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Top School in Chicago with Illustration Courses

Students interested in studying illustration in Chicago, IL, have several schools to choose from. Read about one top local school's degree programs, tuition and ranking info to see if it's the right one for you.

School and Ranking Info

Chicago, IL, has about six private schools within a 25-mile radius that offer programs in the fine arts and illustration. These include one of the oldest accredited art schools in the United States, as well as the number two school for graduate fine arts in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2012.

  • Winner: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is located in the city's South Loop near Lake Michigan and close to Grant Park. Illustration courses can be found through the school's interdisciplinary Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio program.

School Info Chart

Category School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Ranking #2 among the Best Graduate Schools for Fine Arts (2012)*
Location Chicago, IL
School Type 4-year; private, not-for-profit
Tuition and Fees (2013-2014) Undergraduate: $40,585**
Fine and Studio Arts Degree Awards Offered Bachelor's, master's and post-graduate certificates
Fine and Studio Arts Degrees Awarded (all levels) in 2013 627**
Most Popular Fine and Studio Arts Degree Programs in 2013 Bachelor's (499 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2007 entering class 54%**
Noteworthy Home to the largest campus-based museum in America

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report; **NCES College Navigator.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

  • BFA and MFA in Studio Art programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design
  • Illustration technologies lab where students learn how to use computers and Adobe Illustrator
  • Semester-long and short-term study aboard options
  • Access to rotating school collection of 60,000 prints and 11,500 drawings

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago enrolls over 3,400 students annually who enjoy a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. SAIC is staffed by over 150 full-time faculty members who are also artists, designers and writers. Famous artists who have studied at the school include Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O'Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg and Grant Wood. Students who pursue the BFA in Studio can take courses from over 12 different departments, including the Fashion and Visual Communication Design departments. The MFA in Studio program does not offer any courses in illustration, but graduate students can pursue project work in drawing and painting.

Through the Fashion Department, undergraduates can take a course in beginning fashion illustration and learn how to render clothing, human gestures and proportions while working from a live model. Departmental courses also include an object fashion and lifestyle illustration course where students gain practice drawing accessories. The Visual Communications Department offers an undergraduate course in natural history illustration that emphasizes the anatomical characteristics of birds and the botanical structures of different plants. The same department has a scientific illustration course, where undergraduates use watercolors, ink and colored pencils to draw fish, birds and other animals.


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