Master’s in Art and Art History Programs Guide

Are you ready to find your fit?

Do you have an artsy side? Looking for a fun, colorful career?

Not only do you admire great art, but you believe artwork should be interpreted through a historic lens. Sound like you? Can you envision yourself in a museum or gallery, promoting better education on the arts? Then a master’s in art and art history may be the perfect fit for you!

What kind of online master’s in art degree should you get?

A master's degree program in art will provide opportunities to specialize in specific kinds of artwork. Common specializations include creative writing and painting.

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In a master of fine arts program in creative writing, students learn how to tell stories effectively, market those stories to a wider audience, and edit for themselves and others. The program will also teach them how to navigate the business side of publishing stories, such as appropriate conventions for story submission and which resources are available in particular genres. Students also often develop a background in the history of literature.

In a painting MFA program, meanwhile, students learn how to develop and construct the visual language of paintings, as well as how to break those rules in a purposeful and effective manner. These programs also equip students to effectively analyze artwork. The later stages of a painting MFA will center on an individual student's artistic goals, encouraging them to develop their own style and vocabulary.

How much money can you make with an online master’s in art degree?

Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, have heavily variable compensation.'s current data indicates an average yearly pay of just above $46,000, but with lows below $20,000 per year and highs nearing $100,000 per year.

Those who move into the business world, becoming art directors or creative directors with large organizations, see more pay as well as more stability. Typical pay for these roles hovers around $64,000, with creative directors sometimes making more than $150,000 per year. These positions require comfort with leadership duties.

What can you do with an online master’s in art degree?

Fine arts graduates have diverse career prospects. Common career trajectories include freelance work, in-house staff for businesses, and art education.

  • Freelance Artist - Freelance artists work in business settings or work from home, generating the visual and written content companies need to put out finished products and marketing campaigns. They set their own hours, but must work hard to find and retain clients.
  • Graphic Artist - Graphic artists work with large organizations in office settings. Some work with medical, scientific, or legal organizations, but may require a background in a relevant field like biology or law in addition to their artistic experience.
  • Art Educator - Art educators sometimes work in schools and other child-facing organizations to help young artists develop. Other art educators encourage the use of art as coping strategy and stress management tool in at-risk populations.

What are the best online master’s in art degrees?

By using data from U.S. News & World Report and, these rankings provide a comprehensive look at the overall value of many degree programs in art. The rankings start by looking at factors like student-to-faculty ratio, graduation rate, and curriculum. Adding these values to measures of each degree's cost and typical student salary after graduation provides a profile of the overall quality of each degree program. Programs that rank highly are those that provide a strong grounding in fine art concepts and practice, and equip students to find good jobs after graduation.


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

    Natchitoches, LA




    Located in the small city of Natchitoches, LA, this public university is home to mascot Vic the Demon along with over 9,000 students. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Northwestern State University of Louisiana among having the Best Online Programs. In fact, the university now offers an affordable online Master of Arts in Art the Study of Fine and Graphic Arts.

    Program Features

    Offered through the universitys Mrs. H. D. Dear, Sr. and Alice Estelle Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts, this 33-hour graduate program offers many areas of focus. Required courses may include:

    Advanced GraphicsResearch in Art HistoryCreative Research ExhibitionAdvanced Problems in Commercial Art

    While this is an online program, all students are required to attend two three-week summer sessions or one semester at the beginning of their degree. Additionally, graduates must complete an on-campus thesis exhibition.


    For students who attend NSU exclusively online, graduate tuition fees are $475 per credit-hour up to 9 hours, then just $100 per credit-hour. Northwestern State University of Louisiana is consistently ranked among the countrys Most Affordable Online Colleges. Financial aid and scholarships are also available for those taking online courses.

  2. Fort Hays State University

    Hays, KS




    Founded in 1902 and home to mascot Fort Hays State Tiger, Fort Hays State is a public university located in Hays, KS. With an enrollment of over 15,000 students, the university boasts the lowest tuition rates in the Kansas Board of Regents system. FHSUs virtual college now offers a flexible online Master of Liberal Studies with a Concentration in Art History.

    Program Features

    Offered through the universitys Department of Art, this unique online program is made up of 31 credit-hours. Required courses and seminars may include:

    Medieval ArtAncient Art HistoryNon-Western Art History18th-19th Century Art HistoryRenaissance/Baroque Art History

    Students will collaborate closely with advising faculty to tailor their degree and their culminating research projects. Graduates of this program often go on to become art instructors, art critics, museum curators, and gallery managers.


    Fort Hays State University was ranked among the top online colleges and top military-friendly colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Online graduate students can expect to spend around $280 per credit-hour at FHSU. Scholarships and financial aid packages are also available for qualifying students. Those in the military and their family members may also receive additional tuition breaks.

  3. Radford University

    Radford, VA




    Radford University is a public school based in Radford, VA. With a variety of degree options in art, business, education, tech, and the health sciences, its no wonder so many choose to study here. In fact, more than 9,000 combined undergraduate and graduate students attend Radford. Now, interested students can pursue an online Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art through the universitys College of Visual and Performing Arts.

    Program Features

    Through this program, graduate students must complete a total of 60 credit-hours. Required courses may include:

    Studio ManagementCritical Writing in ArtInternational Art HistoryInstructional Design and Evaluation

    Additionally, all students must complete a thesis exhibition and written thesis, followed by a defense. Students may also choose a concentration in one of the following areas: painting, drawing, photography, graphic design, jewelry and metalworking, or ceramics. With small class sizes and plenty of opportunities to interact with professors, students will gain the skills and experience needed to thrive in their careers.


    Radford University is considered one of the most affordable universities nationwide, titled a Best Bang for the Buck school. It is also ranked among the nations Top Public Schools in the South by U.S. News and World Report.

  4. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

    Edinboro, PA




    Located in Edinboro, a town in Northwestern Pennsylvania, Edinboro University is a small public university offering a variety of online graduate degrees. In fact, the universitys online programs have received a top-tier ranking by US News and World Report. Among its excellent graduate programs is a 30-credit online MA in Art with a Concentration in Art Education.

    Program Features

    Coursework in this online degree program is rooted in theory and touches on subjects including psychology, humanities, and interdisciplinary studies. Required courses may include:

    Therapeutic Art Education Strategies for Art Teachers Current Issues in Art EducationCurriculum Development in Art EducationAesthetics and Art Criticism for Art Education

    Additionally, all graduate students must complete a culminating experience and research in art education.


    Edinboro University of Pennsylvania has been ranked among the nations Top 100 Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report. This university is also a Military Friendly school, offering tuition breaks and scholarships for service members and their families. With core values of excellence, curiosity, respect, responsibility, and integrity, its no wonder so many choose Edinboro.

  5. University of Nebraska

    Kearney, NE




    Founded in 1905 as a teachers school, the University of Nebraska Kearney campus is now a public four-year college. Home to mascot Louie the Loper, UNK is known for its unique programs in the fine arts, humanities, business, and technology. Interested in art? Check out UNKs online Master of Arts in Education with a Museum Education Emphasis.

    Program Features

    Prospective students should have a background in art education or visual arts to gain acceptance into this 36-credit program. Offered by UNKs Department of Art and Design, required courses may include:

    Women in ArtModern Art HistoryCultural Studies Through ArtArt Education in American CultureHistory, Theories, and Philosophies of Art Education

    Additionally, all graduate students must also complete an art education research paper.


    The University of Nebraska is consistently ranked among the top universities in the nation. In fact, U.S. News and World Report has ranked UNK among the Best Value Schools and Top Public Schools. Highly distinctive to UNK is the commitment to visual literacy through interpretation and community. Even online students will engage in gallery activities, group discussions, and studio projects.

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