Art Double Major vs. Soul-Crushing Debt

Sometimes I get emails that I just don’t have great, uplifting answers to give in reply, and I figure it’s only fair to include some of those in the usual rotation here, since not everyone has an easy path in front of them. Erika’s in a tough spot, and she’s just going to have to work through it. She writes:

Hello. I am currently going into my senior year as a double major in English/writing and Art/illustration. I started the art major late, which is why I’m in this rough position.

I’ve had to take out loans for my tuition and housing ever since I started college, and my interest rate doubled this past year with the loan company. I’m going to try and refinance my loans with the government now that Obama’s law has been signed, but as it stands right now, I’m looking at a final debt so big I could have bought a house.

Daunting, to be sure, and especially since neither major is traditionally associated with high-paying jobs that could help you pay it down more quickly. I was an English/writing major myself, so I know this personally. Go on.

I absolutely love both my majors and their respective classes, perhaps even loving the art major more. My biggest problem is that I still have about 30 credits to complete for art, only a couple more gen-ed classes, and only my capstone for English.

OK, I’m going to assume that’s a total of around 40 hours left to take, and that you could complete them in three full semesters. Provided that, of course, a lot of those art classes aren’t sequential.

Don't drop your art major, Erika. Don't sell out. Who will wear your skinny jeans?

I don’t care about going over four and a half years if money weren’t an issue, but looking at it now, I’m worried that completing my art major would be a bad move. I can still get a minor, but that wouldn’t have the same weight as a major, and I wouldn’t be able to go onto graduate school later. Could you give me any advice?


OK, this is one situation where a little bit more information could shed more light on the situation, but I’ll go forward with what I have and maybe Erika can come back and fill us in on the particulars later.

I don’t really know what Erika wants to do with her life after college, actually, so it’s hard for me to give a complete and certain answer if I don’t know what her goals are (listen up, future people writing in — be sure to include that info!). I don’t know exactly how much student loan debt we’re talking about in Erika’s case, either.

I also hate to pile onto somebody when the damage has already been done, so keep those things in mind when you read the following comments.

I think NOT finishing the art major would probably be  mistake. What I was going to say first was that doubling up with art major, and doing so late in her education, may have been a mistake to begin with. But I can only really say that from a financial perspective; Erika does say that she love the art major even more than she loves the English major, and she seems to be flirting with the idea of even going to grad school in art (more on that later). So if she’s seriously considering a career in the arts, then it’s hard to call taking an art major a mistake.

Now, starting the art major and not finishing — that might be a mistake. Of course, it all depends on how much additional expense you’re going to incur by finishing the major. If it’s one more semester of courses we’re talking about here, then yes, finish the degree. You’ll hate yourself for the rest of your life if you don’t. (You may also hate yourself for many years because of the student loan debt you accumulated, but you’re probably going to do that anyway, regardless of whether you tack on an extra semester’s worth of it.)

However, if one extra semester turns into three or four, and you don’t even know for sure that you want to have an art career, then I doubt it’ll be worth it.

All that aside, this a pretty easy decision to evaluate in financial terms. You simply take the out-of-pocket cost of the *additional* schooling that you’ll incur to finish the second major — and don’t forget to factor in the interest on the loans.  Then you weigh that number versus the additional income that you’ll realize over your life that you can specifically attribute to that second major. It’s a simple cost-benefit analysis: how much will Thing X cost me, versus how much benefit will I derive from Thing X?

You don’t know for sure, but you can give it your best guess by sitting down and really considering a) how you plan to use the art degree; b) how much it’s going to cost; and c) what job options you’ll have due to the art degree and what they pay.

If there was any financial “mistake” in Erika’s situation, it was probably those unmentioned middle semesters of college, taking courses that didn’t fulfill her general ed requirements or those of her major. But even then, it’s hard to jump on somebody and call that a “mistake” — unfortunately, that whole bouncing-around and trying-things-out approach is how you figure out what you want to do in life, and it’s not always quick or cheap.

That is, assuming the above is what Erika was doing during those years. Now, if she just grabbed the student loan money and jumped in an old VW bus and decided to follow the Dave Matthews Band across the country for a year — yes, that was, unambiguously, a mistake. Especially since Dave Matthews plays terrible, terrible music. 🙂

OK, back to Erika. We’ll believe the best about her and assume she was not following an overrated jam band around the country for a year, and that she was simply taking classes that didn’t help her graduate. But what about grad school?

I’m a little confused about the grad school comment myself, because if Erika’s worried about the extra student loans she’ll have to take to finish the double major, then she’s really gonna be up in arms about the next wave of student loans she’ll have to take on for a graduate degree in art. And of course I have to pick on art majors specifically, because — well, there’s a reason the phrase “starving artist” is in the lexicon.

But all that’s OK if that’s what Erika wants to do — I just try to bring the financial part of the equation into focus here.

Basically, if Erika’s considering a career in art, then that extra semester of undergrad work that’s required to fulfill the B.A. is the least of her financial worries, so go for it.

That’s all for me, today — time to go enjoy the long-denied sunshine here in lovely Rapid City, S.D. (we had five inches of snow on Tuesday night). Good luck to Erika, and everyone reading this — and of course, leave your comments and thoughts on the situation below.

As an aside, going into the weekend — did any of you see that little 6th grader singing Lady Gaga on YouTube this week? Kids are talented these days. When I was in 6th grade, I was in one of those sign-language choirs (just like the one on Napoleon Dynamite, except more pathetic — none of us even pretended to smile). The high point of our music program was simultaneously singing and signing “Flashdance” by Irene Cara.

Good luck, kid. Wipe that Justin Bieber kid off the map, if you don’t mind.

Have a great weekend!

35 thoughts on “Art Double Major vs. Soul-Crushing Debt”

  1. I can empathize with Erika. After 20 years as armed security my health took a tumble and my doctors said, “get an indoor job”. Hello, no one wanted to hire me to do anything other than physical security. So, I attained my Bachelor’s degree last year in Information Systems. Okay, everyone has an excuse but the fact is I now have this degree and am still stuck as armed security with massive student debt that is coming due. So, after talking with several knowledgeable folks I started my master’s degree in Criminal Justice. The goal is hopefully a promotion or some type of better security position somewhere on the planet and a college teaching position. Again, this will bring huge debt. It is too late to undo the economic mess that has been made. Plus, I feel that if I don’t finish the master’s degree that I will be doing myself a disservice. Any advice on where to look for a job? I think I have tried everything. Also, any advice on how to handle on these loans once they come due if I am still stuck as a low paid gate guard?

  2. What my brother did about his situation with huge student debt ($60,000+) was join the service and get a deal where they agreed to pay the whole thing! Of course, he got his Master’s in criminial psychology and so was able to find a niche in the army doing that, which made him much more valuable to them. One of the reasons he joined the army was to get that experience in his chosen career path. So I’d say joining the service gets you lots of help financially as long as you’re willing to take time off of your education and work to do it, plus get yelled at, maybe be shipped to Afghanistan, etc., but hey, there are lots of incentives. Of course, your career plans might not fit with anything in particular in the army, but still. Also, he says if he could do it again, he might join the Navy instead, since it’s not as strict.

  3. I didn’t realize that I had left that much information out, so I will try to clarify. My current interest rate is 14%, and before that it was 8.7%. My career goal is to work in the publishing industry; as an author, an editor, or a cover illustrator– my idea in taking up the art degree is to broaden my marketability to the publishing industry as a potential employee.

  4. I understand this completely because I am a double major in graphic design and pr-advertising myself. Unless my last semester of classes presents me with an overlap I will be graduating on time (with a semester abroad under my belt as well!) I’ve taken the max amount of credits per semester almost every semester in order to fulfill this. I’ve also taken 1-2 summer school classes at a local jc every year. I would recommend both these strategies to ensure graduating on a timely matter.

  5. Hi Ericka,
    Well I wanted to say first that I share your love for art, since art is my major as well. Actually is my second major (together with psychology), which I also started way later (I’m a junior now)… Choosing to do a doubler major was a hard choice, because not only I had to add another year an a half to my expected 4 years of college, but also I pay school on my own (I have an scholarship that pays about 20% of my total tuition, but the rest is all on me)… after spending almost a year deciding weather to go for the art major or not, i chose to do it, because no matter how hard it is to get the money to pay or my school (I don’t really make good money, I just don’t enjoy any privileges, like having a cellphone, and focus on paying for my school), I realized that the idea of studying art was going to followed me together. So I decided to go for I liked. My advice to you is that you go for u like too. Yes, been in dept sucks, but you will feel motivated to work harder and better when you are doing what you really like. Good Luck!

  6. I am double majoring in mathematics and environmental science. It will turn out to be a 5 plus year undergraduate degree, but I will be extremely valuable in the field. I am going into a bit of debt but have enough financial need to get some Pell grants too. For me, the double major will give me an edge in the scientific community, and so going into debt is totally worth it to me.

  7. I tried a double major in Sociology and Psychology. In the beginning it looked like a very good decision because those 100 level courses told me how important it was to have those majors and I got hooked. Later on, I learned that the world didn’t care at all if I was a double major if it was not an applied discipline. I also learned that my psychology minor carries about as much weight as a major, because I already completed the Bachelor’s degree in sociology.

    If you convert to a minor, you can still complete the courses to make it a major, one at a time after graduation. The only consequence might be that the university moves you to a new catalog if you take longer than six years to do it. Consider keeping the applied discipline as a major and the art minor can enhance the english major. If you find it’s needed as a major later, you can go back and take a couple of courses to complete the major.

  8. Several things to consider foremost. How many total credit hours do you currently have? I am not talking about only your passed hours, but also your failed hours (if any) and your withdrawn hours (if any), regardless of where or when taken (community college, university, etc.). If you do not have a B.A./B.S. degree, then the 150% rule comes into play which means you lose financial aid once you hit 150% of degree hours (typically 186 hours at most 4 year schools, and 45 -55 for Grad degrees).

    I learned that lesson the hard way. I had withdrawn from a number of courses and simultaneously pursued a double B.S. major. I lost financial aid until I received my first B.S. I did not know withdrawn courses counted.

  9. Next, there is a maximum limit on student loans for Bachelor’s degrees: $57,500, subsidized and unsubsidized (regardless of how many B.S. degrees you get); Graduate loan limits $138,500 sub/unsub, including the earlier loans. Unsub loans accrue interest even while you are in school and at your interest rates that can make your amounts even worse. You can opt to pay the interest monthly while in school; otherwise, it gets added to your principal.

  10. You should get the full details on the new law since some of the changes only apply to loans made after July 1, 2010 and do not change who you owe the earlier loans. There are refinanc options available once you are out of school for 6 months, but don’t count on getting a lot of help this way. There are some limits on how they can take for students loans, based on income, but the interest will still accrue.

    As previously mentioned, your two degrees aren’t known for high pay. Double majors can be a good thing if you choose diverse enough ones that provide good salary choices. You should research how well your degrees pay

  11. Another thing I would suggest in addition to everything Josh already wrote, was to talk to successful art professionals & masters students. Ask them what stands out to get you into grad school, how much education even matters to the art degree,etc. Who knows maybe networking and hearing tips from others can get your further ahead from learning from a professor. That’s of course if you lend credence to the expression “those who can’t do, teach.” *shrugs*

  12. Correction: I meant to say see how much education matters to anyone who would invest in your art. Not the degree. sorry!

  13. kongnyuy mirabel

    having two majors doing and dropping them cannot solve the problem what really matters is whether a student concentrates well in school. knowing that you have a loan is a step forward to handwork so as to meet up with the demands or requirements. doing the two majors will help her eventually depending on what the student wants to be in future and having a focus too will help alot. if the student is determined then my advice is that she should not drop one of the majors but concentrate on the two and having good performances in all these two majors there will be no way the student can’t get out of the situation. therefore taking two majors is advantageous but great performance is the key to success

  14. Erika,
    First, can you renegotiate your interest rates? They seem pretty high. It’s always nice to do what you love, but unless you’re lucky enough to have your school paid for, you have to be just a tiny bit practical. Jobs in publishing pay great in large metro centers – where the cost of living is pretty high as well. Think about what your monthly living expenses will be after graduation. How much more additional debt will that extra semester entail? Can you realistically afford this? If the answer is yes, go for it. If not, graduate and go back later.
    Sue – lots of people forget to look for work with the IRS, local government, local school systems, local universities/community colleges, local utility companies and hospitals, all of whom have a constant need for people with serious computer training. Remember, those places no one wants to work for are the ones with the most jobs…

  15. One thing I would add is to consider whether it would be worth it to take a semester off to work and save money–if you can get a part-time or even full-time job of some sort that’s flexible. That way, you could save up a little pile of cash and have to take out less loans during those last semesters.

  16. Honestly, if it’s not gonna keep you in school for another 3-4 years, go for it. I am currently double majoring in music education and percussion performance, and yeah, I’ll be in school an extra year, but I want to go to grad school anyway! I’d rather get a good education and have to find a way to pay for it later, than to take the mediocre route and have to pay for a half way done education.

  17. There are two things in life that I am willing to go into debt for: education and a house. It’s just like Josh says: how much is it going to be worth to you, outside of the tangible cost?

    There are a number of options available to you when it comes to setting up a payment plan with your lender(s) once you have completed your degree. Federal loan consolidation is certainly one of them, but your lender(s) may also offer income-sensitive repayment options (which, in the case of SallieMae, are only available if you have NOT consolidated) and unemployment deferment (for that weird period between graduation and achieving your career). Explore the options available to you when it comes to paying back your debt. Yeah, it’s like taking on a mortgage, but suffice it to say we are all in that boat somehow.

    Anyway. About grad school. If you are good, then you may have the opportunity to receive a fellowship to complete your Master’s, in which case, you would not have to borrow nearly as much to close any financial gaps during those couple years of school. If you are even considering going for a grad degree, then BE DILIGENT and DON’T QUIT. All of your hard work and perseverance will pay off for you when applying for quality grad schools later.

    I presume you wouldn’t have taken the double major if you weren’t passionate about the subject and if you didn’t believe the coursework would broaden your perspective and increase your marketability. While you finish your degree, I encourage you to begin learning about your industry from top to bottom. Sniff around for a summer internship at a publishing or design firm, so you can get some experience under your belt, too. If you really want to be marketable, then put yourself in the marketplace. =)

    Good luck and HAVE FUN with it,

  18. I graduated with 80K in debt, and consolidated. One thing EVERYONE should know is that there has never been a more disorganized group than the student loan people. Don’t give them access to your checking account, no matter what they promise you. You can’t get them on the phone, and they will withdraw the same payment more than once in a month. Keep control. YOU write the check.

    Consolidating your loans means a 30 year mortgage for your education, and you will pay back about double what you borrowed (thank YOU, Sallie Mae!). But you will be able to manage the payments. Mine are under 400/month. It’s do-able. If you ever get ahead, you pay ahead. But the interest rates are usually reasonable (although the way they weight the interest payments compared to the actual debt payments is NOT), and the payment size is usually a lot more palatable. I would be paying closer to 800/month if I had not consolidated.

    One more thing. Don’t mess up your credit and go bankrupt. Then they evidently will NOT let you consolidate (because you would be in a position to need the help! ), and you will be in deep trouble. Typical attitude of ‘charge the poorest among us the biggest interest rate’ that you see of all the really sleazy players (credit cards, mortgage brokers, etc), but there it is, no getting around it.

    Most of all, do what you love. It really does make a difference in how you face each day. I only work to pay off the loans, and my career is just disappointing. With all the crushing debt there is EVERYWHERE these days, you can assume you are going to owe a lot of money no matter what. But at least you’ve got a shot at happiness at work if you are able to land a job in ‘you’ field. One less intolerable is always a good thing.

  19. Just remember – with art it’s all about what you can do, not the fact that you majored in it nor the fact that you have a shiny degree to go with it. Every industry professional I’ve spoken with in my journey to become a professional artist has told me that the only pieces of paper that matter are the ones in your portfolio, degrees be damned.

    I can’t say the same for English.

  20. My university used to only offer double majors for study. It was a requirement for all except nursing (me) and music majors, because those two had enough credit hours to not need another major. Now they did away with the mandatory double major system and switched to the generally used major/minor system. The people who started a double major before the switch were given the chance to keep their initial choices or switch to a major/minor as well. The reason for this was that it would allow greater depth of study into the chosen fields of study rather than 2 majors. I’m guessing the way the double major system operated here compared to what the asker is talking about are different. People still graduated on time. I’m thinking it was less classes for both. Now you just pick up the second area of study as a minor, although you are still given the option to take on a second or third major.

  21. People, we have to change our collective mentality about the decision to take on massive debt for low-paying careers. Read Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace”. Great advice, easy read, and a book that will contribute a hell of a lot of wisdom to your life and really make you rethink the decision to take on debt. As a graduate who tried several “artisitic” majors (creative writing, graphic design, music performance, music technology) and has since been out in the field, I can tell you that having that extra $500 payment to worry about can really slow down the rest of your life. I had awesome opporunities to work with a audio post-production company that was just breaking into the industry and getting some serious momentum going, but I could not survive on the pay, which was both small and far between, usually deferred until the end of completion, or until the movie sold to a distributor. I was living with my parents (at 24 years old!!), I couldn’t afford to move forward with my long-term relationship with my then girlfriend, and all I could think about was how naive I was taking out all those loans instead of being more financially responsible (working and paying as I went, or going to a less expensive school). The debt was crushing the life out of me, even though I was in my “dream job”. Finally, I realized that my choice of career was so cut-throat competitive and so unlucrative that it wasn’t even enjoyable anymore.
    These liberal arts universities and private colleges with there fancy landscaping and large rec centers will teach you whatever you will pay for, regardless of real-world application or job prospects. Respectable professors in fields like art, dance, and music performance will tell students up-front: you don’t need a degree to succeed in this field, and having that degree may not help you.

    Be careful will debt. It is not to be taken on lightly, and can spoil what would have otherwise been a rewarding and enjoyable living situation.

    Just food for thought. ; )


  22. I agree with Tedddd. Even before looking at the cost/benefit ratios, research the reality of living with debt. Financial Peace is a very practical, eye-opening book that addresses our culture’s mindset toward debt, the ramifications of acculmulating debt, and alternatives to generating debt. Did I mention it was about debt? The bottom line is, debt sucks the life out of…life. You look down the road at these career paths, and you think you might be able to see what they could be all about, but the truth is you have no idea what the future holds: the job market at any given time, your health, family considerations – everything is an unknown for you. A wise person faces the unknown with as much flexibility as possible. Owing money immobilizes because it harshly limits present and future options for use of current resources to the repayment of funding of past decisions.
    I graduated with a major in Biological Illustration, minor in Biology, and worked as a medical illustrator for ten years before quitting to raise my children (my unknown future). I decided on this course of study at the end of my sophomore year. My university did not offer this as a degree program, so I created my own program through our interdisciplinary college; it took me six years, including some summers. The entirity of my education was funded by student loans, Pell grants, and my income from part-time jobs. For my path the biology was essential, but the art…not so much. Drawing is drawing is drawing, whether it’s drawing a still-life composition or drawing a turf-toe surgery. I learned as much on-the-job in different settings as I ever did in the classroom, and probably more. But that stupid student-loan package did not know that; it just demanded to be paid. And paid. And paid.
    So my advice is: Read up on the effects of debt on lifestyle. Create a budget and stick to it. Finish up your English degree, and get a job ASAP to start paying off your loans. Keep your art alive by taking a class at a local college or through the parks and recreation department AS YOU CAN AFFORD TO PAY CASH FOR IT. If a second degree is still a goal for you after a year or two out of school, get it a class at a time, as you can pay out-of-pocket. I think that the reality is, no one cares if you have a degree in art. They care that you have talent, can render what they want to see, do meet deadlines, and are teachable, with a good attitude. Graduate school? In art? Really? Okay, but don’t steal from your future to pay for your now.
    Much success through wisdom to you, Erika!

    Mary S

  23. One thing I’d like to ask is, why when considering a double-major is no one considering community colleges for two-year degrees or even big universities with A.S./A.A. programs? So maybe it’s not technically considered a “double-major” since it isn’t a Bachelor’s, but I think for certain programs like art (or in my case, creative writing – something I’m passionate about but know I can’t be guaranteed a good job with a big flashy degree in it, unless you’re like Erika and going for a publishing job in which case a B.A. is needed) an Associate’s is acceptable and a lot more affordable. I’m interested in many different subjects that all kind of coincide together. I was originally thinking getting a dual B.A./B.S. when the thought occurred to me I was graduating high school a year early, why not hang around community college for an extra year, get my A.A. in either English or Music Business, then go off to university a year behind and get my B.S. in Marketing/Political Science, that way I get to do a little bit of everything I’ve wanted to study AND save money!

    For Erika, I say go through with your double major if it’s what you’re passionate about and be sure to take some time to actually explore the publishing field, get to really know your professors to get good recommendations and try to find some networking opportunities in your field.

    For others considering a double-major, definitely think about going the cheaper route and looking into community college programs for degrees you’re mildly curious about or subjects you’d like to major in but don’t think you’ll be able to find a great job with, you should be taking your freshman and sophomore basics at community college anyways, might as well get a degree while you’re there, no?

  24. Art can be learned outside of the traditional college classroom. I would advise to just “git her done” and get the English degree. She can still get a job in the publishing industry and continue her Art degree at night or online.

    I would most definitely say ‘no’ to more debt unless that debt will guarantee a high-paying career after graduation. You can always go back to school, but it sucks…really really sucks…to have a huge debt when you get out of school and only a low-paying job to pay it off with.

  25. To me she is in deep truoble if she continues to do this in my case I would stop the art major and continue on with the english major also if she is on financail aid she can pay some of the loans with that or with a time schedule find a job and use the money to pay for the loans and other stuff.

  26. I know going in that I want to do a double major. One of my prospective schools-American University- has it set up so that when you enter the School of Communications, you HAVE to take up a minor or another major in another “school”. Which works out for me because I want to major in journalism and international affairs.

  27. i have to say that universities at the US are pretty expensive, im from Puerto Rico and i wanted to go to Savannah College of Art and Design, but hey here in Puerto Rico the university cost less than 2,000 per semester ( withouht housing, but housing is pretty cheap) i suggest to find universities that ARE acredited and that r cheap. In Puerto Rico i can do my bachelor and master for less than what cost me a year at savannah College.

  28. “Now, if she just grabbed the student loan money and jumped in an old VW bus and decided to follow the Dave Matthews Band across the country for a year — yes, that was, unambiguously, a mistake. Especially since Dave Matthews plays terrible, terrible music.”
    I believe sharing opinions about musicians and bands is detrimental to the purpose of this thread, which is to provide advice to college students financially and academically. Suppose Erika was a Dave Matthews fan?

  29. Have you looked into taking some courses at a community college or a cheaper college nearby? Most colleges let you transfer in a certain amount of credits and this could save you money if you planned it out. For example, you could take summer classes at a community college or transfer to a cheaper school for a semester.

  30. 14%?!?!?!? Jesus sh*T that’s horrible. Go Canada!!! Rake in the loans, grants, bursaries and oh looking into grad school myself perhaps an employer could pay for grad school?

  31. I say do what you enjoy. The “marketability” factor is largely a myth. Experience and skill are the only marketable considerations. My father, who has a Master’s in HR & a Pre-Law degree, worked in his subsequent field for 25 years (three months from retirement), and now he’s been laid-off twice this year. His future job outlook is sparse and depressing. US companies use us until we age, and then, suddenly, we’re “let go.” I’ve seen this happen with nearly every single individual in my extended family working in professional fields.

    I’ve also talked to an older woman with terminal cancer who followed this “financial peace” philosophy her entire life: she regretted not pursuing what she loved, which was music. Money, she said, is largely over-rated if what you are doing for that money isn’t enjoyable.

    Sure, her and her husband’s jobs with good health insurance helped pay for her cancer, but she was miserable nonetheless, and haunted by her life of resignation to numerical values as opposed to having memories of creating something what she viewed as meaningful.

    All this aside, if you enjoy marketing, business, law, economics, or any of these “marketable” jobs, then go ahead and pursue them. Don’t do it for cash or the job. Do it because you love it.

    As an Art student, I understand the “lack of practicality” associated with my field choice. Even more-so since I am dual majoring in two specific emphases. This choice to major in art did not come as a eureka moment, but after several references and decisions that reflected my overall path.

    Reasons I chose to go this route:

    I’ve had my work appraised by a professional field stating I could attain a high degree of success, granted I find the correct contemporary art/cutting edge market.

    I don’t want to create art, I HAVE to create art. For me its cathartic, and the way I deal with life in general.

    Experience in the “field” directed me to studying coursework at the University. Why? Because I want the ability to apply for a professorship position and refine what skills I’ve already developed. I’ve already seen a huge leap/shift in my abilities as an artist as well as knowledge regarding the subject.

    The phrase, “Those who teach can’t do” is total garbage. Tell that to many of my professors who have experienced extreme success in the art field, and who live in mansions on some of the most expensive pieces of property in our state.

    Each one has a Master’s/PhD in art. Now, what if they never did what they wanted? Who is to say they would be more successful (if that’s even possible at this point)?

  32. Well Erika,

    As a double major in English and Advertising/Public Relations and someone who has an interest in the publishing industry you need to consider exactly how you will enter the field. Art isn’t going to do you much good unless you learn graphic design as well, which is an entirely different course of study if I’m not mistaken. I’m an artist as well, but took outside courses at an art school in high school. The beauty of the publishing industry is that no matter your major there is a place for you. In fact, an art minor might just qualify you as an authority and a good person to work on an art related book.

    You should check out it some some great info.

    BUT the publishing industry has some of the LOWEST salaries. I’m saying they make substantially less than teachers. A teacher in Miami Dade can make starting 38,500 a year. Starting salary in the NY publishing industry for a publicity or editorial assistant can range between 29-31k. Random house starts off at 35k I believe, but again hard to come by. Also, most publishing jobs are in NY or a few are in San Francisco both VERY expensive to live.

    So expect to move. This is just something to factor in. If you think that becoming an editorial assistant is the way to go then great. Or if you want to be a cover artist then fine arts may not be the right major. Also, I do believe illustrators are more freelance based and do not work at a publishing house, I’m basing this on the fact that some agents do represent illustrators to get them “gigs”.

    I do wish you luck and ultimately it’s up to you. Just consider what you want to do and figure out if the degree will help you out in the long run.



  33. One more thing. If you want to look highly marketable–INTERN. Get an internship with a literary agency (again will help) or at a publishing house. That will make you look very good because you’ve already got some experience.

    P.S. Pace University has a certification in Publishing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top