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DrasticDreamer's avatar

BS or Master's degree?

Asked by DrasticDreamer (23983points) February 27th, 2010

I’m majoring in Art and wanted to know if I should get a BS or a Master’s degree?

I was thinking that getting a Master’s in Art would be ideal due to the economy and overall competitiveness for jobs in the art world. However, how much of a difference would getting a Master’s make, compared to just a BS?

I was also thinking that it might be wise to get a BA and major in something else, as well? It’s a lot of work, but I just really want to make sure I can get jobs once I’m done with school.

So: BS or Master’s? OR BS and BA? OR Master’s and BA? Help? Anyone?

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13 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

What kind of work do you want to do? Have you used any of the career guides to check to see what the requirements are, and whether an advanced degree translates into more money?

susanc's avatar

What I’m sure of: with an MFA you can teach in a college, with a BA or even a BFA you cannot. Don’t know if you’re interested in teaching.
It’s not a good time to look for a college teaching job of course – hiring freezes are rife – but it may loosen up before you get done with a degree.

thriftymaid's avatar

You can’t work on a masters until you finish your bachelors.

MrItty's avatar

@thriftymaid depends on the school. At mine, seniors could dual register as grad students and start taking grad-level courses before they completed their BS requirements.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@dpworkin I was thinking about something along the lines of a Curator – which is highly competitive, so I definitely think a Master’s would help. At the very least I was thinking about being an Assistant Curator. I was also contemplating Interior Decorating, or even Art Therapy. I’m not really picky in this arena, because I love art in many ways. I’m just scared because of the economy and competitiveness combined that, even if I did get my Master’s, it might not take me anywhere. Am I being too paranoid?

dpworkin's avatar

For a curatorial job you need at least a Masters Degree in Art History, not Fine Arts.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@dpworkin There are varying types of Curator jobs. For many, you’re right – you need to major in Art History, but not for all of the positions anymore. My brain fries when I try to plan things like this out… :-/

dpworkin's avatar

Well things have changed since I worked at MOMA, I guess.

JLeslie's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Have you been interning or working in the field? I agree with @dpworkin that career guides can help, but talking to people out there in th ejobs you are interested in is the best I always think. Better than someone in academia guiding you. Sometimes they can be out of touch with the real world so to speak. Many many people do their masters later, once they have been in the business for a while, whatever the business is.

Double major sounds interesting to me also, because it might not be many more classes and it would give you more than one direction to go. Not sure what you are thinking? You could go advertising, or media studies, or business, and use your artistic skills along those lines. Lots of options.

janbb's avatar

You won’t really know which educational course is best for you if until you decide what career in the arts field you want to shoot for. If you want to go into interior design, a Master’s won’t help you; conversely, if you want to be a curator, you might need a Master’s in Art History and/or Museum Studies. If you want to prepare the most broadly as an undergraduate, you might want to do a double major in art and education, if teaching school is appealing to you. As others have suggested, doing some research and exploration in various career areas will help you focus. The Occupational Outlook Handbook is available online and in most libraries and gives you an overview of careers, with expected salaries, educational requirements and anticipated demand.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@DrasticDreamer, if you want to work for a museum, you will need a MFA in Curatorial Studies.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

A BS program will require you to take a lot more math and science courses. A BS in Chemistry would be a good compliment to your Fine Arts degree, as authentication and restoration work requires a background in analytical chemistry. This could give you a significant advantage in the job market.

I did a dual major in Mechanical Engineering and History, followed immediately by an MA in History and a later MS in Engineering. The engineering degree led to my career, the history degrees formed the basis of a lifelong “hobby” which I’m hoping to cap off with a doctorate.

noyesa's avatar

If you’re looking for almost any professional employment with an art degree where you actually work with art you’re going to want a masters degree, and this is virtually without exception. For many curator positions, you’re really going to want a PhD, and for many of these jobs you need to be at the top of your game from a top school. You’re competing with a lot of people for not a lot of jobs and many of the people you’re competing with will be educated out the wazzoo from some top art history school (NYU, Yale, Chicago, etc).

I don’t want to be discouraging, either. There are plenty of good jobs out there for someone with a masters in art, but I’m not sure being a curator is one of them. You can usually teach with an MA/MFA, and jobs in art preservation, if that’s your thing, aren’t too difficult to come by. At the end of the day, as I’m sure you’re used to hearing, art is a hard field to break into and keep going with, and things are really competitive. Any extra edge you can get is worth it, in my opinion.

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