Education

Best Creative Arts Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Creative Arts programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Creative arts degrees are interdisciplinary programs that combine the study of art, media, and design. Creative arts degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in the arts, including graphic design, advertising, and fashion design.

Creative arts degrees offer a broad overview of the arts, covering topics such as art history, studio art, and design. Students in creative arts degree programs learn about the different aspects of creating art, and how to use art to communicate messages.

How to Choose the Right Creative Arts Program

When it comes to choosing a creative arts degree program, there are many things to consider. The most important factor is what you hope to gain from your education. Do you want to be a professional artist? Do you want to work in the arts industry? Do you want to teach art?

Your answer to these questions will help you narrow down your choices. For example, if you want to be a professional artist, you will need to choose a program that offers a strong foundation in the arts. If you want to work in the arts industry, you will need to choose a program that offers coursework in business and management. If you want to teach art, you will need to choose a program that offers teacher certification.

In addition to your career goals, you also need to consider your financial situation. Art degree programs can be expensive, so you need to make sure you can afford the tuition. You should also consider whether you want to study full-time or part-time. Full-time students can usually complete their degrees in four years, but part-time students may take longer.

Finally, you need to consider your location. Do you want to study in a big city or a small town? Do you want to study in the United States or abroad? These are all important factors to consider when choosing a creative arts degree program.

Best Bachelor’s in Creative Arts Programs

The best programs for Creative Arts ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences (BADAS) degree from University of Florida is a cross-disciplinary program that covers production, animation, and game design. The program is designed for students who are interested in exploring the digital edge of these fields. BADAS students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in every aspect of the new and developing digital landscape – from design and production to animation, from programming to game design.

Rank 2
Point Loma Nazarene University
San Diego, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Visual Art from Point Loma Nazarene University is a highly respected studio art program that prepares students for a career in the arts. The program is tailored to the student’s medium, goals, and interests, and provides opportunities to collaborate with other artists, visit local and regional museums and galleries, and exhibit their own work. The program also offers a Euroterm where students can study the work of Old Masters or explore contemporary art abroad.

Rank 3
Roberts Wesleyan College
Rochester, NY

The Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from Roberts Wesleyan College is a program that is committed to emphasizing both technical skill and conceptual integrity. The curriculum is designed to expand students’ breadth of experience and understanding in various studio, media art and design disciplines. Class sizes in the program are small, with an average of 12 students per class. The program is also flexible, with classes that can be taken either online or in person. 90% of all graduates are employed or in graduate school.

Rank 4
University of North Georgia
Dahlonega, GA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from University of North Georgia is a professional degree with 69 credit hours in upper level studio and art courses. Students can choose to focus their studies in one of six areas: Digital Arts, Drawing & Painting, Graphic Design, Photography, Printmaking & Paper Arts, and Sculpture & Ceramics.

Advanced courses will enable students to develop high proficiency in their chosen focus area. The degree culminates with a Senior Capstone Exhibition. This degree prepares students for graduate school admission or for positions within a creative industry that demands advanced artistic expertise.

Rank 5
SUNY at Purchase College
Purchase, NY

The Bachelor of Science in Visual Arts degree from SUNY at Purchase College is a hybrid of equal parts study in visual arts and one or more areas outside the School of Art+Design. This freedom offers students access to the full range of programs at Purchase College.. The major provides an overview of contemporary art–based research methods and cultural theories, art history, and studio practice in a broad liberal arts context.

Rank 6
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) from Old Dominion University is a professional degree that focuses on intensive creative work in the following visual arts majors: 3D Media & Materials Studies, Graphic Design, Painting & Drawing, and Photography & Print Media. Graduates of the Art Department are employed in area schools, museums, and businesses.

Rank 7
The University of Montana
Missoula, MT

The University of Montana’s Bachelor of Arts in Art, Bachelor of Arts in Art degree is a great choice for students interested in a career in the arts. The program provides a solid foundation in the principles of art, with courses in drawing, 3-D foundations, digital imaging, and film editing. Students can also choose to specialize in art history, theory, and criticism, or pursue a teaching certification in art. The program is flexible and can be tailored to the student’s specific career goals.

Rank 8
Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville, NC

The Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts from Fayetteville State University offers students the opportunity to study a variety of visual arts disciplines. The faculty members are highly qualified and possess the terminal degree in their area of expertise. Students in the program have the opportunity to participate in local, national, and international art shows.

Rank 9
Texas State University
San Marcos, TX

The Bachelor of Arts in Art from Texas State University is a great choice for students who want to explore the university’s academic offerings while also focusing on the visual arts. Students in the BA program will take foundation courses in art and design, and will also have the opportunity to take different studio courses. The goal of the program is to develop creative and conceptual skills that can be applied to a variety of different creative activities.

Rank 10
San Jose State University
San Jose, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Creative Arts from San Jose State University is an interdisciplinary arts and creativity studies program. The program offers a flexible, interdisciplinary curriculum that examines creativity across the arts domains and emphasizes both creative and critical thinking. Offered by the Department of Humanities, students take core courses in creative arts in combination with art, English, comparative literature, music, dance, radio, film, and theatre courses, individualizing their program of study.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Creative Arts Program

Students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in creative arts can expect to take classes that focus on honing their skills in one or more artistic disciplines. These may include classes in studio art, art history, design, photography, and/or filmmaking. In addition to coursework, students may also be required to complete an internship, practicum, or thesis project.

Most bachelor’s programs in creative arts require between 120 and 128 credits for graduation. However, the exact number of credits required may vary depending on the school and the specific program requirements. For example, some programs may require students to complete a capstone project, while others may not.

When choosing a creative arts program, prospective students should consider their career goals and choose a program that aligns with their interests. For instance, students interested in a career in photography may want to choose a program that offers courses in both photography and imaging. Students interested in a career in filmmaking may want to choose a program that offers courses in both filmmaking and screenwriting.

Common Creative Arts Courses

A creative arts degree provides students with the opportunity to study a wide range of art forms. The courses below are some examples of what you might take as a creative arts major.

Acting

This course covers the basic techniques of acting through a series of exercises and improvisations. Emphasis is placed on developing a character, building a believable scene, and using the voice and body to create a believable performance. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of acting and apply them to create a believable character and performance.

Directing

This course covers the basic principles and techniques of directing for the stage and screen. Emphasis is placed on the development of the director’s concept, the use of space and time, and the creation of mood and atmosphere. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze and interpret a script, develop and articulate a director’s concept, and use basic blocking techniques to stage a scene.

Art History

This course is a critical and chronological survey of the development of art from the prehistoric era to the present day. Major emphasis is placed on the study of painting, sculpture, architecture, and the minor arts within their cultural contexts. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze and interpret works of art within their historical and cultural contexts, and compare and contrast the stylistic characteristics, iconography, and function of artworks from various periods and cultures.

Drawing

This course covers the principles of drawing, including composition, perspective, light and shade, and the use of various drawing media. Emphasis is placed on the development of drawing skills through a variety of still-life, landscape, and portrait exercises. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of drawing to create two-dimensional images.

Screenwriting

This course covers the basic principles and techniques of writing for the screen. Topics include the format of a screenplay, the art of storytelling, character development, dialogue, and the use of visual images. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze screenplays, write original screenplays, and demonstrate an understanding of the craft of screenwriting.

Career Options for Creative Arts Graduates

Graduates of creative arts programs work in a variety of fields and industries, including advertising, media, and entertainment. They may also work in fields such as web design, graphic design, and fashion.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers create visual concepts to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports. Graphic designers work with both text and images. They often select the type, font, size, color, and line length of headlines, headings, and text. Graphic designers also decide how images and text will go together on a page or screen, including how much space each will have. When using images, graphic designers consider size, resolution, and file format.

Art Director

Art directors are responsible for the overall look and feel of a project, whether it’s an advertising campaign, a magazine, a website, or a TV show. Working with a team of designers, copywriters, and other creatives, art directors develop the concepts that will ultimately be executed by the team. In practice, that can mean anything from sketching an initial idea to overseeing the final product. Art directors must be able to think creatively, come up with innovative ideas, and work well under pressure to meet deadlines.

Photographer

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event. Photographers can work in a variety of fields, including photojournalism, portraiture, landscape, and product photography, and many specialize in a particular area. Photojournalists, for example, might tell the story of a natural disaster as it unfolds, while portrait photographers might capture an individual’s personality and mood during a photo session. Landscape photographers might travel to remote locations to capture natural beauty, while product photographers might work in a studio to produce images of products for catalogs or websites.

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers create clothing, accessories, and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and oversee the production of their garments. Fashion designers work in a number of ways: some work in-house for brands, designing garments for their specific lines; some are self-employed and design for a range of clients; and some work in costume design for theater, film, or television. Many fashion designers have a bachelor’s degree in fashion design or a related field, but it is not always required.

Illustrator

Illustrators create images that convey a message or tell a story. They use a variety of mediums, including pencil, pen and ink, watercolor, and computer software. Many illustrators specialize in a particular type of illustration, such as political cartoons, medical illustrations, or fashion illustrations. Others work in a variety of genres. Illustrators often work for newspapers, magazines, book publishers, advertising agencies, and design firms. Some are self-employed and work as freelance illustrators.

Insights From a Creative Arts Graduate

Bella Holt is a Graphic Designer at Pentagram. She has a bachelor’s degree in creative arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. Bella has over 10 years of experience in graphic design.

ClimbtheLadder: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your Creative Arts program that you may not have gotten otherwise?

Bella Holt: I learned a lot about the design process and how to think creatively. I also learned about the history of art and design, which I think is important for any designer.

ClimbtheLadder: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career? What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Bella Holt: The most rewarding aspect of my career is being able to see my designs come to life and knowing that I had a hand in making that happen. It’s also gratifying to know that my designs are helping my clients communicate their message and reach their goals.

The most challenging aspect of my career is managing client expectations. Sometimes clients have unrealistic expectations about what can be accomplished within their budget or timeline. It can be difficult to manage their expectations and still deliver a high-quality product.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Bella Holt: The most challenging course I took was color theory. It was very challenging because it was very technical. My advice would be to really take your time and understand the concepts. Don’t be afraid to ask your professor for help.

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