The Arts are Performing Well

October 27, 2022

Is there a downward trend in arts enrollment? Or is it a pigment of the imagination?

Spring enrollment for visual and performing arts made a comeback, growing 3% year-over-year  –   we are close to reaching pre-pandemic 2019 and early 2020 numbers.

Spring enrollment, visual and performing arts at all award levels from 2019-2022

One important note: the recovery and growth look quite different for bachelor’s and master’s programs. Let’s take a look at the top ten for each.

Bachelor’s Degree Enrollment Growth

Bachelor’s degree enrollment growth is mostly a mix of design programs and the fine arts, with a heavier concentration in fine arts. Only one arts-related humanities program made the top ten list: Art History.

Spring 2022 Enrollment Year-Over-Year Growth for Bachelor's in Visual and Performing Arts

There’s more good news: Out of all 1,400 IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) bachelor’s programs, three made the top 10 in enrollment growth.

Spring 2022 Year-Over-Year Change in Total Enrollment - Bachelor's Programs

Master’s Degree Enrollment

Now let’s take a look at master’s degree programs.  Performing arts programs have promising enrollment growth.  Jazz, Voice and Opera, Drama, and Acting make it to our top 10.  Only one design program is represented here.

Spring 2022 Enrollment Year-Over-Year Growth - Master's in Visual and Performing Arts

International and Non-Traditional Student Demand

When it comes to international student demand, Design and Visual Communications has been in the top 10 program page views since December 2020. In September 2022, it beat Finance and Information Technology.

The arts aren’t just popular in traditional higher education. We mapped Coursera’s course parent categories to two-digit CIP codes from IPEDS and visual and performing arts had the fifth-strongest cumulative enrollment in September 2022, beating two traditionally dominant programs in higher ed: health professions and engineering.

Highest Cumulative Enrollment, Coursera

If you are quick on the draw, you can take advantage of growing programs in the arts.

Would you like to see a more in-depth analysis of arts programs to potentially start, stop, or grow?  Send us a quick note.

Monica Bilson


Monica produces webinars and conference presentations, contributes to blogs, and manages internal projects for senior leadership. She is the designer and manager of Gray’s course with Bay Path University, Academic Program Evaluation and Management.

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