Art Programs Online

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online art degree

What would life be without art? It would be a bland, colorless existence for sure. We depend on artists to bring meaning to the mundane. Art moves us!

The field of art is highly diverse. With an online art degree, you have numerous career options available. So, it is an excellent choice for creative, imaginative people. Some people can look at an open field at dusk and see a great photo opportunity. Others find beauty in shapes and forms. In addition to the success these individuals can find, those with an arts bachelor’s degree can also obtain immense job satisfaction.

Originally published in June 2023, this article has been updated to include the latest information regarding online art degrees in January 2024.

Those who study art can major in a range of areas, including:

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” – Émile Zola

Career Outlook for Those With a Degree in Art

Arts and design occupations are projected to grow about as fast as average through 2032. Although this is relatively slow growth, it remains steady. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for those in the field of art is $51,150. This is higher than the annual wage for all other occupations.

Additionally, there will be about 95,800 openings a year for designers and artists due to growth and replacement needs. So if you want to make a good living as an artist, there are plenty of ways to do so. And an online art degree can help you get there. This list of the top online art schools can get you started.

online art degree

Online Art Schools

Online art schools are ideal for students who can’t relocate or those who need to work while earning their art degree. Online bachelor’s in arts programs offer a flexible alternative to in-person attendance. Online art classes provide the same quality of education as traditional learning, and the art degree is just as valuable. However, class schedules are usually more versatile. This allows students to keep their current jobs and schedules.

Each school has its own online learning management system (LMS). Examples of these include Canvas, Blackboard, and D2L Brightspace. These platforms are where students will access lectures and materials for their courses. Typically, there will also be discussion boards and other ways for students to interact with their peers and instructors. Some programs require occasional campus visits, although most art degree programs do not. However, it is something to be aware of before enrolling in an online art program. 

What Is the Difference Between Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Classes?

The format online art schools use to deliver remote classes can differ between colleges. Most online art schools offer asynchronous courses. This means you can log in to the LMS anytime and complete your studies. Your coursework is available to you 24/7. And you can access the materials from anywhere you have a stable internet connection. Essentially, asynchronous coursework allows you to earn an art degree from anywhere in the world.

However, some online programs are synchronous. With synchronous online programs, students log in to attend class at a predetermined time. So all remote students meet together at once to complete their coursework. As a result, deadlines and attendance are more rigid with synchronous online programs. However, some online students find that asynchronous classes give them the motivation and structure to stay on top of their classwork.

Occasionally, online art degrees are delivered using a mix of both asynchronous and synchronous courses. And some schools even allow you to attend classes on campus if you live nearby. Be sure to look for online art degrees with a format that works for your own busy lifestyle. The best online art degrees are those that you feel most comfortable committing to.

Financial Aid for Online Art Students

Students attending an accredited college are eligible to apply for Federal financial aid. And this is true even for those who are pursuing online art degrees. Additionally, there are other ways to help finance your art education. Such funding may include grants, scholarships, assistantships, and more. If you’re worried about being able to afford art school, contact the school’s financial aid office. They can direct you to programs that can help you pay for your education. 

Methodology for the Top Online Bachelor’s in Art Degree Programs

Online Art Degree

We created this ranking of the best online art schools based on information from the National Center for Education Statistics. To find the top 10 online colleges for arts, we looked for schools offering accredited and fully online art programs. We then ranked each of the online art degrees using the following methodology:

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

15:1 or less = 3 Points

16:1 to 20:1 = 2 Points

Greater than 20:1 = 1 Point

Undergraduate In-State Tuition:

Less than $10,000 per year = 3 Points

$10,000 to $15,000 per year = 2 Points

More than $15,000 per year = 1 Point

Overall Graduation Rate

Less than 30% = 1 Point

Between 30% and 50% = 2 Points

Greater than 50% = 3 Points

Every institution on our list is regionally accredited. This ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants and credit transferability across institutions. It also ensures that your degree credits are recognized if you choose to pursue a master’s degree in art. 

Top 10 Best Bachelor’s of Arts Degree Online

  School NameStudentFaculty RatioTuitionGrad Rate
University of Montana15:1$7,43242%
SUNY – Empire State College17:1$7,36043%
Lindenwood University19:1$18,64051%
Bellevue University19:1$8,31065%
Arizona State University18:1$11,34866%
University of Arizona18:1$12,73664%
National University16:1$13,32013%
University of Massachusetts – Lowell17:1$15,69863%
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design10:1$21,61538%
Academy of Art University14:1$25,4247%

Ranking the Top Online Bachelor of Arts Degrees

#1 University of Montana


Missoula, Montana

University of Montana

Online Bachelor of Arts in Art

UM offers an excellent art bachelor’s degree online. The program provides graduates with new work prospects and professional progression. Students investigate art field-specific subjects and prepare for professions in the sector.

Online learners can take advantage of flexible transfer policies to complete the online bachelor’s degree in art faster. Students can also get an online masters in two years. Financial aid is available. Required courses include:

  • Introduction to Art History
  • Visual Language – Drawing
  • Digital Imaging I
  • Intro to Media Arts
  • Introduction to Film Editing
  • Visual Language
  • Creative Coding 

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $7,432 

Overall Graduation Rate: 42%

#2 SUNY – Empire State College


Saratoga Springs, New York

SUNY - Empire State College

Online Bachelor of Arts in the Arts

SUNY ESC offers an online bachelor’s degree in arts. Students can specialize in areas such as visual arts or design. They can also develop their own multidisciplinary degree program. The program is highly customizable.

Students will refine their research skills and artistic techniques. Graduates are capable of conceptualizing and communicating ideas, pictures, and critical judgments. The curriculum comprises 124 credits. Online learners can focus on:

  • Fine Arts
  • Graphic Arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Creative Writing
  • Media Arts
  • Art History
  • Arts Management

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $7,630 

Overall Graduation Rate: 43%

#3 Lindenwood University


St. Charles, Missouri

Online Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design

Lindenwood University is a private nonprofit university in St. Charles, Missouri. The school’s Bachelor’s degree in Art and Design is delivered entirely online. The curriculum focuses on online design, architecture, western art history, and design philosophy. Online learners may select 12 credit hours from any art or design elective.

Lindenwood accepts up to 90 credits from an accredited institution. A capstone project and an internship or an applied art and design course are also required for this degree. The program can be completed in two to four years. Featured courses in the 120-credit hour curriculum include:

  • Digital Photograph
  • Visual Storytelling
  • Programming Logic
  • History of Western Arts
  • Introduction to Fashion Design

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $18,640

Overall Graduation Rate: 51%

#4 Bellevue University


Bellevue, Nebraska

Bellevue University

Online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design

The undergraduate art degree offered by BU is fully online and asynchronous. The multidisciplinary program gives students a solid understanding of the elements of design. Students learn how to develop creative visualization and critical thinking skills.

They also learn how to conceptualize and communicate myriad design solutions for media. Graduates will have a professional portfolio upon completion. Financial aid is available at this private university. Major courses in the 120-credit hour program include:

  • Fundamentals of Print Design
  • Publication Design
  • Web Page Design
  • Fundamentals of JavaScript
  • Javascript
  • Interactivity Basics
  • Problem Solving & Idea Generation

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $8,310 

Overall Graduation Rate: 65% 

#5 Arizona State University


Scottsdale, Arizona

Arizona State University

Online Bachelor of Arts in Design Arts & Practices

ASU’s online degree in art is provided in an asynchronous format. It is administered through the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. The comprehensive program is designed to engage and stimulate students in a variety of ways. It provides a high-quality art history education and prepares students for a life-long art career.

The 120-credit curriculum examines history from various cultures, periods, and geographies. It does this through lectures and experiential learning opportunities. The art program is taught by recognized faculty members with a broad knowledge of the history of art. Graduates are equipped to work in the following fields:

  • Visual Design
  • Web Design
  • Motion Design
  • Multimedia Design
  • UX/UI Design
  • Illustration
  • Animation
  • Art Direction
  • Creative Direction

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $11,348

Overall Graduation Rate: 66%

#6 The University of Arizona


Tucson, Arizona

Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Arts, Media, and Entertainment

The online bachelor’s in art offered through U of A is an asynchronous program. It is designed to help students develop skills in criticizing and evaluating art forms. Students get a solid understanding of the processes by which art and creative thinking are communicated.

They also gain academic knowledge of promotion and marketing in the performing arts. Graduates find careers in print media, film and television, theater, public relations, marketing, and more. Students can transfer up to 75 credits to their degree plan. Some of the courses included in the 120-credit hour curriculum include:

  • Rock and American Popular Music
  • Jazz History
  • Literature and Film
  • Hip-Hop Cinema

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $12,736 

Overall Graduation Rate: 64%

#7 National University


San Diego, California

National University

Online Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Design

The online bachelor’s in art offered through NU is available in a fully asynchronous format. It gives hands-on experience with the most up-to-date tools and technology found in today’s media arts sector. Students learn how to use media authoring tools.

They gain the skills to produce dynamic and interactive content with graphics, animation, music, and video. Courses are offered on a flexible four-week basis to allow students to combine family, job, and school. Featured courses include:

  • Vector Graphics
  • Digital Image Compositing
  • e-Publishing
  • User Interface Design
  • Design & Interactivity
  • Camera and Image
  • Digital Video Editing
  • Motion Graphics Vis. Effects

Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission 

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $13,320 

Overall Graduation Rate: 13%

#8 University of Massachusetts – Lowell


Lowell, Massachusetts

  • Online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts – Art History
  • Online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts – Graphic Design

UM-Lowell offers a fully online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. Students can choose a concentration in history or design. The program allows students to build a range of creative and technical abilities in high demand in the art industry.

Up to 90 credits can be transferred, allowing art history students to complete the program in just 12 months. Featured courses in the 120-credit online art degree include:

  • Comparative Arts
  • Prehistoric to Medieval History
  • Renaissance to Modern History
  • American art
  • Advanced Typography
  • User Interface Prototyping for Apps and Web
  • Photographic Imaging

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $15,698

Overall Graduation Rate: 63%

#9 Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design


Lakewood, Colorado

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

BFA in 2D or 3D Animation

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is another school that offers some of the best online art degrees on our list. The online bachelor’s in art offered through RMCAD is delivered asynchronously. Students can choose between 2D or 3D animation. The program helps students develop a solid skill set that allows their distinctive, artistic voice to shine through.

Students explore animation sector production at every level. They learn how creative thinking transforms an ordinary idea into something spectacular. Classes are offered year-round at this online art school to allow students to graduate in less time. 

RMCAD also offers other excellent online art programs, including: 

  • BFA in Art Education
  • BFA in Game Art
  • BFA in Illustration
  • BFA in Music Production
  • BFA in Photography
  • BFA in Interior Design
  • BFA in Illustrative Design
  • BFA in Fashion Design

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 10:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $21,615 

Overall Graduation Rate: 38%

#10 Academy of Art University


San Francisco, California

Academy of Art University

Online BFA in Fine Art

The Academy of Art University is one of the top private online art schools in the nation. The art bachelor program at AAU is offered in a 100% online format. Students can take classes on their schedule. This program gives students the creative and technical abilities to succeed as artists.

Graduates will leave with a portfolio of well-crafted artwork demonstrating their personal vision. The art program includes featured online courses such as:

  • Printmaking
  • Figure Modeling
  • Still Life Painting
  • Introduction to Anatomy
  • English Composition: Creative Persuasion & Argument
  • Composition & Painting
  • Digital Media: Digital Manipulation

Academy of Art University offers numerous online art bachelor degrees. Some of these include:

  • BFA in Fashion Design
  • BFA in Animation & Visual Effects
  • BFA in Art Education
  • BFA in Game Development
  • BFA in Illustration
  • BFA in Photography

Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission 

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1

Undergraduate In-state Tuition: $25,424 

Overall Graduation Rate: 7%


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