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Fine Arts


Graduate degrees in fine arts can focus on just about any art form you can imagine: traditional or emergent, from marble sculpture or oil painting to video game design or fashion. If the work is aesthetic in nature, there’s probably a fine arts degree program somewhere dedicated to it.

Course Work & Learning Outcomes

If you pursue a graduate degree in fine arts, your curriculum will depend entirely on the particular art form you’re studying. No matter what, however, you can expect to engage in an intensive study and practical application of your medium, receiving faculty mentorship and peer critique to elevate your technique and break new ground in your field.

Many schools offer two degree options: a Master’s of Arts (MA) and a Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA). The first tends to be more theoretical; the second, hands-on. With an MA, in other words, your course of study will probably have a liberal arts focus, taking an academic approach to your chosen art form. Meanwhile with an MFA, you’ll focus on technique and practical application, honing your skill as an artist.

If your art form is technological, you might pursue a Master’s of Science in that area. If your goal is to design video games, you might study programming, artificial intelligence, and database development in addition to graphic design.

To get into the program you want, you may have to demonstrate a certain GPA or submit samples of your work. Graduate arts programs may take 1-5 years to complete, and you may be required to produce a capstone project.

Master of arts in museum studies degree programs could prepare students to jumpstart a career in the role of museum professional post-graduation. These programs often feature coursework in new technological exhibition applications, business management, and improving educational conditions of displays.

A master of music degree program encompasses two different degree options — performance and education. Performance studies strive to improve just that — a student’s performance using their primary instrument. Education majors may focus more on the scholastics side, placing emphasis on techniques that make instrumentation more accessible to new players. Both of these concentrations could focus on the general music topics of theory and history.

Career Outlook

Big picture, there are two career options for this type of program: artist or scholar. If you study music, you might go on to perform; then again your curriculum might be structured to prepare you for a career in teaching. With a degree in museum studies, you could become a curator. After you graduate, you could pursue an administrative position, or you could work hands-on as a magazine editor, a photographer, a painter, or a graphic designer.