Anyone worth their Googling salt will know that finding the best art schools can be a challenge. With a wealth of universities and institutions offering different kinds of art programmes, it can be hard to decide. Fortunately for you, we have done some of the hard work for you. Here, we have narrowed the choice down to the top 10 best art schools. Which one you choose to study at will depend on your artistic inclination and your career plans. Will you be making art for its own sake, or do you want to find a practical application for your creations? Whether it is one or the other, the list of best art schools below will hopefully inspire you to find the right program for you.
Best Art Schools #1: Royal College of Art
If you have ever come across anybody who is somebody in the world of art, there is a good chance they graduated from The Royal College of Art. RCA is one of the best art schools in the world, and its alumni are influential on the global art scene. With the skills obtained from RCA, you will be able to help shape the culture in which you live. Art students from here have contributed to the development of city architecture as well as home appliances. The education here is project-based, which makes it ideal for applied arts. If you are concerned about employment prospects after graduating, the RCA is a school you should look into.
Best Art Schools #2: Parsons School of Design at The New School
Society is changing more rapidly than ever before, and that calls for a progressive kind of education. Parsons School of Design is one of the best art schools when it comes to offering diversity and flexibility. Here, you will be able to collaborate with peers and industry partners from across the globe. The school offers access to an expansive network of art professionals. You can choose to study in New York, where the main campus is located. Alternatively, you can relocate to their newly opened Paris campus for a more European experience. Regardless of where you choose to enroll, you will be in good hands at Parsons.
Best Art Schools #3: Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
While it can be useful to take a progressive approach to education, the tried and tested methods of old still hold water. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is old indeed. Founded back in 1877, it is one of the best art schools in the United States. Over two thousand students from across the globe enroll each year, and it is easy to see why. Located in the vibrant Providence part of Rhode Island, you will have no shortage of hip art projects surrounding you. In addition, RISD has its very own Museum of Art. Should that not be enough to satisfy your appetite, you have Boston and New York on either side of RISD.
Best Art Schools #4: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, better known as MIT, is perhaps not the first name that springs to mind when looking for the best art schools. Dismissing this hotbed of engineers, scientists, and philosophers would be a mistake, however. Whilst MIT is known for its achievements in scientific research, you will be pleased to know that the school has no less than twelve museums and galleries on site. If you are good enough to have your work exhibited in one of their galleries, you can expect it to be seen by up to 125,000 visitors each year. Needless to say, having MIT on your CV will do wonders for your job prospects after graduating.
Best Art Schools #5: Pratt Institute
Just a decade after Rhode Island School of Design was founded, the Pratt Institute also opened its doors. With a long-held focus on the arts, culture, and design, Pratt Institute is definitely one of the best art schools around. Located in the Big Apple, the school has campuses in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. One of the big advantages of this school is the focus on interdisciplinary collaboration. If you want your art to have a practical application, you will find the nearby Brooklyn Tech Triangle a good spot for networking with innovators. To top it all off, Pratt Institute is consistently ranked as one of the best art schools in the US.
Best Art Schools #6: School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
Speaking of consistent praise, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has held the position as one of the best art schools in the world for 150 years. As with the Pratt Institute, SAIC always ranks among the top schools of its kind in the US. Similar to Pratt Institute, the school also prides itself on the interdisciplinary approach to education. A big difference, however, is that you will be studying in downtown Chicago. Here, you will be in the company of some of the next big deals in the world of art. SAIC’s alumni include names like Jeff Koons, Michelle Grabner, and Nick Cave. Join the ranks of some of the most influential people in the world at SAIC.
Best Art Schools #7: California Institute of the Arts
If you ask publications like Newsweek or The Daily Beast, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is one of the best art schools in North America. Whilst the school is newer than some of the ones described above, it can boast that its founder is none other than Walt Disney. The Institute champions creative excellence and offers its students access to state-of-the-art resources. For this reason, it is very difficult to get into CalArts. Your art needs to demonstrate your competence and ability to study at a high level. Including a statement by a prominent artist on your application will definitely not hurt your chances of gaining entry.
Best Art Schools #8: University of the Arts London
If you have plans of skipping the pond over to Europe, University of the Arts London (UAL) is not a bad choice for your degree. The school consistently ranks in the top 6 of the best art schools in the world. Furthermore, it is the largest specialist art school in Europe. This means you can expect to study in a very diverse environment. The school attracts students from over 130 countries across the world. Whilst the university was only founded in 2004, it comprises of much older colleges. UAL combines Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion, and Wimbledon College of Arts.
Best Art Schools #9: Art Center College of Design
A common challenge facing many arts graduates is that the real-world application of their art is not obvious. Edward A. “Tink” Adams, realized this early on. Adams came from an advertisement background and saw the huge potential of art in a marketing context. With this in mind, he founded the Art Center College of Design in 1930. The vision was to teach art students the practical skills they needed to succeed in the world of advertising, publishing, and design. Although a radical idea, it worked wonders. As a testament to the fact that this is one of the best art schools, consider that its students found employment during the Great Depression.
Best Art Schools #10: The Glasgow School of Art
London does not have a monopoly when it comes to British art schools. If you venture a bit further up north, you will find The Glasgow School of Art (GSA). The history of the school stretches back all the way to 1985, and it is one of the few art schools that have remained independent. Having launched a number of influential and successful artists, its spot on the list of best art schools is well deserved. If you take a liking to Scotland whilst studying at GSA, you will not be the only one who chooses to stay. A number of alumni have decided to make Glasgow their home. As a result, the city is a vibrant center of design and creative arts.
Did we spark your curiosity?
Hopefully, you have found a cool art school that caught your interest. If you are still not sure which direction you would like your studies to go in, perhaps some of our other posts can help you. Why not check out the Top 20 Best Photography Schools? Or, if graphic design is more your focus, read about the Top 10 Graphic Design Schools. Starting college is an important decision, so it is best to do as much research as possible before embarking on your academic journey.
Already have what it takes to be an artist?
If you are reading this, chances are you have already created a piece of art or two already. It is definitely a requirement if you want to enroll in any of the best art schools. They will want to see that you have what it takes to be an artist. What better way to showcase your portfolio than with some prints of your paintings? Or perhaps some stickers to spread the word about your art on the streets?