What Are the Best Art and Design Schools?

Read about three top schools in the art and design field. Check the fine arts program rankings for these schools, and explore the degree programs they offer. Get info on what to look for in a good art and design school. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Characteristics of the Best Art and Design Schools?

Top art and design schools may offer excellent studio and lab facilities, such as design and photography labs. You may want to choose schools with access to working artists and opportunities to experience art through exhibitions. Schools that offer extensive art museums that sponsor exhibitions can offer endless opportunities for connecting with the art world. Additionally, colleges that offer access to large art libraries may be beneficial to you.

What Are Three of the Best Art and Design Schools?

Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI

Cranbrook Academy of Art is a graduate art college that offers nine Master of Fine Arts (MFA) concentrations. The academy was tied in rank as seventh overall in fine arts and was sixth for graphic design by U.S. News & World Report in its most recent 2015 evaluation. At this school, you have access to an artists-in-residence program, as well as several visiting artists. The Cranbrook Art Museum sponsors an annual graduate degree exhibition, along with a student-run Forum Gallery.

Students have assigned studio spaces and access to the Central Media Lab with workstations, plotters, color output devices, printers and cutters. Facilities also include model and wood shops, as well as labs serving other departments. Degree titles include:

  • MFA in 2D Design
  • MFA in 3D Design
  • MFA in Painting
  • MFA in Photography
  • MFA in Print Media
  • MFA in Sculpture
  • MFA in Fiber
  • MFA in Ceramics
  • MFA in Architecture
  • MFA in Metalsmithing

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore

MICA tied for seventh for graduate fine arts programs and for third in graphic design by U.S. News & World Report in 2015. You could major in graphics design, one of 14 undergraduate options. MICA also offers a post-baccalaureate graphic design certificate and three master's programs in design, as well as a graduate program in design leadership combined with a Johns Hopkins University MBA.

The Graduate Studio Center includes studios with state-of-the-art digital and photo labs. MICA's Department of Exhibitions supports over 150 exhibitions annually involving students, faculty, visitors and alumni. These are representative art and design degrees:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design
  • BFA in Book Arts
  • BFA in Game Arts
  • BFA in Environmental Design
  • BFA in Interaction Design and Art
  • MFA in Graphic Design
  • MFA in Illustration Practice
  • MFA in Community Arts
  • Master of Business Administration/Master of Arts in Design Leadership
  • Master of Professional Studies in the Business of Art and Design

Yale University in New Haven, CT

In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked this ivy-league school first for fine arts overall and second in graphic design. Yale University offers you the Yale University Art Gallery, Yale Center for British Art and Yale Arts Library. Within the School of Art, you have access to the Digital Technology Office, Digital Media Center for the Arts, Photography Lab and Printshop. Artwork can be view for current MFA students or through gallery exhibitions. Additionally, you have the opportunity to complete summer art programs, currently available in Norfolk and New Haven. Degrees offered include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Art
  • MFA in Graphic Design
  • MFA in Painting and Printmaking
  • MFA in Photography
  • MFA in Sculpture

Ten of the Best Schools with Art and Design Programs

College/University Institution Type Location
Rhode Island School of Design Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Providence, RI
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Chicago, IL
University of California-Los Angeles Public, 4 year Los Angeles, CA
Virginia Commonwealth University Public, 4 year Richmond, VA
California Institute of the Arts Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Valencia, CA
Carnegie Mellon University Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Pittsburgh, PA
Alfred University Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Alfred, NY
California College of the Arts Private, not-for-profit, 4 year San Francisco, CA
Temple University Public, 4 year Philadelphia, PA
Washington University in St. Louis Private, not-for-profit, 4 year St. Louis, MO

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

Popular Schools

  • The Art Institutes

    The Art Institutes responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The Art Institutes:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Arlington
  • Lincoln Tech

    Lincoln Tech responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Lincoln Tech:

    • Certificates

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Colorado: Denver
    • Connecticut: Denver, East Windsor
    • Illinois: Denver, East Windsor, Melrose Park
    • Indiana: Denver, East Windsor, Melrose Park, Indianapolis, Indianapolis,
    • Tennessee: Denver, East Windsor, Melrose Park, Indianapolis, Indianapolis,, Nashville
  • Full Sail University

    Full Sail University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Full Sail University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster Career School

    Penn Foster Career School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster Career School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Howard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
  • CDI College

    CDI College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at CDI College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Anywhere: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Point Claire, Toronto, Winnipeg