The 10 Best Art Schools in Boston

Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the best cities in the world to study art and design. 

The city is sprinkled with various art museums, galleries, and cultural centers showcasing works from diverse groups and a broad range of periods. 

Students attending art school in Boston are close to the Museum of Fine Arts, the 20th-largest museum in the world, which serves as home to 8,000+ paintings and over 450,000 artworks.

Art students will find no shortage of inspiration in Boston. 

Other essential art venues include the Harvard Art Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. 

In addition to its various art facilities, the city is home to various professional sports teams, historical sites, concert venues, and delicious food. 

There are many art institutions in Boston – students can pursue a major in just about any medium imaginable. 

Boston art schools offer degree tracks in more traditional mediums like ceramics, painting, and photography; additionally, less popular mediums like screenprinting, data visualization, and art installation are available. 

Here, we shed light on ten of the best art schools in Boston and the programs, opportunities, and facilities that set them apart from their peer institutions. 

While some of these schools are in Boston proper, others are in the Greater Boston area in places like Norton, Beverly, and Cambridge. 

These schools are ranked according to each institution’s placement in the ranking of the best art schools in America.

10. Wheaton College

Wheaton College
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Mars Arts & Humanities, Wheaton College, Norton Massachusetts, CC BY-SA 3.0

At Wheaton, undergraduates can pursue a major in Visual Art or the History of Art. History of Art majors engage with many original pieces from countries worldwide. 

In one class session, they might examine an ancient Roman sculpture, while on another day, they might interview an artist from a different continent. 

Wheaton even has a student-run publication (ARTHive) devoted to promoting undergraduate writing and research in the art history field. 

Students build upon existing skills in the Visual Art major. 

100-level courses challenge students to hone sophistication in art criticism of 2D and 3D objects, while 200-level courses provide avenues for students to refine their techniques in mediums like animation, graphic design, and printmaking. 

The Senior Seminar prompts students to create an original work within their preferred medium, which they will showcase in the on-campus Beard and Weil Galleries.

9. Lesley University

Lesley University
Rhododendrites, University Hall (90035p), CC BY-SA 4.0

Lesley University’s 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio in all studio-based courses translates to more individualized attention and feedback from professors. 

The small (but highly acclaimed) school enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduates annually in on-campus, off-campus, and online programs.

One of Lesley’s most unique offerings is its BFA in Game Design & Immersive Technologies. Students use painting, 3D modeling, and visual effects to create digital characters, sounds, animations, and environments for movies, video games, and other virtual reality experiences. 

The virtual production and VFX studio boast top-of-the-line motion-capture cameras, a green screen room, a render farm, and LED wall technology.

The online BS in Design for User Experience offers a cross-disciplinary curriculum designed to help students research, design, and develop user interfaces and experiences for online interactions. 

Student products might be featured on apps, websites, info booths, and other product spaces.

8. Montserrat College of Art

Montserrat was recently included in the U.S. News & World Report for the first time! The ranking list places them at #22 in Social Mobility and #28 for Best Regional Colleges in the North. 

Montserrat’s internship program undoubtedly impacts social mobility within its undergraduate population – the art school was the first of its kind in the United States to stipulate internships for its students. 

All students at Montserrat commence their studies with the interdisciplinary Foundation Year Program, which includes experiential learning opportunities and an examination of art history, psychology, and color culture.

The BFA in Book Arts is one of Montserrat’s most unique concentrations. Students hone their skills in letterpress printing, bookbinding, reproducing images, and typesetting within the degree track. 

Students pursuing the BFA in Interdisciplinary Arts can design their program of study among studio courses and other topics in the realm of the liberal arts.

7. Brandeis University

Brandeis University
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Brandeis University Libraries, CC BY-SA 4.0

Brandeis offers one of the best art programs in New England. 

Students are close to various sources of inspiration, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and the annual Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts. 

On campus, Brandeis’ Rose Art Museum houses more than 8,000 works from American and European artists.

The school offers two BA programs: Art History and Studio Art. It also offers various options like the Creativity, Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST) minor. 

This collaborative course sequence comprises 5.5 classes, most of which are electives embedded in the humanities, social sciences, and creative arts departments. 

Students achieve the minor by completing a two-credit capstone practicum.

6. Northeastern University

Northeastern University
Sdkb, Northeastern University in fall 2021, CC BY-SA 4.0

Northeastern does an excellent job of preparing students for careers in the arts and design realm. 

Each semester, undergraduates can participate in one of over 100 co-op opportunities at organizations like The Boston Globe, MassDOT, Reebok International, and America’s Test Kitchen. 

The university – ranked #10 in Top Design Schools – is unique in that undergraduates learn year-long (even in the summertime). 

Fifteen combined undergraduate degrees separate Northeastern from other art schools, where degree tracks are less interdisciplinary in nature.

One such program is the BS in Interaction Design and Journalism. Undergraduates develop skills in visual composition, interactive data display, and interface design to narrate compelling stories. 

Alternatively, the BSME in Design and Mechanical Engineering challenges students to create helpful and attractive devices and technology to be used in fields like transportation, manufacturing, and energy conversion.

5. Boston College

Boston College
Boston College McMullen Museum of Art – public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Boston College has formed a close relationship with the McMullen Museum of Art, the annual Arts Festival, and the Arts Club, which translates to various impactful experiences for students preparing to enter arts careers. 

Undergraduates benefit from guest lecturers, internships, and intimate class sizes before moving on to exciting careers in organizations dedicated to social change.

Boston College has three arts concentrations: Art History, Film Studies, and Studio Art. 

Within the Studio Art program, students explore a variety of media, including painting, photography, ceramics, and digital media. 

The Senior Project is the “crown jewel” of the Studio Art track – in this year-long course, students devote energy to their medium of choice in preparation for an end-of-year art exhibit.

4. Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Massachusetts College of Art and Design
MassArt – Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The Massachusetts College of Art & Design (MassArt) offers concentrations rarely found in other peer institutions. 

In the Glass BFA, for example, undergraduates refine their skills in hot pour casting, glassblowing, and cold glass fabrication. Additionally, they spend considerable time working on kiln processes like fusing.

Within the Jewelry and Metalsmithing program, students analyze contemporary and traditional metalworks within their historical contexts. 

The department frequently schedules lectures from visiting artists and sessions designed to help students self-promote within the business realm.

With fewer than 2,000 total enrolled, MassArt offers a close learning environment for its students, most of whom are from Massachusetts. 

That being said, MassArt is an ideal choice for Massachusetts residents – their annual tuition is $14,200 compared to $31,800 for students from other New England states and $39,800 for students outside of New England.

3. Boston University

Boston University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Boston University’s School of Visual Arts offers six concentrations, all of which encourage students to participate in internships, earn minors, and complete in-studio projects. 

An arts education at BU begins with the Foundation program – students participate in drawing, painting, and sculpture courses before selecting a studio major.

Within the BFA in Sculpture track, students meet in small sessions with colleagues, faculty, and visiting artists to develop intricate works and examine contemporary issues within their field. 

Attending school in Boston means that undergraduates receive ample opportunities to display their work in local galleries. In the final year of study, sculpture undergraduates develop an entire exhibition independently or with a partner.

The BFA in Printmaking program is another unique offering. 

With an average class size of 12 undergraduates, students experiment with techniques in book arts, installation, digital media, and lithography. 

They also have the opportunity to participate in exhibitions in China, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. 

Printmaking majors often attend national conferences where they get to present their artwork, as well.

2. Tufts University

At Tufts, art students meet with an academic advisor before they even step foot into a studio or classroom! 

The conversation aims to determine the best first-year course sequence for each student’s goals. 

It’s true that many Tufts art students already have an idea of which medium they’re interested in pursuing; that being said, the first year of foundation courses challenges them to grow skills in various unexplored media.

Students can choose among 16 areas of study, such as the BFA in Virtual Reality or the BFA in Installation

The latter program highlights opportunities to incorporate sound, video, live performance, and digital interactions in various settings. 

Students can also earn two degrees in five years through SMFA’s Combined Degree program.

At the conclusion of each semester, undergraduates engage in a Review Board where they collaborate with colleagues and professors to determine the next steps of their degree path. 

The mentorship aspect is what truly separates Tufts from other art schools on this list.

1. Harvard University

Harvard University Carpenter Center for Visual Arts
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Harvard’s concentration in Art, Film, and Visual Studies (AFVS) grant access to three focus areas: studio arts, filmmaking, and visual studies. 

Each track has different requirements, but all challenge students to refine their critical thinking skills along with their artistic techniques.

Undergraduates might enroll in a course like “The Art and Politics of Propaganda: The Nazis and Their Legacy,” where they examine the various propaganda techniques used to evoke hatred and ambivalence during the 20th century. 

Students will also draw connections to modern works of propaganda that draw upon similar methods.

Harvard’s substantial endowment means that students may have more access to opportunities than their peers at other institutions. 

Through the Solomon Fellowship, for example, students can interact with visiting artists on a regular basis.

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