Should I Get a BA or a BFA if I’m Studying the Arts?

Posted by IPFW Admissions Team on 1/21/16 8:00 AM

A lot of students who want to study the arts don’t know where to begin.

Along with deciding whether they should go to an art school or a more traditional university, aspiring art majors should consider what type of degree they want to pursue.

IArt student sketching in classn general, students have two options:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

The difference comes from how focused students want their education to be. BFAs require more coursework and studio time in your area of concentration—drawing, painting, sculpting, and so on—while a BA requires more liberal arts coursework outside the art department.

A typical breakdown for a BFA is 2/3 studio work and 1/3 other coursework. For a BA, it’s the opposite—2/3 with courses outside of art and 1/3 in the studio. This can vary, however, depending on the university, the program, or the area of concentration.

So how do you know which one is the better fit for you, your goals, and your art?

A Bachelor of Arts degree is a good choice if…

  • You aren’t 100% positive you want to fully commit to a studio degree, or if you’re interested in other subjects outside the art department.
  • You’re interested in developing your creative skills in 3D modeling, digital art, and other areas that require a background in computers or technology.
  • You want to study art, but also want to be prepared for more careers than just ‘studio art.’ For example, at IPFW, BA students often combine art study with courses in psychology, business, and languages for careers in art therapy, arts administration, and international studies in addition to independent professional studio arts careers. In other words, you may be more likely to find a job doing what you love, even in other fields.

A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is a good choice if…

  • You have little to no interest in any other area of academic study outside a studio arts degree.
  • You’re looking for a very focused and intensive course of study in your art.
  • You’ve demonstrated quality and motivation to a particular studio discipline—we don’t need to tell you that creative fields can be very competitive!

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re still not sure, don’t worry. You don’t have to choose right away, and there is no answer set in stone. Many schools, including IPFW, offer both degree options, and you can work with your academic adviser to evaluate if the path you choose is a good fit once you’ve started exploring.

The best way to get a feel for both degree paths is to visit the school and talk to students in the programs, such as IPFW’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

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Topics: Choosing a Major, Majoring In: Art





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