As emerging technologies connect people around the world, artists have the opportunity to share their creativity with a global audience. An online art degree provides the tools and skills needed to create and share art with a wide audience. Graduates of online art history degree programs pursue careers in archival studies and curation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the creation of 4,000 archivist, curator, and museum worker jobs from 2014 to 2024. This page provides information to help you choose the best online art degree to nurture your creativity and begin your career.

What are the best art and art history programs of 2020? Here are our top 5:

Rank School Location
1 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ
2 Pennsylvania State University World Campus University Park, PA
3 University of Massachusetts Lowell Lowell, MA
4 SUNY Empire State College Saratoga Springs, NY
5 Lindenwood University Saint Charles, MO

2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Art and Art History Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Arizona State University

Scottsdale, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

ASU operates several state campuses and regional centers, as well as an online division. The university enrolls more than 27,000 students and offers more than 300 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs through ASU Online.

ASU features several program options for students interested in earning an online bachelor's in art and art history, including BAs in art history, museum studies, and interdisciplinary arts and performance. The university also offers a BFA in art with a focus in digital photography; this was the first online studio art program in the nation. All bachelor's programs require 120 credits and a senior seminar and/or capstone project.

ASU Online offers six start dates per year. Distance learners pay a set tuition rate according to their program, course load, and transfer credits, without regard to the student's state of residence.


Pennsylvania State University World Campus

University Park, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 29%

The second-largest entity in the Pennsylvania State University system, Penn State World Campus began offering online programs in 1998. Today, this online division enrolls more than 20,000 distance learners and offers more than 150 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs.

The school's letters, arts, and sciences degree features an interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum. Coursework in this 120-credit program covers four key themes: research methods, communication skills, theory/application, and critical analysis. Core requirements also include courses in conflict resolution, international relations, psychology, and economics.

The online BA in letters, arts, and sciences program emphasizes an independent learning model, enabling students to tailor the curriculum to match their artistic interests. Degree-seekers complete the majority of courses asynchronously in online classrooms. All distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition rates for online coursework, regardless of where they live.


University of Massachusetts Lowell

Lowell, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

One of New England's most popular providers of online courses, UMass Lowell offers more than 50 online graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs across six academic colleges. The school enrolls more than 18,000 students on campus and online.

UMass Lowell's online bachelor's degree in liberal arts enables students to choose two concentrations from nine options, including art history, philosophy, and gender studies. Degree-seekers complete 120-122 credits of core, concentration, interdisciplinary focus, and foreign language coursework.

Distance learners may apply to this program at the beginning of any semester. Eligible students may transfer up to 90 credits of previous coursework toward their online bachelor's degree.


SUNY Empire State College

Saratoga Springs, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 26%

Established in 1971 in Saratoga Springs, New York, ESC uses a nontraditional learning model. The school's distinctive approach enables students to develop their own degree program through interdisciplinary study across 12 academic fields. ESC also oversees a popular online division.

The college offers a BA, BS, and bachelor of professional studies in the arts. Learners work with academic mentors to design an online bachelor's degree tailored to their areas of artistic interest.

This customizable degree program requires roughly 124 credits, combining general education classes with a liberal arts curriculum. Distance learners receive access to many helpful resources, including an online library, career services, and an IT service desk.


Lindenwood University

Saint Charles, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Founded as a private school associated with the Presbyterian Church, Lindenwood maintains physical campuses in St. Charles, Missouri, and Belleville, Illinois. The school also oversees an online division. Students may choose from more than 50 online graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs.

Lindenwood offers multiple paths that allow students to earn an online bachelor's degree in art and art history. Degree-seekers can pursue a BA in art and design, art history and visual culture, or pre-art therapy. Lindenwood also offers a BFA in art and design.

For all programs, distance learners complete 120 credits and conclude their studies with a capstone course. Some options, such as the BA in art history and visual culture, also require practicum experiences. Lindenwood uses a generous transfer policy and offers accelerated completion options for transfer students.

What Else Can I Expect from an Online Bachelor's in Art & Art History Program?

When choosing an art degree program, students should ensure the program's course offerings align with their personal goals and passions. Below are key areas to consider when pursuing an online art degree. While the following courses are common for art and art history curricula, specific degree requirements vary by program.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's in Art & Art History

Online art degree programs typically require the following courses. While curriculum requirements vary by program, art and art history majors often complete a combination of studio and art history courses such as those listed below.

  • Ancient Art: This course explores ancient art forms from the beginning of documented human existence to the Middle Ages. Students examine the creative processes used by early civilizations and the social, political, and religious influences surrounding works of art. Knowledge of ancient art prepares students for careers as teachers, archivists, and curators.
  • Renaissance Art: This course examines works of art created during the Renaissance, a period of cultural enlightenment in Europe from 1300 to 1600. Familiarity with Renaissance art and its cultural context prepares students to pursue careers in history and art museums, libraries, and educational settings.
  • Painting: Most fine arts bachelor's programs offer beginning to advanced painting courses. Beginning painting courses familiarize students with traditional approaches to creating art with oils, acrylics, and watercolors. Advanced painting courses involve a studio project, during which students experiment with techniques to develop a personal painting style. These courses prepare students to become visual artists and teachers.
  • Research Methods: Often required for art history majors, this course includes topics in research design, data analysis, and scholarly writing. Training in academic research equips students to pursue advanced degrees or work as historians or journalists.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Bachelor's in Art & Art History?

The average online art degree consists of 120 credits and takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. Earning an accelerated art degree online allows students to graduate more quickly — in approximately three years. Students with transfer credits or equivalent experience may be able to waive course requirements and graduate sooner. Program requirements, such as an internship, also affect the amount of time required to earn an online art history degree.

Online art degree programs are either cohort-based or individually paced. Cohort programs typically have two start dates per academic year. Students form a learning community and advance through the program together. Self-paced programs allow students to complete assignments independently and frequently feature rolling admissions with start dates throughout the year. Both program structures offer advantages depending on the student's learning style and need for flexibility.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Art & Art History Degrees

As you explore online art and art history degree options, ensure each program you consider is accredited. Accreditation ensures the program meets national standards of academic quality. The two major types of accreditation in the U.S. are regional and national. Regional accreditation is the most common; nearly 90% of higher education institutions hold regional accreditation. Many graduate programs only recognize degrees earned from regionally accredited schools.

Nationally accredited colleges tend to be career-centered and often focus on vocational training. While nationally accredited schools typically cost less to attend, credits earned from regionally accredited institutions transfer more easily. Along with regional or national accreditation, art and art history degrees may hold accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, a field-specific accrediting body. Students pursuing an online art degree should also look for accreditation from DEAC, which focuses on distance education programs.

The Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee accrediting bodies and ensure they uphold academic standards. Review the ED and CHEA databases for lists of accredited schools and programs.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Art & Art History Graduates

Bachelor's in Art & Art History Salary

The following table illustrates the increased earning potential of art and art history professionals in various career stages. Graduates with an online art degree can expect a salary growth of up to 50% over a 20-year career.

Art and Art History Careers by Experience

Job Title Median Salary Entry-Level Employees Mid-Career Employees Late-Career Employees
Graphic Artist/Designer $45,341 $37,000 $43,000 $54,000
Creative Director $86,097 $54,000 $79,000 $106,000
Fine Artist $47,937 $41,000 $41,000 $47,000
Museum Curator $50,321 $37,000 $50,000 $62,000

Bachelor's in Art & Art History Careers

Earning an art or art history degree online provides a culturally enriching education and prepares students to pursue diverse career paths. Successful professionals in the field possess strong communication skills, an eye for detail, and technical expertise. Self-employed artists have a flexible work schedule and usually have personal studios. Art historians are often employed by museums or galleries and work a traditional 40-hour week. The following occupations demonstrate the many paths available to graduates of art and art history programs.

Archivist, Curator, or Museum Worker

An online art history degree prepares graduates for careers working with valuable pieces of history. Archivists authenticate, appraise, and preserve works of art for private clients or public organizations. Curators and museum workers develop exhibit content, conduct research, and work with other museums to loan or exchange art collections.

Median Annual Salary $47,230
Projected Growth Rate 13%

Craft or Fine Artist

Craft and fine artists use numerous media and styles to create appealing, dynamic, and even controversial works of art. An online art degree helps artists advance their skills and hone their natural creativity. Many artists rely on craft fairs, art festivals, and online marketing to sell artwork.

Median Annual Salary $48,780
Projected Growth Rate 8%

Art Director

Art directors juggle many organizational tasks required to develop a cohesive project, such as overseeing budgets and managing a team of designers. Most art directors work at least five years in photography, graphic design, or fine art before assuming managerial duties.

Median Annual Salary $89,820
Projected Growth Rate 7%

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers use creativity and technical skills to develop products that meet the needs of individual clients or corporations. Graphic designers create logos, brochures, and advertisements using digital photo and illustration software. Entry-level graphic design positions typically require a bachelor's degree.

Median Annual Salary $47,640
Projected Growth Rate 5%

Multimedia Artist or Animator

Most multimedia artist and animator positions require a bachelor's degree in art or computer graphics. After earning an art degree online, graduates with skills in two- and three-dimensional animation pursue careers developing content for television, video games, and online media.

Median Annual Salary $65,300
Projected Growth Rate 10%

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Art & Art History Program

By taking advantage of financial options, students can earn their art or art history degree online without accruing excessive debt. The U.S. federal government provides financial assistance such as work-study programs and low-interest loans with income-based repayment plans. Begin the process of securing federal financial aid by completing the FAFSA. Students may also apply for grants and scholarships, which are often specific to a field of study. Numerous fine art and art history scholarships are available through private donors and university programs.


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