Art Director Degree Programs and Career Information
Read detailed information about undergraduate and graduate degree programs designed for aspiring art directors. Find out what courses are taken and what types of careers can be sought by graduates of these programs. Art director career outlook and salary information is also addressed in this article.
Art directors are responsible for overseeing the creation and design of the visuals that appear in magazines, newspapers, books and even many online publications. Prospective art directors may enroll in bachelor's and master's degree programs in graphic design or art management to receive the necessary training for this field.
Undergraduate programs tend to focus on artistic topics, providing studies in color theory, typography, drawing and Web graphics; on the other hand, master's level programs emphasize administrative processes such as promotions, fundraising, planning and financial management. Internships and portfolio development could be included in some studies. An academic background in art could be required by some programs.
Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design
Often considered a requirement to enter into this field, those interested in a career as an art director typically begin their educations by pursing a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design. Because these interdisciplinary programs emphasize basic and advanced art skills, such as drawing and color theory, as well as digital media, design programs and Web development, they are ideally suited to emphasize the skills necessary for art directors.
Students acquire skills in the conceptualization, history and development of posters, Web pages, brand designs and publication designs. They also actively develop professional portfolios throughout their undergraduate careers. Many bachelor's degree programs for graphic design require the submission of a portfolio or sample of work for program acceptance; many also require an internship or the completion of a senior project for degree completion.
Students earning a bachelor's degree in graphic design will typically complete around 65 hours of coursework. Typical coursework for graphic design programs include:
- Art history
- Color theory
- History of graphic design
- Letterform design
- Production design
- Digital page and Web graphics
- Electronic media and production
Popular Career Options
In addition to art directors, graduates of graphic design programs go on to many other careers. Popular career options include:
- Corporate brand designer
- Design director
- Editorial designer
- Multimedia designer
- Production director
Master's Degree in Art Administration
Students who wish to pursue a master's degree in art administration will typically earn a Master of Science in Art Administration or a Master of Art in Art Administration. These programs emphasize exploration of arts policy issues, technology and political and social factors that impact the arts. Students acquire skills in areas such as management practice, economic problem solving, legal issues that affect the arts and fundraising. In addition, many programs require the completion of a master's thesis or master's project in addition to degree coursework. Many programs require students to have obtained a bachelor's degree in art, design or a related field for acceptance, although some will accept applicants who do not have art backgrounds, provided additional program-specific criteria is met.
Art administration programs typically require around 45 hours of coursework, as well as the completion of a master's thesis or project. Master's programs also include courses in areas such as business management and finance. Typical courses for art administration degree programs include:
- Arts administration
- Fundraising and grant writing
- Financial accounting
- Arts promotion
- Strategic planning and evaluation
- Writing for the arts
- Financial management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
For the years 2010-2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reported that art director jobs are expected to increase by 9%. The BLS also predicts that the most growth is likely to be in the advertising field, while jobs in publishing will decline swiftly as more media moves to online formats. In 2012, the median annual salary for art directors was around $80,880.
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