Top Schools for Illustration and Drawing

Aug 09, 2018

Discover top art schools that offer drawing and illustration programs in the U.S. See what's available at four top-notch institutions, and find highlights of key program features at other schools in the country that offer formal training in drawing and illustration.

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  • 0:03 School Overviews
  • 0:40 Yale University
  • 1:10 School of the Art…
  • 1:41 Rhode Island School of Design
  • 2:07 Indiana University -…
  • 2:45 Top Arts Schools in the U.S.

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School Overviews

A number of highly regarded institutions offer art programs, some with specific degrees in painting or illustration. Students may enroll at the undergraduate or graduate level, though graduate admissions may be competitive. Art programs and instruction in drawing and illustration can be found at several top schools, including a renowned art institute, an Ivy League university, a school of design, and a public university. These four institutions we'll discuss received top ranks from U.S. News & World Report for their relevant fine arts programs. They offer exceptional facilities, multiple areas of specialization, and unique learning opportunities.

Yale University in New Haven, CT

In 2016, Yale University was placed first as a top art school for painting and drawing by U.S. News and World Report. While the School of Art does not offer any undergraduate programs, students can earn a Master of Fine Arts in a number of disciplines, including graphic design, sculpture, photography, and painting or printmaking. Coursework in drawing and illustration are offered through the painting and printmaking department. Admission to the program is highly selective, with approximately 21 students admitted each year.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, or SAIC for short, tied 2nd for its drawing and painting programs according to U.S. News and World Report in 2016. Unique to the school is the opportunity for undergraduates and graduate students to design their own courses of study. For example, undergraduate students may pursue combined studies in architectural design, drawing, and illustration. Graduate students are encouraged to experiment with their studies and create a multidisciplinary approach to their education, resulting in a unique educational experience for each student.

Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI

The Rhode Island School of Design, or RISD, tied for 4th among fine arts schools in 2016, according to U.S. News and World Report. In the same year, it also tied 2nd for its drawing and painting programs. RISD offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration that allows students to work with sketched, painted, and computer-generated images. Additional program features include the chance to develop a professional portfolio.

Indiana University - Bloomington in Bloomington, IN

According to U.S. News & World Report, Indiana University - Bloomington tied for 33rd place for fine arts programs. The Department of Studio Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Fine Arts, as well as a Minor in Studio Arts. Aside from technical work, research is also included in the curriculum. Students can go for a broad education or choose concentrations such as graphic design, painting, printmaking, or digital art. Six studio art buildings are available to students on campus. The Program for International Visiting Artist-in-Residence brings artists from all over the world to teach eight-week seminars in specialized subjects.

Top Art Schools in the U.S.

World class art programs may be found at a number of other highly ranked institutions, each with a unique offering.

School Name Distinction Location
University of California - Los Angeles Upper-division undergraduate students are given their own studio space Los Angeles, CA
Temple University Has an additional campus for study abroad and exhibition opportunities for students in Rome Philadelphia, PA
Virginia Commonwealth University Three MacArthur Genius Awards were given to students in the last five years Richmond, VA
Columbia University Home to the LeRoy Neiman gallery and has many associations with other galleries in the city New York, NY
California Institute of the Arts Features the weekly Paul Brach Visiting Artist Lecture Series Valencia, CA
Cranbrook Academy of Art Uses weekly critiques as well as reading lists and seminars to guide the learning process Bloomfield Hills, MI

Reputable schools all over the country offer arts degrees with concentrations or coursework in drawing or illustration. The programs that stand out offer students unique experiential opportunities and merit high national ranks.

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