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2021 General Visual & Performing Arts Degree Guide

If you enjoy creating something that allows you to connect to your audience, either through your voice, movement, designs, or images, consider a degree in Visual and Performing Arts.

Students who major in this field have a passion for the arts. They are creative and like to provide an audience with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic stimulation. Classes in topics such as drawing, painting, dance, sculpting, acting, foreign language, graphic design, photography and more allow students to develop and improve their skill in the arts.

You may choose to focus on either general Visual and Performing Arts or concentrate on Digital Arts.

A Recent Jump in General Visual & Performing Arts Degrees

#125 Most Popular Major
5.7k Degrees Awarded
7.3% Increase in Graduates

General Visual & Performing Arts was the 125th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 5,720 degrees in this year alone. This is a difference of 418 over the prior year, a growth of 7.3%.

There are 307 schools offering degrees in general visual and performing arts in the United States. This year's Best Colleges for General Visual & Performing Arts ranking compares 32 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of visual arts programs later in this article.

Requirements for Getting a Degree in General Visual & Performing Arts

Students who pursue a degree in Visual and Performing Arts typically already have a passion and talent for their artistic field. They are creative and provide innovative works or performances that are unique and thought provoking. Interpersonal and communication skills are necessary in this field because you will be required to work with other artists, gallery owners, fellow performers, and the general public. These skills will also help you in selling or marketing your work.

Many artists and other professionals in the performing arts support themselves with additional jobs while they work on their art. Dancers, singers, actors and other types of artistic occupations also vary between full and part time. Those who are lucky enough to become part of a company will work full time often with irregular hours for practices and performances.

Depending on the area you decide to go into, formal schooling may not be necessary. Some people decide to pursue only an associate's degree. However, other areas of specialization require at least a bachelor's degree. It is best to look into the career you want to pursue to ensure you are meeting all requirements.

Prior Education for a Visual Arts Program

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most visual arts degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. In addition to these basic general visual and performing arts program qualifications, to serve in some visual arts careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Types of General Visual & Performing Arts Degrees

There are various different levels of visual arts degrees. General Visual & Performing Arts programs offered by schools range from a associate's to a research/scholarship based doctorate, which is the highest visual arts degree you can get. Different general visual and performing arts degrees vary in how long they take.

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 arts, with approximately 39.6% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to visual arts tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 34.8%
Master’s Degree 16.9%
Some College Courses 13.1%
High School Diploma 9.9%
Doctoral Degree 8.7%

About 55.3% of workers in careers related to visual arts obtain at least bachelor's degree. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in general visual and performing arts have obtained.


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

Visual Arts Careers

Average Number of Jobs
$24.7k Average Starting Salary
4% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Visual and Performing Arts graduates are employed at in a variety of artistic careers. Graduates have pursued careers as artists, curators, fashion designers, producers, choreographers, musicians, and designers. Some graduates are working for companies, while others have started their own business or are self-employed.

The Visual and Performing Arts field is made up of multiple specializations. This can be a very competitive field, especially for full time positions.

Growth Projected for Visual Arts Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your visual arts degree? General Visual & Performing Arts careers are expected to grow 4.2% between 2016 and 2026.

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

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Graphic Designers 277,400 4.2%
Photographers 139,000 -5.6%
Art, Drama, and Music Professors 137,200 12.0%
Art Directors 95,200 5.4%
Multimedia Artists and Animators 79,900 8.4%

Visual Arts Degree Salary Potential

Recently graduated general visual and performing arts students earned an average of $24,726 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $10,400 to as high as $46,800. As you might expect, salaries for visual arts graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Visual Arts Careers

Salaries for general 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 arts grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Art Directors $104,590
Art, Drama, and Music Professors $82,560
Multimedia Artists and Animators $78,230
Artists $67,700
Fine Artists $58,370

Getting Your General Visual & Performing Arts Degree

With over 607 different visual 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 arts school rankings to help you with this.

One of 9 majors within the Visual & Performing Arts area of study, General Visual & Performing Arts has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related 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 Arts Related Majors >


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