Best Online Bachelor’s in Art and Art History Programs of 2021

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July 30, 2021

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Bachelor's in art and art history programs cater to students looking to transform their passion for art, sculpture, photography, or multimedia into marketable professional skills. The demand for workers with art skills and strong art history knowledge varies widely across professions. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for multimedia artists and animators to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029, while the number of archivists, curators, and museum workers is projected to increase 11% over that same time period.

Earning a bachelor's degree typically qualifies students for entry-level positions, and some career paths require a more advanced degree. Read on to learn more about the top online bachelor's in art and art history programs. For even more information, consult our bachelor's in art and art history program guide.

What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Art and Art History Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 5:

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

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2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Art and Art History Programs

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Pennsylvania State University-World Campus View School Profile University Park, PA

Located in University Park, Penn State World Campus is the second-largest campus in The Pennsylvania State University system and offers more than 150 online degrees and certificates.

Penn State offers an online bachelor of arts in letters, arts, and sciences through its World Campus. Core courses cover a broad spectrum of academic areas, from the arts and humanities to natural science. Students specifically interested in art and art history can choose suitable elective courses.

Students must complete 120 credits to graduate. Tuition costs $576-$617 per credit. Applicants must submit transcripts. Penn State World Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Arizona State University-Skysong View School Profile Scottsdale, AZ

Located in Scottsdale, ASU offers more than 200 degree programs that are delivered entirely online. More than 27,000 students graduate from ASU each year.

ASU offers an online bachelor of arts in art - museum studies that helps prepare students for professional roles in archives, galleries, museums, and cultural centers. Courses include art from renaissance to modernism; the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; and art from prehistory through the middle ages.

Students must complete a total of 120 credits to earn their degree. Tuition costs $561-$661 per credit. Applicants must submit transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. ASU prefers applicants with a GPA of at least 3.0.

Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Massachusetts-Lowell View School Profile Lowell, MA

A public institution founded in 1894, UMass Lowell established its online learning platform over 20 years ago. The university offers a fully online bachelor of arts in liberal arts degree with a concentration in art history. Sample courses in the art history concentration include comparative arts, prehistoric to medieval art history, renaissance to modern art history, and American art.

Students must complete 120 credits and earn a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate from this online bachelor's in art and art history program. Tuition costs $380 per credit, and applicants must submit transcripts. The program accepts up to 90 transfer credits, and some transfer students can finish their degree in just 12 months.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

SUNY Empire State College View School Profile Saratoga Springs, NY

Located in Saratoga Springs, ESC opened in 1971 and currently offers more than 100 online degree and certificate programs.

ESC oversees an online bachelor of arts in the arts program. Students can choose from concentrations like visual arts or graphic design, or create their own interdisciplinary degree program.

Tuition costs $295 per credit for in-state students and $353 per credit for out-of-state students. Applicants must submit transcripts and an essay. SUNY Empire State College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Lindenwood University View School Profile Saint Charles, MO

A private institution located in Saint Charles, Missouri, and founded over 200 years ago, Lindenwood teaches from a Judeo-Christian perspective. The school's values include integrity, dedication, and creativity.

Lindenwood offers an online bachelor of arts in art and design degree program for students interested in learning about graphic and website design, architecture, the history of Western art, and design theory. Sample courses include digital photography, visual storytelling, programming logic, and drag and drop web design.

Students must complete 120 credits to graduate. Tuition costs $450 per credit. Applicants must submit transcripts. Those with a GPA below 2.0 must also submit a resume and a personal statement. Lindenwood accepts up to 90 transfer credits.

Lindenwood University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Art and Art History Program?

Pursuing a bachelor's in art and art history requires technical artistic skills and imagination, as well as strong analytical, critical thinking, and research skills.

An online bachelor's in art and art history usually requires 120 credits and takes most full-time students four years to complete. Online programs generally use a synchronous or asynchronous format, while hybrid models combine online and in-person components. It's important to select the option that best fits your schedule and learning style.

Most schools offer this degree as a bachelor of arts (BA), although a few may offer a bachelor of science (BS) study track. A BA tends to explore the arts from a broader perspective and incorporates a variety of courses in art and art history. A BS explores art topics through the lens of the sciences, technology, and/or mathematics. BS degrees are relatively rare in this field.

In addition to traditional coursework, students typically complete studio or lab time dedicated to drawing, painting, sculpting, photography, or graphic design. Most programs also require students to complete a practicum, internship, research paper, or a final portfolio.

Many programs offer concentrations, which allow students to align the degree with their specific career goals. Common examples include:

Pursuing a bachelor's in art and art history requires technical artistic skills and imagination, as well as strong analytical, critical thinking, and research skills. These skills are necessary for evaluating and critiquing art, as well as conducting research and collaborating with other experts.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Art and Art History Program?

The exact curriculum of an online bachelor's in art and art history varies depending on the program or concentration you choose. For instance, an art focus typically entails more studio courses practicing drawing, painting, or photography concepts. Alternatively, an art history major tends to explore periods of art history and architecture. The following list describes a few common courses.

Introduction to Art History

This course explores major art movements throughout history. Students examine the basic principles, techniques, and materials employed by artists in various periods, including the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Romantic periods. The curriculum may also incorporate a study of the major events that impacted culture and the arts throughout the ages. This class serves as a stepping stone to advanced art history courses.

Drawing

A drawing class typically provides an overview of several common drawing techniques, tools, and principles. Students explore the differences between sketching, illustration, and design. Learners also discuss observational versus abstract drawing. The course promotes examples and hands-on experiences through assignments using models, objects, and original work.

Research Methods

Students learn the techniques, tools, and methodologies used to conduct historical art research. Coursework develops essential scholarly writing and critical thinking skills. Students practice research using the same archives and databases that art professionals use in order to hone important practical skills.

Photography

This course explores design, development, and editing processes in photography. Students also learn about types of cameras, lenses, and film and explore the fundamental principles of lighting, balance, and contrast. Additionally, students develop the ability to critique and interpret photography. The curriculum typically emphasizes hands-on experience.

Design Fundamentals

This class discusses two- and three-dimensional design concepts and basic drawing instruments. Coursework also examines issues in the visual arts, art philosophy, and techniques. Some design classes may incorporate an additional overview of graphic design, which is a vital professional skill for many art careers.

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What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Art and Art History Degree?

Jobs that can be pursued with a bachelor's in art and art history span several industries and specialty areas. Art major careers typically involve creating art or photography, designing graphics, and/or developing websites. According to the BLS, art and design workers earn a median annual wage of $48,130, which is higher than the median of $39,810 for all occupations. Demand for these jobs varies widely by career.

Professionals in art history tend to focus on careers in preservation, education, and/or archiving. This field is competitive, but growing — the BLS projects 11% job growth for archivists, curators, and museum workers between 2019 and 2029.

Learn more about how a bachelor's in art and art history can help you launch an exciting and rewarding career.

true Historic Preservation and Restoration

Careers in preservation and restoration span a variety of industries and specialties. Professionals may work with architecture firms, city planning offices, or museums. The primary goal of workers in this area is to preserve historic documents, artifacts, structures, and/or art pieces for display and research purposes. Job titles include museum technician, curator, and archivist.

Photography

Photographers take pictures for commercial, private, industrial, fine art, and journalistic purposes. Some positions require professionals to take pictures out in the field in rugged conditions, while others involve capturing valuable lifetime memories at meaningful events like weddings. Many photographers work as freelancers, but others work for publications or marketing firms.

Design

Design careers are popular in a variety of industries. Professionals might design textiles for the fashion industry, create graphic art for marketing campaigns, or decorate and plan interiors for homes or office buildings. Graduates with an art degree typically pursue roles as graphic designers, interior designers, game designers, animators, or fashion designers.

Film

The film industry offers several opportunities for art and art history majors. For example, filmmakers may consult with art history professionals to maintain historical accuracy for a film. Additionally, art professionals may help design sets, edit footage, or create graphic elements for movies. Careers such as director, producer, or screenwriter may require a more specific film degree.

Education

If you possess a passion for exploring art history and the evolution of artistic techniques, as well as a knack for demonstrating how to do something, pursuing a career in education may be the right path for you. With a bachelor's in art or art history, candidates typically qualify to work at the elementary, middle, or high school level; these positions often require a teaching license. To become a college professor or pursue research opportunities, graduates must typically earn a master's or doctorate.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Art and Art History Programs

Is art and art history a good major?

Pursuing an art or art history major can lead to wonderful career opportunities. However, some fields may be more competitive, and not every path boasts strong projected growth rates over the next decade. The best recipe for success is to establish your goals so you can select a program that develops the skills you need to launch a career.

What can I do with a bachelor's in art and art history?

Graduates with a bachelor's in art and art history qualify for a variety of positions across several industries. A few common jobs include museum technician, curator, interior designer, photographer, and multimedia artist. It's important to note that while a bachelor's opens up the door to many entry-level opportunities, you may need to earn a graduate degree to qualify for career advancement.

How many art and art history majors get jobs?

It isn't easy to transform an education in art or art history into a successful career. According to the Center for Education Statistics, the unemployment rate for bachelor's degree-holders ages 25-29 in 2018 was 2.9%. The rate was 3.7% for fine arts majors and 4.9% for graduates with a degree in the liberal arts or humanities. Starting a successful career may involve using your art skills in a field with higher employment rates, such as marketing, education, or design.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in art and art history?

Salaries vary widely depending on a worker's position, experience, and industry. For example, workers in the fashion industry earn a median annual salary of $73,790, while floral designers tend to make less than $30,000 per year. Overall, the BLS reports art and design professionals earn a median annual wage of $48,130.

What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a bachelor's in art and art history?

According to PayScale, graduates with a bachelor's in art history earn an average salary of $61,010. The following positions rank among the highest-paying jobs in art or art history: creative director, interior designer, product designer, design manager, and visual designer. Workers in these roles make average salaries ranging from $78,000-$97,000.

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