Learn English – Capitalization or not on fields of study in the arts


When used as the title of a course or a college major, clearly Music, Art, Theater, Dance and "The Arts" are capitalized.

I find myself writing about the arts and wondering if I should capitalize the "A" or not. If I write Arts majors, I capitalize; but I write non-arts majors in lower case. Is this correct? Which one is correct − "patrons of the arts," or "patrons of the Arts" or "patrons of The Arts"?

I want to do this correctly, as I teach a college course in this discipline.

Best Answer

While I would specifically refer to proper title degrees as proper nouns (Bachelor of Arts) as you said, I wouldn't capitalize "arts" unless it was something like the Art(s) Department or School of Art(s). As FumbleFingers said, capilization of non-proper nouns does appear in older writing (see Capitalisation of nouns in English in the 17th and 18th centuries).

I even recall seeing it in earlier 20th Century writing (mostly in news settings) and to this day it still appears as way to give credibility words in a marketing contest (e.g.: The Next Big Idea).