Online Graduate Programs in Fine Arts

An online art school may offer certificate, master's, and doctoral degree programs in the fine arts, applied arts, and art history. Examples of online fine arts degree programs might include digital illustration, painting, sculpture, or creative writing.

Why earn a graduate degree in Fine Art Online?written by Rana Waxman

Applied art programs often focus on commercial avenues such as art administration, art education, or curatorial work. Most online art degree programs provide several options so students can tailor their degree to mirror creative talents or professional goals.

Why Consider an Online Art School?

While it may strike you as odd to think of picking an online art school, most art universities provide the same rigorous education to both online and on-campus students—just with greater flexibility. For instance, instead of a set schedule, you might study on your own time and at your own pace. In fact, both full-time and part-time program formats are available. Part-time learning may be better suited to someone who already has a full-time job or other commitments.

Market Your Art

Online art programs may focus on some of the business and marketing tools you need to help promote your work in today’s creative professional fields. You may develop several key business skills in an online art school where this is an option. Some examples include how to:

  • Give clear and concise presentations
  • Develop your ability to professionally present your ideas
  • Produce an all-important gallery-ready portfolio
  • Update your professional promotional materials
  • Acquire skills to edit, publish, and provide constructive feedback
  • Build time-management skills as you effectively meet deadlines


Artists who want to take on a more managerial role may complete a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. i

Make that Faraway School Closer

An online art

school might have its central campus far from your home. But the miles magically disappear through digital technology. Now, while it is true that some online fine arts degree programs are ‘low residency’ and may not be 100% online, it might still be less disruptive to an ongoing career.  

Modules and More

Some online art schools use a module system. Each module includes set coursework that could blend a variety of mediums. Instructional videos, audio-enhanced slideshows, digital documentation, interviews, and more are made available through an online course-management platform. Often, a fine art online program makes use of helpful technology—for instance, a screen-sharing tool, or a whiteboard feature that allows an instructor to mark up a student's work and provide detailed feedback—even add audio commentary.

Commentary and Connection

Online fine arts grad students are likely to work independently but not in isolation. Most web-based platforms provide more than just class news and grade information. The portal is often a link to one-on-one tutoring sessions, class discussions, and feedback/critique. These systems are all in place to further professional development and a virtual support system.


Especially in online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs, students are often encouraged to participate in off-campus mentorships at art school-approved sites. This type of experience provides real-life exposure to the external art world. You might look to create a virtual mentorship with an acclaimed artist overseas, or find a nearby gallery that exhibits local artists.

Online MFA - Master of Fine Arts

The Master of Fine Arts is a professional, top-level degree in the arts. Students typically enter an online MFA program with a Bachelors or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from an accredited university. Online MFA degree programs sometimes include a two-year, 60 credit hour course of study.

The curriculum may provide a structure for advanced study in areas such as graphic design, drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Most Master of Fine Arts programs focus on a blend of technical mastery (skills) and personal vision (creativity). The culmination of an online MFA program is typically a thesis project. Also, graduates of online MFA programs may leave with professional-level portfolio that has been reviewed, and a solid grasp of the business of art. Similarly, students who pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing might finish their course of study with a manuscript, interactive multimedia narrative, poems, screenplay, or other body of work.

What Is a Major in Studio Art?

A major in studio art typically covers any type of fine art where students practice and learn techniques in an artist studio. Drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, digital animation are several examples. If you attend an online art school, you may have to be able to access a local or home art studio. Or, take online fine arts classes for the convenience, and access your art school’s facilities for those times when you can't visit the campus.

Online MA - Master of Arts

Online Master of Arts (MA) degrees may be available in Art History and Art Education. Sometimes about 36 credits, MA Arts programs may be more academic than focused on studio time. For instance, an online MA in Art History might dive into topics such as historic preservation of works of art and museum curation.

The online MA in Art Education explores concepts and methods for teaching art to elementary and secondary school children.

Online Graduate Certificates in Fine Arts

Online certificate programs in fine arts usually focus on one aspect of applied art. This may enhance students' professionalism, as well as their talents. Most certificates are obtained within 6 to 12 months and require the completion of 28 to 30 credit hours. High school graduates and those who've obtained a GED are typically eligible for enrollment.

Online PhD in Fine Arts

The PhD in Fine Arts is a research-focused degree in the fine arts; it is the highest level you can earn in the field. Most online Fine Arts PhD programs admit students with an MFA or similar degree.

Students in this type of program usually conduct independent research. They submit an original dissertation to an advisory board before graduation.

Many programs offer assistantships and internship opportunities so students receive hands-on experience. At the same time, they take their knowledge in visual arts, aesthetics, and art theory to the highest academic level.

Online DFA –Doctor of Fine Arts

Online Doctor of Fine Arts (DFA) degrees are upper-level professional practice degrees in fine arts. Perhaps less common than the Master of Fine Arts, a DFA degree might be awarded to someone who contributed notably to their field.

Find Accredited Online Art Schools

Many regionally-accredited online arts schools may also be approved by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Basically, an ‘approved’ online art school is one that has met high standards in terms of curricula, faculty, and student resources.

Moreover, if you want to transfer credits from one program to the next, the process is usually one that takes place between accredited schools.

Get Started

Find an online art school on our directory. Scan and scroll through our programs. Whether it’s a certificate, PhD, or online MFA, the choice is yours to make. And, all you do is click to request more information! Take that next step now. Many online art schools have multiple start dates and you may be in time for the next one!


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