Picture perfect: New study claims art degree won’t automatically make you poor

starving artists
Liars! via Flickr user Lorenzo G

It’s very easy to poke fun at people for having art degrees. “Four years in college and you studied pictures? Why didn’t you learn something useful like ‘business’ or radical queer theory, ya dummy?” your friends tell you. Well, in an Upworthy-level twist, it turns out that Everything You Thought About Art Degrees Making You Poor Is Untrue, because a new study shows people with art degrees have both jobs, and jobs that pay them a decent living. Now who should have spent four years staring at pretty pictures, huh political science majors?

The study, by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce and relayed to us by the Wall Street Journal, found that the median income for people with bachelors of fine arts is $42,000 per year, and their unemployment rate is 7.8% in the first two years out of school, 4.5% for people out of school longer than that. The income is comparable to that of other liberal arts degree holders, and unlike the stereotype of the art degree-holding barista, the Journal found another study that showed 83% of people with art degrees actually worked in the arts in some form or another.

Of course, this leaves us with a conundrum, because we’ve spent so much time laughing at people with art degrees in the past. If you want our advice parents, next time your kid tells you he’s going to school for a political science degree, say something like “Why do you want to waste your time studying bullshit like speechwriting and voting patterns? You should try to be an artist, that’s where the money is!” But is it true, art majors? And have you been secretly encouraging us to laugh at you so that the world of art degrees isn’t flooded with a wave of mediocrities, like the world of “business” degree-holders has been?


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