If you are passionate about art just like me and wish to make a career out of your favorite occupation, you need to get more knowledge, new qualifications, and develop your skills. The modern art world is highly professionalized, so you may require a certain Fine Arts degree to make your next step in the artistic world.
In this post, I’ve chosen a list of the best art schools in the U.S. The ranking is based on factors such as strong curriculum, broad studying facilities, respected faculty, noble alumni, etc. I’m going to spotlight 15+ institutions, starting with the favorites. I’m sure you’ll be impressed by the incredible educational opportunities they offer.
Best Schools & Universities to Study Art
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California (USC) is one of the leading private research institutions located in the global center of technology, arts, and international business – Los Angeles. This establishment is highly respected within the television and film industries. Its honored alumni include Ron Howard, Judd Apatow, Robert Zemeckis, and many others.
Founded in 1880, it had only 53 students. Now, the admission here is highly competitive with an acceptance rate of 13% (from 100 students applied only 13 are admitted). This is a liberal arts college that offers opportunities for interdisciplinary study.
|Location||Los Angeles, California|
|Annual tuition fee||$59,260 (room and board for extra cost)|
|Programs||Ceramics, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Intermedia Arts, 3D Design, Visual Narrative Art, etc.|
If you are planning to apply for a top-tier university, Brown is on your radar. Founded in 1764, it is the seventh-oldest educational institution in the U.S. with a historic campus occupying 143 acres.
Being a member of the Ivy League, the establishment is highly prestigious. It is extremely selective, and the acceptance rate here is only 8%.
It is located on Providence College Hill, which is a very attractive place with Boston within an easy train ride away. It is a mid-size school, which provides an exceptionally strong education for undergraduates.
|Location||Providence, Rhode Island|
|Annual tuition fee||$59,254 (room and board for extra cost)|
|Programs||Architectural Design, Wood Structures, Environmental Design, Contemporary Photography, etc.|
Columbus College of Art & Design
Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) is one of the most prestigious schools in America. It got its start in 1879 and witnessed Oscar Wild, who stopped there in 1882. In his public lecture, the famous playwright said he was very impressed by the establishment.
The school officially changed its name to CCAD in 1959.
The college’s training courses are Fine Arts, programs for Animation and Illustration, and many others. With excellently outfitted work labs and studios, students have a lot of opportunities to explore art.
The ratio of female/male students is 68% and 32% respectively (92% of domestic students from 37 states, 7% of international students from 22 countries). About 88% of grads get jobs a year after graduation.
|Annual tuition fee||$36,500 (room and board for extra cost)|
|Programs||Painting, Sculpture, Illustration, Printmaking, Digital Modeling, Jewelry, Drawing, Glass, Ceramics, 2D and 3D Animation, etc.|
Rhode Island School of Design
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the oldest and well-known U.S. schools. It has distinguished faculty members (more than 350), which include notable artists, and features extensive resources for students. Thanks to small classes, they are guaranteed quality time with their professors and peers. There are various online courses, teen and adult programs.
There is an on-campus Design Museum of Art with 100,000 works that span different cultures and time periods. Founded in 1878, the Fleet Library has a collection of over 155,000 volumes.
Don’t be confused with the word “design” in its title because RISD is a real art school, which offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Almost 90% of students are employed within 3 years after graduation. The school is adjacent to Brown University, so students can apply to them both and receive a dual degree.
|Location||Providence, Rhode Island|
|Annual tuition fee||$53,820 (residence life for extra cost)|
|Programs||Painting, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Animation/Film/Video, Ceramics, Illustration, Glass, Photography, Painting, Sculpture, Jewelry + Metalsmithing, Furniture Design, Printmaking, etc.|
Carnegie Mellon University
Andrew Carnegie emigrated from Scotland and settled in Pittsburgh in 1848. He attended a night school, and soon he became a successful entrepreneur. In 1900, the rich industrialist donated $1 million to create a technical institute for the city, where working-class people could learn trades and crafts to improve their lives and enhance their careers.
The institute had a lot of names. Finally, it was merged with the Mellon Institute in 1967 and became known as Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
This school is famous for interdisciplinary education between technology and art, which is prevalent over classical studies. This helps students prepare for a constantly-changing job market. The admission is highly competitive with an acceptance rate of 15%.
CMU features several majors, including Fine Arts. It combines 5 schools (Schools of Architecture, Art, Design, Drama, and Music) and offers a number of associated programs.
The famous alumni are Andy Warhol (artist), Zachary Quinto (actor), Philip Pearlstein (painter), etc.
|Annual tuition fee||$57,560 (residence life for extra cost)|
|Programs||Drawing, Printmaking, Painting, Photography, Installation, Site-Work, Sculpture, Contextual Practice, Electronic and Time-Based Media, etc.|
It is Yale. This is one of the oldest U.S. academic institutions that tops every annual survey of the best Master of Fine Arts national programs. Also, it has achieved top rankings for its law, medical, and business programs. Besides, it is one of the 8 prestigious schools that belong to the Ivy League collegiate.
The competition here is as high as the tuition fee. Its 300-year history and Hogwarts-like campus get along with new technologies. The 260-acre main campus has Gothic buildings that date back to 1750 and features a unique windowless library. The establishment was modeled after Cambridge and Oxford and has a system of 14 residential colleges for undergraduates.
The university offers versatile facilities for studying: photo labs with dark rooms, a digital media center, several theaters, a print shop for silk screening, etc. There is no need to say that it is highly selective: the acceptance rate is 6%.
|Location||New Haven, Connecticut|
|Annual tuition fee||~$76,500|
|Programs||Sculpture, Painting, Graphic Design, Printmaking, Photography, Drawing, Woodworking, Metalworking, Acting, etc.|
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The institute was founded by a group of 35 artists and opened its doors in 1866. It was called the Chicago Academy of Design. After less than a year, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the construction. The school operated in temporarily rented facilities before it moved to the iconic Michigan Avenue building.
Due to all-star faculty members, it is ranked among the most expensive U.S. art schools. The institution boasts a global reputation with lots of award-winning artists who have trained here over the years.
The education is customizable to encourage students to combine various types of art so that they can experiment across disciplines. They choose their own programs of study. The acceptance rate is 59%.
|Annual tuition fee||$1,740 per credit hour (residence life for extra cost)|
|Programs||Drawing, Photography, Sculpture, Film/Video/Animation/New Media, Painting, Fiber and Material Studies, Architecture, Fashion Design, Ceramics, Performance, etc.|
This is a private research university located 5 miles from Boston on the border of Somerville and Medford. It was opened as Tufts College in 1852 when Charles Tufts made a 20-acre donation (valued at $20,000) to the Universalist Church, which wanted to open a college in New England. The School of Drawing and Painting was opened within the Museum of Fine Arts in 1876.
The school has always had a mission to bring up contemporary thinkers and artists who are prepared to make a difference. In 1968 all faculty hierarchies were dissolved, and now students have access to all studios and courses.
Tufts offers 160 graduate and 90 undergraduate programs. Its students compete in 28 varsity sports. It remains a prestigious school with an acceptance rate of 15%.
|Annual tuition fee||$59,560 (room and board for extra cost)|
|Programs||Printmaking, Drawing, Graphic Arts, Painting, Film & Animation, Photography, Sculpture, Digital Media, etc.|
Pratt was founded by the American industrialist Charles Pratt. The school provided affordable education accessible to working people regardless of their race, gender, and social standing. This approach is a part of the Pratt curriculum until now.
Pratt is a private institute based in NYC, a multicultural epicenter for business, culture, and design. It offers students a unique learning environment, which extends beyond Pratt’s campuses located in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The attractive neighborhood acts as a creative hub and a living lab of culture and craft.
The school has good ratings in the United States, and its students have a high job placement rate after they graduate. The faculty includes renowned designers, artists, and scholars. It offers over 20 programs for students to study abroad. Pratt’s name is very prestigious in the art world.
|Location||New York City, New York|
|Annual tuition fee||$51,754 (room and board for extra cost)|
|Programs||Sculpture, Drawing, Ceramics, Video, Printmaking, Digital Arts, Jewelry, Painting, Etching, Charcoal Drawing, Bronze Casting, Photography, Communications Design, etc.|
Harvard is the oldest school of higher education in the nation and includes a lot of historic buildings. It is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, MA. Founded in the 17th century, it started with 9 students. It was named after John Harvard, a clergyman who left his money and library of 400 volumes to the school after his death.
Now, this elite university has about 323,000 grads with 52,000 who live abroad. There are 50 Nobel Prize winners among its faculty members. The school has the largest academic library system in the world. Its collection comprises over 20 million volumes. With an acceptance rate of only 5%, it tops the rankings of the best U.S. universities.
Harvard’s honored alumni include 188 billionaires, 8 U.S. presidents, 160 Nobel laureates, 108 Olympic Medal winners, and 48 Pulitzer Prize winners.
|Annual tuition fee||~$72,357|
|Programs||History of Art and Architecture, Urban Planning, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture, Film and Visual Studies (Drawing, Sculpture, Photography, Filmmaking, Animation), etc.|
School of Visual Arts
The institution was founded in 1947 by Silas H. Rhodes and Burne Hogarth as the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. There were only 3 teachers and 35 students with most of them being WWII veterans.
In 1956, the school was renamed. In 1972, it offered its first degrees.
New York-based art professionals work here as faculty. In 1960, SVA moved to its current location. The new building provides enough space for lectures, workshops, and exhibitions. Meryl Streep, Salvador Dali, Muhammed Ali, and other celebrities visited this place. In 2014, the school opened offices in China and South Korea to support the ranks of students from these countries.
|Location||New York City, New York|
|Annual tuition fee||$43,400 (residence life for extra cost)|
|Programs||Fine Arts, Photography & Video, Animation, Cartooning, Design, Illustration, Interior Design, Visual and Critical Studies, etc.|
This is a private liberal arts college located 30 miles from Los Angeles with an acceptance rate of 7.4%. It is a part of a 5-college Claremont consortium, so the students can share facilities (for instance, libraries) and cross-register for classes.
It offers 48 majors and 600 various courses, but thanks to the consortium, the students have a choice of over 2,000 courses. The college has lots of education abroad programs, which allow students to study in any of 35 different countries.
|Annual tuition fee||~$75,100|
|Programs||Art, Art History|
Maryland Institute College of Art
The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) was founded in 1826 and has been burned out twice since then (in 1835 and 1904 weirdly on the same day, February 7th). Located in the heart of Baltimore, it remains a cultural cornerstone in the region. This is one of the oldest continuously-operating and degree-granting art schools in the U.S.
Baltimore has over 1,000 galleries, film festivals, and avant-garde theaters, and it annually hosts hundreds of various events and exhibitions from around the world. It has a great cultural impact on the institution. The school has many visiting speakers and artists.
The college is known for its inventive curriculum, illustrious faculty, and a well-equipped campus. The acceptance rate is 64%.
|Annual tuition fee||$48,510 (residence life for extra cost)|
|Programs||Sculpture, Game Design, Painting, Photographic and Electronic Media, Ceramics, Illustration, Fiber, Drawing, Film & Video, Graphic Design, Printmaking, Product Design, Photography, etc.|
Parsons School of Design
The school was founded by the famous American impressionist William Chase. It was a rebellious gesture of a group of progressive artists who seceded from the New York Art Students League, searching for more individualistic expression. The arts educator Frank Parsons joined the school in 1904 and soon became its director. He predicted the design to be linked with industry and launched a series of educational programs that were new in the United States (Interior Design, Costume Design, and Commercial Illustration). In other words, that man invented the modern concept of design and had a significant impact on American life. As a result, the school adopted his name in 1941.
This institution is for progressive thinkers. It teaches students to work through collaboration and highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to the arts. The students are responsible for designing their own study plan that meets their goals and interests.
As a part of the New School, Parsons School is a private research institution made up of several institutions. In 2013, a new campus was opened in Paris.
|Location||New York City, New York|
|Annual tuition fee||$50,460 (residence life for extra cost)|
|Programs||Architecture, Fashion Design, Design and Technology, Illustration, Photography, Interior Design, Textiles, Fine Arts, Urban Design, Product Design, Industrial Design, etc.|
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
The Cooper Union is one of the oldest and distinguished schools in the United States founded in 1859 by the philanthropist and industrialist Peter Cooper. This private college is divided into 3 schools to study art, architecture, and engineering.
The founder offered public programs for students. This feature is still a characteristic of the school that offers a full-tuition scholarship. The acceptance rate is 16%, so the students have to demonstrate their abilities to keep up with the rigorous curriculum.
The institution features an assortment of studios and galleries, film products, photography labs, etc. It has developed an athletic program that fields teams in various kinds of sports.
|Location||Manhattan, New York|
|Annual tuition fee||$44,550 (residence life for extra cost)|
|Programs||Painting, Drawing, 2D/3D/4D Design, Calligraphy, Graphic Design, Photography, Architecture, Color, Animation, Printmaking, Sculpture, etc.|
Other Art Institutions to Note
I hope this WoWPencils post will help you make a weighted decision about which art school to choose. All the listed options are worth devoting several years of your life to. Don’t follow the school’s prestige. Choose an institution regarding its:
- location (if you are inclined to move to another state);
- learning programs (to begin with a sequential baseline course for undergraduates or study art disciplines right away);
- potential abroad study courses;
- types of financial aid offered, etc.
Whatever the choice, you’ll be happy because the high education years are one of the most memorable, and they are ahead for you.
If you like to read more interesting reviews with up-to-date information concerning art and architecture, follow me on social networks and leave your comments. Sincerely yours, Yuliya Skryp.