Art Education in the United States during WWII

Since World War II, artist training has become the charge of colleges and universities and contemporary art has become an increasingly academic and intellectual field. Prior to World War II an artist did not need a college degree. Since that time the Bachelor of Fine Arts and then the Master of Fine Arts became required degrees to be a professional artist, necessities facilitated by "the passage of the G.I. Bill in 1944, which sent a wave of World War II veterans off to school, art school included. University art departments quickly expanded. American artists who might once have studied at quaintly bohemian, craft-intensive schools like the Art Students League (as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko did) or Black Mountain College (as Robert Rauschenberg did) or the Hans Hofmann School of Art in Greenwich Village began enrolling at universities instead. By the 60's, Yale had emerged as the leading American art academy; its alums included Chuck Close, Brice Marden, Richard Serra, Jennifer Bartlett and Robert Mangold, making it seem as if every hip artist in New York was obligated to have an Ivy League degree." This trend spread from the United States around the world.

Currently, the PhD in studio art is under debate as the new standard as the terminal degree in the arts. Although in 2008 there are only two United States programs offering a PhD in studio art, "10 universities offer the degree in Australia, and it is ubiquitous in the UK, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and other countries. It is already expected for a teaching job in Malaysia." As James Elkins, the chair of the department of art history, theory and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as the chair of the department of art history at the University of Cork in Ireland wrote in Art in America, "By the 1960s the MFA was ubiquitous. Now the MFA is commonplace and the PhD is coming to take its place as the baseline requirement for teaching jobs." This is in reference to teaching positions for studio art at the college level. The Ph.D. degree has been a standard requirement to be a professor of art education for many years. In his forthcoming book, "Artists with PhD's", James Elkins (art critic) presents the opinion the PhD will become the new standard, and offers the book as a resource for assessing these programs and for structuring future programs. However, the College Art Association still recognizes the MFA as the terminal degree, stating "At this time, few institutions in the United States offer a PhD degree in studio art, and it does not appear to be a trend that will continue or grow, or that the PhD will replace the MFA."