Which Art and Design Schools Are in the San Francisco, CA Area?

Learn about art and design schools in the San Francisco, CA, area. See degree and specialization options, program requirements, tuition fees, and course information to discover if one of these schools is right for you. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Are you hunting for the right art and design school to further your education? There are multiple options in or around San Francisco, California. Keep reading to learn about four schools in this area that offer bachelor's degree programs and two that give master's degrees in this field.

What You Need to Know

Graduate and undergraduate degrees in art and design can be found at several San Francisco area colleges and universities. In these programs, you can earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). Most of the schools are located right in San Francisco. You can focus on many creative areas such as painting, drawing, photography, interactive design, studio art and printmaking. In some programs, you could have the opportunity to showcase your work in a public exhibit as part of a final project. While earning a bachelor's degree usually takes four years, an MFA can be earned in only 2-3 years. More details about these particular San Francisco area schools and programs appear below.

Art and Design Bachelor's Degree Programs in and Around San Francisco

San Francisco Art Institute

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree program at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) includes mandatory foundation courses in subjects such as art history (including one class on the history of your chosen field of study), composition and math, among others. You will also undergo coursework in the contemporary practice of your chosen medium, and you may take electives in other studio fields. SFAI's programs include an off-campus study requirement, which you may fulfill by undertaking an internship or capitalizing on one of the school's numerous options for study abroad.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • Field of Study Options: Photography, printmaking, new genres, sculpture, design and technology, film, painting
  • Program Length: 4 years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $41,272 per year (2015-2016)
  • Admission Requirements: Portfolio, artist statement, 1 recommendation letter
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; approximately 470 undergrad and 230 grad students

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University's (SFSU) art major incorporates core courses in art history and your choice of 2 studio areas from among textiles, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, photography and printmaking. In the studio art emphasis, you will undergo focused coursework in your chosen media concentration while taking upper-level classes in studio disciplines outside your own. In addition, you will take a course in art productions that focuses on either art history and education or on media such as painting and drawing. With faculty approval, you may select the dual emphasis, in which you undertake a concentration in two of the offered studio art specializations.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Art - studio art concentration
  • Specialization Areas: Sculpture, painting, printmaking/print media, conceptual and information arts, photography, textiles, ceramics, dual studio art emphasis
  • Program Length: 4 years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $6,476 in-state, $17,636 out-of-state per year (2015-2016)
  • School Type: 4-year, public; approximately 25,900 undergrad and 3,500 grad students

University of California - Berkeley

After you have gained admittance to the University of California (UC) - Berkeley and fulfilled foundation course requirements in areas such as studio art and art history, you will submit a 12-piece portfolio in order to be considered for admission into the art program. Once you have achieved art major standing, you will take required courses in areas such as drawing, art history and visual thinking, in addition to your choice of two studio courses in media such as sculpture, painting or printmaking. You will choose from electives that cover topics such as medicine and disability in the context of art, video and performance, sound art, game design and cultural display. UC Berkeley's art department also awards a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Art Practice.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art
  • Program Length: 4 years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $13,431 in-state, $38,139 out-of-state per year (2015-2016)
  • School Type: 4-year, public; about 27,100 undergrad and 10,400 grad students

University of San Francisco

Both of the design and fine arts programs at the University of San Francisco (USF) require courses in areas such as art history, drawing, art fundamentals and visual communication. The fine arts program includes additional mandatory courses in digital photography, sculpture and painting, as well as elective options in media such as printmaking, stained glass and sculpture. In the design program, you will study subjects such as typography and digital literacy, and you will choose from electives that offer instruction in interaction design, information visualization and sustainable design systems, among other topics. Both programs require a major project during your final semester; if you are a fine arts major, this will involve an exhibition of your work.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Arts
  • Field of Study Options: Fine arts, design
  • Program Length: 4 years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees:: $42,634 per year (2015-2016)
  • Admission Requirements: Application essay, 1 recommendation letter
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; about 6,800 undergrad and 3,800 grad students

Art and Design Master's Degree Programs in and Around San Francisco

San Francisco Art Institute

In SFAI's MFA program, you will complete required courses in areas such as critical studies and art history, and you will partake in the program's lecture series, which presents opportunities for interaction and critique with notable artists from around the world. After your first year of the program, you will undergo a faculty review of your progress and receive corresponding feedback. Upon completion of the program, you will participate in an additional review, in which you will present your final thesis body of work. In order to graduate, you will be required to undertake a public exhibition of your final works. SFAI also offers the low-residency MFA program, which is designed for working professionals and involves 8-week summer terms and independent study from home.

  • Program Name: Master of Fine Arts
  • Field of Study Options: Painting, film, new genres, photography, design and technology, sculpture, printmaking
  • Program Length: 2 years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $43,204 per year (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Undergraduate degree
  • Admission Requirements: Portfolio with inventory sheet, artist statement, 2 recommendation letters
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; approximately 470 undergrad and 230 grad students

San Francisco State University

The MFA program at SFSU includes courses on such topics as art history, art theory and artists' public roles. Studio courses with visiting artists are also required, and you will complete a studio seminar each semester. Both your studio and academic electives may be selected from within or outside the art department.

  • Program Name: Master of Fine Arts in Art
  • Specialization Areas: Conceptual and information arts, sculpture, new practices, printmaking, photography, painting and drawing, textiles, ceramics
  • Program Length: 3 years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $7,742 in-state, $16,670 out-of-state per year (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Undergraduate degree, 3 units of art history
  • Admission Requirements: Portfolio, statement of purpose, 3 recommendation letters, resume
  • School Type: 4-year, public; approximately 25,900 undergrad and 3,500 grad students

In summary, in the San Francisco area, bachelor's degree programs in art and design are provided by the University of California's Berkeley campus, the University of San Francisco, the San Francisco Art Institute, and San Francisco State University; the latter two schools also offer master's degree programs in this field.

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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