The 10 Best Art Schools in US

The Best Art Schools Rankings will assist you in selecting the most appropriate program from among some of the finest in higher art education available in the United States.

Discover the best art schools, colleges, and universities in the United States with our top ten list of the best fine arts institutions in the country.

How to Choose the Right Art School for You:

Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you read through our list of the top 10 schools.

1. Does this school have especially strong resources for my medium?

When most schools specialize in a small number of areas, students who happen to work in those fields reap the benefits of having access to a plethora of extra resources. If at all possible, enroll in a school that emphasizes your field of study so that you will have everything you need to be successful.

2. Will this school give me a strong technical foundation?

You only get one chance to learn the fundamentals, and that is during your years of formal schooling, if you are lucky. When it comes to being a professional artist, you have the option of taking a completely different path than your predecessors.

However, if you have already learned the fundamentals of your field, you will have a greater understanding of it and a greater ability to experiment with confidence.

Having to go back and redo something is extremely expensive, and your brilliant ideas will be more difficult to realize if you do not have this tool in your toolbox.

3. Is there someone there who likes the kind of work I do?

Learn about the artwork created by the instructors in your department. Is there anyone else there who does something that is somewhat similar to what you do?

That is extremely encouraging news! You can rest assured that they will respect your artistic choices rather than trying to steer you in a direction you are not naturally inclined to follow.

4. Will I be exposed to inspiration and ideas totally new to me?

It is critical to have someone who respects your work, but it is also important to be exposed to new methods and ideas.

When you are creating, you are drawing inspiration from everything you have ever seen, heard, tasted, or otherwise experienced, so make sure you are exposing yourself to a diverse range of experiences.

5. Will I be able to graduate debt-free, or at least with a plan to pay off my debt quickly?

Being an artist frequently entails saying yes to opportunities that pay little or nothing. This is actually something of a superpower, because it means that you aren’t tied down to a single job, location, or way of looking at the world.

However, in order to say yes to low- or no-pay opportunities, you must not be saddled with crippling student loan debt.

Choose a school or program that will allow you to enter your field without incurring any debt, or at the very least one that will prepare you to hold down a well-paying day job.

10 Best Art Schools in US

1Yale UniversityUS
2Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)US
3University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA)US
4Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCU)US
5Temple University Tyler School of ArtUS
6California Institute of the ArtsUS
7Carnegie Mellon School of ArtUS
8Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)US
9Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)US
10Columbia University School of the ArtsUS

#1. Yale University School of Art

Yale University

The Yale University School of Art, which was founded in 1869, is a private art school that awards only Master of Fine Arts degrees in graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture, with concentrations in printmaking and photography.

This institution has an extremely stringent application process and only accepts undergraduate students who have maintained exemplary academic records.

In order to give you an idea of how exclusive the school is, consider the fact that only 65 out of 1142 applicants were accepted into the School of Art for the class of 2010.

The Master of Fine Arts in Painting/Printmaking program at the School of Art accepts only about 21 students per year, according to the school.

One of the most significant selling points of our #1 School is the extensive network of connections that students have with members of the art community.

Some reports claim that even students who have not yet graduated have signed contracts with galleries and international exhibitions.

Students are also treated to world-renowned guest speakers, who have included notable international artists and sculptors in their presentations.

Students are evaluated at the end of each semester on the basis of the work they have submitted, and they are evaluated on the highest levels of artistic criticism.

This is only a portion of what distinguishes Yale as one of the best and most prestigious art schools in the world, as well as the number one art school in the United States.

Features:

  • Professors: A variety of world-class teaching artists, including Rochelle Feinstein, Gregory Crewdson, Huma Bhabha, and Shirin Neshat, are available to students.
  • Notable Alumnus: Wangechi Mutu, a printmaker and sculptor, Matthew Barney, painter Chuck Close, minimalist Brice Marden, and director Robert Mangold are among the artists featured.
  • Local flavor: Yale University, which is located in New Haven, Connecticut, is home to the Yale University Art Gallery, which houses works by artists such as Robert Field, Paul Gauguin, George Bellows, and even Vincent Van Gogh, among others.
  • Currently on Display: See Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire at the Yale University Art Gallery, as well as East of the Wallace Line: Monumental Art from Indonesia and New Guinea at the Yale University Art Gallery.

Visit art.yale.edu, for More Information on the Yale University School of Art.

#2. Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design

Because it was founded in 1877, the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the top art and design schools in the country as well as one of the oldest, having been established in 1877.

RISD, or riz-dee as it is affectionately known by its students, has a student body of approximately 2,300 students and offers approximately twenty programs of study in areas such as apparel design, architecture, digital media, ceramics, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and printmaking.

The school is well-known for being extremely selective in their student selection process, with applicants required to complete specialized “hometests” in addition to their applications and other submitted work, among other requirements.

Hometests frequently include challenges such as creating your own drawing instrument and then drawing something with that instrument, as well as their famous bicycle hometest, in which students must observe and draw a bicycle from their perspective.

RISD also provides its students with a plethora of opportunities to be inspired. Aside from the fact that it shares a campus with Brown University, it also has three art galleries on the grounds of that university. These are the Gelman Gallery, the Woods-Gerry Gallery, and the Sol Koffler Gallery.

Features:

  • Professors: The school has a talented staff of approximately 350 faculty and curators, which has included such well-known professors as Friedrich St. Floria, the designer of the National World War II Memorial, Richard Merkin, and graphic designer Michael Rock, among other notable figures.
  • Notable Alumni: Actor and artist James Franco, animator Seth McFarlane, fashion designer and Project Runway contestant Diana Eng, as well as artists such as Cheryl Donegan, Romeo Alaeff, and Jenny Holzer, are among those who will be in attendance.
  • Local flavor: Although RISD shares a campus with Brown University, art can be found in the Gelman Gallery, the Woods-Gerry Gallery, the Sol Koffler Gallery, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, all of which are within walking distance of each other.
  • Currently on Display: Visit the Museum of Art to see exhibits such as What Nerve! and Circus, among other things.

Visit arts.ucla.edu, for More Information on the University of California Los Angeles and the School of the Arts and Architecture.

#3. University of California-Los Angeles

University of California-Los Angeles

In addition to granting degrees in architecture and urban design, art, design media arts, world arts and cultures, and a variety of other fields, the School of the Arts and Architecture is a professional school that offers a comprehensive range of course programs leading to degrees in a variety of other fields.

In addition to two internationally acclaimed public arts institutions, the Hammer Museum and the Fowler Museum at UCLA, the school offers art students a diverse range of contemporary and historical exhibitions that rotate throughout the year.

In the fields of art, art history, cultural studies, architecture, and even music, over 8000 undergraduate and 4000 graduate students are preparing themselves to enter the workforce at UCLA.

The school has received numerous awards and offers students and visitors exhibitions that are constantly changing and evolving, featuring work by students, graduate students, and professors.

Features:

  • Professors: Students are treated to classes where they can learn from more than 100 distinguished faculty members who practice a balance of interactive practice and theoretical instruction.
  • Notable Alumni: Gary Baseman, Slater Bradley, Craig Kauffman, and painter Alexandra Nechita are among the artists featured.
  • Local flavor: Los Angeles is a mecca for art and media, with world-renowned museums such as the Hammer Museum, the Gerry Villa, and the Museum of Contemporary Art among its many attractions.
  • Currently on Display: soon to be released Object Matter by Robert Heinecken and Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take by Jim Hodges are both opening on October 3rd.

Visit arts.vcu.edu, for More Information on the School of the Arts at VCU.

#4. Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts

Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts

Richmond, Virginia’s VCU School of the Arts is nationally ranked and has won numerous awards for its sculpture, graphic design, painting, ceramics, and printmaking programs, among other disciplines.

They provide sixteen academic programs to more than 3,000 students each year. This is something that the school takes great pride in: their ability to encourage students in their artistic endeavors.

The School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University is well-known, even internationally, for its reputation as a training ground for and producer of fine artists.

Profesors have received a variety of awards, including Guggenheim Fellowships, MacArthur “Genius” Awards, Emmys, Clios, and numerous other honors. They even have a second location in Qatar where students can learn.

Features:

  • Professors: There have been countless awards given to Accredited Professors, including 14 awards for Excellence, 12 awards for Teaching Excellence, 13 awards for distinguished achievement in service, and twelve awards for distinguished achievement in research.
  • Notable Alumnus: Wiley Miller, Mike Wieringo, Sterling Hundley, Carol Sutton, and other Non Sequitur artists.
  • Local flavor: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts are just two of the many art museums in Richmond. It was once called the third most tattooed city in the United States by The Today Show.
  • Currently on Display: Forecast, an exhibition inspired by human impact on the planet, is currently on view at the Anderson Gallery.

Visit tyler.temple.edu, for More Information on the Tyler School of Art at Temple University.

#5. Temple University Tyler School of Art

Temple University Tyler School of Art

Tyler School of Art at Temple University is named after the famed sculptor Stella Elkins Tyler and is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

There is no better place to study painting, drawing, ceramics, printmaking, sculpting, and graphic design than this high school. 

We offer 12 graduate programs, ranging from master’s degrees in architecture and fine arts to PhDs in art history. 

Additionally, the school offers a study abroad program with programs in Rome, Scotland, and Japan with the belief that exposure to different cultures and artistic environments broadens the students’ experiences and perspectives.

Features:

  • Professors: The faculty at Temple University is comprised of well-known art and design professionals who provide instruction both verbally and through demonstration. Professors are drawn from the ranks of art and design professionals who have received accolades such as Guggenheim Fellowships, Fulbright Fellowships, and even MacArthur Fellowships.
  • Notable Alumnus: Tyler School of Art boasts an impressive alumni base including Simmie Knox and Aaron Shickler, two of the most celebrated Presidential portrait painters, as well as a large number of professional artists displayed around the world.
  • Local flavor: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Woodmere Art Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, and Barnes Foundation are some of the museums and galleries in Philadelphia.
  • Currently on Display: School closings in Philadelphia are the focus of Reform, a new installation, and Vital Signs, a project to refurbish old signs throughout Philadelphia.

Visit calarts.edu, For More Information on the California Institute of the Arts.

#6. California Institute of the Arts

California Institute of the Arts

In 1961, the California Institute of the Arts was founded in Valencia, California and now has 1,454 students as its student body. It was called one of the best “artist-friendly campuses” by Newsweek in 2011. 

Walt Disney created the Institute with these words concerning art education when he designed it:

“It is remarkable to see an accelerating rate of dynamic growth and change in almost every field. If they are to retain their value in and influence on society, the arts, which historically have symbolized human progress, must keep pace with it. Today’s business is using musicians’ talents, actors’ self-expression, and fine and commercial artists’ skills in close conjunction-not independently, but rather in close association with each other. We need a completely new approach to training in the arts – a completely new educational model that would prepare artists and provide them with the tools necessary to draw from, use, and contribute to every field of creativity and performance…A school should provide a platform for cross-pollination that would develop and enhance its students.”

At the School of Art, degrees are offered in fine arts, design, photography and media, as well as art and technology.

Our growing curriculum in multimedia technology allows students to plan their own creative development, whether it’s painting or digital imaging.

There is a four year BFA and a two year MFA in art which provides students with both theoretical and practical training.

Features:

  • Professors: Professors with accreditation are ready and willing to assist their students in pushing the boundaries of what is possible when art and technology come together.
  • Notable Alumnus: A number of Disney’s greatest animators and illustrators were in the audience, including Glen Keane on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast, stop motion director Henry Selick on Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Guillermo Gomez-Pena on Dances with Wolves.
  • Local flavor: The Institute is conveniently located near Los Angeles, a global center for media and the arts.
  • Currently on Display: Visit the CalArts Open Studio to see the work of MFA and BFA art students.

Visit calarts.edu, for More Information on the California Institute of the Arts.

#7. Carnegie Mellon School of Art

Carnegie Mellon School of Art

Among the top art schools, Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art is often ranked #1 for its Art and Design Multimedia programs and #7 for its Fine Art programs according to US News & World Report.

To better prepare its students for an ever-changing job market and global culture, the school heavily promotes an interdisciplinary education between art and technology over classical studies.

Students at the School of Art are encouraged to create hybrid art forms and to push boundaries between different art forms.  At CMU, students are constantly contributing to the CMU and Pittsburgh art scenes.

Features:

  • Professors: All of the professors are well-known artists or scholars who are currently working in their fields. Students at Carnegie Mellon University are encouraged to study a hybrid of technology and art rather than classical art studies in order to be better prepared for the global market.
  • Notable Alumnus: Andy Warhol, sculptor and printmaker Jonahtan Borofsky, American painter Philip Pearlstein, artist Ryan McGinnis, and actors Ted Danson, Holly Hunter, and Zach Quinto are among those who have contributed to this exhibition.
  • Local flavor: Campus and city creative hot spots such as the CFA & DH Hallways, The Ellis Gallery, and The FRAME Gallery are enhanced by the contributions of CMU art students.
  • Currently on Display: The Frank-Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry and The Miller Gallery are the two best places to look for student art on campus.

Visit https://www.cmu.edu/cfa/ , For More Information on the Carnegie Mellon School of Art.

#8. Maryland Institute College of Art

Maryland Institute College of Art

Despite its well-equipped campus, innovative curriculum, and illustrious faculty, the Maryland Institute College of Art or MICA ranks number eight on our list. The School is consistently ranked among the top 10 Masters of Fine Arts in the field of visual arts, and U.S.

New ranked them third for Graphic Design and fifth for Painting/Drawing. It is the oldest continuously operating art college in the nation, located in the heart of Baltimore.

Pre-college programs, bachelor of fine art programs, continuing studies, and post-baccalaureate programs are available at the school, as well as weekend workshops for young artists.

In addition to over 1800 undergraduate students, MICA offers classes for children and high school students as well.

There are over 1000 exhibitions by students, faculty, and professional artists from all over the world at this art mecca for the Baltimore and Washington DC area.

Features:

  • Professors: Faculty to student ratio is 10 to 1, and professors have been awarded every national prize available to artists, including the Fullbright, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Prix de Rome, Anonymous Was a Woman, and the Joan Mitchell Grant, to name a few examples.
  • Notable Alumnus: William Henry Rinehart, a well-known American sculptor, alumni and former MICA president Hans Schuler, abstract painter Elaine Hamilton-O’Neal, pioneering sculptor Jeff Koons, and inventor of innovative instruments Ned Steinberger are among those who will be honored.
  • Local flavor: There are more than 1000 galleries, all-night diners, avant-garde theaters and film festivals in Baltimore for artists. Several visiting artists have spoken at the school.

Visit Mica.edu, for More Information on the Maryland Institute College of Art.

#9. Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design

Its four campuses include Savannah, Atlanta, and Hong Kong, as well as Lacoste, France, and Savannah, Georgia. Originally, there were only four staff members, 71 students, and seven faculty members at the Savannah location.

Over ten thousand students and seven hundred faculty members attend this degree-granting university today.  

Each school has multiple departments and concentrations within it. The college is divided into eight schools. School of Fine Arts, Building Arts, Communication Arts, School of Design, Fashion, Entertainment Arts, Digital Media, Liberal Arts, and Foundation Studies, including drawing, are included on this list of schools.

Besides fine arts and design, computer animation and effects studies have also become increasingly popular at the university, and notable alumni such as Mir Zafar Ali have created effects for films such as The Day After Tomorrow, X-men, and The Mummy.

Special Mentions:

A recent study indicates that 93% of SCAD alumni are employed. The University also hosts large annual events such as the Sidewalk Art Festival, Sand Arts Festival, and Savannah Film Festival.

Features:

  • Professors: Students at SCAD have a wealth of artistic talent including screenwriters, creative directors, graphic designers, Tom Lyle, penciler of more than 40 Spiderman comic books, and visual effects supervisor Stuart Robertson, who worked on the hit movie What Dreams May Come in 1998.
  • Notable Alumnus: India Arie, Grammy-winning R&B singer, Christy Lijewski, graphic novel creators and comic artists for Spider-Woman, The Luna Brothers, visual effects artist Joanna Erbach, whose animation credits include the films The Ant Bully and Open Season 2, and Mir Zafar Ali, visual effects specialist and artist for films X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, The Day After Tomorrow, and The Mummy.
  • Local flavor: SCAD operates 15 art galleries, eight of which are in Savannah, four in Atlanta, two at their Lacoste location, and one in Hong Kong. Savannah has a thriving art scene, with several other art galleries and cafes where up and coming artists will frequently display their works for sale, as well as several other art galleries and cafes.

Visit www.scad.edu, for More Information on the Visual Arts Program at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

#10. Columbia University School of the Arts

Columbia University School of the Arts

The Columbia University School of the Arts offers a diverse curriculum that includes mixed media, as well as Master of Fine Arts degrees in film, theatre, writing, and visual arts, among other disciplines.

Columbia University’s Visual Arts program distinguishes itself from lesser-known institutions by attracting a diverse student body and faculty from around the world.

Additionally, Columbia’s location in the heart of New York City puts it in the heart of one of the world’s most important art centers.

A Masters in Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts, rather than a specific medium chosen by the student, is the goal of the Visual Arts Program, which promotes an interdisciplinary education.

Digital media, drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation, performance/video art, and photography are all areas of emphasis in the two-year Masters’ program, which runs from September to June each year.

Features:

  • Professors: Professors with extensive experience, such as Tomas Vu-Daniel, Gregory Amenoff, and Jon Kessler, whose own artwork has been displayed in exhibitions around the world, provide excellent instruction to their students.
  • Notable Alumnus: Sculptor David Altmejd, painter Marc Handelman, visual artist Lisi Raskin, sculptor Banks Violette, and painter Dana Schutz are among the artists participating in the exhibition.
  • Local flavor: Art galleries such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the New Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others, are available as resources for students in New York, as are numerous other museums and galleries in the city.

Visit arts.columbia.edu, for More Information on the Visual Arts Program at Columbia University.

Frequently Asked Questions About Art Degrees

1. What are the different types of art degrees??

Art programs are typically divided into two categories: studio art and art history. Studio majors can choose to specialize in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, and photography.

2. Does an art degree pay well?

Some art degrees can lead to careers with salaries that are significantly higher than the national average.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for art directors is $97,270. This figure more than doubles the annual median salary of $41,950 for all occupations, which is currently $41,950 per year.

3. Why Get an Art Degree?

Earning a art degree can lead to a variety of different job opportunities. Graduates may go on to work as artists, historians, critics, or curators, among other things.

Students learn how to create and interpret works of art in a variety of mediums while also learning about the history of art.

The majority of students study art because they have a strong desire to do so. They do not pursue a degree in order to earn a large salary. Many art careers, on the other hand, pay well above the average.

Craft and fine artists earn an annual median salary of $49,120, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Special-effects artists earn a salary of $77,700 per year.

4. How Much Does an Art Degree Cost?

The cost of an art degree varies depending on the school and program chosen. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, undergraduates at public colleges and universities paid an average of $18,380 in tuition per year on average.

Undergraduates at private schools received an average salary of $47,420. These figures include the costs of room and board. It is not necessary for students pursuing an online art degree to pay for on-campus housing.

The cost of an art degree is also determined by the length of time that students spend in school. A bachelor’s degree can be completed in four years by motivated students.

A master’s degree program takes two to three years to complete. Students enrolled in studio art courses may be required to pay additional fees for materials and other on-site requirements.

5. How Much Do Art Majors Make?

Students who earn art degrees can go on to work in a variety of different fields depending on their specialization.

Craft or fine artists, art directors, and animators are all examples of common professions. Management and leadership positions are typically the ones with the highest pay scales.

Obtaining an advanced degree can assist artists in advancing their careers and earning more money. For example, most museum curators require a master’s degree to work in their field.

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