Articles

Indicting Higher Education in the Arts and Beyond

by Alexis Clements on October 20, 2014

Figure showing primary occupation self-reported by those with undergraduate degrees in the arts.

Figure showing primary occupation self-reported by those with undergraduate degrees in the arts. (image via Arts Report BackBFAMFAPhD, 2014, p. 7)

There’s one very clear take-away from the latest report released by the collective BFAMFAPhD: people who graduate with arts degrees regularly end up with a lot of debt and incredibly low prospects for earning a living as artists. Or, as they put it in the report, titled Artists Report Back: A National Study on the Lives of Arts Graduates and Working Artists, “the fantasy of future earnings in the arts cannot justify the high cost of degrees.”

As they did with their previous work, collective members Vicky Virgin, Julian Boilen, Susan Jahoda, Blair Murphy, and Caroline Woolard analyzed data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Specifically, they looked through a publicly available slice of that data (the 2012 1-year Public Use Microdata Sample). From that sample they extrapolated their numbers about the larger population, estimating that there are a total of 1.4 million people in the US who self-identify as having a primary occupation of “writer, author, artist, actor, photographer, musician, singer, producer, director, performer, dancer, choreographer, [or] entertainer” — the group’s definition of a “working artist” for this report.

According to BFAMFAPhD’s analysis, a very small percentage of art school undergraduates end up as working artists (~10%), and that fully 40% of working artists over age 25 don’t even have undergraduate degrees of any kind, let alone art degrees. So why on earth would anyone spend so much money on such a degree? The reality is that there’s some larger context and nuance that makes their numbers a little complicated for reasons that I’ll get into in a moment. But some of those issues with the data also reveal just how little solid information is available to help anyone get a clear picture of how artists make a living in the US, if they do at all.

And, similarly to their earlier report, the group also highlights in this new report the disproportionately high representation of white, non-Hispanic males among working artists, and the fact that white, non-Hispanic people of any gender are over-represented in arts degree programs.

Figure showing representation by mutually exclusive race and ethnicity categories. (Source: Arts Report Back, BFAMFAPhD, 2014, p. 10)

Figure showing representation by mutually exclusive race and ethnicity categories. (image via Arts Report Back, BFAMFAPhD, 2014, p. 10)

Zoom In

Data is wonky. I’ve been part of a very different effort the past couple of years attempting to get some preliminary data on artists living in Staten Island and it’s not easy at all. It’s particularly hard because artists are slippery buggers when it comes to easily quantifiable information.

Most reports about artists that I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a fair number) that are based on quantitative data are pretty fuzzy when it comes to the thing that many artists would love to know: How much money do artists make from their creative work?

Why is the data so imprecise? Because almost everything about the ways that artists work seems to defy typical practices for collecting labor and earnings statistics, which may also speak to the larger problems with the ways we collect labor statistics in this country in general, but that’s a discussion for another day.

By and large, it appears that labor statistics, like the ones collected in the American Community Survey, generally assume that most workers have a single or primary job that provides the largest share of their earnings and that job is comprised of a bounded set of tasks or modes of earning money — for example, if you say you are an auto mechanic, the assumption is that you earn most of your money fixing cars. But as many artists know, when you say you’re an artist, how you earn your money can and often does come from a wide array of sources — it could be sales or commissions, it could be royalty payments, fees for presenting work, or teaching in various forms, which many artists lump into their occupation as an artist. Income could also come from things like licensing deals, work-for-hire, or consulting, where an artist does things similar or related to their creative output, but for a company or another person, and on and on.

A detail of BFAMFAPHD's installation in the 'Crossing Brooklyn' exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

A detail of BFAMFAPHD’s installation in the ‘Crossing Brooklyn’ exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

All of this makes it really tough to understand what income really means for an artist when you’re trying to isolate their artistic earnings. So even reporting modest numbers like the fact that working artists with degrees in New York City make a median income of $25,000 (as BFAMFAPhD did in their earlier data analysis), if you dig into that number for each individual, the sources of that money are likely to be highly variable and rarely exclusively from creative output. That all makes it tricky when you want to present young people with a clear picture of their earning prospects from artistic work.

Which is to say, income numbers that add everything together can run the risk of inadvertently supporting what I wholeheartedly agree is a fantasy of steady, lifelong earnings from art-making alone.

The other wrinkle is of course, who gets counted, which gets talked about every time there’s a report about artists. Like Vicky Virgin, the analyst who helped crunch the numbers in this report and is also an artist, I generally wouldn’t appear in these stats because my primary income comes from a day job unrelated to my art or arts writing. A huge number of artists who are receiving money for their creative work simply would not appear in these figures, and we know from other stats that a huge number of artists who are showing in very prominent arts institutions have been paid nothing at all for their work.

When I spoke on the phone with Vicky Virgin about this new report, she said that “The most difficult part of this project was the definitions.” One of the ways she grounded the choices they made, at least as far as choosing occupational categories for artists, was by mirroring the categories used by researchers at the National Endowment for the Arts. But the nuances within the earnings are much harder to get at, and she seemed to share a desire to find ways of revealing some of those nuances.

Beyond earnings, there’s a particular risk the group runs in highlighting the lack of college degrees in working artists over 25. The fact is that there has been an enormous increase in the number of degrees awarded in the past decade — in fact, the increase is a little shocking.

Chart showing the change in the number of bachelor's degrees awarded per capita from 1987 - 2010. (Source: "College degrees awarded per capita in the USA," Randal Olson)

Chart showing the change in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded per capita from 1987 – 2010. (image via “College degrees awarded per capita in the USA,” Randal Olson)

In doing some research for this article, I came across the above graph put together by Randal Olson, which shows the increase per capita in undergraduate degrees in the US over a 20+ year period. It’s clear from this graph, not to mention the others he put together on PhDs, as well as Masters and Associates Degrees, that there have been dramatic increases in the number of degrees being awarded since the 1990s, but particularly since around 2002. Which means it’s probably not accurate to make a direct comparison between degree numbers for people over 40 and people under 40 because the entire higher education landscape has shifted dramatically across the past couple generations.

Lastly, for many people today, particularly those who would have started college in or after the 1990s, undergraduate degrees are now seen as a basic requirement for work in the US. And for many people there is not a strong relationship between the subject of your undergraduate degree and your occupation. Two high-level examples: the American Bar Association makes no specific recommendation for the subject area that someone interested in becoming a lawyer should study as an undergrad, even suggesting students pursue degrees in art or music if that’s where their interest lies; and per numbers quoted by Forbes, humanities majors had higher acceptance rates into medical school than either biological or physical science majors.

The fact that only 10% of graduates from undergraduate arts programs become working artists lacks a little bit of context without also understanding how many people graduating across fields end up working at a job that directly correlates to their studies. I think the deeper issue might be the professionalization of undergraduate degrees in general and the increased pressure to turn them into strictly vocational programs rather than a time to increase critical thinking and communication skills regardless of the field.

I don’t say any of this to discount the line of inquiry BFAMFAPhD is pursuing, I’m a big fan of the project, I just want to take step back and acknowledge that undergraduate degrees are a little tricky to focus on in this particular way. The proliferation of graduate arts degrees might be easier to tie directly to professional expectations.

Zoom Out

While this report focuses specifically on the arts, I couldn’t help but notice that it’s a part of a much larger conversation that’s been roiling across fields recently, particularly when it comes to graduate degrees. Our higher education system is producing a vast quantity of workers with educations and expectations for high-level and high-paying jobs that simply do not exist in the quantity needed to employ all these people.

Earlier this month the Boston Globe published a lengthy article highlighting the reality that postdoctoral researchers in biomedical fields, after nearly a decade of schooling, are becoming in some ways the equivalent of interns, with low paying menial jobs that offer little potential for promotion or even hiring. And biomedical sciences are hardly the only ones. There’s trouble for a scientists with PhDs across fields, and while the glut of lawyers seems to be slowing slightly, it hasn’t gone away, and salaries have dramatically decreased for those shouldering huge debt burdens from law school.

Unfortunately in the arts, we seem to be still ramping up when it comes to higher degrees, rather than pulling back. Artists are being encouraged to get a “leg up” on the job competition among MFAs by getting PhDs. (Notice the not-even-slightly-subtle language encouraging artists to consider each other as competitors who must literally step on one another in order to realize success … )

So, this is not an isolated issue in the arts — we’re training hundreds of thousands of young people who dream of gaining lucrative, or at least sustaining, long-term employment in a job market that is over-saturated with precisely those people and has been steadily losing good jobs.

That’s Depressing. What Now?

I absolutely echo the report authors’ desire to eliminate the fantasy that arts graduates or artists, for that matter, can expect to have a long-term sustaining income from art-making alone. I think some added context might actually help strengthen their argument against tying degree attainment to occupational attainment. But because they focuses exclusively on undergraduate degrees, things get a little tricky.

There’s one thing that the report mentions briefly but doesn’t dig into that I think is unfortunately revealing of a reality that continues to drive the proliferation of degrees across fields. On page 8, they state that the group of working artists who do have bachelors degrees in the arts actually earn a good amount more on average than those without one: $36,105 vs. $30,621. And that’s precisely what drives that “leg up” thinking mentioned earlier.

There’s a crazy hamster wheel at play in the US today in which there is an ever-shrinking pot of “good” jobs and we’re all being told to jump through ever more hoops to get those disappearing jobs. But those hoops are really expensive and time-consuming to jump through, which means only those who already have a lot of financial advantages and privileges in the first place are able to get through them (one of the really strong points that came out of the BFAMFAPhD’s earlier study).

One of the recommendations that the collective offers is to “point prospective art students toward low-cost and tuition-free arts programs.” But they also go on to say, “we defend the liberal arts as integral to higher education nationally.” Which feels a little fuzzy in the sense that they seem to be saying get a liberal arts degree but not a fine arts degree. Instead I wonder if the point might be, if you want to get an arts degree or a science degree or a philosophy degree for that matter, go for it, but understand that there is little to no chance you are going to have a well-paying job doing the thing you’re studying, plan accordingly when it comes to finances, and while you’re in school make sure to demand conversations and learning that helps you think about how to apply skills in a variety of settings. That last point is one the group touches on at the end of their report.

Another recommendation they make that I cannot support enough because it is incredibly achievable, is the removal of any requirement anywhere for any program or grant aimed at artists that demands, or even implies a need for a BFA, MFA, or PhD in order to apply. That requirement perpetuates a classist and racist power and reward structure in the arts that is utterly unacceptable. Organizations that make this demand should be roundly criticized and publicly shamed for it.

Near the end of the report they also suggest that higher education and arts institutions could support “solidarity economies” both “intellectually and financially.” It can be tricky to ask the problem institutions to help buoy the solution and they don’t offer a definition in the paper version of solidarity economy beyond offering a visual diagram from Ethan Miller that is a bit hard to parse without prior knowledge, but elsewhere they mention “worker and producer cooperatives” and “resource sharing networks”, and on the website, near the bottom of their “About” section, they provide links to dozens of programs, projects, and initiatives providing alternative frameworks for educating, creating, and living in the world today, many centered in New York City.

Ultimately, this report feels like an important tool that will help drive further conversations around class, race, and the arts economy, not to mention the function of the economy in general. And it’s exciting to have people on the ground tackling ambitious research projects on their own, because while they may not be perfect, the others are far from perfect, and reports like this help give proof to the lie behind many heavily funded projects that claim the arts is a booming and vital industry that is enriching citizens rather than putting more dollars in the pockets of the few.

Update: On Friday morning, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a research and advocacy project “designed to enhance the impact of arts-school education,” released a new report: “Making it Work: The Education and Employment of Recent Arts Graduates.” Their mission is in many ways opposite to BFAMFAPhD’s stated mission: to “make media and connect viewers to existing organizing work” (i.e. community organizing).

While SNAAP and BFAMFAPhD’s reports are very different in many ways, primarily because SNAAP ultimately aims to paint a rosy picture while BFAMFAPhD wants to point out the failures in the system, in some ways their data on the realities of trying to become a working artist after graduating aren’t that different. One figure in particular is worth sharing:

SNAAP_AR_2014-17

(image via Strategic National Arts Alumni Project)

All of these reasons for not becoming a professional artist should be familiar, but the statistic worth noting that supports BFAMFAPhD’s argument is the enormous jump in those who say that debt is a reason they aren’t pursuing work in the arts.

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  • Jordan Service

    Great read. I love and echo the notion to eliminate all sorts of educational requirements for grants and institutions. Fantastic idea.

    I think there is a two fold issue at play. One is that arts education is nebulous in that the skills and information imparted to each student vary greatly. At least I know at my school Undergrad at NWSA, The level of ability was so different from student to student that on a base level, the degree doesn’t really tell the “Good Artist” from the bad.

    The second issue is that as a society our generation must go from a top down oriented society to a bottom up society. It is happening across the board IMO. So what that means is don’t expect to get hired, make your job. If a degree is meaningless, then argument is all that matters.

  • maya

    Nice to see the data better contextualized. Also great ad juxtaposition on this article…

  • Rick Beerhorst

    I feel like the creative problem solving kind of thinking that is deep in the nature of being an artist allows us to find ways around the impasses that try to close us off from our work. I do have a masters degree in painting but I feel like my real education was having children to feed. Because I didn’t want to go back in to the academic world as an art teacher (even if I could have found that job) I have been pressed into the market place and learned through trial and error. I don’t work with galleries, I make friends who eventually become the people that support my creative journey. Studio visits, coffee and lunch dates and just getting out and about help me find and nurture these friendships. My older children, barely into their twenties, are now on their own. They have completely side stepped higher education and our flourishing as working artists.

  • Jackie Frost

    My mother taught at one of the premier art schools in the US for more than 20 years. After that introduction to art education, I chose to apprentice to a series of select individuals whose work I respected. These were older established artists working in different media. I was in a hurry to work in the field and didn’t want to waste my time and money. I was paid a small stipend for my work, and was expected to work hard, long hours. I was told to perform tasks not required in a university, but that gave me experience that proved very practical and useful.

    I have been a working artist for more than 40 years in virtually every media.

    Unless the young artist plans a career teaching or working at a museum, I highly suggest learning the old way – at the Master’s studio.

  • VinsonValega

    Although important and essential to objectively slice and dice the data in all fields, this article is clearly an opinion piece. Ms. Clements’ viewpoint is that an arts education is a waste of time since — according to these numbers — only 10% of artist pay their bills making their work. It’s such a general claim that it’s worth is barely applicable 10% of the time!

    1) What about the artist who sells a ton of work early in his/her career then is no longer in demand and has to get a day job? Or the musician who spends a year playing in a cruise ship band but then comes back home and gets an office job while playing wedding gigs and jazz club dates? Or the dancer who tours for two years with a company, only to grow older in later years, unable to dance to pay the bills? Are these artists part of the 10% or 90%?

    2) Ms. Clements writes: “Another recommendation they make that I cannot support enough because it is incredibly achievable, is the removal of any requirement anywhere for any program or grant aimed at artists that demands, or even implies a need for a BFA, MFA, or PhD in order to apply. That requirement perpetuates a classist and racist power and reward structure in the arts that is utterly unacceptable. Organizations that make this demand should be roundly criticized and publicly shamed for it.”

    I’m not sure what “programs or grants” she’s referring to, but I’d like her to answer what exactly is wrong with requiring a certain level of education be attained in order to be considered for an application of some sort? I wonder if she has a problem with the requirement of a law degree before taking the bar exam? Or should anyone be allowed to practice law, since requiring a law degree might be “classist or racist?”

    This idea that education plays no role in becoming a specialist is ludicrous. Just like a plumber goes to school to get the foundational training for his occupation, so must an artist or musician or dancer get training in order to become a professional. Of course an individual can be “self-trained,” but the whole point of the educational process is to not only be trained by those with more experience and expertise, but to also be immersed around like-minded individuals who are sharing their growth experiences. And to imply that those years of training can be acquired just as easily for free on one’s own terms is specious, at best. Ms. Clements implies that becoming a professional artist should be judged differently than all the other occupations, which smacks of condescension to me.

    Which leads me to point 3):

    Professionalism. What does it mean in the arts? The entire premise of this article (and study) is that the only way to measure “success” — and whether the huge amounts spent on education are worth it — is to document who’s making the money and how. To Ms. Clements’ credit, she at least chose to include the most recent SNAAP study, albeit in merely a footnote at the end, dismissing the SNAAP report as it “ultimately aims to paint a rosy picture.” If you take the time to read this report, and its predecessor, you will find a far more enlightening — and useful — conclusion that over 70% of those with degrees in the arts are satisfied and happy with their current jobs. And this is based on a wide-ranging survey of over 90,000 arts alumni! Sure, many would prefer to make more money, but when it comes to job satisfaction, those with arts degrees are FAR more likely to have achieved this milestone. Ask a lawyer how much he likes his job and he’ll tell you how he’s counting the days ’till he changes careers!

    SNAAPis not some poorly crafted study created to “paint a rosy picture,” as the cynical Ms. Clements would have you believe, but rather a HUGE survey of those who have spent the money on degrees that she would urge you not to attain. Go here and read for yourself –> http://snaap.indiana.edu

    And lastly, I would direct you to a wonderful book of essays by artists (“Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists”) edited by my wife, artist, Sharon Louden, that details the nitty-gritty of what it means to continue to sustain a creative life in the visual arts. Guess what? Only 10% of them actually pay the bill with sales of their work, yet all 40 of these amazing artists have been showing their work and been part of the art world dialogue for many, many years, school debt notwithstanding. This book is a realistic micro-look at this macro-topic of surviving as an artist in a country that values the arts very little:

    http://www.sharonlouden.com/book_projects.shtml

    If the point of this article is to discourage getting a degree in the arts, Ms. Clements is doing not only a great disservice to her readers, but she’s also by default discouraging her readers to get a college education, period! In the long run, it matters not whether your undergraduate degree is in painting or philosophy or engineering or biology. Life is long and all of the studies bear out the fact that having a college degree — of any kind — leads to MUCH greater earnings potential. I direct you to just one study by Pew, entitled “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College”:

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/02/11/the-rising-cost-of-not-going-to-college/

    Let’s hope that Ms. Clements focuses her next article dissecting the SNAAP study that she has so quickly dismissed in the footnote here.

  • How many artists, and of what kinds, do ‘we’ need? (Fine arts, commercial, technical, etc.) How many are ‘we’ willing to pay for, and at what earnings level? What practical skills, which might be inculcated by instruction and supervised practice, do these people need to do their work? To what extent should they be educated in the history and cultural context of their crafts? Is any attempt to understand the weirdly distorted contemporary big-ticket art market, dominated by celebrity, imitation, advertising, fashion, and conspicuous consumption, likely to pay off? These are questions that need to be answered before ‘we’ can begin to deal with the questions of artist education, simply as a matter of coming to grips with the underlying business model.

    • punktoad

      There isn’t a business model to being an artist. An artist is an artist because they have to make art. Read Kafka’s ” The Hunger Artist.” If an education helps one in being an artist then by all means get educated. Being a self taught or outsider artist is just as valid. Most artists are more interested in expressing themselves than making money. Because someone is working in another field doesn’t mean they are not making art. For example, Rauschenberg and Johns designing window displays did not stop them from making art.

      With my BFA I did not become a famous artist or even make a living at it. However I was able to work as a graphic designer, animator, create and manage websites as well as develop a usability lab. All this time I continued to make fine art while supporting my family through other creative endeavors. Ultimately I was able to retire at 58 focus more on my art and not worry about the art market. The world needs more creative people whether they make a living in the art market or not. If an education helps one actualize their creativity then get one, if not, then don’t worry about it. But please, don’t base being an artist on whether a fine art education is going to guarantee an income.

      • VinsonValega

        “The world needs more creative people whether they make a living in the art market or not.”

        Amen, Punktoad!

        And as you imply, if the goal is to solely make money, the student should then go and be a lawyer or investment banker or doctor. But as it sounds like, you’ve led a very satisfying and creative life as an artist who happens to have a BFA…:)

        • Well, then, if art, or at least fine art, is purely the spiritual quest you two seem to imagine it is, then you don’t need art schools at all. Schools do not make people creative; at best, they give the creative people more tools to work with. At worst, they destroy creativity.

          In any case, since art is to be off the economic boards, it is unseemly if not actually fraudulent for art schools to be charging high tuition (actual money) for training in practices which do not yield much, if any, opportunity to make the money back. They are an extremely poor investment. They should certainly not receive any funding or consideration from the state (government, institutions, corporations) since no one values the work of their charges enough to pay for it. It seems rather dubious whether they should even be permitted to charge tuition privately, or to issue credentials which you seem to agree are vacuous.

          As for the world ‘needing more creative people’, that’s an extremely dubious proposition, since people can imaginatively create evil as well as good. It is a curious proposition to advance at a time when politics and culture are becoming increasingly centralized, authoritarian, and repressive in pursuit of passivity and conformity. Only a few generations ago people would have been outraged at the total surveillance we calmly accept, to say nothing of the helicopter parenting and schooling now becoming widespread. Creativity is probably like love in popular music: the less there is, the more people talk about it.

          • VinsonValega

            Anarcissie: No one is claiming here that professional artists shouldn’t get paid for their work. Of course they should! And hopefully lots and lots of money!

            And I agree that art schools (music/dance/poetry, etc.) can only teach skills and information; they can’t make you a good artist. That too is obvious.

            But a poor investment? Would you claim that getting a philosophy degree from a liberal arts college is a waste of money if said graduate never becomes a “philosopher?” It’s a ridiculous claim.

            This conversation is about the value of a college degree in the arts. I see no difference between getting one of those and getting a biology degree; or economics degree; or philosophy degree; etc.

          • I do think college degrees (as presently constituted in the US at least) are highly questionable. The baccalaureate originally evolved as an adornment for English gentlemen: Latin, Greek, possibly a few modern languages, classical philosophy, some light mathematics and science perhaps. It was finishing school for rich people. Now they could read Dr. Johnson’s Latin verses. However, except for an academic career and some of the professions, it was not a prerequisite to employment, as valuable as the cultural goods imparted may have been. Things are different now: young people are expected to give up several years of their lives and undertake crushing burdens of debt on speculation that they can get a shot at any kind of a middle-class job. If you have a person of modest means (most of us) I think it is appropriate to ask whether it is reasonable for them to make such a sacrifice simply to read the works of philosophers in certain surroundings, when they could do so for nothing in a public library (if they still have those).

            All that said, a degree in something dreary like business administration or economics may at least give its recipient some advantage in the job market. (We could have a more rational educational system than that, but we don’t.)

            In the case of the fine arts, however, the schooling and the degree don’t even do that much, according to the statistics published here. If you’re a commercial artist, all that matters is your portfolio; if a fine artist, work you have already completed. Anyway, artistic practice is held to be above mere money-grubbing, except when the art school collects tuition or the Museum of Modern Art charges $25 admission. You do it for love. It seems to me, then, since most artists are not going to get jobs and are not going to get paid for their artistic work, they might as well take their practices out of the money world altogether. Perhaps the more dedicated should form cooperatives, communes, or monasteries, as others on other spiritual quests do; the rest must keep their day jobs and try to do something in their free time, if they have any. There is certainly no point in getting an empty credential, and it is profoundly fraudulent to sell them to the young.

          • VinsonValega

            Go back and read my initial post and follow all the links and actually read up on the facts: those with a college degree earn FAR more in their lifetimes than those that don’t. It doesn’t matter what your undergrad degree is in. Grad school is a different animal, since it’s clear that if you want to only make money you should go get an MBA, since you’ll make more money that way. Seriously, you sound like a bitter person who chose the wrong path in life.

            Get educated on the numbers please before corrupting those around you with your negativity.

          • Try those statistics where you control for familial class (economic and social), neighborhood, race, religion, talent, ambition, health, and so forth. You might actually find that individuals of similar characteristics would have better chances of success investing the years and money in some way other than pursuing a BA, like a small business. (I have indeed seen such statistics, but I suspect them as much as I do the mainstream b.s. — I recommend independent investigation.)
            In any case, if we set up a social order where those who could stand on their heads while whistling Dixie got preferment, the ambitious would stand on their heads and whistle Dixie, and later make up stories as to how this prepared them for their glorious careers. And statistics would prove they were right.

  • The article reports that “people who graduate with arts degrees regularly end up with a lot of debt and incredibly low prospects for earning a living as artists.” This is not reflective of what we’re seeing at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia moore.edu.

    At Moore over 95 percent of Bachelor of Fine Arts students receive some amount of financial aid, a significant portion of which is funded by the College. Moore students’ loan default rate is among the lowest at 4 percent, well below the national average of 13.4 percent. This low rate, particularly given the average loan amount for those who borrow,
    is a result of our success in preparing students for inspiring careers in the
    fields of art and design.

    The College recently announced that 96 percent of its 2013 BFA graduates are employed or attending graduate school within one year of graduation; 90 percent of those are working in their fields of studies. The high level of employment of our graduates means that going to Moore College of Art & Design is an investment that pays.

    In addition to its robust Locks Career Center that provides important support services to BFA students and alumni, Moore is the only art and design school to provide $1,000 paid
    internships for each student in each of our 10 majors. Students are required to
    complete a 240 hour internship in their field of study and the employers who
    host our interns are continuously impressed with them. The Class of 2013’s success
    in landing careers is an empowering example of the impact of Moore’s
    career-focused education.

    Cecelia Fitzgibbon, President,
    Moore College of Art & Design

  • The article reports that “people who graduate with arts degrees regularly end up with a lot of debt and incredibly low prospects for earning a living as artists.” This is not reflective of what we’re seeing at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia moore.edu.

    At Moore over 95 percent of Bachelor of Fine Arts students receive some amount of financial aid, a significant portion of which is funded by the College. Moore students’ loan
    default rate is among the lowest at 4 percent, well below the national average of 13.4 percent. This low rate, particularly given the average loan amount for those who borrow, is a result of our success in preparing students for inspiring careers in the fields of art and design.

    The College recently announced that 96 percent of its 2013 BFA graduates are employed or attending graduate school within one year of graduation; 90 percent of those are working in their fields of studies. The high level of employment of our graduates means that going to Moore College of Art & Design is an investment that pays.

    In addition to its robust Locks Career Center that provides important support services to BFA students and alumni, Moore is the only art and design school to provide $1,000 paid
    internships for each student in each of our 10 majors. Students are required to complete a 240 hour internship in their field of study and the employers who host our interns are continuously impressed with them. The Class of 2013’s success in landing careers is an empowering example of the impact of Moore’s career-focused education.

    Cecelia Fitzgibbon,
    President, Moore College of Art & Design

  • Great article. I know many artists who do have arts degrees and many who don’t. Overall, it really seems to make no difference (in my opinion) as far as being successful or not as a working artist.

  • What I say. Drop out. Get a Real Job. Hang in there, real jobs 4 “artists” coming soon. -MH4BoC

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