Associate Degree in Fine Arts: What You Need to Know

Are you interested in a career in the arts but aren’t sure what your first step should be? Consider earning an associate degree in fine arts. This two-year program is designed to provide students with a solid foundation in the world of visual and performing arts, which can serve as a springboard for further study or entry-level employment in the field.

Associate Degree in Fine Arts: What You Need to Know

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about associate degrees in fine arts, including what they are, what you can expect from the program, and potential career paths after graduation.

What is an Associate Degree in Fine Arts?

An associate degree in fine arts is a two-year undergraduate program that prepares students for careers in various areas of the arts, such as visual art, music, theatre, dance, and more. While the specifics of each program may vary depending on the institution offering it, most programs will require students to take foundational courses in art history and theory, as well as studio courses that allow for hands-on practice of artistic techniques.

Upon completion of the program, graduates should have a basic understanding of artistic principles and techniques that will allow them to continue their education at a four-year institution or begin working as professional artists.

What Can You Expect From an Associate Degree Program?

The specifics of any given associate degree program will depend on where you choose to study. However, there are some common elements that most programs share:


Associate degree programs typically require around 60 credit hours of coursework. Of these credit hours, approximately half will be dedicated to general education requirements like English composition and mathematics. The other half will be specific to your major (in this case fine arts).

Courses that you might expect to take include art history survey courses that cover different periods or genres; studio courses where you can put theory into practice by creating your own work; and classes focused on developing technical skills like drawing, sculpture, or painting.

Skills Development

An associate degree program in fine arts is designed to help students develop their technical and artistic skills. You’ll spend a lot of time in the studio working on different projects that will challenge you to hone your skills and refine your techniques.

Many programs also offer opportunities to collaborate with other artists or participate in exhibitions, which can give you a taste of what it’s like to work as a professional artist.

Career Preparation

While an associate degree may not be enough for you to land your dream job as an artist, it can provide a solid foundation upon which to build. Some programs may offer courses or workshops on topics like developing a portfolio, networking, or finding employment in the arts.

You can also expect to have access to resources like career counseling services or alumni networks that can help connect you with others in your field.

What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Fine Arts?

Earning an associate degree in fine arts doesn’t limit you to just one career path. Depending on your interests and strengths, there are many different options available to you after graduation:

Continue Your Education

If you’re interested in pursuing further education in the arts, an associate degree can be a great stepping stone towards a four-year bachelor’s program. Many colleges and universities will accept transfer credits from an associate degree program and allow students to finish their bachelor’s degree in two more years of study.

This route is ideal for those who want to deepen their knowledge and hone their skills further before entering the workforce.

Pursue Entry-Level Employment

An associate degree can also qualify you for entry-level positions within the arts industry. For example, those with a strong background in visual art may find work as assistants at art galleries or museums; theatre majors may find jobs as stagehands or production assistants; dance majors might be able to land roles as dance teachers at community centers or schools.

While these jobs may not be as high-paying or prestigious as some of the positions you can get with a four-year degree, they can still offer valuable experience and the opportunity to develop important professional contacts.

Start Your Own Business

Entrepreneurial-minded individuals who want to work for themselves may find that an associate degree in fine arts provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to start their own business. For example, those with a background in graphic design might start a freelance design studio; sculptors might open their own gallery/shop; musicians might work as private instructors or composers.

While starting your own business can be challenging, it also offers the potential for unlimited creativity and flexibility in how you structure your career path.

Final Thoughts

An associate degree in fine arts can be an excellent choice for those looking to break into the world of visual and performing arts. While it may not provide all of the opportunities available with a four-year degree, it does offer a solid foundation in artistic principles and techniques that can serve as a springboard for further study or entry-level employment.

If you’re considering earning an associate degree in fine arts, take time to research different programs and institutions carefully. Look for programs that align with your interests and goals, and that have strong reputations within the arts industry.

With dedication, hard work, and passion, an associate degree in fine arts could be just what you need to launch your career as an artist.


What is an Associate Degree in Fine Arts?

An Associate Degree in Fine Arts is a two-year undergraduate program that focuses on developing practical and theoretical skills in the arts.

What are the benefits of pursuing an Associate Degree in Fine Arts?

Pursuing an Associate Degree in Fine Arts can give you a strong foundation in artistic fundamentals, open up opportunities for higher education or job prospects, and allow you to explore and refine your creative voice.

What kind of courses are included in an Associate Degree in Fine Arts?

Coursework typically includes drawing, painting, sculpture, graphic design, art history, and other foundational subjects that prepare students for further study or entry-level work within the field.

Can I transfer my credits from an Associate Degree program to a Bachelor’s Degree program later on?

Yes. Many institutions offer transferable credits for students who complete their Associate Degrees and want to continue their studies at a four-year college or university.

How do I choose which school to attend for my Associate Degree in Fine Arts?

Research schools that offer relevant programs, consider factors like location, cost, accreditation status and faculty credentials before deciding where to apply. Visiting campus or attending virtual tours can also help you get a feel for the atmosphere of each school.

What kind of career paths can I pursue with an Associate Degree in Fine Arts?

Graduates with an associate degree in fine arts can pursue entry-level positions as artists, designers, illustrators or photographers. They may also go on to further studies at the bachelor’s level or beyond.

Can I work as a freelancer after completing my degree?

Yes. Many fine arts graduates work as freelancers by building portfolios showcasing their work and maintaining strong networks of clients and colleagues within the industry.

How does an Associate Degree in Fine Arts differ from a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts?

An Associate Degree in Fine Arts is typically a two-year program that focuses on foundational coursework and practical experience, while a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts is a four-year program that offers more specialized instruction and a deeper exploration of various art forms.

Will I need to submit a portfolio for admission to an Associate Degree program?

Some schools may require prospective students to submit portfolios showcasing their previous work as part of the application process, while others may not. It’s important to check with each individual school you are considering.

What opportunities for networking and professional development are available to Associate Degree students in Fine Arts?

Many schools offer extracurricular activities, clubs, workshops, internships, or mentorship programs that allow students to connect with peers and professionals within the industry. Researching these opportunities can help students gain valuable skills before entering the workforce.

Leave a Comment