Graduate Art Schools with Program Overviews

Art programs teach artists to communicate their feelings, thoughts and beliefs through artistic creations, such as paintings, sculptures, drawings and multimedia installations. When choosing an art school, prospective graduate students should first determine to which of these forms they're drawn.

A master's program in fine art expands upon the knowledge and skill gained in an undergraduate program and can prepare students for professional careers in the arts. Students usually develop a higher understanding of their craft through studio work and typically focus on a specific medium and area of study, such as drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture or photography.

Top 10 Graduate Art Schools

Here are some of the top schools offering graduate art programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
Yale University New Haven, Connecticut 4-year, Private Master's $38,700
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, California 4-year, Public Master's In state: $11,220, Out-of-state: $26,322
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, Virginia 4-year, Public Master's, doctorate In state: $10,710, Out-of-state: $21,933
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, Rhode Island 4-year, Private Master's $45,530
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, Illinois 4-year, Private Master's $45,810
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 4-year, Private Master's $40,625
Columbia University New York, New York 4-year, Private Master's $42,280
Cranbrook Academy of Art Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 2-year, Private Master's $33,406
Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, Maryland 4-year, Private Master's, certificate $42,280
California Institute of the Arts Valencia, California 4-year, Private Master's, certificate $43,400

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

The following considerations should be kept in mind when choosing a graduate school with an art program:

  • The best art schools offer special facilities and equipment specifically for graduate students, such as darkrooms for photography and personal studio space for sculpting.
  • Students should consider the settings in which their work may be displayed by investigating campus galleries and the relationships schools have with their local art communities.
  • Prospective students may want to take into account past student success and alumni relationships with local galleries and art communities. The presence of visiting artists, art critics and art instructors can serve as indicators of program strength and opportunities for networking.
  • Some art schools include students and teachers in prestigious art exhibitions or help to place them in national and international art residency programs.

Graduate Program Overview

Students pursuing graduate art programs typically concentrate on a specific area. Often, students begin these specialized studies as undergraduates, before exploring more advanced techniques at the graduate level.

Media Art

Media art involves the theory and practice of using digital technology as a means for artistic expression. Media art can include conceptual video, 3D animation, sound art, interactive installations and digital cinema. Graduate students typically study the history of digital technology in art, contemporary art theory and critical thinking.

Art Education

Graduate students in art education programs study the educational policies and practices associated with art history and studio art. The purpose of art education programs is not only to provide aspiring art teachers with studio skills, but also to help them develop an appreciation of art's influence on other disciplines, as well as its impact on social change.

Studio Art

Studio art includes a variety of mediums, such as ceramics, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, photography and painting. Programs tends to focus on the advanced techniques, theory and history related to specific areas of specialization.

Not only do students have many schools to choose from to pursue graduate art, there's a variety of specializations as well. Students should make sure their chosen institution has current technology and facilities, and opportunities to display student work and network with professionals.


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