Become An Artist And Entrepreneur For Only $500 A Semester

Published October 13th, 2021

Home to the Western Carolina University (WCU) School of Art and Design, School of Music, and School of Stage and Screen, the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts (Belcher College) offers undergraduate degree programs for only $500 a semester (plus fees) and enhances professional growth of BA and BFA majors with an optional Arts & Entrepreneurship Certificate program.

Western Carolina University is one of three University of North Carolina system institutions that is part of the NC Promise program, a ground-breaking North Carolina initiative to drive college affordability. Through NC Promise, the cost of tuition is $500 per semester for in-state undergraduate students and $2,500 per semester for out-of-state undergraduate students. This program applies to all new and returning students, transfer students, students in online programs, and international students pursuing an undergraduate degree – not just to incoming freshmen.

Students can get even more out of the NC Promise program at Western Carolina University by combining any WCU Art and Design, Music, or Stage and Screen degree with the WCU Belcher College Arts & Entrepreneurship (A&E) Certificate Program. This certificate teaches students about the business of the arts and helps them get a leg up on the competition by learning both sides of the industry. Coursework highlights marketing, social media, copyright, grant writing, fundraising, merchandising, website design, financial management, and a variety of other topics to enhance students’ skills and build confidence by gaining an understanding of the professional world of the arts.

This well-rounded addition offers far more than a "fallback plan" and creates powerful opportunities by:

  • providing a foot in the door with positions at organizations a student wishes to work with artistically

  • offering an understanding of what is needed to be an entrepreneur and start a business

  • giving insight on developing and marketing their personal brand

  • fueling the creation of a long-lasting career in the arts.

The Undergraduate Certificate in Arts & Entrepreneurship is an interdisciplinary program in partnership with the WCU School of Business that addresses the principles of managing an arts career through an entrepreneurial lens. Beginning with the flagship course, Arts & Entrepreneurship, students explore the theories, knowledge bases, processes, and practices foundational to an entrepreneurial approach to artmaking and art management. In Managing your Money for Financial Success, students are introduced to personal financial planning including goal setting, cash management, credit, insurance, housing, and more. New Venture Creation gives students the opportunity to plan and execute the creation of a successful artistic entrepreneurial venture.

As a rotating addition to the three credit courses noted above, guest lecturers visit campus to present one credit workshops/masterclasses on various A&E topics. Students are required to complete six one credit courses before graduation to satisfy the certificate requirements. By providing courses with guest lecturers that are professionals in their fields, students have the opportunity to gain valuable skills and network.

Enhancing networking opportunities, WCU’s Bardo Arts Center, the Fine and Performing Arts Center on campus coordinating the A&E program, provides dynamic networking events with local area arts professionals. During each of these events, many students make connections that can lead to mentorship, internships, and employment. 

This interdisciplinary certificate not only positions students to enter the world as prepared practitioners and entrepreneurs, but does so in a way that alleviates some of the financial burden associated with a high quality college education. Because the state of North Carolina is supporting the difference between full tuition and the NC Promise tuition cost, the result is affordability for students without sacrifying quality.

This significant investment in access to higher education honors the state’s constitutional commitment to make higher education available to all citizens “as free as is reasonably possible.” It also supports economic development in the state by helping North Carolina meet demands for a well-educated workforce, increasing recruitment of high-performing out-of-state students, and decreasing college indebtedness.

It is important to note that tuition only represents a portion of the cost of attendance. Residential students also pay fees as well as housing costs.

Explore the A&E Certificate Program at and learn more about the NC Promise at

Find further details and start your application today to these Belcher College units, visit:

·  WCU School of Art & Design

·  WCU School of Music

·  WCU School of Stage and Screen

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