Last Updated on August 28, 2023
Artists can work with a variety of media and in many industries. These professionals employ creative skills and technical training to communicate, inspire, and entertain. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals in the art and design field earn a median annual salary of $48,130.
Some professionals earn even higher salaries. For example, art directors earn a median salary of $94,220. Although overall employment for occupations in the field is declining slightly, prospects are stronger for some occupations, such as multimedia artists and art therapists.
Earning a degree in art can help individuals secure positions in an increasingly competitive job market. Many schools offer on-campus and online art programs at all levels. A two-year associate degree in art or design qualifies graduates for many entry-level positions. A four-year bachelor’s degree can lead to additional opportunities. Artists seeking advanced training or high-level career options can pursue a master’s or doctoral degree.
Top 10 Online Art Schools and Degrees 4-Year Colleges
|1||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL|
|2||University of Missouri-Columbia||Columbia, MO|
|3||Azusa Pacific University||Azusa, CA|
|4||Maryland Institute College of Art||Baltimore, MD|
|5||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minneapolis, MN|
|6||Eastern Illinois University||Charleston, IL|
|7||Arizona State University-Skysong||Scottsdale, AZ|
|8||Northwestern State University of Louisiana||Natchitoches, LA|
|9||Foothill College||Los Altos Hills, CA|
|10||Bellevue University||Bellevue, NE|
What Can I Do With an Art Degree?
While some artists create purely aesthetic works such as paintings and sculptures, artists play crucial roles in many industries. Designers, illustrators, and multimedia artists work in areas such as advertising, manufacturing, publishing, and entertainment. Art teachers help students of all levels cultivate art literacy and proficiency. Curators and museum technicians maintain collections in museums and galleries. Medical, technical, and forensic artists create precisely rendered, scientifically informed illustrations and models.
A degree in art can help graduates exhibit their work in galleries or secure employment in business, education, or the nonprofit sector. While obtaining a formal art education, students refine their technical abilities, learn to navigate the art world, and develop self-promotion skills. Although many art positions do not require a degree, a college education can make job applicants more competitive.
Accreditation for an Art Degree
Students researching online art programs should verify each institution’s accreditation status. The voluntary accreditation process requires a comprehensive review by a third-party agency with approval from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accreditation demonstrates that the school meets educational quality standards.
Colleges and universities in the United States can hold regional or national accreditation. Students attending schools with either type of accreditation can qualify for federal financial aid. Regional accreditation requires institutions to meet more rigorous standards than national accreditation.
Nonprofit, academically oriented institutions typically receive regional accreditation. For-profit, vocational, and religious schools often seek national accreditation. Many graduate programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school.
In addition to institutional accreditation, learners can look for programmatic accreditation. Many reputable art programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design. Prospective students can find the accreditation status of any school or program using the searchable database from the U.S. Department of Education.
Top 4 Online Art School Choices
- Savannah College of Art & Design
The Savannah College of Art & Design is a not-for-profit school that now offers a global opportunity to expand artistic knowledge and understanding. SCAD, as it’s come to be known, has four physical campuses; two located in Georgia (Atlanta and Savannah) and two located internationally (Hong Kong and Lacoste, France). However, they also have a world-class online art school that offers many top-quality art and design degrees. Savannah offers online art degrees that go as high as master’s level.
SCAD has many different programs available in its eLearning platform. These include advertising, animation, arts leadership, design management, illustration, and interior design. All of these programs have no specific meeting times, which makes attendance much easier and allows you to fit a full course of classes into your busy schedule.
They offer more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design university with the goal to not just create artists, but to create artists who are prepared for a valuable, professional, and creative career in the marketplace. This is shown in their mission to prepare students for learning in a positively-orienting environment, nurturing creativity through all of their online art courses.
SCAD has become one of the most recognized and decorated online art schools in the world. It has earned awards from the United States Distance Learning Association, the Instructional Technology Council, and the National Academic Advising Board. The online programs are accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, as well as other institutions that give accreditation to specific degree programs.
Savannah College of Art & Design
Interactive Design & Game Development
Interactive Design & Game Development
Motion Media Design
- Liberty University
Liberty University is a Christian-based college that has been educating professionals in many different fields since 1971. Their goal? To help people obtain a degree in as short a time as possible. They teach courses from a Christian world view, and have no standardized testing if you meet certain admission requirements. They even offer tuition discounts for military service members, including both active duty and retired personnel as well as their spouses. Liberty University also has tuition assistance programs that are available to many different students. In fact, they say that 87% of their online art school students are awarded some form of financial aid.
The design program at Liberty University is offered 100% online. You can earn a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design setting you up for a rewarding career in the field. This online art school includes many different disciplines, including publication design, typography, and animation in their graphic design program. It takes a total of 120 credit hours, and up to 90 hours may be transferred into the program. With this graphic design degree, you can go into careers as an art director, graphic illustrator, editor, and more!
The online graphics design program from Liberty University requires a 180-hour internship and a 30-hour practicum to complete. This degree, as well as other online degrees from the institution, are constantly updated to stay current with industry trends, making them one of the top art schools in the country.
Liberty University has been offering online and distance education since 1985, making them one of the pioneering art schools. They have advanced accreditations and certifications from many organizations, including the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and The Standard of Excellence in Teacher Preparation. The online school has also earned a designation as one of the best colleges for veterans.
Game Art & Development
Graphic Design & Media Arts / Web Design
- Southern New Hampshire UniversitySouthern New Hampshire University, often called SNHU, was founded in 1932 and now has over 3,000 on-campus students. However, the private, non-profit institution now has over 80,000 online students, making it one of the largest institutions in the entire country. They strive to provide affordable education that is accessible to many different people. They have been so effective at this mission that we have awarded them our Best Buy designation, as well as honors as one of the best online business schools.
There are many online programs available from this leading institution, including over 200 career-focused college degree programs. This includes business, accounting, and (of course) art and design. Their art and design program is built to bring ideas to life from concept to completion. This program encompasses graphic design, web design, and even game design. No matter what your specialty, you’ll have online art classes that are led by industry professionals.
SNHU offers programs focused on digital photography, game and art development, and graphic arts. These classes help you learn the details about both the theory and direct application of certain art principles, allowing you to unleash your imagination while building skills that are useful in the market.
Southern New Hampshire University
Game Art & Development
Graphic Design & Media Arts / Web Design
- Full Sail University
Based in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail University offers 78 different degree programs. They specialize in training the next generation of leaders in entertainment, media, arts, and technology, and maintain a status as one of the top online art colleges in the country.
Full Sail started in 1979 as an audio recording workshop but found that its style of project-based education was applicable to many different areas, including filmmaking and art. It provides innovative education that enhances artistic thought while preparing students for real-world careers. It combines creativity, business principles, and technical skills to create leaders in a wide variety of industries.
Online learning is one of the most important facets of Full Sail University. The online bachelor’s degrees include computer animation, which teaches students traditional fundamentals of art and brings them into harmony with modern technology. This degree can be applied to numerous fields, including television, video games, and film. The digital arts and design bachelor’s degree expands a student’s artistic talents, helping them create powerful imagery that can apply to entertainment, advertising, and web content. With the graphic design bachelor’s degree, Full Sail University students learn to create graphics in a wide variety of formats while working under tight deadlines. All of the bachelor’s programs take 29 months or less and are completely online. In the online master of fine arts in media design program, students dive into a full-scale branding project. They learn how to identify a client’s needs and develop creative pieces based on a variety of information.
Full Sail University
Trending Online Art Degrees
There are also some online schools that are quickly climbing the ladder and becoming contenders as one of the top art schools the country. If you are considering an online art school, you definitely should look into the four leaders that we discussed above, but you owe it to yourself to also check out these up-and-comers offering unique and innovative art degrees.
Concordia College – Master of Science in Digital Media
Based out of Bronxville, New York, Concordia College has one of the premier master of science in digital media degrees. They have created a program that gives artists the chance to expand their knowledge and become more effective creators of impactful designs. This master’s degree program is ideal for current art professionals who want to expand their technical skills while widening their artistic knowledge. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college and student portfolio is required for admission. Courses include Digital Video Production, Psychology of Media, and Graphic Design for Digital Media.
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Top Online Art Classes
Looking to shore up your skills before applying to art schools online? Build your portfolio and even earn credits towards your degree by enrolling in paid classes from various institutions. This is a convenient way to begin your art education and launch your career.
Sophia Learning – Introduction to Art History
Sophia Learning offers a for-credit program called “Intro to Art History.” This program can be used to accelerate your education and, if accepted by specific art schools, can reduce the time you spend on an arts program. In fact, Sophia Learning has courses that are accepted by partner institutions and over 2,000 additional art schools, colleges, and universities, including many of the top online art schools. Sophia’s Intro to Art History helps you gain a basic understanding of the elements of art history, with a particular focus on western cultures. This class covers prehistoric to modern times, giving students a well-rounded foundation for their education.
There are many private organizations that offer paid courses that you can enroll in to receive a quality art education. These are not accredited colleges or universities, but private academies that offer quality training. They do not offer recognized degrees, but many will provide certifications upon completion.
With the SmART School, you can get a fully-interactive education in art and design techniques that is driven by highly-respected professionals in many different fields and art genres. This online art school offers full mentorship classes that are excellent for building the careers or even the hobbies of both traditional and modern, technology-driven artists. There are numerous guest professionals featured in this program, allowing students to learn from a wide variety of artistic professionals. This enhances a student’s knowledge and allows them to become more effective and creative artists.
Learn more here.
This is the online version of classes taught by Glenn Vilppu, one of the top artist instructors in the world. The lessons consist of video lectures, demonstrations, and critiques, making you a better artist one step at a time. Whether you want to learn the essentials of drawing or want to learn how to draw specific items, such as heads or bodies, the Vilppu Academy is a great choice. This online art education features streaming videos that are available each week. Students have one week to complete an assignment, similar to an in-person class. No matter which subject you select, it will be broken down into six to ten courses (six to ten weeks), and enrolled students are able to retake classes at a reduced rate. The classes come directly from the American Animation Institute.
Learn more here.
GU Master Academy
If you want to learn the details of computer graphics, this program is a great choice for your future. There are numerous classes available, delivering a variety of educations in composition, narrative illustration, and digital portraits. There are even highly-specific classes, such as Anatomy of Clothing or Animal Drawing. This online art education runs four periods annually, with classes based around the seasons. You’ll be given access to eight-week classes that cover the topics of your choice, and at the end you receive a certificate of completion from the academy. The online art classes also have installment and payment plans that help you pay for your art instruction at a rate that is affordable. This makes art education even more accessible for numerous people.
Learn more here.
You can also get a free education in art by taking advantage of resources that are available right now. These online art classes come from either organizations, such as the Museum of Modern Art, or businesses that are related to art, like retailers or art sellers. You may not have a degree with these classes, but you’ll certainly improve your knowledge in art theory and application.
You can take free courses from the Museum of Modern Art, igniting your creativity and honing your skills in many different areas. The mission of these classes is to make you a better artist through understanding and enjoyment of art. You can select many different courses, including Art & Interactivity, Modern Art & Ideas, or Seeing Though Photographs. These courses are designed for many different people, including current art teachers or people who are simply interested in art and want to learn more. When you enroll for the free classes, you’ll have immediate access to all videos, quizzes, and programming.
Learn more here.
Designed to be a fun, engaging way to learn about art, Jerry’s Artarama helps you find inspiration and new ideas, all in a friendly, welcoming setting. The “Artarama” is an online source for virtually everything you need for your art efforts, including paints, canvases, drawing supplies, and brushes. The classes cover many different topics, from basic art education to specific subjects like anatomy drawing or even art marketing. These online art classes are available in video format, and when you create an account you’ll have access to over 10,000 hours of art instruction, all at no cost!