Becoming an Illustrator: Education and Schools

Education programs in illustration are offered at various levels: certificate, associate's degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree. Continue reading for more information about a career in illustration and what you can learn in illustration programs. Schools offering Children`s Book Illustration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

As an illustrator, you might draw pictures by hand or with computer software for books, advertisements, catalogs, posters, cover art and police sketches, among other things. While illustration programs are available, you can also find illustration as part of a larger art program, like graphic design or visual arts.

Programs Certificates; Associate's or Bachelor's degrees; and MFA in Illustration or related study
Schools Community Colleges, Colleges, Universities
Courses Drawing and Composition, Illustrating Children's Books, Survey of Western Art, Digital Illustration, Printmaking, Exploration of Mediums, Illustration Self-promotion

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become an Illustrator?

Although it is possible to be hired based on the strength of your portfolio, candidates who have formal training maintain a competitive edge over those who don't. If you choose to go into the field of graphic illustration or another technical area, you will likely need to be specifically trained in computer-aided design (CAD). If you specialize in areas like medical illustration, you should also be aware of anatomy and physiology.

What Kinds of Programs Are Available?

You can find certificates and degrees in illustration, as well as programs that combine illustration with other arts, through many community colleges, vocational schools and universities. You can find programs in fashion illustration, graphic design and illustration, as well as studio arts, which might also include courses in sculpting and painting. You will likely take courses that teach you how to draw humans as well as inanimate objects. You may also learn the various commercial areas where illustrators are utilized. Some programs also offer courses in computer design. These schools offer you programs in illustration:

  • Savannah College of Art and Design (GA)
  • Chabot College (Hayward, CA)
  • University of Hartford (CT)
  • Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, NY)
  • Pennsylvania State University (University Park)

What Courses Will I Take When Pursuing a Bachelor's Degree?

While enrolled in a bachelor's degree program related to illustration, you will likely take basic illustration courses in addition to learning how to apply them commercially. Courses in children's illustration may be part of the coursework. These topics may also be covered in a bachelor's degree program:

  • Drawing
  • Composition
  • Color
  • Illustration techniques
  • Computer design

What Kind of Graduate Programs Are Available?

To further your education, you can also enroll in a graduate certificate or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program in illustration. A certificate may beneficial if you are seeking to work in a specific genre of illustration, including science illustration or children's book illustration. You can also seek a graduate degree in illustration, which primarily includes self-study coursework. You may also have to complete seminar courses and a thesis. These courses might be available in a graduate program:

  • Illustration strategies
  • Contemporary art
  • Art criticism
  • Digital illustration
  • Illustration markets

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:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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