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Post-Baccalaureate Programs in Studio Art

written by: Chris Flood•edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch•updated: 8/18/2010

If you are a college grad who wants to prepare for an MFA program or just formalize your training as an artist, a post-bac certificate program is a great way to move your art forward in an academic setting. From top ranked MFA programs to affordable or local options, you're bound to find something.

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    For those who regret not finishing off a major in Art, want to switch careers, or simply desire to solidify or formalize a potentially lifelong passion, attaining a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fine/Studio Art could be a great move. While many colleges and universities can easily accommodate adding a fifth year onto a four-year BA program to allow students to double-major in art as well as their original area of study, individuals who have been out of school for a while need to figure out how to start new, probably at a different institution. This article summarizes some of the post-bac art programs out there.

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    Top Tier MFA Programs with Post-Bac Options

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    Both the Art Institute of Chicago ($33,000) and the Maryland Institute College of Art ($32,000) offer post-bac certificates while also being highly-regarded in the US News and World Report rankings of graduate programs in fine arts. Say what you will about the rankings, but if you are set on getting into a "top" school, want to make art into a profession, and are willing to pay the premium tuition, then attending one of these schools could be your best move. Although admission to MFA programs is not guaranteed and credits do not transfer from post-bac programs to graduate study, making connections and involving yourself in the art community at these schools can only enhance your ability to attend them full-time as an MFA student.

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    Affordable Post-Bac Options

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    Brandeis ($17,500), Berkeley ($5,700), and the Lyme Academy ($19,000) all offer post-baccalaureate certificates for considerably less tuition than most of the other programs available. If you aren't going to a top program or just want this to be a formalization of a lifelong passion, you'll be hard pressed to come up with a reason why you would not consider one of these options. Brandeis' program might be more affordable because it only offers 2 and 3 courses per semester, though it is a full-time residency program. At just $455 per class, Berkeley could be the hands-down best deal. As a non-degree continuing education program, Berkeley classes are not eligible for federal student loans, so you will have to find private loans or pay out of pocket. I'm not sure why someone would pay more to attend the Lyme Academy in Connecticut; to me, it seems like urban culture is central to a vibrant arts community. It is, however, more affordable than the options below.

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    Other Post-Bac Options

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    The San Francisco Art Institute ($32,000), Minneapolis College of Art and Design ($28,000), the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts ($27,000), and School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston ($31,000) all offer post-bac certificates, but at the premium prices of top-ranked MFA programs. Of course, if you are already tied to a particular area, you have good reason to consider these options. Moreover, these schools might offer programs specific to your interests that you cannot find at the other schools. MCAD, for example, has a sequential art program, a good fit for artists interested in comics or graphic novels.