Which Art and Design Colleges Are in the Washington, DC Area?

Learn about art and design schools in the Washington, DC area. See the different degree program options, course lengths and corresponding tuition fees. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

As varied and colorful is the world of art, so are the courses available for you in Washington DC. In this article, learn about the program options you have as you pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in art and design.

What You Need to Know

The most common types of art and design degree programs you will find in colleges and universities in the Washington, DC area result in a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Master of Fine Arts. In 4-year degree programs, you can study areas of graphic design, multimedia design, photography, painting, interactive design and digital illustration. You might also take courses in art history and visual communication. In both BFA and MFA programs, the curricula could be presented through lectures, studio projects, independent projects, exhibitions and portfolio development. Graduate level studies could include seminars. A bachelor's degree could be the minimum requirement needed to work in graphic arts studios, publishing companies, video production companies or multimedia design consulting companies.

Art and Design Bachelor's Degree Programs in the Washington, DC, Area

American University

American University is a co-educational, Christian school with a residential campus in the northwest area of Washington, DC. The BFA program, offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, requires 72-73 credits of major coursework, including studio classes in drawing, intaglio, painting, relief printmaking, sculpture and ceramics. The senior seminar will give you the opportunity to attend artist lectures, participate in critiques and group discussions, visit museums and publicly exhibit your work.

In addition to the BFA, American University also offers a 120-credit degree BA program in graphic design. Courses available include print, publication and packaging design, illustration and interactive media. You'll also have the opportunity to complete an internship and an independent study project.

  • Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Graphic Design
  • Specialization Areas: (BFA) drawing, installation, multimedia, painting, printmaking, sculpture (BA); print media, experience design and multimedia
  • Program Length: 120 credit hours (roughly five years, full-time)
  • Tuition and Fees: $43,103 (2015-2016 estimates)
  • Admission Requirements: 16 high school credits in English, foreign language, lab science, math and social science; mid-year report; letters of recommendation; portfolio (for BFA); interview (for BFA); coursework in typography, communication design, photography and digital design (for BA)
  • Prerequisite: 18 credit hours of studio art courses at the college
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; 13,061 students (7,706 undergraduate)

Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (The George Washington University)

The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design is the only postsecondary school of its kind in the nation's capital and is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. The BFA in Fine Arts program allows you to select from a number of art and design related concentrations, in areas such as digital media, fine art, graphic design and photography. Alternatively, you can pursue a multidisciplinary BFA that allows you take studio courses from multiple concentration areas.

As a first year student, your coursework might include classes in art history, drawing and visual thinking. In addition to studio classes taken in your sophomore through senior years, you may also be able to take electives in digital art, light and optical studies, woodworking or the psychology of social media. Along with the major in fine arts, Corcoran offers a BFA in Graphic Design that can provide you with some of the training you need for a job in multimedia or print design.

  • Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Art, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
  • Specialization Areas: (Fine arts) ceramics, digital media, drawing and painting, printmaking, sculpture
  • Program Length: 120 credit hours (roughly five years, full-time)
  • Tuition and Fees: $50,435 (2015-2016 estimates)
  • Admission Requirements: Portfolio, personal and portfolio statements, letters of recommendation (optional)
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; 25,613 students (10,740 undergraduate)

Maryland Institute College of Art

The Maryland Institute College of Art is located about 35 miles from Washington, DC. You can earn a BFA in, among other areas, graphic design, decorative and fine arts, film art and art history. These programs include core coursework in the humanities, drawing, electronic and social media, painting, sculpture and visual thinking. Required classes for the major will also give you the chance to pursue more in-depth work in your selected area of study. The program culminates in 12 credits of project-based thesis work.

  • Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • Specialization Areas: General fine arts, ceramics, drawing, fiber, graphic design, illustration, interaction design and art, interdisciplinary sculpture, painting, photography, printmaking, video and film arts; art history, theory and criticism
  • Program Length: 126 credit hours, four years full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $43,870 (2015-2016 estimates)
  • Admission Requirements: Up to three letters of recommendation, essay, activities and interests statement, portfolio (digital, photographic or slide format)
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; 2,262 students (1,911 undergraduate)

University of the District of Columbia

The University of the District of Columbia is the capital's sole public college and offers both associate and bachelor's degrees in graphic design. The Associate of Arts curriculum includes coursework in computer art, design, desktop publishing, drawing and photography and must be completed before you can be considered for admission to the BFA program. Curriculum requirements for the 4-year degree include coursework in color, digital imaging, figure drawing, multimedia and portfolio development. These classes can help to prepare you for a position as an art director, illustrator, print or Web designer, among others.

In addition to the graphic design major, the university offers an interdisciplinary BA in Art and Studio Art. You'll have the chance to pursue studies in ceramics, painting, printing, sculpture and 3-D design. The program can prepare you for a variety of professions in the fine, visual or performing arts, such as painter, book designer, makeup artist, costume designer or art director, among others.

  • Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, Bachelor of Arts in Art and Studio Art
  • Program Length: Four years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $5,251 for in-state residents; $11,233 for out-of-state residents (2015-2016 estimates)
  • Admission Requirements: ACCUPLACER exams for students who do not meet the school's minimum academic standards for English, math and reading; portfolio (for BFA students)
  • Prerequisite: Complete the 2-year graphic design program with a B average (for BFA students)
  • School Type: 4-year, public; 4,803 students (4,491 undergraduate)

Art and Design Master's Degree Programs in the Washington, DC, Area

American University

The College of Arts and Sciences at American University offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in studio art that can provide you with the training you need to become a professional artist and publicly exhibit your work. Private studio space is available 24 hours a day throughout the year and is individually assigned.

If you decide to specialize in installation, or a fine art like painting, printmaking or sculpture, you can take classes in contemporary and twentieth-century art theory, film and photography studies, research and advanced studio work. The curriculum for the concentration in multimedia also includes electives in digital imaging, film and video production, motion graphics and Web design. In addition to class and project work, all specializations require you to take three master thesis seminars and pass a series of oral exams.

  • Program: Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art
  • Specialization Areas: Drawing, installation, multimedia, painting, printmaking, sculpture
  • Program Length: Two years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $27,898 (2015-2016 estimates)
  • Admission Requirements: Two letters of recommendation, resume, statement of purpose, portfolio with 20 images
  • Prerequisite: Bachelor's degree from an accredited school
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; 13,061 students (7,706 undergraduate)

Maryland Institute College of Art

The Maryland Institute College of Art offers art teachers and working artists a low-residency MFA program that includes independent study, mid-year critiques and four, six-week summer intensives. To earn your degree, you will have to complete ten-course sequences in critical studies and studio work in your selected area, as well as three classes each in professional development and technology. The critical studies component includes discussions, lectures, research and readings in contemporary art and culminates in an oral presentation and a thesis statement. Through the professional development and technology classes, you also have the chance to obtain valuable information about awards and fellowships, exhibition display and lighting, grant writing and website development.

If you pursue a 2-year MFA in graphic design, you'll be required to complete four graphic design studio courses, as well as take studio electives. You'll also take four liberal arts seminars at the graduate level. During your second year, you'll have the opportunity to complete an independent thesis project utilizing a medium of your choice.

  • Program: Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art, Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
  • Specialization Areas: (Studio art) digital media and photography, installation and sculpture, mixed media and painting
  • Program Length: (Studio art) three years of independent and campus-based study, (graphic design) two years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $43,870 (2015-2016 estimates)
  • Admission Requirements: Resume; three letters of reference; written statement, portfolio of artwork
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, proof of English language proficiency (for international students)
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; 2,262 students (1,911 undergraduate)

In Washington DC, there are a variety of art and design courses you can choose from available in both the undergraduate and graduate level, and those mentioned here are offered by American University, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (The George Washington University), Maryland Institute College of Art, and University of the District of Columbia.

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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