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Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

Fine Arts

A Bachelor of Fine Arts (commonly abbreviated as a BFA) is a globally recognized academic degree awarded to undergraduates for completion of their course. The degree generally takes three to four years to complete, but will vary depend on the country, institution, subject area and courses selected. Programs resulting in a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree are generally more focused on a studio component and students are expected to concentrate their academic energies on mastering the practical facets of their field. BFA degrees are usually offered in visual artistic areas like drawing, animation, photography, film production, acting, interior design, etc.


  • Recognition. Globally recognized; in some countries it is called a Bachelor of Creative Arts (BCA), while elsewhere it is awarded as BA (Hons.) in Fine Arts.
  • Duration. Typically 3-4 years.
  • Subjects. There are several fields that are considered to be more practical and artistic and thus award BFA degrees. These fields include, acting, musical theatre, ceramics, animation, creative writing, dance, drawing, film production, visual effects, graphic design, illustration, visual arts, interior design, music, painting, photography, sculpture, or television production.
  • Assessment. Varies based on country, university and subject. For some programs there may be continual assessment that makes the final grade. For others, it may be a heavily weighted final exam. Generally, practical exams and work portfolio matters a lot in assessment.
  • Grading. Varies based on country, university, and subject.

Global Differences

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is awarded in numerous countries across the globe. The degree is also known as Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA), Bachelor of Creative Arts (BCA) or Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) Fine Arts in some countries. Two of the main global differences tends to be: the duration of the degree and subject selection.

In both the United States and Canada, the BFA typically takes four years to complete and is awarded for the completion of undergraduate studies in painting, drawing, graphic design, sculpting and art history, color theory, 3D visual arts, and related fields.

In UK, a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) Fine Arts is typically awarded upon the successful completion of an undergraduate program in one or more fields of the fine arts. The completion period for the degree may vary by country, subject field, and school.

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts?

Prospective students trying to chart their course through college might be wondering what is the difference between a B.A. and a BFA. The primary difference between the two types of degrees is the focus of the coursework students are required to complete in order to earn them.

A BFA typically involves more participation in practical arts, rather than in academics, whereas a Bachelor of Arts is focused on theoretical aspects of general arts. The difference between B.A. and BFA does differ from one university to another, however it can be said that the Bachelor of Arts is a general degree, while the Bachelor of Fine Arts is a professional degree.

Several universities offer both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts in the same subject. A BFA requires that approximately two thirds of the course work focus on the creation and study of visual arts, and one third of the course work focus on liberal arts (history, literature, psychology, etc.). For a B.A., the course work ratios are flipped.

The differences pose a very important question for students – what degree should I chose?

What degree is right for me?

Academically, both a BA and BFA are slightly different in the sense that BFA underlines specifically to the subject of fine arts, while BA is more flexible. Both offer students an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in their area of interest, and build a platform for employment or postgraduate studies. You will get better exposure to studio-oriented classes in BFA. Students need to identify which is a better fit – which track caters to their chosen subject, the theoretical one or the practical one, the generalized one or the specialized one. The coursework required for a Bachelor of Arts degree generally allows students to sharpen their communication and writing skills. By comparison, the demands of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree typically foster rigorous and in-depth course work and a detailed understanding of subject matter.

When deciding which degree program is the best fit, students need to identify:

  • Subjects. What subject they wish to study. For example, history will be offered only as B.A. as it is a theoretical subject, while visual arts will be offered only as BFA. Photography can be offered both as B.A. and BFA
  • Curriculum. The course content and teaching style for a B.A. in a subject vs. a BFA vary significantly from university to university. Although the general factor distinguishing the two courses is the amount of practical course work.
  • Career options. Does the BFA provide the right foundation for the student’s future job?
  • Entry requirements. Do they have the appropriate entry requirements e.g. art portfolio?
  • Interest. Do they enjoy practical and visual classes or does their interest lie on the theoretical aspect of creativity?

A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree offers a multitude of study options for students, and upon graduation the opportunity to enter the professional world or pursue post-graduate studies. It is imperative that students identify what subject area their interest lies in and subsequently enroll in a program that provides the best platform for their future endeavors.