Top 10 Art Schools in the USA

Starlyon King
Starlyon King  - Author
22 Min Read
Top 10 Art Schools in the USA
Top 10 Art Schools in the USA

The United States is a hub for creative expression and artistic innovation, and its art schools play a vital role in nurturing the next generation of artists, designers, and creatives. From painting and sculpture to graphic design and digital media, art schools in the USA offer a wide range of programs that serve as a catalyst for talent, imagination, and technical skills. For aspiring artists and designers, finding the right art school can be a vital step in honing their craft and launching a successful career. In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 art schools in the USA, among other relevant information.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing an Art School in the USA

  1. Class Sizes

A student-to-teacher ratio is one of the essential aspects that one should consider when choosing an art school. Small classes make it possible for artists to get individual attention during the whole course of their studies. For example, in many reputable colleges, classes are not overcrowded with hundreds of students. This environment provides an avenue for tracking student’s progress and development so that they can receive individual attention as well as feedback.

  1. Teacher Credentials

The qualifications and experience of the teachers matter a lot, especially if you aim to build a strong base of artistic knowledge and skills. Try to find schools where teachers are professional artists or educators who love art with all their hearts. Lecturers who go to art exhibits or art shows show that they really appreciate the art world, and they can inspire their students with that passion. This can increase your learning experience in a much better way.

  1. Atmosphere and Attitude of a School

Art flourishes in a system that values freedom of expression. Thus, the school should focus on creating a safe environment where students feel comfortable developing their creative skills. Students should have the opportunity to express their ideas as freely as possible without the fear of judgment or pressure so that their creativity can shine.

  1. Art Program

Research the curriculum taught at the art school to make sure that your preferred topics and media are covered. Besides, see if the program provides a chance to exhibit your work. Public presentations are a great way of gauging what the public and other professionals have to offer, which is vital in your development as an artist.

  1. Location and Facilities

The school’s location should be convenient, so attendance is not a hardship. Additionally, studio space quality matters so much for the artist. Find schools that have large, bright studios that are ideal for artistic work and growth.

Taking into account these factors will definitely help you choose an art school that perfectly suits your needs and assists your development as an artist successfully.

Top 10 Art Schools in the USA
Top 10 Art Schools in the USA

Top 10 Art Schools in the USA

  1. Yale University

Average Tuition Fee: $41,000

The art school of Yale is one of the best colleges in the U. S. and it is number one on our list. Yale University, School of Art, one of the most renowned universities in the United States, performs rather excellently in not only fine arts but also in the medical, business, and law programs, along with many others. Established in 1701, the university has 5,300 undergraduate and 6,100 graduate and professional students. Students interested in applying internationally should take note that Yale is not solely an art school and is extremely selective and competitive with an acceptance rate of 5%.

The Yale University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program covers a broad spectrum of art and media disciplines. The MFA program offers degrees in the areas of graphic design, painting and printmaking, photography, sculpture, theater management, and acting. The vast majority of faculty members are widely recognized or even award-winning artists who are also critics or lecturers, which intensifies the level of knowledge that the students obtain. Yale has numerous facilities like an art gallery with British works from the 1500s to the present, a silkscreening print shop, a photography lab, several theatres, and a digital media center. The university is also at the center of cultural institutions like the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Long Wharf Theater, and Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Especially famous alumni are co-founder of Electronic Arts Bing Gordon and video game producer Jordan Mechner.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  1. School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Average Tuition Fees: $54,320

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of the largest, accredited, independent fine arts schools in the United States. Founded in 1866, it has an enrollment of about 3,200 students. International students must pay attention to SAIC’s distinctive courses, including art therapy, time arts, and visual communication. Furthermore, the college provides post-baccalaureate certificates in fashion, body and design, and studio art.

There are 568 faculty members in SAIC who are experts in the cutting-edge technologies and techniques of our times. The Computer Resources and Information Technologies Center (CRIT) provides students with the most recent equipment and ongoing training to help them learn. Classrooms are provided with LCD projectors, and the campus includes a wood and metal shop, along with other facilities. The location is very close to the Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue, and the John Hancock Observatory. Among the distinguished alumni are writer Audrey Niffenegger and animator Walt Disney.

  1. Rhode Island School of Design

Average Tuition Fees:  $54,890

 Rhode Island School of Design, also known as RISD, is known for its desire to encourage creativity and innovation. Through a complete lineup of fine arts, graphic design, as well as others, RISD offers students a vibrant and collaborative space to express and find themselves. Established in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) currently has 1,880 undergraduates and 370 graduate students from the U. S. and 50 more countries. The school has 16 undergraduate and 17 graduate majors covering almost all areas, such as ceramics, film, glass, illustration, textile, and sculpture. Students can choose the interdisciplinary concentrations or do research with faculty mentors.

RISD has 350 faculty members, among them Chris Van Allsburg, a children’s book illustrator who illustrated “Jumanji” and “The Polar Express.” The campus itself has in place a museum that exhibits more than 80,000 artworks. A broad range of facilities and equipment may be available to the students, based on the concentration, including laser cutters and kiln rooms. The school is situated close to the Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts Museum and Benefit Street, a cobblestone road famous for its history. Eminent alumni include Seth MacFarlane, creator of “Family Guy,” and children’s book illustrator Steven Kellogg.

California Institute of the Arts
California Institute of the Arts
  1.  California Institute of the Arts

Average Tuition Fees: $51,466

California Institute of the Arts has always been considered a pioneer in the areas of experimental and interdisciplinary arts. In the departments of animation, film, and fine art, CalArts challenges students to redefine the traditional notions of artistic media. Located in Santa Clarita, CA, the California Institute of Arts (CalArts) has a good brand in the visual arts and performing arts. Notable in the top list of art schools in California, CalArts provides more than 70 art study programs. CalArts has a 29% acceptance rate, and its undergraduate population is less than 10,000 students, making it one of the smaller but highly-ranked state art colleges.

Furthermore, all the instructors in CalArts are professional artists who have worked in this industry and know what they are talking about. Each student gets an assigned mentor who helps him/ her through the program and gives advice on independent study. The institute has eight studios for exhibiting student projects and assisting students in the development of the necessary presentation skills in different arts. The school offers the students facilities such as media labs and a maker space with workshops for woodworking, metalworking, and moldmaking. A point to note is that of the two names “CalArts” and “CIA,” it is the former that is used commonly.


  1. NYU Tisch School of the Arts

Average Tuition Fees: $58,168

Following this is the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, situated in NYC. Famous for its acting programs, NYU is, unanimously, one of the best art schools on our list. Located in one of the world’s enviable artistic centers, NYU is definitely one of the best art colleges in New York. The university has an acceptance rate of 12% and almost 30,000 undergraduate students, which makes NYU a large and competitive institution.

Notably, the school soon became a renowned arts center in the country, introducing departments for dance, theater design & lighting, and cinema studies within a few years. It has undergraduate and graduate courses in a wide range of fields, which include acting, dance, dramatic writing, film, and television. In 1982, a gift from Laurence A. and Preston Robert Tisch made possible the purchase and renovation of 721 Broadway which now provides space for almost all the school’s programs. Prominent alumni include directors Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee. According to the US News and World Report, the NYU Tisch School of the Arts is currently placed at #64 by the Best Fine Arts Programs.

  1. University of Michigan – Stamps School of Art & Design

Average Tuition Fees: $17,275 in-state, $51,144 out-of-state

The University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art & Design enriches its students with a comprehensive arts education that not only involves art and design but also liberal arts, hence giving the students a holistic creative experience. Located in Ann Arbor, Stamps School specializes in an interdisciplinary method, which invites students to try multiple artistic genres and integrate them. Students can select from undergraduate and graduate programs such as BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts), BDes (Bachelor of Design), MFA (Master of Fine Arts), and MDes (Master of Design). The school places a strong emphasis on hands-on learning, providing spacious studios, workshops, and access to the latest technology and resources.

Stamps also give numerous opportunities to students to interact with the broader arts community through exhibitions, internships, and collaborative projects. The faculty of the art and design school features well-known artists and designers who have gained experience and have different points of view. Moreover, the Stamps Gallery presents contemporary art and design, which is a great opportunity for the students to display their work and communicate with the public. The school’s decision to place art and design in a wider perspective of education offers students opportunities in creative professions as well as leadership roles in the field of arts.

Pratt Institute
Pratt Institute
  1. Pratt Institute

Average Tuition Fees: $52,898

The School of Art at Pratt Institute provides students with an opportunity to pursue courses in fine arts, communication design, and industrial design. The institute focuses on practical learning and teamwork to help the student to be successful in the creative industries. In New York City, Pratt grants students the chance to get incredible internship opportunities and forge powerful bonds with the art world. The professors are more than just teachers but highly reputable working artists as well, enhancing learning through their industry experience and knowledge.

Founded in 1887, Pratt Institute has its main campus in Brooklyn, an additional building in Manhattan, and a campus in Utica, New York. This ideal location allows students to have unmatched access to the lively cultural environment and various arts institutions. Pratt’s students benefit from having free entrance to famous museums like the Frick Collection, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Whitney Museum, allowing them the opportunity to complement their education with high-class art resources.

Also, the educational programs at Pratt are guided by the principle of “Poetic Pragmatism,” which equates artistic vision and practical skills to a positive impact on society. Pratt Institute is famous for its graduate programs in fine art, architecture, interior design, industrial design, and communication design. On top of that, the School of Information has many available graduate degree programs. Among the most prominent graduates of Pratt Institute are William Van Alen, the architect of the Chrysler Building, and famed actor Robert Redford. The quality of Pratt is demonstrated by the school’s ranking, as US News and World Report ranked it #15 in Best Fine Arts Programs and #11 in Painting/Drawing. Moreover, Pratt Institute holds #6 place in the world among universities according to QS World University Rankings 2023 for Art and Design.

  1. Maryland Institute

Average Tuition Fees: $53,815.

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is a private art and design university located in Baltimore, Maryland. It was established in 1826. It is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art in the U. S., and it offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of artistic fields, including design, education, and fine arts. The school district is well-known for its cross-disciplinary approach, stressing community involvement, diversity, and the acceptance of everyone. The world-renowned Baltimore Museum of Art, which is right on campus, allows students to attend highly respected art exhibitions and collections. The U. S. News and World Report currently ranks MICA as #8 for Fine Arts Programs, #4 in Graphic Design, #6 in Painting/Drawing, and #6 for sculpture.

Moreover, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) boasts 14 majors and 23 minors, making it among the top undergraduate art schools in the country for students who are interested in arts education with a wide range of focus areas. Given its student body of about 1,500 undergraduates, MICA offers a place where everyone can study any artistic discipline. With an acceptance rate of 86%, MICA has become not only one of the best fine art colleges but also one of the more accessible institutions for future artists.

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Average Tuition Fees: $57,986.

While some may not know that  Massachusetts Institute of Technology is on the list of the best art schools, its art programs are among the best in the US. MIT is one of the most selective worldwide universities, admitting only 4% of applicants and having a student body of 4,600 undergraduate students. At MIT, students have the option of majoring in subjects such as Dance, Architecture and Design, and Media Arts, among many others. The college provides numerous chances to explore interdisciplinary subjects as well as art classes. Many of the MIT faculty members are recipients of top awards in different fields of art, including the Pulitzer Prize, Grammy Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, and MacArthur Fellowship. MIT students, in turn, add to the bustling arts scene, which enhances campus life.

Moreover, the List Visual Arts Center of MIT, MIT’s contemporary art museum, aims to present, accumulate, and commission visual arts for MIT. The List sponsors between six and eight exhibitions yearly and provides a broad range of educational events that are free of charge to both the MIT community and the public. Besides, the museum organizes and enlarges MIT’s permanent art collection with more than 3,500 artworks, including sixty public sculptures and hundreds of paintings, prints, photographs, and drawings displayed on the campus. According to the QS World University Rankings 2023, MIT took the #5 spot in Art and Design in the world.

  1. Carnegie Mellon University

Average Tuition Fees: $61,344

Based in Pittsburgh, PA, CMU College of Fine Arts is among the best fine arts colleges in the country. At Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts, the students can choose a BFA from a number of disciplines, including dramaturgy, sculpture, and installation. Due to its blend of disciplines, the Carnegies are the most popular colleges in the U. S. Therefore, if you manage to get through the 11% acceptance rate to join the 7,500 enrollees, Carnegies may be exactly what you need.

The School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University provides an outstanding studio program in combination with the interdisciplinary resources of a leading research university, making the environment for student learning one of the most innovative ones there is. It provides both undergraduate and graduate programs in fine arts, design, and interdisciplinary practice. The content of the curriculum consists of training in context, critical theory, and current technologies, along with traditional programs of painting, drawing, and sculpture.

The students are equipped with various modern facilities that include multipurpose classrooms, media-specific studios, workshops, student and faculty studios, presentation rooms, and exhibition spaces. Within the facility, 24-hour access to traditional and modern tools is provided, which occupy over 50,000 square feet of fabrication space. Students will have the chance to showcase their art on campus as well as with various Pittsburgh grassroots organizations. The undergraduate and graduate programs include student-managed galleries, and the thesis exhibits are held at the university’s Miller Institute for Contemporary Art.

Currently, US News and World Report ranks Carnegie Mellon #7 in Best Fine Arts Programs and #1 in Time-Based Media/New Media. Another fact is that the QS World University Rankings 2023 ranks Carnegie Mellon at 17 globally in Art and Design.


These 10 prestigious fine arts colleges consistently rank among the top fine arts schools in the US. They have unique programs of instruction, well-known faculty members, state-of-the-art facilities, and attractive locations. Although they might not be the dream for all students, they are amazing examples to follow when applying for fine arts colleges, especially for international students. If you were confused about which art school to go to, then we hope this article has been of tremendous help to you.

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By Starlyon King Author
I'm Kingsley Neji, popularly known as Starlyon King, CEO of UnicrossBlog and SportPremi. Join me on a journey of knowledge and excellence in education and career.
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