Sequential Art College and Program Information

Sequential art programs teach students tell a story through still images. Students learn to create comic strips, graphic novels, picture books, story boards and comic books.

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Colleges and universities across the U.S. offer certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in illustration or visual communication with a concentration in sequential art. In recent years, artists have increasingly used computer programs to digitally paint and create comics, storyboards and other forms of sequential art; however, many artists still use traditional media, such as pen and ink.

Top Fine Arts Schools

Fine arts programs are offered by these institutions.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition
Cranbrook Academy of Art Bloomfield Hills, MI 4-year, Private Master's $34,375** Graduate
California Institute of Arts Valencia, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $43,986* Undergraduate; $43,400* Graduate
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's $43,960* Undergraduate; $45,810* Graduate
Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate $43,870* Undergraduate; $42,280* Graduate
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $47,600* Undergraduate; $36,359** Graduate
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $12,763* In-state Undergraduate; $11,220* In-state Graduate
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $12,772* In-state Undergraduate; $10,710* In-state Graduate
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, RI 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $45,840* Undergraduate; $45,530* Graduate
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $50,665* Undergraduate; $34,470** Graduate
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $53,000* Undergraduate; $57,296** Graduate

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2015-16 figures; **School Websites, 2016-17 figures

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School Selection Criteria

Students choosing a sequential art school may want to keep the following considerations in mind.

  • Schools that emphasize professional development, including trips to comic conventions and internships in the field, may help students to meet and network with other artists and writers.
  • Internships at publishing houses, television or production studios can lead to a job as a story boarder or syndicated illustrator.
  • Students may also look for schools that have art magazines and connections to independent comic studios for publishing opportunities.
  • Students who wish to receive a well-rounded education should look for programs that offer a grounding in traditional tools as well as education in digital techniques. Programs that include scripting and writing classes in the curriculum may benefit those interested in the art of storytelling beyond visual drawings, and courses such as art appreciation and art history can help students develop their own artistic vision.

Certificate Programs

Students can find certificate programs in comic and sequential art or illustration, with courses in comic book and graphic novel art. Some programs specialize in various forms, such as manga art, superhero art, digital painting or picture book art.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs in graphic storytelling and illustration introduce students to traditional and digital art. Some programs provide courses in areas like self-marketing in order to help students find jobs after graduation. Because not all illustration programs include an emphasis in sequential art, students should research the courses offered before enrolling.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Sequential art is typically offered as a concentration through visual communication and fine arts degree programs. Because sequential artists portray humans regularly, students may consider programs that offer a course in anatomy for artists.

Master's Degree Programs

Master of Fine Arts degree programs are available in illustration or sequential arts and focus on research, advanced technical training and personal development through studio courses. Programs culminate in a final project, which in most programs can be in the picture book or graphic novel fields.

Relevant programs for aspiring sequential artists are available at many public and private schools. It's possible to pursue undergraduate and graduate studies in relevant fields, such as illustration, fine arts and painting.

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