Art Teaching Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's & Online Training Info

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What will you learn in an art education degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a bachelor's and master's degree and potential careers.
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Study Art Teaching: Degrees at a Glance

Bachelor's and master's degree programs in art education are designed to prepare students to become art teachers. By completing either one of these degree programs, an individual can be prepared to become an educator in elementary, middle or high school, and a master's degree program can prepare an individual to teach at the postsecondary level in community colleges. Teachers at the K-12 level must be licensed in order to work in public schools in all states, and some state require individuals to obtain a master's degree shortly after earning licensure.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), kindergarten, elementary, middle and postsecondary school teachers were all expected to see average job growth from 2010-2020, with about a 17% increase in employment. For kindergarten, elementary and middle school students, this growth may be attributed to a decline in the student-teacher ratio, while postsecondary school teachers were expected to see an increase due to a growing number of college students. High school teachers were expected to see a 7% increase in employment, which is a slower-than-average rate of growth.

Bachelor's Master's
Who is this Degree For? Individuals interested in teaching art at the K-12 level -Individuals interested in teaching at the K-12 level
- Individuals interested in teaching at the college level
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Elementary school teacher ($55,000)*
- Middle school teacher ($56,000)*
- High school teacher ($57,000)*
- Postsecondary art teacher ($73,000)*
Time to Completion 4 years 2 years
Common Graduation Requirements - About 120 credit hours
- Core art coursework
- Education coursework in preparation for state licensure
- Art courses
- Education courses
- Possible preparation for licensure
Prerequisites High school diploma Bachelor's degree
Online Availability No Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011

Bachelor's in Art Education

A bachelor's degree program in art education typically prepare you to teach at any level K-12, and also prepare you to earn mandatory state licensure (commonly called certification) to teach at a public school. Such programs commonly include general education courses, in addition to art courses and education courses. Also, you may be required to attend a relevant educational seminar, and you will have to complete a student teaching experience, which includes teaching in a real-world classroom setting with students.

Pros and Cons


  • After completing the program, you can be prepared to teach at any educational level K-12
  • A bachelor's degree program prepares you for state licensure or certification
  • Teachers from kindergarten to the postsecondary level earn a higher-than-average mean annual salary*


  • High school teachers were expected to see a slower-than-average rate of job growth from 2010-2020*
  • Teachers are commonly required to complete related tasks before and after school, as well as in the evening and on weekends
  • Postsecondary teachers may only be able to find part-time work

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs in art education commonly include courses that help you become proficient in artistic techniques, as well as courses that help you become a skilled teacher. Art classes can include a variety of media, and teaching concepts typically are supported by a teaching experience of at least one semester, which is commonly required for state teaching licensure. Some common areas of study at the bachelor's degree level can include:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Student analysis
  • Art history
  • Ceramics
  • Printmaking
  • Educational leadership

Online Degree Options

As of December 2012, online bachelor's degree programs in art education were rare to nonexistent. If you do happen to find such a program, be sure to confirm that it is accredited and meets state requirements. Such programs may be rare due to the hands-on nature of real-world educational experiences that must be earned in order to gain licensure. At the present time, earning a bachelor's degree in a traditional on-campus fashion appears to be the best way to complete an art education program.

Stand Out with this Degree

Because some states require that all public school teachers earn a master's degree shortly after earning licensure, it may be advantageous for you to develop a graduate degree plan if you live in such a state. This could mean meeting the admissions requirements for a prospective master's degree program. If you don't plan to earn a master's degree, you can stand out as a bachelor's degree holder by earning additional education or certification to work in multiple capacities with in a K-12 school, including that of counselor or librarian.

Master's in Art Education

Master's degree programs in art education are commonly completed in two years and address the artistic ability of the master's student, as well as his or her ability to teach others. Programs typically include the attendance of seminars, the completion of a thesis and studio time and can also include independent study. Students may be asked to consider the cultural and historical impacts of art, and study advanced concepts in education which can be applied at the elementary, middle, secondary and postsecondary levels.

Pros and Cons


  • You can be qualified to teach in a wide variety of professional settings
  • Postsecondary art teachers earn, on average, about $20,000 more per year than teachers at the K-12 level*
  • Master's degrees are required to teach in public schools at the K-12 level in some states


  • In states where a master's degree is not required, this education (and the costs to obtain it) may be unnecessary for K-12 teachers
  • While a master's degree qualifies you to teach in 2-year colleges, standard universities and state colleges commonly require a doctoral degree for educators
  • Teachers at all levels of education commonly work long hours, including evenings and weekends

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Master's degree programs in art education commonly include many components besides coursework, including the development of a thesis, independent research, studio work and attending seminars. Some programs also include the necessary courses and experiences to prepare individuals for licensure if they have not already obtained it. However, coursework is still a fundamental part of the program, and commonly includes the study of art and the study of education. Some courses could include subjects such as:

  • Curriculum development
  • Contemporary art
  • Professional development
  • Research methods
  • Special education teaching methods

Online Degree Options

Distance-learning master's degree programs in art education are available from multiple universities, and can offer you the schedule flexibility you may need due to a busy personal or professional schedule. Online programs can commonly be completed at the chosen pace of the student. While online programs are convenient for the freedom they offer, some on-campus visits may be required throughout the program. Additionally, real-world teaching experiences required for state teaching licensure may be difficult to accomplish through online programs.

Stand Out with this Degree

A master's degree may already help you stand out as a dedicated, educated teacher if you plan to teach at the K-12 level. If you plan to teach at the community college level, you might stand out as an educator by having completed sufficient work experience prior to being hired, or by specializing in a particular area of art. If you want to teach at a state college or university, you typically need a doctoral degree. In order to stand out as a doctoral candidate, you will want to meet a minimum GPA requirement for admission, along with additional requirements as outlined by the prospective doctoral program.

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