There is no denying the fact that creative instincts and talent are qualities that a person is born with, but no successful artist ever neglected the need for formal education. The ability to think creatively and bring fresh ideas to the table is crucial to innovation and progress. Art education gives students the freedom to express themselves and think outside of the box.
Many art schools around the world offer a wide variety of courses related to all genres of art; music, dance, mixed media, writing and painting. The best teachers, experienced in their field, are a part of their faculties. More importantly, these art schools and colleges provide the necessary platform for young artists to start their career. They get exposure to popular artists of the world and learn practical as well as technical aspects of their chosen vertical of art.
Legendary pianist James Levine once said, “I was lucky that I met the right mentors and teachers at the right moment.” We cannot agree with this more.
Here is a list of 35 art schools and colleges around the world. We have handpicked them based on their geographical location.
Best Art Schools In The United States
The United States of America has some of the best art colleges in the world. Due to its convenient location, high standard of living, and easy accessibility, the US has become a hotspot for art students from around the globe. It has some of the highest-ranking art schools, listed below.
Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut, is considered to be one of the best art schools in the world and got second ranking by Forbes in 2018. With a star-studded alumni record, with the likes of Eva Hessey and Chuck Close amongst some of its legendary graduates, Yale University is usually ranked as number one in art college surveys. Amongst the many art courses that it offers, the best ones are photography and painting. It was founded in the year 1701, making it one of the oldest institutions in the country. Indeed, a breaker of records of all sorts.
Cranbrook Academy of Arts
The Cranbrook Academy of Arts is known for its excellent courses in Ceramics and Print Media. The fact that it was founded by newspaper tycoon George Booth explains its notable status in journalism and in print media. One of the top art schools in the country, the curriculum is very flexible, since no classes are mandatory. However, one does need 60 credit points to graduate since the school only offers graduate-level courses.
Bard is situated in New York, the cultural capital of the world, which is great since it is a school of liberal arts. With a fantastic legion of teachers, a flexible curriculum, and top-notch courses in sculpting and painting, Bard is the preferred choice for many young artists who are looking for the right mentoring and guidance. The alumni list, also called the Bard Mafia, includes artists like Mia Farrow and Chevy Chase in it.
Maryland Institute College of Art
Maryland Institute College of Art popularly known as MICA, was founded in 1826. It is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art in the United States. The school has burned down twice since its establishment, the first time on February 7, 1835, and again (coincidently on the 7th of February) during the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. MICA features on 'The Chronicle of Higher Education' as one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Fellows among art schools. The institution has alumni like Jeff Koons, Elaine Hamilton, Lesley Dill, and Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson.
Rutgers took on the name Mason Gross School of the Arts in the 1970s. The visual and performing arts programs and legacy of the school extend further back than that. Back in the 1950s, artist Allan Kaprow started with teaching at the state university. He initiated the Fluxus group alongside noteworthy professors like Robert Watts, Geoffrey Hendricks, and Roy Lichtenstein. Additionally, even artists like George Brecht and George Segal; and undergrads Lucas Samaras and Robert Whitman became a part of the group. The program is world-renowned even today making it the best school for visual arts. Furthermore, students get the opportunity to have a thesis exhibition every year held in New York City, a work display in New Jersey.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University featured in US News & World Report as among the top two public university art schools owing to its excellence to a robust Sculpture and Extended Media program, currently headed by Matt King. Its expertise, foundry, and metal fabrication shop depict the state-of-the-art. It should be a definite option if working with stone, metals, or other heavy-duty industrial materials is your primary interest. The institution regularly invites established talent to campus as visiting faculty or guest faculty.
Shenandoah University has undergraduate and graduates degree programs in music, theater, dance, and arts management. Admission in this university involves an interview process. The faculty is top-notch, and it is one of the
s in the US. Students and graduates are always amongst the top performers in their particular disciplines.
California Institute of the Arts
The Tinsel Town by Walt Disney was established in 1961 after merging the Chouinard Art Institute and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. It is one of the best art schools in the US whose mission was to make the first-of-its-kind higher education institution that combined both visual and performing arts and is one of those colleges with good arts program. Disney's idea for CalArts’s interdisciplinary approach came from Richard Wagner, the 19th-century composer's notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk, that meant “total artwork.”
Hunter College, City University of New York
One of the most prominent schools in the states, Hunter offers a good return for your investment. Students benefit significantly from cultural to economic benefits. Though the school is located in central Manhattan, students pay half the price of most other MFA programs in the city. Additionally, average Hunter grad students take only six to nine credit hours a semester. The goal is to finish the program under three years. Students are allowed to hold their part-time-jobs for about three years for the very same reason. All in all, the course structure provides excellent flexibility, and most students leave with little to no student debt.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This relatively new University established in 2009 is located in Cambridge was ranked fourth by Forbes college rankings in 2018. Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) is an elaborate course that merges the school's Visual Arts and the center for advanced visual studies syllabus. Advanced visual studies was founded in 1967 by LÃ¡szlÃ³ Moholy-Nagy’s collaborator GyÃ¶rgy Kepes and produced many successful interdisciplinary artists in the industry. This may not come off as an art school in the traditional sense; however, the course structure, research wing, and visual exposure make the program worth a bet and therefore is one of the top art schools in the US. The graduate program only admits a total of six students per year and specializes in the practice of art combined with the experimentation of visual studies, hence offering diversified opportunities for artists to work on.
Curtis Institute of Music
A small establishment that offers ten programs, the Curtis Institute of Music is devoted entirely to music. It focuses majorly on the practical aspects of this art form. The tuition fee is also pretty less as compared to some of the best art colleges in the US (only 11,000 USD after aid). It has a student body of 200 students and is located in Philadephia. The environment is very conducive for learning and students, and teachers often meet for casual gatherings. The classes are held in beautiful and artistic locations, that add to the creative outputs by the students. For every two students, there is one teacher; this guarantees proper attention to each student.
Aquinas College (not to be confused by its namesake in Kerala, India) in Michigan offers art, music, theater, and English programs through its school of fine arts. The lectures are held in small batches, which ensures the proper development of the students. In total, it offers 22 programs and also provides placement opportunities for its graduates. Campus art studios are open all through the day and night. As of 2017, it has a student body of around 1,600. Aquinas College also provides counseling services for students who are looking to pursue further studies after graduating.
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
The oldest university in Michigan is a reputed establishment where students work in an innovative environment. This university has a foreign exchange program for students of fine arts and design. Similar to its precursor on this list, it also offers counseling and placement services. It is a place of education for more than 42,000 students and is funded by the government.
Best Art Schools In Canada
Canada has some of the best art colleges in the world. Listed below are four of the best art schools:
Emily Carr University Of Art And Design
Named after the Canadian writer and artist, Emily Carr, this art school in Vancouver specializes in designing and co-op programs. The tuition fees are pretty high, with figures reaching an average of almost 600 USD per credit. It does offer scholarship programs, though. It is also renowned for its comparatively small student strength of around two thousand and its lush and beautiful campus. It is undoubtedly one of the best art schools in all of Canada.
OCAD, which was formerly known as the Ontario College of Art and Design, was very recently recognized as a University (in the year 2010). It is located in the city of Toronto and is one of the best art schools in North America. It offers a variety of courses, both bachelors and masters, with its core strength areas in design and fine arts. The campus is conveniently near the Art Gallery of Ontario. Consequently, students of OCAD enjoy free membership in the gallery.
Concordia University is known for its Fine arts programs. Located in Montreal, Quebec, it has courses in different verticals like ceramics, fiber, and studio art. Concordia is also renowned for its collaborative programs between students of different majors. Since Montreal is one of the cheapest cities to live in Canada, it makes Concordia one of the top art schools in terms of popularity among students. Not only is this institution known for its art programs, but it is also famous as a school of science. These factors make Concordia one of the best art colleges in Canada.
Nova Scotia Scotia for Art and Design
The Nova Scotia Scotia for Art and Design or NSCAD is Canada’s oldest art school (founded in the year 1887). It is one of the famous art schools in the country. The courses offered here are diverse, and it excels in the fields of photography, film, and fashion. Famous artists like April Gornik (known for her surrealist landscape paintings) have graduated from NSCAD, which affirms its place amongst the best art schools in the North of America.
Best Art Schools In Europe
When we think of Europe, art is one of the first things that comes to our mind; England and its excellent literature, France and its Gothic culture, Italy and the Renaissance, and we can keep going. Cities like Paris and Rome have been centers of art for centuries. It comes as no surprise that Europe houses some of the best art colleges and schools in the entire world. Here are some of the best art schools in Europe:
Polytechnic University of Milan
There is no doubt that Milan is one of the biggest fashion centers in the world. Therefore, the fact that the Polytechnic University of Milan or the Politecnico di Milano excels in fashion studies is only understandable. Currently holding an amazing student count of 42,000 pupils, the university also offers a variety of art courses apart from fashion. The oldest university in the city, its founding year was 1863. The undergraduate tuition fee is 3,500 Euros for domestic students and 3,700 Euros for international students.
École Nationale supÃ©rieure des Beaux-Arts (National School of Fine Arts)
This 350-year-old institution in Paris probably has the best alumni legion than any of the other colleges that appear on this list. Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Gustave Moreau are just a few names who come to mind when we speak of this place of education. It is safe to say that the École Nationale supÃ©rieure des Beaux-Arts is one of the best art schools in the entire world. It also has the most public art collections in Europe, numbering a total of around 450,000 unique pieces of work.
ENSCI-Les Ateliers is a modern art institution in France but is still one of the excellent art schools in Europe. The institution offers advanced degrees, with its strengths in industrial design, textile design, and new design. Since it only offers advanced degrees and is relatively new as compared to the other listings in this list, the number of students studying here are very few (around 250). It is located in the densely populated region of Paris, east of the river Seine.
Pantheon-Sorbonne University is renowned for its courses in sculpting and ceramics. Also located in Paris, the university is also known as Paris1. Like its precursor in this list, it is a relatively new establishment (founded in the year 1971). It houses a student count of more than 40,000 though. Apart from the arts, it also ranks high in subjects like economy, archaeology, and geography. Because the founding fathers were professors of law and economics, this comes as no surprise. However, Pantheon-Sorbonne University deserves a place amongst the good art colleges in Europe.
University of Barcelona
The University of Barcelona is considered one of the best art schools in Spain. The faculty of fine arts at this institute is top-notch and inspires students to create art while understanding the practical aspects of it. It was founded in the year 1450 and currently offers 48 doctorate programs to around 60,000 students. The University of Barcelona is a state-owned establishment and is ranked amongst the top 100 best universities in the world. Notable alumni include Joseph Oriol, Manuel Castells, Santiago Cajal, and Ada Colau.
Complutense University of Madrid
Nobel Prize winners with the likes of writers Mario Vargas Llosa and Vicente Aleixandre graduated from here. The Complutense University of Madrid is one of the best art universities in Europe. With a student strength of over 80,000, it is one of the largest universities in Europe as well. Its reputation in the fine arts is unparalleled in all of Spain. If you think that the University of Barcelona is an old institution, think again! The Complutense University of Madrid was founded in the year 1293, making it one of the oldest universities in the world.
Loughborough University, located in the East Midlands region of England, focuses highly on research and consequently enjoys a huge research budget. It ranks high on the list of top art schools in England. It was founded in the year 1909 but was recognized as a university in 1966. It has a vast campus with 17 residences for students and faculty.
University of the Arts London
The University of the Arts in London is composed of six art colleges. It includes the Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, and the London College of Communication. Its strength areas are courses in graphic design and drama. It is the largest university in Europe and boasts of a student count of 19,000 that hail from 130 different countries from around the world. According to the QS World University Rankings in 2019, the University of the Arts ranks 2nd in the world in terms of humanities and fine arts. It is one of the best art schools on this list.
Royal College of Art
London’s Royal College of Art offers only postgraduate degrees in art and design. Because of this niche that it focuses on, it dramatically benefits in terms of performance outputs by the students. It is one of the best art colleges in England as well as in the whole of Europe. Unparalleled programs in communications, architecture, and humanities make it a top preference for many pupils from around the world.
The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts has been a notable structure and a landmark in the city of Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in the year 1754. This top art college renowned for its architecture course; World-famous artists like Jeppe Hein and filmmaker Jane Jin Kaisen are some of its well-known alumni. It schools approximately 2,000 students, as of 2015.
Design Academy, Eindhoven
The Design Academy, Eindhoven, is reputed around the world for its art programs in fashion design, architecture, graphic design, art, and design. The Design Academy grants every pupil a Bachelor of Design degree regardless of their disciple. It is an internationally recognized institution and is one of the best art schools in the world. Besides offering a Bachelor degree, it has four unique programs for postgraduates in contextual design, universal design, information design, and design curating and writing.
Best Art Schools in Asia
Akin to Europe, Asia also houses some of the best art schools in the world. Its rich and diverse cultural and social fabric greatly benefits the educational centers that exist in this continent. We have handpicked a few art schools in Asia:
Tsinghua University in China is the big daddy of all institutions in the country; It ranks number one in all disciplines, including art and humanities. Xinya College is its undergraduate school. The average tuition fee for undergraduate programs is 28,000 CNY. It currently houses approximately 40,000 students as of now. As mentioned earlier, it is one of the best art schools in the country and also ranks pretty high in the world rankings.
Tongji University in Shanghai is well-known, and its art programs are unparalleled. Influenced by the German Bauhaus School of Art, it found its roots in the first half of the 20th century. The founder Erich Paulun was also from Germany. The College of Design and Innovation is a part of this university and offers courses in design history, design theory, and architecture. The annual undergraduate tuition fee is 24,000 CNY.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong Polytechnic University is the only school in the continent that found a place in the list of the top 25 design schools on the planet. The design programs that it offers are top-notch. Hong Kong, being a cosmopolitan city, provides a perfect blend of culture and world-class exposure, which in turn makes this university one of the best art colleges in Asia.
The National University of Singapore
The National University of Singapore is one of the top art schools in the country. It is also the oldest university in Singapore; it was the first autonomous research center in the country. The annual undergraduate fee is 38,000 SGD as of 2018. Another point worth mentioning is the project initiated by Yale in collaboration with the National University of Singapore by the name of the Yale-NUS. Yale-NUS is a liberal arts college in Singapore that offers a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree to students. The founding president was a former professor from Yale.
Seoul National University
Seoul National University houses the College of Fine Arts. It is one of the best fine art schools which offers a degree in arts and design. It one of the most sought-after art colleges in South Korea and is usually amongst the first choice of aspiring young artists. Korean is the primary language of teaching here (especially the art courses). The average tuition fee is 7,000 USD per year, which is comparatively less than that of other reputed art colleges.
Best Art Schools in Australia
We shall end the listicle by citing some of the best art schools in the land down under. Australia is usually known for the unique creatures that roam this peculiar continent. However, when it comes to art schools, Australia isn't all that different. Inspired by the western world, art colleges and schools in Australia have some similarities to those in Europe and the United States in terms of cost and methodologies.
RMIT Australia, or the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, is well known for having one of the top art programs in the world. It is ranked in the top 250 universities in the world. Its core areas of strength are the courses it offers in arts and design. The total enrollment count is a whopping 85,000, and the university is accredited by the Department of Education and Training, Australia.
The University of New South Wales
The University of New South Wales is one of the frequent entries in the best art colleges in Australia. Just like RMIT, this university schools a vast number of students (approximately 55,000). Scientia Manu et Mente (Knowledge by Hand and Mind) is the motto of this university.
All the art schools in this list have their pros and cons. Parameters like cost, faculty, and location are paramount in choosing the best art school. We advise students and aspiring artists to visit the official websites of these institutions and go through the course structures that they offer. Refer to counselors and people who are already studying in these colleges. We wish you all the best for your future endeavors.