Art degrees:Fine arts degrees are also more likely to conclude with assessment via a project or portfolio of work which may be exhibited to the public, although some courses have the traditional dissertation or supervised research project which is more commonly encountered on history of art degrees.The length of your art degree will also vary depending on the country you choose to study in. For example, most undergraduate courses in the UK last three years, while in the US four years is the norm.The length of your art degree will also vary depending on the country you choose to study in. For example, most undergraduate courses in the UK last three years, while in the US four years is the norm.
Entry requirements:The requirements for admission to an art course will again vary between countries and institutions. Some art schools prefer applicants to demonstrate evidence of having studied art at an earlier stage of education, and some fine arts degrees will ask to see a portfolio of work. In all cases, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate a keen interest and passion for the subject, as well as explaining why you’ve chosen the specific course in question.
Art specializations:Art degrees can largely be divided into two categories, history of art and fine art, with many further specializations available in each field. Some universities (particularly those which are dedicated to arts and humanities courses) also offer programs combining history of art and fine arts, which may suit you if you have an equal interest in both approaches to the subject. A vast array of highly specialized arts courses, such as contemporary jewelry design or printmaking, can be found at specialist arts colleges.
History of art degrees History of art:Among the more traditional and academically established arts courses offered by universities, history of art degrees explore artworks from a range of different cultures and historical periods, training students to analyze artefacts in terms of their relationship to artistic movements, social context and historic importance. This could mean ‘artworks’ in the most traditional sense – paintings on display in a gallery – but also a much broader approach to what constitutes art, from architecture to cartoons.History of art students may choose to specialize in a particular region and/or historical period, or may pursue an interest in a particular aspect of art’s relationship to society – perhaps looking at the relationship between art and philosophy, or art and politics, for example.
Fine arts degrees Fine art:If history of art degrees are about analyzing artworks, then fine arts degrees are about creating them. Fine art programs typically combine a mixture of theoretical and practical course elements to nurture students in developing their own artistic work. Usually fine art students specialize in one or several media, such as painting, sculpture, photography, film, animation, illustration, printmaking or ceramics.In addition, it’s possible to find entire degree courses specializing in each of the media mentioned above – and many more besides. For instance, you could take a degree specializing in comic art, or in community arts practice. It’s also possible to choose an art degree which focuses on artistic heritage and styles in a particular region or culture – such as Asian art or European art.
Design degrees Design:Closely related to fine art, design degrees encompass subjects such as fashion, textile design, graphic design, interior design, advertising design, product design and architecture. You may choose to study an entire degree course specializing in one area of design, such as a BA in Graphic Design, or you may enroll in a more general design course and gradually define your specializations. In either case, you should gain a strong set of technical knowledge and practical skills, building up your understanding of how best to apply design principles to different types of brief.
Digital arts:In addition to the more traditional pathways, a range of much younger art courses have sprung up in recent years, in response to the transforming impact of new technologies on all areas of society, and high demand for new types of artistic creativity are high in demand. There are now degrees dedicated to the digital arts in areas such as photography, illustration, animation and computer arts. If you would like to pursue a career in one of these areas, for example in designing websites or animating computer games, then a digital arts degree could be for you.
Top 10 Universities for the Arts & Humanities subject area
Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017
University of Oxford
University of Cambridge
University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Australian National University (ANU)
The US boasts 95 positions out of the 504 possible places in the arts and humanities ranking, with seven institutions in the top 10 above. A further 21 US universities are in the global top 100 for this broad subject area, including New York University (NYU) (12th), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (16th), University of Chicago (=18th) and Cornell University (32nd).Heading north, Canada claims 22 of the world’s top universities for arts and humanities, led by the University of Toronto at joint 18th. Other top Canadian institutions for this area include the University of British Columbia (=29th) and McGill University (43rd).