Earn an Online Fine Arts Degree

An online fine arts degree program helps students further develop their artistic capabilities in a preferred medium. Throughout the varying degree levels, fine arts programs teach the techniques that act as a foundation for artistic expression. For some, this could consist of fundamental courses in painting, drawing, and sculpting. Others may choose to engage with advanced topics such as 3-D design, composition, and figure drawing.

In addition to practically applying your knowledge, online fine arts degree programs may also cover the academics behind artistic works and movements. Subjects like art history and appreciation could help you better understand the human element that goes into creating a work of art.  

Online Degree in Fine Arts

What Are Fine Arts?

The phrase fine arts acts as an umbrella term that consists of several different artistic mediums that are used to create physical works. For example, some of the following are different styles of fine arts.

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sculpting
  • Printmaking
  • Photography

You could choose to concentrate your online fine arts degree into one of these mediums. While you may engage with these styles during your degree program, you could primarily focus on developing your preferred one.

Available concentrations vary by school. Be sure to speak with a member of the department or an admissions advisor for more information.

Studio Art Classes

While specific curriculum may vary by degree program and level, each online fine arts degree program may require students to take part in studio classes. For these courses, students are assigned a small studio to set up their art materials in. Hence the name, “studio” classes.

Instead of a typical class, studio courses act as a designated time for students to work on new pieces of art. For some, this could be a great opportunity to put extra time into class assignments. Or, others may choose to create additional works of art as inspiration strikes them.

These classes typically persist throughout your degree program. This is largely due to the fact that classes regularly require new works for assignments. Later, in your educational career, you might also need the time outside of class to produce additional works for events like student exhibitions.

Regularly, professors may request to see what students are working on. When this happens, you may be asked to present your works to a particular class. In these cases, your peers and professors could offer valuable feedback on your current pieces.

Online Studio Courses

This studio class process may vary for online students. Since you may not be attending any classes on campus, you have a few options for your studio. Many students choose to use a part of their home or to rent a space to use for their studio courses. In these cases, students may present their works to the class by uploading digital copies to their class forums for critique.

Other students may choose to get in contact with their school and ask for a space to be provided. When doing this, students then only need to go onto campus to work on their pieces and may not necessarily need to be there 24/7. These students could then choose to participate in scheduled class presentation or to upload their works.

Online Associate of Fine Arts

An online associate of fine arts program could be a great starting point for students who have not previously studied art. In these programs, you could have the chance to study the fundamental techniques used in a variety of different mediums. By working with these basics, courses could develop your understandings of what goes into a well-composed piece of art.

Much of the online associate program is dedicated to having students practically apply art techniques. Studying the correct way to hold a pencil, shade a landscape, or sculpt with modeling clay might be easier to do with your own hands than reading it from a textbook!

For online students, this means the professors usually stream or upload videos of them performing certain techniques. Then, students could mimic the process in their own home studio.

Also, students might begin to touch on the academic side of art. This could include learning about composition and art history, for one example.

As part of these programs, you could have a chance to study some of the following courses.

  • Drawing
  • Composition
  • Art History
  • Global Art
  • Computer Illustration
  • Art Appreciation
  • Painting

Available courses vary by associate program. Check with your intended school's faculty for more information.

Online Bachelors in Fine Arts

Online bachelors in fine arts classes go a step further than the associate programs when it comes to interactive courses in things like painting, sculpting, and drawing. Many of the students who apply to the bachelors programs usually have some artistic training prior to being admitted. Because of this, classes might be able to build on artistic foundations instead of constructing them from the ground up.

Like the associate degree program, students are encouraged to take hands-on courses to apply their knowledge. But, in these courses, students are more likely to present their work to the class for feedback. This constant feedback could help prevent students from developing bad artistic habits in addition to assisting them to enhance their current art.

For online students, feedback and presentations may happen solely via digital class forums.

As part of a bachelor degree program, you could have the chance to take some of the following courses.

  • 3-D Drawing Concepts
  • Intro to Painting, Drawing, Sculpting
  • Figure Drawing
  • Color & Composition
  • Art History
  • Life Drawing

Courses vary by program. Be sure to speak with department faculty for more details.

Two Types of Online Certificates in Fine Arts

Online fine arts certificate programs are offered as either a non-degree or post-baccalaureate certificate (PBC) program. Each program has their own set of potential benefits, but it’s important to realize both cover fine arts principles that could be used outside of the classroom.

To start, non-degree certificates are designed for students who don’t have experience from a previous associate of bachelors degree in fine arts. Classes teach the basic technical methods that artists use to develop more refined works. This is a great program for beginners who wish to polish their artistic abilities for their own sake or potential future professional roles. It’s important to note that these certificates typically do not count towards college credit.

On the other hand, post-baccalaureate online fine arts certificates (PBCs in online fine arts) are designed to complement the skills and knowledge of students who have previously earned a fine arts undergrad degree. Instead of covering the basics, these certificate programs offer a sample of graduate coursework.

This could be a great chance for students to test out the graduate curriculum before committing to the longer time frame. Other students may pursue this program in order to enhance their current artistic portfolio. In that case, they could use the examples either for their professional pursuits or the graduate applications.

Courses in the PBC program teach advanced artistic techniques. Typically, these programs focus on methods used in a particular medium instead of studying many forms of media. For example, you could have the chance to develop your painting knowledge. But, the courses may not focus on sculpting or photography like other graduate programs do.

Online Certificate in Fine Arts Curriculum

Curriculum may vary depending on whether you choose to pursue a PBC or non-degree online certificate in fine arts. As mentioned above, non-degree programs tend to focus on the fundamentals of fine arts methods. During these programs, you could have a chance to study some of the following essential basic mediums.  

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Sculpture & Ceramics
  • Art Appreciation & History

PBCs, on the other hand, tend to delve a little deeper into the above-mentioned topics. Students choose a particular medium to concentrate their studies. Then, courses cover advanced techniques to help refine your own ability.

It’s important to note that PBCs may place more emphasis on studio courses. The studio time could allow you to practically apply the methods you studied in class.   

Courses may vary by school. For more information, speak with a department advisor for a complete course guide. Students could potentially complete either of these online graduate certificate programs in 1 year depending on enrollment. Program length varies between schools and certificate types.

Online Masters in Fine Arts Programs

Online masters in fine arts programs combine art application and academic study. First, classes cover techniques to help refine students’ mastery of their preferred artform. This could also consist of studying other complementary art forms to help develop students’ artistic expression.

Simultaneously, courses cover the scholastic side of art. Students may have the chance to study the historical, biographical, and cultural aspects of classic works. By doing this, classes may help students better understand how art is developed to reflect large historical movements, personal trauma, and more.

As part of these initiatives, students could have the chance to take some of the following courses.

  • Painting Aesthetics
  • Contemporary Art
  • Art Criticism
  • Formal Aspect of Drawing
  • Critical Theory
  • Artistic Methods

Courses may vary by school and concentration. Speak with department faculty for more information about your possible curriculum.

A masters in fine arts online program usually requires students to complete 36 to 90 credit hours’ worth of courses. With this in mind, students could potentially earn a masters in fine arts in 2 to 4 years depending on enrollment. Program length may vary by school.

Online Doctorate in Fine Arts

Online fine art doctoral programs don’t tend to focus on creating art, but examining it. These programs typically concentrate on subjects like art history or art theory.

As part of this program, students could study what makes art, well . . . art. For instance, you could study the cultural factors that went into developing certain artistic styles. Or, you could investigate the standard theory that explains why certain paintings are deemed masterpieces.

Some students go a step further with their research and choose to apply their findings to their own works. In these cases, students may choose to present these pieces as part of their graduate exhibition.

Capstone Exhibitions for Graduate Fine Arts Programs

Instead of a typical thesis or dissertation project, many graduate online fine arts degree programs conclude their program with an exhibition. Usually, the exhibit is installed in a school gallery or a professional one that is located close by.

For this installation, students are encouraged to submit the summation of their graduate studies. For many, this consists of several works in their preferred medium that were developed during an independent study or studio course. These works usually revolve around a central theme chosen by the student. In other cases, the student may submit several pieces that they’ve worked on in classes throughout the final year.

After the exhibit is displayed to the public, professors than evaluate the pieces. Students may also be asked to submit a defense or additional art history research paper in advocacy of their pieces.

It’s important to note that online students may be required to display their works on the physical campus. Some schools may permit students to create an online gallery of their work. But, many prefer seeing the physical pieces in order to better evaluate the students’ mastery of the art form.

Applying to Online Fine Arts Degree Programs

While each degree program might have various, individual requirements, there are a few that each program may require. For instance, online fine arts degree programs don’t typically require students to submit a minimum GPA. Instead, more emphasis is usually paid to students’ artistic portfolio.  

Schools may request students to submit a portfolio consisting of 20 pieces in your preferred medium. This helps fine arts online degree programs better gauge a students’ capabilities. It also may help department faculty choose an appropriate advisor for you once you’re admitted.

To submit your works, visit a school’s online drop box. There, you could upload digital copies of your chosen pieces. These works should highlight not only your achievements, but your process as well. Many schools encourage students to upload things like sketches, story boards, negatives, and other in-process works.

Continuing Your Search for a Perfect Online Fine Arts Degree Program

With this information to guide you, you might be ready to continue your search for a perfect online fine arts degree program. First, browse the list of links on this page. They offer a general sample of potential online fine arts degree programs. Or, you could refine this list by selecting your preferred degree level from the menus on this page.

Once you find a program that interests you, click its link to read a brief description. While you’re there, you could also request additional information from the school. This could be a great way to get additional details like admissions deadlines, department email addresses, portfolio requirements and more. You could continue to hone your artistic craft with the help and support of an online fine arts degree program.