As part of a subjective practice, the definition of fine art varies. For the University of Oxford, it is “the making and study of visual art”. The Visual Arts Encyclopedia on the other hand gives the more detailed definition of fine art as “an art form practiced mainly for its aesthetic value and its beauty (“art for art’s sake”) rather than its functional value. Fine art is rooted in drawing and design-based works such as painting, printmaking, and sculpture.”
Highlighted courses and degrees in fine art
Most fine arts programs cover a variety of disciplines. These include painting, imaging, drawing and sculpting. Courses on art history, visual culture, modern art and postmodernism may also be available. Generally, fine arts programs offer a broad curriculum, and students are encouraged to choose a specialization.
Classes may be conducted as discussions, lectures and studio sessions. Assessment may be through written work, participation and design or art projects. Some institutions also require a major project or thesis to complete the degree.
Art schools and universities normally help their students build up their portfolio throughout the fine arts program, which helps with specialization.
Below is a short list of fine arts specializations offered by different institutions:
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates.
Graduates of fine arts degree programs can end up in different professional positions. As such, there is no universal licensing or certification that fine arts graduates must obtain to be able to find a position in the field.
A bachelor of fine arts or bachelor of arts, major in fine arts can typically take around three to four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located. The specialization options may also have an effect on the length of study.
There are also various degrees available for fine arts graduates at the graduate level. Master's programs are available for those looking to deepen their knowledge of the field. Acceptance into these programs normally depends on the applicant’s education (level and grades) and professional experience. Master's programs usually take one to two years to complete.
Some fine arts degree programs have a grade requirement, either from the entrance or standard exam, from previous courses taken in secondary school or sometimes even both. Various leadership experiences and letters of recommendation may also be taken into consideration. Some institutions also require a letter of intent or an application essay in addition to an admissions interview.
A special requirement for most fine arts programs is the design portfolio or design case study. For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.
Fine arts degree holders can pursue positions in the creative arts sector. For example, there are job roles available in art galleries and museums that will allow fine arts graduates to make use of their knowledge of the field. Those looking to practice a specific kind of art can look towards self-employment, short-term employment and commission-based employment. They may also choose to take more roles in more corporate environments such as in advertising, marketing and publishing.
Fine arts graduates will find that transferable skills gained throughout the degree program can be applied in pursuing their chosen career paths. These include visual communication, project management, idea development and problem solving.
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