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Arts & Culture Visual Arts

Top 8 Universities for Visual Arts Students

Choosing the right school is a stressful process. It requires a lot of research on the college’s overall reputation, graduate rates, tuition, available programs, etc. And there are more than 500 colleges and universities in the USA that offer BA in visual and performing arts. To make this process a bit easier for future students, we’ve gathered the best schools in the US that offer high-quality education in this field.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

This is a private non-profit school in Chicago that offers both BA and Masters in Fine Arts. It has a long history of 150 years and great resources available for students. It includes college-based galleries and the Art Museum. The tuition is on the higher end (about $49,000), as it is a small private institution. It has a pretty good reputation with future employers and offers Career and Professional Experience services to students.

Overall the school has a cross-disciplinary approach and a lot of practical studies.

University of California, Los Angeles

On the contrary, this is one of the biggest schools out there with a 16% acceptance rate overall. One of the huge benefits of this institution is the affordability of education – the tuition rate is approximately $13,000 for in-state students. Students from the lowest income household can get a reduction to $8,300. So students can save some money for pleasure, travel, or essay writing help from if they choose this college. BA is available for 6 different media categories that an artist can specialize in further.

There are also many great resources for students including the Grunwald Center of Graphic Arts with a huge collection of 45,000 works from different periods.

California Institute of Arts, Santa Clarita

It is a private school that is rather small in size. Yet, it offers exceptional opportunities. You can get both BA and MA here in Film, Fine Arts, Drama, or Design. It is a highly competitive environment that is pretty hard to get in. At the same time, it is one of the most respected institutions when it comes to art studies.

Students here get extensive professional training that nourishes their own style and vision. The focus is on contemporary art and innovation.

Savannah College of Art and Design

It is another excellent school with decent acceptance rates. It offers 77 minor programs, 40 undergraduate ones, and 60 graduate ones.  Even before the COVID pandemic, about 27 of these degrees could be acquired fully online. So the institution is focused on innovation and flexibility for students. The wide range of programs is a huge benefit for those who know exactly what mediums they are willing to work with. The courses are more specific, so one can learn textiles or sequential art, for example.

And the institution hosts an annual Art festival that gathers many artists and experts to give lectures and presentations.

Ringling College of Art and Design, Florida

Although Ringling is quite small (1,300 students), it has a high acceptance rate – 77%. It means that it is often easier to get in than in other institutions in the same sphere. The tuition is approximately $44,000.

There are eleven BFA and two BA programs available here. But even the BA requires a third of the time to be devoted to arts. The school has pretty great career opportunities for graduates with many of them working for Disney or EA. It is known for internship programs as well as the opportunity to work on clients’ projects.

Photo by Steve Johnson at Unsplash

Rhode Island School of Design

RISD is a well-known establishment both in the US and the world. It is one of the oldest in the country (1877) and has a decent number of seats – about 2,300 students. The education here is extremely practical and studio-based. There are about 19 majors available, including not only fine arts but also architecture, and art education, for example.

It has its own museum with a huge body of works and is located between New York and Boston, which gives students the ability to visit these two major cities.

Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore

This is another long-standing (est. in 1826) institution with great educational opportunities. It focuses on interdisciplinary studies. It is all about innovation, contemporary approach, and re-envisioning modern life. It offers 20 undergraduate major programs (including Animation, Film, Illustration, Fiber, and Drawing) as well as several liberal arts and studio minors. And there are also 20 graduate programs available.

Some of the courses or studies can be accessed online. The institution hosts a great number of annual events and exhibitions as well as gives access to several amazing galleries.

California College of Arts

It is a private college with a broad range of programs and an interdisciplinary approach. There are 22 undergraduate and 11 graduate programs available. There is also an opportunity to take part in international study programs.

It is located in San Francisco and gives access to many galleries and art spaces. It is a strong competitor to others on this list with an excellent curriculum.

In Summary

Of course, these are just eight schools of many excellent ones out there. They offer dashing educational and future employment opportunities as well as access to many exhibitions, galleries, and events. The choice of a college depends hugely on personal preferences, location, and financial capabilities.

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