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By submitting this request for more information, you are giving your express written consent for Lindenwood University and its partners to contact you regarding our educational programs and services using email, telephone or text - including our use of automated technology for calls and periodic texts to the wireless number you provide. Message and data rates may apply. This consent is not required to purchase good or services and you may always email us directly, including to opt out, at [email protected].

Home Blog Choosing Between a BA and BFA in Art & Design: Which Is Right for You?

Choosing Between a BA and BFA in Art & Design: Which Is Right for You?

November 22, 2023

Contributing Author: Alley Bardon

8 mins read

Individuals fueled by creativity may want to pursue a career in the arts. Recognizing that the most respected programs develop artistic competencies while providing a comprehensive understanding of art theory, prospective students will want to understand the difference between a BA and BFA degree. By taking a deep dive into BA and BFA programs, you will be able to choose the best degree to launch your visual or performing arts career.

What is a BFA Degree?

Students who want to create artwork for a living. According to Coursera, a BFA degree is limited to art-based majors, and students who enroll in a BFA program often choose a major that is tailored to a specific career path. Most BFA majors encompass visual or creative arts, such as art and design, art education, creative writing, film, and theater.

Courses and Curriculum

BFA programs are known for being highly specific, as the degree program is often designed to help students create a portfolio that they can use after graduation. Most courses within a BFA degree program will be hands-on, designed to develop competencies for a particular craft.

According to Coursera, the courses required for a BFA degree will depend heavily on a student's major. For example, a student pursuing a BFA degree in studio art may be required to complete courses like ceramics, sculpture, illustration, and photography.

Degree Requirements

Like other types of bachelor's degree programs, a BFA degree requires students to complete 120 credit hours to graduate. Depending on the BFA program you enroll in, a number of those credit hours may need to be completed in a studio setting. Most full-time students can complete a BFA degree in four years.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for BFA graduates depends on the major that they choose, but overall, students who pursue a BFA degree will find that they can seek employment in their chosen specialty. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 64 percent of graduates with a fine arts degree find employment in art and design occupations, educational instruction, management, and administration. An example of a career BFA degree graduates could pursue is art director, which is a field that is expected to enjoy a growth rate of about 6 percent between 2022 and 2032.

What is a BA Degree?

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) is one of the most common types of bachelor's degrees available. While a BFA degree focuses more heavily on skill development and portfolio building, a BA degree will offer a comprehensive look at a particular study and emphasize critical thinking competencies.

According to Coursera, BA degree programs often prioritize communication and holistic learning, and most majors within this type of degree focus on the humanities and social sciences. Common BA majors include art history, visual and performing arts, and media.

Courses and Curriculum

Most of the courses required within a BA degree program are liberal arts courses, which means that students pursuing a BA degree often have more flexibility to choose course topics that interest them.

For example, a student pursuing a BA degree in art history may be required to take courses such as art theory, history of art, and Medieval art. The courses within a BA program are less focused on skill development; rather, they prioritize foundational knowledge and critical thinking.

Degree Requirements

Like most bachelor's degree programs, a BA degree requires students to complete 120 credits to graduate. While some BA degree programs may require students to complete a professional internship or another skills-based component to graduate, these degrees typically do not have any of the studio requirements common to BFA programs.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for BA graduates varies based on the specific degree program, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in art and design occupations is expected to increase between 2022 and 2032. The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) anticipates more than 95,000 job openings in the fields of art and design each year over the next decade, which paints a positive outlook for those interested in working in a creative occupation. Some of the occupations that BA graduates may pursue include art directors, fashion designers, graphic designers, and animators.

Differences Between the BA vs. BFA

Students trying to decide between a BA and BFA degree will see that there is some overlap between these two types of bachelor's degree programs. In many cases, the majors in BA and BFA programs can be similar, with many degree options existing within the visual and performing arts. However, the scope of these two types of degree programs are quite different. A BFA degree will be more focused on specific skill development, whereas a BA degree will take a more generalist approach to study.

A student who knows exactly what they want to do with their art-based career and who wants to hone their artistic abilities should consider a BFA program, whereas a student still looking to explore their options within the creative fields may be best suited to a BA degree.

Career Path and Goals

As you decide between a BA and a BFA degree, you will want to consider your professional goals and preferred career path.

A BA degree, for instance, is known for its broad focus and multidisciplinary approach. As a result, students who pursue a BA degree are often qualified for a wide variety of occupations, allowing them to explore their interests and gain professional experience in areas that appeal to them. Students who graduate with a BA degree could pursue professional opportunities as a writer, educator, journalist, or art director.

A BFA degree, on the other hand, is typically tailored to a specific craft. Students who pursue a BFA degree often have a distinct idea of what they want to do professionally, and they are relying on their degree program to improve the competencies they need to succeed. Graduates with a BFA degree may pursue professional opportunities as an illustrator, graphic designer, online game designer, photographer, or sculptor.

Tuition and Cost

Since both the BA and BFA degree programs require 120 credit hours to graduate, the tuition costs are similar. However, tuition rates vary significantly from one school to the next, so you may find that a degree from one university costs more than one from another institution. At Lindenwood University, we offer both online BA and BFA degree programs, with a 2023 tuition rate of $495 per credit hour.

Concentrations and Specializations

Before deciding on a BFA or BA degree program, prospective students will want to consider the concentrations and specializations available. These options exist to allow students to fine-tune their degree program and focus on a niche area that appeals to them.

Within a BFA program, the concentrations and specializations focus on specific, skills-based crafts. Some examples of BFA concentrations include digital art, studio art, graphic design, photography, and web and user experience.

In a BA program, the concentrations and specializations may be broader. For example, a student working toward a BA degree in performing and visual arts may be able to decide between concentrations in theater, dance, or vocal performance, depending on their interests and strengths.

Skills and Certifications

The skills-based courses and certifications required for your BA or BFA degree program will vary based on the major you choose.

The broad scope of a BA program typically gives students the flexibility to customize their career paths and enroll in courses that align with their interests and professional goals. Graduates looking to advance their careers may find that professional certificate programs are a worthwhile endeavor, as these programs provide them with skill development opportunities that may not have been included as part of their degree program.

A BFA degree, on the other hand, is designed to allow students to hone their chosen craft. The highly specialized nature of the BFA curriculum typically gives students the foundation they need to pursue a career in their chosen field. However, some opportunities for professional development and certification can further enhance their career.

However, graduates looking to go into education will need to earn a teaching certification to secure a classroom position. A teaching certification is required in every state for anyone who wishes to teach in a classroom, regardless of whether they earn a BFA or BA degree. Some states require master’s degrees to teach at a high school level and above.

Studio Requirements

One of the most distinct differences between a BA and a BFA degree are the studio requirements. BFA degree programs have strict studio requirements to ensure that all students have the opportunity to work in a hands-on, interactive environment in which they can hone the competencies needed for their chosen craft. In addition to focusing on skill development, studio requirements provide students with a creative outlet. Many BFA students find that their studio courses allow them to discover their artistic vision and explore their ideas in a way that is invigorating and exciting. Exact studio requirements will vary by school and degree program, but the College Art Association of America notes that 60 percent of all BFA courses should be focused on the student's chosen specialty.

BFA vs. BA in Art — Discover the Best Degree for You at Lindenwood University

At Lindenwood University, we offer an online bachelor's in art & design with both a BA and BFA track, allowing students to refine their artistic expression and bring their visions to life. With a curriculum rooted in liberal arts courses, this degree program provides a foundation for students to build on while specializing in digital art, graphic design, photography, or web and user experience.

In addition to this degree program, we also offer other online art degrees, such as the art history and visual culture bachelor's degreegame design bachelor's degree, and pre-art therapy bachelor's degree. Our focused degree programs allow our students to build the critical competencies needed for their chosen career path.

Request more information about our online art degree programs today.

Sources

https://www.coursera.org/articles/ba-vs-bs

https://learn.org/articles/What_is_a_Bachelor_of_Arts_Degree.html

https://www.alleducationschools.com/teacher-certification/

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