Alumni Snapshot

Strategic National Arts Alumni Project


We asked College of Fine Arts alumni with good email addresses to complete an extensive survey developed by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP). Many graduates worked their way through this extensive survey, and I deeply appreciate that effort. Many even took the time to write out thoughtful remarks as well. Please know that we’re reading them and taking notes.

SNAAP is a nation-wide, collaborative effort of over 100 fine arts colleges and schools to develop a rigorous survey of alumni satisfaction and professional outcomes. SNAAP is a breakthrough effort toward this end with generous underwriting from the National Endowment for the Arts among several others. I’ve been on the advisory board of SNAAP since its inception.

Our goal is to learn how your education at UT advanced your career goals, developed your artistic direction and prepared you for a professional career. We want to know what you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the education you received at UT, how you’re working in the world and what role the arts continue to play in your life. Most of all, we want to know how we can improve on the education and training we provide the next generation of COFA grads.

So what did we learn? There’s plenty of good news:  

  • 91% look back on their UT education as a “good” or “excellent” experience.
  • 49% with a bachelor’s degree have already completed a more advanced degree.
  • More than half report working or having worked as a professional artist, arts educator or in an arts-related field.
  • Among those who want to work professionally in the arts, a remarkable 71% are doing so or have done so in the past.
  • Nearly half are teaching the arts.
  • Greater than 75% found work within a year of graduating
  • Only 3% are currently looking for work.
  • 68% continue to make art or perform, and many reported very high levels of satisfaction and fulfil lment in their careers.

There’s cause for concern as well. Judging from the feedback, we’ve done a poor job of preparing you for the financial, business and entrepreneurial challenges of your professions. We could and should be doing a better job of career advising, job placement and networking. That's especially relevant given the large percentage of those who are self-employed or creators of their own business or nonprofit. Many felt or feel burdened by education debt, and many of you work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Fine Arts Career Services was created to address some of these issues. It's our constant endeavor to keep current students and alumni aware of the college's career development resources and curricular offerings. Remember, as alumni of our college, you have access to help from Fine Arts Career Services.

If you're curious to learn more about the SNAAP results, we've posted a digest of results here:  SNAAP Institutional Report 2011 (pdf | 1.06MB). (You many need to download Adobe Reader to view this document). Visit the SNAAP site to learn more or see some of the nation-wide trends among fine arts graduates.

Having participated in this survey over the last few years, we will take some time off from this survey, but I hope that in the future, you will take the time to respond, helping not only your alma mater, but future COFA students as well.

Thanks for your help.

Signature of Doug Dempster

Dean Douglas Dempster

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project provides an opportunity for arts programs across the nation to ask alumni to rate their college experience and reflect on their life and career after gradation. Their feedback and ratings are some of the most valuable information we consider when gauging the strength of our programs and the value of the experience we deliver. From first impressions, to graduation, first jobs and beyond, we are stewards to the success of our alumni and a thriving arts economy for future students. Here is what we learned from our survey.

UT Austin Experience

91% of alumni told us they were satisfied with their experience.

Here’s why:

  • Personal attention from faculty in intimate class sizes
  • Opportunities to get involved
  • A diverse and welcoming environment
91% of alumni rate their experience at UT Austin as good or excellentUT offers 70 exhibitions, 80 symposia, 30 productions and 500 performances each year. Faculty to student ratio is 1 to 10. 95% experienced diversity. 76% participated in community service32% worked with an artist in the community74% participated in extracurricular activities Studied abroad in 15 countries

Careers and Skills Back to Top

From artists to attorneys, our alumni work in a wide range of careers, in vibrant arts centers across the country. Jobs in the arts provide opportunities to be creative, advance, contribute to the greater good and provide a higher-level of job satisfaction.

Alumni Careers Pie ChartA map showing the geographical distribution of alumni in the US.
Advantages to an education in the arts

Debt and EarningsBack to Top

Compare the costs. A degree from UT Austin generates salary at or above the national average for similar fields of study, but at a fraction of the cost of other programs.
Financial snapshot for UT Austin alumni