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How Do I Become an Art Professor?

Art professors may focus on a particular period, such as the Renaissance.
Art professors may gain experience by giving guest lectures.
An art professor provides both instruction and guidance to students.
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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2014
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The path to become an art professor may be different for each person who wants to follow this career path, depending on his or her specific career goals and professional aspirations. As a general rule, the requirements are similar for any collegiate level teaching job, including a mixture of experience and education. At the very least, it will be necessary to have a master's degree to become an art professor, though those who want to become tenured, full professors may need to pursue a Ph.D. in a relevant topic such as art history. It is also important to have a stellar portfolio of professional work or shows.

The first step to become an art professor is to earn a bachelor's degree and to continuously make art. Even if you do not wish to follow a career path as a professional artist, but want to focus all your energies on becoming an art professor, you will typically still need a professional portfolio of visual art pieces that you can show to prospective employers, and add to throughout your education and career. For people who do not wish to teach fine art, however, and want to focus on art history, this portfolio option may not be required, but it is up to you to do your research ahead of time.

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Earning an advanced degree is typically the next step to become an art professor is to. In some fields, an MFA -- master of fine arts -- may be considered a terminal degree for people who will be teaching hands-on art classes. It may also allow you to get a position as an adjunct or associate professor at a smaller university or local community college. For those who want to work for more prestigious universities, become full professors, or earn tenure, a more advanced doctoral degree will likely be necessary.

Though it may be difficult to find a doctoral degree program in applied arts, there are other options such as art history, which is a very common choice. In addition to all of your education and an impressive portfolio, one of the most important ways to become an art professor is to present yourself well in interviews. Becoming a professor at a university will often involve sitting before a hiring committee made up of various department members for multiple interviews, and it is important to consistently present yourself in a professional, academic manner, and demonstrate what you will bring to the school.

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