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Drawing Classes in Chicago with Program Descriptions

Sep 25, 2018

There are about 16 schools within 25 miles of Chicago that have drawing courses. Read an overview of the programs, requirements and admission info for three schools that are within 10 miles of downtown Chicago and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Chicago Schools Offering Drawing Classes

For students who wish to take drawing classes in Chicago, earning a degree in art is an option at more than a dozen area schools. This article looks at three institutions, none more than 20 minutes from the city center, that offer art degrees with drawing classes. There is also a table of facts about each school, such as enrollment, tuition and graduation rates. Prospective students may find that this knowledge will help them decide on a school. At the end of the article is a little information about a few other area schools that offer art degrees.

  • In the heart of the city, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of the oldest accredited art schools in the nation. SAIC provided early training for artists like Georgia O'Keefe and Grant Wood and the designer Halston. Its programs include a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio - Painting and Drawing, Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio - Painting and Drawing and a Master of Arts in Studio - Painting and Drawing.
  • Just a few blocks to the south is Columbia College - Chicago, with multiple galleries and exhibition spaces. Providing state-of-the-art materials and technologies, Columbia focuses on preparing students for careers in the arts. Its drawing-related programs include Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in fine arts or illustration.
  • About 10 miles from downtown on Chicago's north side, the Jesuit Loyola University tailors its art programs to meet the needs of individual students. It offers a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts - Drawing and Painting program.

Comparison of Schools

Students who are deciding on a school for their drawing training need to consider many factors. The following table compiles important information about each of these institutions in a way that makes it easy to compare them.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago Columbia College - Chicago Loyola University Chicago
School Type 4-year; private-not-for-profit 4-year; private-not-for-profit 4-year; private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017)* 3,648 7,312 16,673
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018)* $49,610 $26,474 $43,078
% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2016-2017)* 88% 88% 98%
Acceptance Rate (2017)* 70% 92% 71%
Retention Rate (2016-2017)* 81% full-time 66% full-time, 18% part-time 83% full-time, 100% part-time
Graduation Rate (for students who began their studies in fall 2011)* 66% 44% 77%

Source: *NCES College Navigator

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

SAIC takes a multidisciplinary approach to its degree programs, using a structure of self-directed study that encourages students to work across departments. SAIC also offers non-credit classes to the public; offerings vary by season and may include figure and portrait drawing, illustration and studio drawing.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Studio - Painting and Drawing

The BFA program at SAIC allows students to concentrate their studies within the painting and drawing department. Earning this degree requires students to take 30 hours of liberal arts classes, such as English, science and the humanities, 18 hours of art history requirements and electives, and 6 hours of general electives. Within the concentration, students take 72 hours of required and elective studio courses. These could include figure drawing to explore form, shape, line and color, as well as drawing courses that cover small, large and graphic formats. Throughout, students develop skills with drawing materials and techniques. Applicants to the BFA in Studio program are required to submit a portfolio of 10-15 pieces of recent work.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio - Painting and Drawing

In this 30-credit-hour program, students develop a body of drawing work in preparation for application to graduate school. Over the course of a year, students take two art history classes and 24 credit hours of studio, seminar and/or project courses related to their concentration. These courses do not count toward a graduate degree, and admission to the certificate program does not constitute admission to the master's program at SAIC.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio - Painting and Drawing

Application to the MFA program at SAIC includes submission of a portfolio, letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose; potential candidates are also interviewed. Once accepted, drawing students create a two-year plan of study through the Department of Painting and Drawing. Candidates are required to take 12 hours of art history and nine hours of electives. Also required are 39 hours of project seminars to work on art and participate in critique sessions with peers and faculty. To graduate, students must present a thesis or exhibition.

Columbia College - Chicago

Columbia is the nation's largest private art and design school, offering 99 majors in art-related subjects. Students are encouraged to exhibit their artwork and build a professional portfolio of work.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Arts

The BFA program at Columbia emphasizes technical skills gained through coursework in a variety of classes covering painting, drawing and sculpture. Columbia's program pairs these technical skills with a strong grounding in art history and contemporary art theory, seeking to help students define and articulate their artistic vision. Along with liberal arts courses, students in the BFA program take required classes in drawing, the fundamentals of 2D and 3D design, contemporary issues in drawing, and fine art studio and art exhibition. Elective courses such as figure drawing, drawing strategies and anatomical modeling may be used to fulfill elective requirements.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration

Aspiring illustrators learn about graphic design, fine arts and advertising in this BFA program. It helps them combine their drawing skills with communication, problem-solving and design techniques. Some course topics cover film and animation illustration, applied drawing, editorial illustration and figure drawing. Potential electives include graphic novel drawing, book design and technical illustration.

Loyola University

Loyola's programs combine a strong university core curriculum with specializations in a major field. Loyola has several campuses, including the Water Tower Campus on North Michigan Avenue near the Loyola University Museum of Art, and a campus in Rome, Italy.

Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts - Drawing and Painting

The fine arts program at Loyola offers five majors, including drawing and painting. Over the course of earning a degree, all students take core courses in history, literacy, religious studies and philosophy. Students majoring in drawing and painting must then complete 42 credit hours of foundation and major courses. These classes include basic and intermediate drawing, which cover line, texture, proportion and perspective. Later classes address design and media used for art production. Major courses explore painting, figure studio and studio workshop through photography, printmaking or watercolors. As a capstone, fine arts majors in drawing and painting take a senior exhibition prep class and exhibit their art.

Other School Options

In suburban Chicago, Lewis University offers a bachelor's degree program in drawing through its art and design department, as well as programs in illustration, painting and general studio art. Lewis is located in Romeoville, about 35 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. Wheaton College, a Christian school around 25 miles away in the western suburbs, offers a bachelor's program in art with a concentration in drawing. Students at Wheaton combine hands-on practice with studies of history, theory and critique, and produce a solo exhibition as a senior project. Wheaton also offers art history and community art programs.

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