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Schools for Aspiring Sketch Artists: How to Choose

Dec 13, 2019

Sketch artists, also known as police artists, use their artistic abilities to create drawings of criminal suspects, missing persons and courtroom proceedings. No formal training is required for aspiring sketch artists, but forensic art courses, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs in art could be useful training for certification and employment.

Forensic art courses may be completed in less than a week and teach students core concepts relevant to aspiring sketch artists. Associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees in art all offer advanced training options. Explore schools that offer these programs, as well as some considerations for choosing a school to attend.

Schools for Applied Arts

The following 2-year and 4-year schools offer degree programs in the field:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2018-2019)*
Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $10,822 (In-state) $28,336 (Out-of-state)
California State University-Long Beach Long Beach, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $6,798 (In-state) $18,678 (Out-of-state)
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's $5,785 (In-state) $17,725 (Out-of-state)
Lakeland Community College Kirtland, OH 2-year, Public Associate's $4,712 (In-state) $10,052 (Out-of-state)
Middlesex County College Edison, NJ 2-year, Public Associate's $7,032 (In-state) $7,032 (Out-of-state)
Montclair State University Montclair, NJ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $12,790 (In-state) $20,578 (Out-of-state)
Niagara County Community College Sanborn, NY 2-year, Public Associate's $4,923 (In-state) $9,315 (Out-of-state)
Penn State University-Main Campus University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $18,454 (In-state) $34,858 (Out-of-state)
Salem State University Salem, MA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,642 (In-state) $17,082 (Out-of-state)

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Aspiring sketch artists who are evaluating programs should take the following suggestions into account:

  • Seek programs that will offer the training necessary to apply for certification with the International Association of Identification.
  • Associate's degree programs have a shorter timeframe that is desirable for some students, whereas bachelor's degree programs sometimes offer more academic freedom in projects, along with internship opportunities where students could focus on sketch art.
  • Focus on schools that emphasize computer technology with the latest software relevant to this field, such as aging simulation and facial reconstruction.
  • Students may consider enrolling in programs that not only teach facial anatomy and variation, but also provide an overview of courtroom testimony, reference files and interview techniques to better prepare for a future career in the field.

Forensic Art Training Courses

Stand-alone forensic art training courses can typically be completed in under a week. Students may learn to create and organize catalogs, testify in court and develop reference files. Other topics addressed may be facial anatomy, composite sketching, structural differences and more.

Associate's Degree in Art

Associate's degree programs in art may be completed in two years and can lead directly to a bachelor's degree program. In addition to general education requirements, common courses include art history, design, color, photography and drawing.

Bachelor's Degree in Art

A bachelor's degree in art may offer internship opportunities and personal projects so that a student may specialize in a specific area of interest, such as forensic sketching. Other courses that may be useful to aspiring sketch artists include drawing, digital design, photography, color and 2-D design.

Aspiring sketch artists can earn an undergraduate degree in art or take forensic art training courses from 2-year and 4-year schools. To help select a program, students should consider their career goals as well as computer technology programs that are available.

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