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2021 Visual & Performing Arts Degree Guide

If you have a passion for one of the many types of arts, consider majoring in Visual and Performing Arts. A degree in this field will help you improve your skills and prepare you for a professional career.

Students take classes in a variety of subjects depending on the major they choose. These classes include dance, singing, computer design, acting, stage management, talent management, cinematography, sculpting, and more. These classes will not only help you become a more skilled artist, but expose you to other types of art within the Visual and Performing Arts field.

Since this is a large field, students typically decide to focus on a certain areas of specialization. Those who wish to study a little bit from each field can major in General Visual and Performing Arts, while those interested in forming crafts or materials with their hands can major in Craft, Folk Art, and Artisanry. Other majors in this fields are Dance, Design and Applied Arts, Drama and Theater Arts, Film, Video, and Photographic Arts, Fine and Studio Arts, or Music. Those interested in the business side of the arts can major in Arts and Media Management.

Visual & Performing Arts Degrees Remain Stable

#10 Most Popular Major
153k Degrees Awarded
-0.6% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, visual and performing arts was the 10th most popular major nationwide with 153,295 degrees awarded. This is approximately the same as the 154,258 graduates the prior year.

The United States has 2,022 different schools where you can get a degree in visual and performing arts. This year's Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts ranking compares 510 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of visual and performing arts programs later in this article.

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Visual & Performing Arts

Students in the Visual and Performing Arts field are extremely creative and talented. Often, they have been performing, practicing, or working in their field since youth and are pursuing an education to improve technique and skill. Those who are successful in Visual and Performing Arts are persistent, disciplined, and hard working. They have a passion for the arts and are determined to achieve their best.

While some careers require a bachelor's degree, others only need an associate's degree or experience in the field. It is best to intern or find a summer job in the career you want to pursue to learn what type of education or certification may be necessary.

Prior Education for a Visual & Performing Arts Program

visual and performing arts degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. Specific visual and performing arts careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Visual & Performing Arts Degree Types

There are many different visual and performing arts degree levels. You can get anything from a associate's degree in visual and performing arts to the highest visual and performing arts degree, a professional practice doctorate. Depending on the visual and performing arts degree you choose, obtaining your diploma can take anwhere from 1 to 4+ years.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to visual and performing arts, with approximately 35.6% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to visual and performing arts tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 34.8%
Master’s Degree 16.4%
High School Diploma 11.2%
Some College Courses 9.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 7.3%

Most workers in visual and performing arts have at least a bachelor's degree. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in visual and performing arts have obtained.


The education level required is different depending on the visual and performing arts career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Visual & Performing Arts Graduate

Above Average Number of Jobs
$25.4k Average Starting Salary
7% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Visual and Performing Arts students hold positions in a variety of occupations including dance companies, performing arts studios, as artists, sculptors, music directors, talents agents, actors, and more. The classes you take in this field will improve your technique and prepare you for a successful career as a professional within the arts.

Growth Projected for Visual & Performing Arts Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your visual and performing arts degree? Visual & Performing Arts careers are expected to grow 7.2% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to visual and performing arts.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
Managers 1,071,700 8.0%
Graphic Designers 277,400 4.2%
Professors 258,700 9.4%
Musicians and Singers 182,800 6.0%

Visual & Performing Arts Degree Salary Potential

Recently graduated visual and performing arts students earned an average of $25,410 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $9,500 to as high as $95,700. As you might expect, salaries for visual and performing arts graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Visual & Performing Arts Majors

Salaries for visual and performing arts graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers visual and performing arts grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Managers $115,590
Art Directors $104,590
Architecture Professors $99,320
Artist, Athlete, and Performer Agents and Business Managers $90,930
Producers and Directors $89,840

Getting Your Visual & Performing Arts Degree

With over 16,734 different visual and performing arts degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased visual and performing arts school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Visual & Performing Arts

Visual & Performing Arts Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Fine & Studio Arts 40,751
Design & Applied Arts 36,179
Music 26,968
Drama & Theater Arts 17,726
Film, Video & Photographic Arts 16,756

View All Visual & Performing Arts Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 547,539
English Language & Literature 59,299
Foreign Languages & Linguistics 34,386
Theology & Religious Vocations 32,172
Philosophy & Religious Studies 16,252

View All Visual & Performing Arts Related Majors >


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