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What Is the Difference in a Fine Arts Degree & an Art Degree?

by Andrew Aarons

When choosing a degree from university or college, it's sometimes difficult to understand the differences between similar-sounding programs. And no two programs sound more similar then a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. When considering your postsecondary study, that one little word could make all the difference.

Bachelor of Arts

A Bachelor of Arts can cover dozens of different disciplines. A B.A. can be awarded for the arts, the sciences or both. It can include subjects as varied as classics, history, economics, political science, sociology, women’s studies, chemistry, physics, biology, literature and languages. It is a basic undergraduate degree; the other basic undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Science. To successfully complete a B.A., students must complete 120 course hours at a minimum.

B.A. Career Options

A B.A. degree is extremely versatile. Many graduates go on to become bankers, communications officers, journalists and scientists. Others pursue professional training in fields such as medicine and law. A B.A. is a good way to establish the foundation of either a career or further study, and most B.A. programs have enough flexibility to allow you to pick up a second major in a field of interest.

A Bachelor of Fine Arts

Unlike a Bachelor of Arts, which is a basic undergraduate education, a Bachelor of Fine Arts is a professional undergraduate education. You can expect a Bachelor of Fine Arts program to give you a good grounding in either the visual arts or the performing arts. Rather than lectures and discussion groups, which the Bachelor of Arts focuses on, the Bachelor of Fine Arts teaches students primarily through hands-on studios, where they practice their craft rather than theorize about it.

Bachelor of Fine Arts Career Options

Since most schools require a high degree of specialization in fine arts degrees, they point naturally to specific careers. Some of the wide array of career trajectories include drama, creative writing, ceramics, painting, pottery, television and film production, music, photography, interior design, printmaking, sculpture and graphic design. The specificity of a fine arts degree may mean that it is harder to get a job as say, a banker, than for anyone with a B.A. to get one. But most people who get a Bachelor of Fine Arts will never want to be a banker. So if you know that you want to be a professional artist of any type, then a Bachelor of Fine Arts is for you.

About the Author

Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.

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