Top Schools for Visual and Performing Arts

Find out about some universities that offer degree programs in the visual or performing arts. Review the program offerings at four high-profile schools, and see highlights of other colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer programs for fine arts or theatrical arts students.

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School Overviews

Visual and performing arts programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at schools across the country. Most programs allow students to focus their studies in a particular artistic specialty area. We've highlighted four universities with exceptional programs in the visual and performing arts. Two of these schools are Ivy League institutions and all were nationally or regionally ranked by U.S. News and World Report for 2017.

Brown University in Providence, RI

At Brown University, students can also take courses at the affiliated Rhode Island School of Design. The Department of Visual Arts offers programs in painting, sculpture, digital imaging, and photography. Through the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, aspiring professionals can study performance art and theory, dance, dramatic texts, and writing, among other related subjects. Brown was ranked #14 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report for 2017.

DePaul University in Chicago, IL

DePaul University's theater school is known to have a premier professional theatre training program, with the oldest theatre conservatory in the Midwest. Undergraduate majors at DePaul's Theatre School are designed especially for aspiring actors and scriptwriters. These include a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting program that prepares them for stage and screen work. Every semester focuses on a variety of theatre-related topics, such as body movement, technique, and production. For 2017, DePaul was ranked in the top 70 best value schools by U.S. News and World Report.

Yale University in New Haven, CT

The website for Yale University's School of Art is a wiki, maintained and contributed to by art students of all disciplines. At the Yale University School of Art, students can pursue bachelor's degree programs in printmaking, painting, and graphic design. Majors in film, video, and photography are also available. Similar courses of study can be found at the graduate level and can lead to a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). In addition to classroom instruction, individual programs may provide students with job training. Yale was tied for #3 on U.S. News and World Report's list of the best universities in 2017.

Cameron University in Lawton, OK

Cameron University's facilities include a theatre arts complex. The Department of Art, Music, and Theatre Arts at Cameron University offers a wide range of bachelor's degree programs in visual and performing arts. Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in art, music, or theatre. They can also get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts or a Bachelor of Music degree. These programs combine general education coursework with conceptual studies in relevant fields and performance or studio-based training. For 2017, Cameron was recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a tier 2 school among universities in the West region.

Top Visual and Performing Arts Programs

Now, let's explore other reputable schools that offer programs in visual and performing arts.

  • Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA, offers an associate's degree in visual arts.
  • Clemson University in Clemson, SC, features a Center for Visual Arts.
  • At East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, majors are offered in theater and drama. The school is located in East Stroudsburg, PA.
  • George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, provides study abroad opportunities.
  • Through Longwood University in Farmville, VA, distance-learning programs are available.
  • At MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA, certificates and associate's degree programs are offered in visual arts.

Students who want to study visual and/or performing arts can hone their artistic skills in undergraduate or graduate programs at well-regarded colleges and universities around the country.

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