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Drawing Schools, Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

Drawing is usually offered as an area of concentration within a studio arts program; the best fine arts schools offer both bachelor's and master's degree programs for artists who want to pursue formal drawing education.

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Drawing, like painting and sculpture, is considered a studio art. Studio arts degree programs often allow students to choose an emphasis in drawing.

Top 10 Schools for Drawing

The following schools are considered to have some of the best graduate-level painting and drawing programs in the country, as listed on the U.S. News and World Report website in 2016:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's (Graduate) $38,700
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, RI 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's (Undergraduate & Graduate) $45,840
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's (Undergraduate) $43,960, (Graduate) $46,630
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's (Graduate) $44,176
Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's (Undergraduate & Graduate) $43,870
University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's (Undergraduate) $12,763 in-state, $37,471 out-of-state, (Graduate) $12,629 in-state, $27,731 out-of-state
CUNY-Hunter College New York, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's (Undergraduate) $6,782 in-state, $13,892 out-of-state, (Graduate) $10,438 in-state, $19,028 out-of-state
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's (Undergraduate) $12,772 in-state, $31,464 out-of-state, (Graduate) $12,779 in-state, $24,002 out-of-state
California Institute of the Arts Valencia, CA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's (Graduate & Undergraduate) $43,986
Temple University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's (Undergraduate) $15,188 in-state, $25,494 out-of-state, (Graduate) $16,144 in-state, $21,832 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

College Selection Criteria

Most art students seek a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA); however, some opt for Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs that combine studio arts classes with a more academic course of study, and students may go on to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Considerations for would-be drawing students include the following:

  • One-on-one attention and personal feedback are vital to an art student's education; consider class size and student-to-faculty ratio when selecting a school.
  • Ample work space is important; students should tour studio facilities and inquire as to the rules governing access to them.
  • If you are interested in drawing for animation or another digital art form, check out computer labs and digital art facilities.
  • Find out whether students have the chance to exhibit their work at on-campus galleries or art shows, which can increase their exposure and lead to networking or professional development opportunities.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

At the bachelor's degree level, students can choose drawing and painting as a major or as a concentration within a broader art major. In BA programs, students take introductory, intermediate and advanced courses in drawing, as well as studio electives in other artistic areas and theoretical coursework in art history. They must also fulfill general education requirements. In BFA programs, students must complete more extensive artistic coursework requirements, and they may need to submit a final capstone project prior to graduation.

Master's Degree Programs

At the master's degree level, the most relevant educational option is an MFA in Painting and Drawing. These advanced programs require students to take higher level coursework and explore specialized interest areas within the field of drawing, such as drawing for film or digital media. Depending on the school, these programs last for either two or three years. Prior to graduation, students must produce a thesis and present their work at an exhibition.

Undergraduate and graduate drawing programs can be found across the country. While some of the best programs can be found at private schools, there are excellent programs offered at many public schools as well; prospective students should consider each school's studio and gallery spaces when choosing.

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