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.

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 & 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.

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

School Highlight: The Rhode Island School of Design, ranked number 2 among fine arts schools in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report. It's programs in graphic design, industrial design and printmaking secured the number 1 spot in the fine arts category.

Rhode Island School of Design is a 4-year private college serving over 2,400 students. These students may 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, ceramics and film and video production. Fine arts programs in illustration, painting, photography and sculpture are also available. Students may also concentrate in areas such as the history of art or philosophy.

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

School Highlight: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), another nationally renowned art school, tied for 2nd place on U.S. News & World Report's 2012 list of the best fine arts colleges.

Approximately 3,519 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

School Highlight: The Cranbrook Academy of Art is a small private college near Detroit that placed 7 in U.S. News & World Report's 2012 list of the best fine arts colleges schools.

It also had 2nd-highest-ranked ceramics program and the 6th highest graphic design program in the nation. This small school serves approximately 156 graduate students each year and offers master's degrees in architecture, metalsmithing and painting, as well as photography, print media and sculpturing. Students receive their own studio space after enrollment. Unique to the school is its community approach to education, whereby students share their work in the school's gallery at the end of the 2-year study.

Top 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 to explore art and build portfolios Pasadena, CA
California Institute of the Arts The Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in downtown Los Angeles Valencia, CA
Carnegie Mellon University Interdisciplinary student teams work together at The Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) Pittsburgh, PA
Columbia University The School of the Arts Global Programs has collaborated with countries such as China, France, Italy, Jordan, and Uganda New York, NY
Maryland Institute College of Art The Business of Art and Design Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program is offered online Baltimore, MD
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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