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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
134k Degrees Awarded
-0.5% Increase in Graduates

Visual & Performing Arts was the 10th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 133,923 degrees in this year alone. This is approximately the same as the 134,556 graduates the prior year.

The United States has 2,022 different schools where you can get a degree in visual and performing arts. Our 2021 Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts ranking analyzes 510 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for visual and performing arts students. Explore this or one of our many other custom visual and performing arts rankings further below.

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.

Types of Visual & Performing Arts Degrees

There are many different visual and performing arts degree levels. You can spend many years getting as high as a in visual and performing arts to something that takes less time like a . Visual & Performing Arts programs can take anywhere between one to four or more years for a full-time student to complete.

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%

About 59.6% of workers in careers related to visual and performing arts obtain at least bachelor's degrees. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in visual and performing arts have obtained.


This of course varies depending on which visual and performing arts career you choose.

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

Visual & Performing Arts graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $25,410 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. 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.


Highest Paid Visual & Performing Arts Careers

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 14,449 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 33,643
Design & Applied Arts 29,541
Music 25,623
Drama & Theater Arts 16,329
Film, Video & Photographic Arts 14,870

View All Visual & Performing Arts Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 458,966
English Language & Literature 55,609
Foreign Languages & Linguistics 31,173
Theology & Religious Vocations 29,245
Philosophy & Religious Studies 15,993

View All Visual & Performing Arts Related Majors >


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