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Top Art and Design Schools

Art and design degrees are fairly common among many colleges in America, but choosing the best one for you can have many advantages. Preview several of the top schools in the field and learn about what kind of benefits each has for its students.

School Information

The colleges and universities profiled below offer bachelor's and master's degree programs in art and design, including specialized courses of study in ceramics, photography, textiles, and architecture. Unique to individual schools are the longevity of their programs and partnerships with museums. The institutions' fine arts offerings have been ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Rhode Island School of Design in Providence

School Highlight: RISD shares a partnership with Rhode Island School of Design Museum.

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the oldest art and design colleges in the U.S., was ranked as tied for fourth-best fine arts school in the country for 2016 by U.S. News & World Report. It offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in ceramics, interior design, and photography. The master's degree programs include a variety of specializations, such as painting, graphic design, sculpture, and script development.

Yale University in New Haven, CT

School Highlight: Yale was ranked as either the first or second best fine arts program in the areas of graphic design, painting/drawing, photography, and sculpture by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.

The fine arts programs at Yale University, one of the oldest educational institutions in the U.S., were ranked first by U.S. News & World Report in 2016. Yale's School of Art and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in graphic design, painting, printmaking, and sculpture, among other related fields of study. Notable facilities include the university art gallery, arts library, British art center, digital media center, and print shop.

School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois

School Highlight: In addition to traditional degrees, post-bachelor's and professional certificate programs are available in art and design.

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report designated the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) in Chicago as tied for fourth-best college for fine arts in the U.S. The institute offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a number of related fields. These include art education or administration, art history or therapy, designed objects, and studio art. SAIC is housed within the arts and design museum at the Art Institute of Chicago, and with almost 3,000 students, it stands out as one of the largest independent schools for art and design in the U.S.

CUNY Queens College in Flushing, NY

School Highlight: Students have many opportunities to study abroad.

CUNY Queens offers art education at the bachelor's and master's levels with specializations available in art history, studio art, and design. The BA in Studio Art degree, in particular, also fulfills many of the qualifications for becoming an art teacher. It is also within the top 105 graduate fine arts programs in the country, according to the 2016 rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

Top Art and Design Schools

There are several more exceptional colleges offering degrees in art and design, such as:

  • Irvine Valley College in California offers part-time attendance opportunities for high school students, allowing them to earn college credit before graduating.
  • Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore has the third best sculpting and graphic design programs in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
  • In 2016, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond was ranked as the #2 best fine arts graduate school in the country by U.S. News & World Report
  • California Institute of the Arts in Valenica is ranked a the ninth best fine arts graduate school by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
  • Alfred University in New York offers a master's program in electronic integrated arts in addition to more traditional art and design degrees.
  • The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, is the 20th best fine arts school in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2016.

The Rhode Island School of Design, Yale University, the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, and CUNY Queens College are four highly rated art and design colleges, with several more exceptional schools also making the list. Many of these institutions are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report, with benefits like part-time enrollment status for high school students, varied majors, and more to personalize your education.

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