Fine arts implements and a fact sheet with data on it.

Statistics on fine arts majors

Looking for facts and figures about fine arts majors? You’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find data about enrollment, gender distribution, employment, and salaries for fine arts majors. These statistics come from reputable sources only, including the National Center for Education Statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

If you are interested in a specific field, such as music or theater studies, you can find a detailed report on degrees conferred by program, too.

 

Five high-level statistics about fine arts majors.

 

Enrollment statistics for fine arts majors

According to a 2019 report from the National Center for Education Statistics, 108,688 fine arts degrees were conferred within the United States in 2019 across all academic levels. Of those degrees, 38.6% were conferred to men and 61.4% were conferred to women.

 

A dark green pie chart showing the gender distribution for all levels of fine arts degrees in total.

 

Here’s what the gender distribution looks like for each academic level of fine arts degrees:

  • Bachelor’s degrees: 62.2% conferred to women, 37.8% conferred to men.
  • Master’s degrees: 58.6% conferred to women, 41.4% conferred to men.
  • Doctoral degrees: 50.6% conferred to women, 49.4% conferred to men.

You can see these gender distributions in the three pie charts below.

 

Three pie charts showing the gender distribution for bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees conferred in the fine arts.

 

Below are the actual number of degrees conferred within the United States in 2019.

 

All levels Bachelor’s Master’s Doctoral
Total 108,688 89,730 17,113 1,845
Male 41,919 33,922 7,086 911
Female 66,769 55,808 10,027 934

 

This is the breakdown of fine arts degrees conferred by academic attainment:

  • Bachelor’s degrees: 82.6%.
  • Master’s degrees: 15.7%
  • Doctoral degrees: 1.7%

 

Donut chart showing the share of fine arts degrees conferred by academic attainment.

 

In the chart below you can view the number of graduates from various fine arts programs in the year 2019, as recorded by the National Center for Education Statistics.

 

Bachelor’s degrees Master’s degrees Doctoral degrees
Program Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female
Visual and performing arts, general 1,553 553 1,000 116 50 66 14 4 10
Digital arts 1,603 833 770 257 123 134 0 0 0
Crafts/craft design, folk art and artisanry 95 21 74 2 0 2 0 0 0
Dance, general 2,386 287 2,099 217 43 174 12 1 11
Ballet 41 5 36 4 1 3 0 0 0
Dance, other 53 1 52 0 0 0 4 1 3
Design and visual communications, general 2,817 942 1,875 432 154 278 4 2 2
Commercial and advertising art 940 268 672 11 3 8 0 0 0
Industrial and product design 1,570 882 688 215 120 95 0 0 0
Commercial photography 161 41 120 6 2 4 0 0 0
Fashion/apparel design 1,842 189 1,653 157 22 135 1 0 1
Interior design 2,668 251 2,417 257 36 221 0 0 0
Graphic design 4,802 1,558 3,244 195 55 140 0 0 0
Illustration 1,994 474 1,520 212 53 159 0 0 0
Game and interactive media design 1,236 879 357 134 71 63 1 0 1
Design and applied arts, other 696 218 478 242 85 157 19 2 17
Drama and dramatics/theatre arts, general 8,652 3,143 5,509 894 355 539 83 35 48
Technical theatre/theatre design and technology 583 222 361 165 58 107 0 0 0
Playwriting and screenwriting 274 131 143 349 177 172 0 0 0
Theatre literature, history and criticism 40 8 32 9 2 7 3 2 1
Acting 1,120 433 687 190 92 98 0 0 0
Directing and theatrical production 133 37 96 87 39 48 0 0 0
Musical theatre 685 240 445 17 7 10 0 0 0
Costume design 20 1 19 16 2 14 0 0 0
Dramatic/theatre arts and stagecraft, other 523 214 309 55 18 37 2 1 1
Film/cinema/video studies 3,775 2,082 1,693 583 282 301 40 20 20
Cinematography and film/video production 4,792 2,778 2,014 1,038 529 509 4 1 3
Photography 1,171 362 809 246 109 137 0 0 0
Documentary production 17 4 13 33 18 15 0 0 0
Film/video and photographic arts, other 1,033 555 478 50 20 30 3 0 3
Art/art studies, general 10,180 2,907 7,273 647 223 424 2 0 2
Fine/studio arts, general 8,949 2,542 6,407 1,350 475 875 0 0 0
Art history, criticism and conservation 2,285 368 1,917 877 130 747 229 50 179
Drawing 246 65 181 30 16 14 0 0 0
Intermedia/multimedia 802 399 403 47 20 27 4 3 1
Painting 525 140 385 133 49 84 0 0 0
Sculpture 227 75 152 47 13 34 0 0 0
Printmaking 134 29 105 35 11 24 0 0 0
Ceramic arts and ceramics 90 23 67 50 19 31 0 0 0
Fiber, textile and weaving arts 137 7 130 36 5 31 0 0 0
Metal and jewelry arts 105 14 91 42 3 39 0 0 0
Fine arts and art studies, other 555 146 409 227 60 167 1 0 1
Music, general 7,292 3,861 3,431 1,822 952 870 617 362 255
Music history, literature, and theory 110 58 52 37 22 15 12 7 5
Music performance, general 4,062 2,180 1,882 2,190 1,094 1,096 469 233 236
Music theory and composition 533 364 169 329 227 102 55 41 14
Musicology and ethnomusicology 48 26 22 48 16 32 44 21 23
Conducting 1 1 0 103 66 37 55 42 13
Keyboard instruments 143 51 92 230 69 161 51 21 30
Voice and opera 341 99 242 285 95 190 13 4 9
Jazz/jazz studies 293 254 39 179 145 34 5 4 1
Stringed instruments 175 82 93 239 110 129 20 10 10
Music pedagogy 62 23 39 93 36 57 17 9 8
Music technology 607 498 109 80 68 12 5 2 3
Brass instruments 32 24 8 46 30 16 0 0 0
Woodwind instruments 54 23 31 81 44 37 7 5 2
Percussion instruments 15 12 3 14 11 3 3 3 0
Music, other 922 517 405 225 129 96 26 18 8
Arts, entertainment, and media management, general 531 233 298 307 81 226 0 0 0
Fine and studio arts management 594 140 454 483 91 392 9 1 8
Music management 1,515 795 720 57 30 27 0 0 0
Theatre/theatre arts management 206 58 148 53 18 35 0 0 0
Arts, entertainment, and media management, other 203 94 109 191 106 85 0 0 0
Visual and performing arts, other 481 202 279 311 96 215 11 6 5

 

Employment statistics for fine arts majors

There are approximately 2,646,600 fine arts graduates on the market today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number would include visual arts, music, theater, and art history in most institutions. 50% work in roles that require a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 23% work part-time.

Most importantly, though, are the most common jobs held by fine arts majors, which you can see in the bar graph and the chart below.

 

Orange bar chart showing how many fine arts majors occupy their most common roles, measured in per cent.

 

The data from the BLS indicates that fine arts grads gravitate toward teaching and design, witch graphic design being the single most common occupation.

 

Job for fine arts majors % of grads in job Growth, 2020 – 2030
Graphic designers 5% +3%
Post-secondary teachers 4% +24%
Elementary teachers 4% +7%
Service managers 4% +7%
Designers (general) 3% +0%
Art directors 3% +11%
Substitute teachers 3% +13%
High school teachers 2% +8%
Retail sales 2% -1%
Retail manager 2% -6%

 

Pie chart showing how many fine arts grads work in various professional areas.

 

These are the main areas in which fine arts majors work:

  • Art, design, and entertainment: 21%
  • Education and libraries: 16%
  • Management: 13%
  • Sales: 8%
  • Administration: 8%
  • Other: 34%

Those tend to be median figures, which include fine arts majors at all stages of their careers. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York indicates that fine arts majors have a high unemployment rate soon after graduation at 5.6%.

You can see the comparison graph below.

 

Orange bar graph showing the unemployment rate for fine arts majors and other college majors in their early carers.

 

Fine arts majors also experience a high underemployment rate in their early careers, reaching as high as 58.4% (also reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York). In the liberal arts and humanities, only anthropology exceeds that number. You can see the comparison in the bar graph below.

 

Blue bar graph showing the underemployment rate for fine arts majors and other college majors in their early carers.

 

Salary data for fine arts majors

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for fine arts majors in the United States is $42,000.

 

Green bar graph comparing the median salary of fine arts majors with other humanities programs.

 

That’s on the low end of earnings for humanities graduates when compared to other median salaries recorded by the BLS. This is how those medians compare.

  • Archaeology and anthropology average salary: $66,000
  • Political science average salary: $64,000
  • History average salary: $60,000
  • Philosophy and religious studies average salary: $55,000
  • Law average salary: $53,000
  • English average salary: $51,000
  • Visual and performing arts average salary: $42,000

 

Orange line graph showing the median salary for fine arts majors over time.

 

However, you can see the median salary earned for fine arts majors on an annual basis right here. This data comes from the Hamilton Project, a part of the Brookings Institute.

 

Year Median Salary
1 $31,000
2 $27,000
3 $36,000
4 $35,000
5 $37,000
6 $38,000
7 $42,000
8 $47,000
9 $43,000
10 $50,000
11 $53,000
12 $46,000
13 $51,000
14 $50,000
15 $56,000
16 $55,000
17 $58,000
18 $57,000
19 $57,000
20 $53,000
21 $61,000
22 $57,000
23 $60,000
24 $58,000
25 $58,000

 

The data shows that fine arts majors represent a fairly large portion of college graduates, but they often struggle to build momentum in their early careers. They also tend to have lower median salaries than other disciplines, even when compared to graduates from other programs within the humanities.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the fine arts are a “poor choice.” The data also shows that the most popular jobs among fine arts majors are in teaching and design, which are both popular career paths with the potential for high earning power and relative job security.

Sources: NCES, BLS, FRBNY, Hamilton Project

Andrew Webb

Andrew Webb

Andrew Webb is on a mission to teach liberal arts and humanities graduates to build the successful careers they deserve. After earning a bachelor's and a master's degree in history, he became a digital marketer and joined one of the most successful tech companies in the world. He started the Employed Historian blog at employedhistorian.com.

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