Top 10 Art Universities and Schools in the United States

Learn about the top 10 art universities and schools in the United States, including areas of study and degree programs available at three of these high-ranking institutions. Additional program notes for the remaining seven schools can be found in an easy-to-read table at the end of the resource.

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School Overview

Art is a broad field of study that includes the fine, performing, sound and visual arts. In the past, the three schools below have received high marks from U.S. News and World Report for their fine arts programs; individual schools have also been ranked for some of their design or specialty studies. While the Rhode Island School of Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees, the programs available at the Cranbrook Academy of Art are offered exclusively at the graduate level.

Top U.S. Schools with Art Programs

1. Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island

The Rhode Island School of Design, a 4-year private college serving over 2,400 students, ranked number two among fine arts schools in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report. It's programs in graphic design, industrial design and printmaking secured the #1 spot in the fine arts category. Students at the Rhode Island School of Design can pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Arts (M.A.) in a variety of art and design fields, including apparel or industrial design, art history, ceramics and film and video production. Fine arts programs in illustration, painting, photography and sculpture are also available.

2. School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), another nationally renowned art school, tied for #2 on U.S. News and World Report's 2012 list of the best fine arts colleges. Approximately 3,200 students attend SAIC, which offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate art programs through a credit/no-credit system. These programs include art education or therapy, fiber and material studies, fashion design and historical preservation. Students can also pursue formal training in art and technology studies, performance art, print media and sound arts.

3. Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI

The Cranbrook Academy of Art is a small private college near Detroit that placed fourth in U.S. News and World Report's 2008 list of fine arts schools. It also had the highest-ranked fiber arts program and the second-highest-ranked graphic design and ceramics programs in the nation. This small school serves approximately 150 graduate students each year and offers master's degrees in architecture, metalsmithing and painting, as well as photography, print media and sculpturing, through a studio teaching setting. Unique to the school is its community approach to education, whereby students share their work in the school's gallery.

List of Ten Good Art Schools in the U.S.

School Name Distinction Location
Art Center College of Design Art Center at Night, Saturday High and other public programs Pasadena, CA
California Institute of the Arts The Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) Valencia, CA
Carnegie Mellon University The Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) Pittsburgh, PA
Columbia University The new School of the Arts' Global Programs New York, NY
Cranbrook Academy of Art Community approach to teaching and learning Bloomfield Hills, MI
Maryland Institute College of Art The Business of Art and Design Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program Baltimore, MD
Rhode Island School of Design The Graduate IN FOcus information programs Providence, RI
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Process-based grading system Chicago, IL
University of California - Los Angeles The Center for Intercultural Performance (CIP) Los Angeles, CA
Virginia Commonwealth University The Virginia Commonwealth University fine arts program in Qatar Richmond, VA
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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (7)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
    • Missouri (2)
    • North Carolina (2)
    • New Jersey (3)
    • Nevada (1)
    • New York (2)
    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (4)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (1)

    What is your classroom preference?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Florida (1 campus)
    • Texas (1)
    • Washington (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Non-Degree
        • Advanced Multimedia Development Certificate
        • Multimedia Development Certificate

    Do you prefer online or campus based learning?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Art History
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Art History
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Georgia (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Georgia include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Art History
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Miami include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
        • Art
        • Art History
        • Ceramics
        • Painting
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video

Popular Schools

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