How a Bachelor of Fine Arts Differs from a Bachelor of Arts

Guest post from our friends at SchoolApply

If you tend to lean toward the creative end of the spectrum and love designing, you may have considered a Bachelor of Arts (BA). While this can be a good choice, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) may be a better fit for you. Many students are surprised to find that there is a difference between the two, but understanding the unique aspects of the Fine Arts degree can help you determine if it would be a good fit.

What is a Bachelor of Fine Arts?

First, it is important to understand what this degree encompasses. A BA degree covers the broad spectrum of art and usually includes many different disciplines, such as literature and history. A BFA program, on the other hand, includes the general studies but also allows the student to focus on work in the visual arts. There is often a large amount of studio work included that allows you to perfect your craft. While the degree usually takes three to four years to complete, this time spent in the studio can prolong that deadline.

This degree also differs from a general liberal arts program in that it is considered an artist’s professional degree, preparing students for work in their chosen field of study. This degree can also be known as a Bachelor of Visual Arts in India or a Bachelor of Creative Arts in the United Kingdom. The UK has some great art schools one of which is University of the Arts London boasting arts-focused degrees.

There are many different art forms that can be studied in a Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Many relate to the stage, such as stage management, musical theater, acting, animation, dramatic writing and visual effects. Others have to do with creating pieces, such as sculpture, ceramics, drawing, printmaking, metalworking, and illustration. Television and film production are also aspects of the fine arts, as is interior design and technical arts. The study of music can also fall under the Fine Arts canopy, adding to the vast number of different art forms included.  The US is home to a wide variety of colleges catering to the needs of creative -minded students. To name a few Dean College has a dedicated school of Performing Arts, and California College of Music helps students launch a solid career in the music industry.

A Side-By-Side Comparison of a BA vs BFA

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

Subjects covered Includes subjects like Literature, Linguistics and History

Studio based work and a focus on visual arts

Degree Type



Who Should Get a Bachelor of Fine Arts?

Students who wish to pursue a career in one of the fields mentioned above would be wise to consider a Fine Arts degree. Selective schools will often only admit a small number of students into their programs so that the teachers can have abundant time to offer guidance. In order to be admitted at the top Fine Arts schools, students will need high grades. Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Art requires that students have already studied art an A-level, Higher Level in the IB, Advanced Higher or equivalent. Other schools allow lower grades to be admitted, but most will require a portfolio of work to be submitted during the application process.

Most people who pursue a Fine Arts degree plan to use it in their chosen career. There are plenty of these graduates who are well-known today for their craft, including Adam Sandler, Alec Baldwin, and Rachel McAdams. In addition to actors and actresses, there are also several other professionals who have used this degree to perfect their skills and craft so that they can use their passion to earn a living.

What Jobs Can I Get With a Bachelor of Fine Arts?

One of the major benefits of this degree is that students can turn something they enjoy and love doing into a career. While acting and stage work are great fields for Fine Arts graduates, there are a variety of other ways you can use your talents as a job.

  • Animator: Do you like to doodle or draw? Animators can take those skills and use them to create the pictures and visuals for video games, movies, books, and television. Much of the animation is computer-generated, but artists are still needed to create the initial sketches by hand.
  • Musician: If you enjoy composing pieces and writing out catchy tunes, you can find several opportunities to use your skills to earn a salary. Composers are needed to develop the background music for video games, commercials, and stage productions.
  • Curator: Those who do not want to rely on their creative skills to earn a salary can apply to be a museum or gallery curator and still remain deep in the field of art.
  • Teacher: You can do what you love and teach others to do the same if you become an art teacher. This could include fine art fields, like sculpting and painting, or general art for any level.

Since there are so many aspects of art that you can study and pursue, it is difficult to determine the salary and job prospects of each field of study covered under a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In the US, estimates place Creative Directors as the highest earners with this degree, followed by Art Directors and Graphic Artists and Designers. If you have an interest in any of these fields, this degree may be the perfect path for you.

For more information on how you can get started, search for a Bachelor of Fine Arts program in your country on SchoolApply.

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