What Are the Best Art Schools?

To hone your fine arts skills, be it as an illustrator, sculptor or portrait artist, you might want to consider attending a top-rated art school. Learn what some of the best art schools in the country are and what degree programs they offer. Find out what to expect from a top school. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Makes a Top Art School?

If you are interested in attending art school, you should find one that is focused on helping you build a professional portfolio of work. Those schools that have on-campus galleries or that offer you opportunities to display your pieces can help you gain recognition as an artist. Look for schools with nationally-ranked art programs and ample studio facilities. You may also want to enroll in a school whose faculty members have received national awards or grants for their own work.

Yale University in New Haven, CT

U.S. News and World Report ranked Yale's fine arts program #1 among national universities for 2016. The art school's instructors are widely published, and they participate in premiere national and international art shows. They've won prestigious awards as well, such as the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award and the 'Larry' Award. Students have access to an art gallery, an arts library, a digital media center for the arts, a photography lab and the Yale Center for British Art. Available degree programs include:

  • Bachelor of Art in Art
  • MFA in Graphic Design
  • MFA in Painting and Print Making
  • MFA in Photography
  • MFA in Sculpture

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

SAIC is affiliated with the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago. While there, you can learn to draw, paint and sculpt in the shadow of greats like Monet and Picasso. The school ranked #4 among fine arts graduate programs in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 listing. Instructors at SAIC have been recognized with major grants and awards from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Guggenheim Museum, and Interior Design magazine. Degrees offered at SAIC include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • BFA with emphasis in art education
  • BFA with emphasis in art history, theory and criticism
  • MFA in Studio Arts

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia, CA

Brothers Walt and Roy Disney founded CalArts in 1961. It ranked 9th in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 listing of fine arts programs at national universities. Recent graduates have since been commissioned by Coca-Cola, MTV Networks and Atlantic Records, among other major corporations. And CalArts students have seen their work exhibited in galleries from Los Angeles, CA, to Paris, France, to Tokyo, Japan. Degrees offered by its School of Art include:

  • BFA in Art
  • BFA in Graphic Design
  • BFA in Photography and Media
  • MFA in Art
  • MFA in Graphic Design
  • MFA in Photography and Media
  • MFA in Art and Technology

Ten Top Ranked Schools with Art Programs

College/University Institution Type LocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Rhode Island School of Design Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Providence, RI$51,000
University of California-Los Angeles Public, 4 year Los Angeles, CA$13,000
Virginia Commonwealth University Public, 4 year Richmond, VA$14,500
Carnegie Mellon University Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Pittsburgh, PA$45,000
Cranbrook Academy of Art Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Bloomfield Hills, MI$38,000
Maryland Institute College of Art Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Baltimore, MD$48,000
Columbia University Private, not-for-profit, 4 year New York, NY$48,000
Alfred University Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Alfred, NY$37,000
California College of the Arts Private, not-for-profit, 4 year San Francisco, CA$52,000
Bard College Private, not-for-profit, 4 year Annandale-on-Hudson, NY$37,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

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:

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