The 10 Best Art Schools in Colorado

One of the most naturally beautiful states in America, Colorado is also home to many acclaimed art schools. 

The Rocky Mountains, Colorado River, and old West landscapes provide ample inspiration for emerging drawers, painters, sculptors, and potters. 

On the more “modern” front, young artists have plenty of options for pursuing a career in game design, graphic design, and communication design. 

Other fantastic benefits to attending school in Colorado include proximity to skiing and snowboarding lodges and several national parks. 

In Denver, students are only a quick drive from Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of America’s most unique concert venues that regularly hosts world-famous musicians. 

The Rocky Mountain, Great Sand Dunes, and Mesa Verde National Park are visited by millions each year.

Here, we have listed our picks for 10 of the best art schools in Colorado.

While many are located in the capital city of Denver, others are nestled in more rural areas with smaller, intimate campuses. 

The point is: there’s an optimal learning environment for any kind of art student within this list. 

Ahead, we’ll discuss some of the most unique and/or lucrative art degree tracks, impeccable arts facilities, and internship opportunities for students attending the best art schools in Colorado.

Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design (Denver, CO)

At the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design (RMCAD), undergraduates can major in one of 11 areas of concentration. 

For example, the BA in Illustrative Design is a hybrid degree where students merge illustration skills with graphic design techniques. 

RMCAD offers an exceptional Game Art program where students develop their skills in 3D modeling, lighting and texture, character rigging and animation, visual storytelling, and level design. 

The curriculum also devotes time to exploring business ethics and copyright law – essential knowledge within the game development realm.

Those with an eye for style may pursue a BA in Fashion Design, wherein they spend four years of study developing a diverse portfolio. 

Undergraduates spend a significant amount of time understanding the role of consumer culture in the fashion industry, in addition to sales and marketing approaches.

Colorado College (Colorado Springs, CO)

At Colorado College, all art studies begin their studies with an immersion in art history and various studio courses. 

From there, undergraduates can pursue concentrations not frequently offered at peer institutions. 

Junior and senior years are explicitly devoted to the student’s chosen area of study. The senior capstone challenges students to conduct independent research, write a paper, and/or design their own art exhibition.

The Museum Studies curriculum heavily emphasizes a background in art history before exposing students to construction, marketing, and interpretive roles within the museum sphere. 

Alternatively, the Integrative Design and Architecture concentration enables graduates to land careers as urban planners, landscapers, or professional builders.

On any given day, Colorado College students might attend a lecture from a guest speaker, an exhibition from a visiting artist, or a hands-on studio workshop. 

All senior art majors spend one week visiting world-renowned museums, art galleries, and studios in New York City. 

Undergraduates may also take advantage of study abroad programs in Paris, Spain, and various Asian countries.

The University of Northern Colorado School of Art & Design (Greeley, CO)

There are ten dynamic concentrations that UNC SAD students can major in – drawing, painting, and ceramics are some of the more traditional and popular majors. 

The school’s impressive facilities include the Campus Commons Gallery, an expansive exhibition space dedicated to hosting six annual contemporary art shows.

Within the Drawing major, all students start with Drawing I and build upon the fundamentals from there. 

Over four years of study, undergraduates will improve their composition, color, material use, and proportions skills. All students eventually choose an overarching theme to tie the pieces of their portfolios together.

Painting courses expose students to mixed-media and acrylic painting, typically in the newly renovated Guggenheim Hall Painting Studio. 

Ceramics undergraduates gain experience working on the wheel and molding objects by hand. Ample practice is afforded for working with electric and gas-fired kilns, with particular emphasis on the studio’s safety and wellbeing.

The University of Denver School of Art & Art History (Denver, CO)

Unique to the University of Denver, the BA & MA in Art History program grants undergraduates the chance to obtain their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in an accelerated time frame. 

In year three, juniors compete for one of the few spaces available in their degree track. 

Those selected to participate will collaborate with university staff, gallery curators, and established artists while undertaking a master’s level research project.

More standard majors include two BA options (Art and Art History) and two BFA options (Studio Art and Pre-Art Conservation). 

Pre-Art Conservation is rarely seen in art school curriculum offerings. 

At DU, Pre-Art Conservation majors use techniques that require background knowledge in chemistry, anthropology, foreign language, and art conservation. 

Many program participants elect to work alongside art conservators in Florence, Italy, during their third year of study. 

On the other hand, they have an array of internships to explore at locations such as the Denver Art Museum, Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Arts, and Clyfford Still Museum.

The University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, CO)

There are three excellent program options for UCB students interested in the arts: a BA in Art History, a BA in Art Practices, and a BFA in Art Practices. 

Within one to five years of graduation, art history majors can expect to earn a median salary of over $50,000

This figure is higher than the nationwide average of similar majors at peer institutions. 

This exciting degree exposes students to art styles from a variety of civilizations, including the Renaissance, Baroque, and ancient periods. 

Undergraduates also examine art and architecture from North and South America and Asia.

What’s the difference between a BA and a BFA in Art Practices at UCB? The BA in Art Practices places heavy emphasis on writing and critical thinking skills as they relate to the art industry as a whole. 

Undergraduates explore many mediums, including electronic media, digital art, and sculpture. The program is ranked #23 according to the most recent iteration of the U.S. News & World Report ranking.

BFA majors specialize in one particular area, such as printmaking or ceramics (the latter is among the best in the nation!). 

Undergraduates spend a significant time working in the studio in addition to criticizing art from various critical lenses.

The University of Colorado at Denver (Denver, CO)

CU Denver
Nove1986, CU Denver Student Wellness Center and Student Commons Building on the Downtown Denver Campus, CC BY-SA 4.0

The University of Colorado at Denver does an outstanding job of preparing art students for professional careers. Internships take place at exciting locations like Pixar, Front Range, and the Denver Art Museum.

The Digital Design major is an impressive, nationally-ranked graphic design program that uses an interdisciplinary approach to prepare students for jobs as graphic designers, marketers, and user experience designers. 

Graduates have gone on to experience success in Fortune 500 organizations like Mercedes-Benz, Hewlett Packard, and IBM.

CU Denver’s 3D Graphics & Animation major is ranked #1 in Colorado among public institutions by Animation Career Review.

Classes are held in the top-notch Digital Animation Center (DAC), which houses the newest design technology and is set up to encourage artistic collaboration.

Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)

Colorado State University
Spilly816, CSU University Center for the Arts, CC BY-SA 3.0

Colorado State University offers more concentrations than most of the art schools on this list. 

In fact, the BA in Art includes 11 areas like electronic art, metalsmithing, and photo image making.

The Electronic Art major challenges students to grow their skills in game theory, user interface, software creation, and installation work. It is a highly hands-on track founded on an interdisciplinary approach.

Metalsmithing, which has recently gained more popularity in the media, is another popular program at CSU. 

Metalsmithing undergraduates are frequently seen competing at local and national exhibitions or attending conferences. 

The project-based curriculum prepares students to launch their own product lines or even open their own studios!

Photo Image Making is one of the newest options for artistic undergraduates. 

The school’s facilities are set up to give students practice in cyanotype and palladium printing, digital capture, and silver-based image production.

Regis University (Denver, CO)

Regis University
Always dreamin, Student Center at Regis University in Denver Colorado, CC BY-SA 4.0

Regis University distinguishes itself among other art schools through its Jesuit foundation, which influences every program and curriculum. 

The school fulfills 100% of students’ demonstrated financial needs and emphasizes a commitment to service and social justice. 

In fact, students complete more than 60,000 hours of philanthropy within an academic year, and over 90% report that Regis challenged them to consider social justice issues in their daily lives.

The vast majority of Regis graduates are employed within an arts-related field or pursuing higher education. 

Its Art History program encourages undergraduates to analyze artworks from multiple historical, social, and cultural perspectives. 

Students have access to the O’Sullivan Arts Center within the Fine Arts concentration. 

The gallery regularly hosts exhibitions from artists who have received regional and global accolades. 

The best part? All exhibitions and calendar events are free to Regis students and the general public!

Western Colorado University (Gunnison, CO)

Situated in between the Gunnison National Forest and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Western Colorado University offers more than enough inspiration for budding artists. 

Students can major in museum curation, art education, and animation, among other subjects.

The BFA in Jewelry at WCU provides the perfect environment for jewelry makers to refine their own techniques and brands. 

Campus facilities house torches, buffing wheels, and other jewelry-making technology, and a technician is typically on hand to assist in creative projects.

There are also several art minors at WCU, including one in Web Design and Development. Certainly a high-demand degree in today’s society, the program takes students through the necessary steps to begin their own design companies. 

Curricular projects involve learning coding languages, building websites, and learning competitive marketing tactics.

Fort Lewis College (Durango, CO)

The stunning Fort Lewis College Gallery is the crown jewel of this impressive campus. It features over 1,000 square feet of exhibition space in addition to a cathedral and vaulted ceilings. 

Peering out across the San Juan Mountains, the gallery is an integral community space for fostering research and artistic innovation. 

Undergraduates specialize in one of three art majors: Art K-12 Education, Studio Art, or Communication Design. 

The Art K-12 Education track prepares students for establishing careers as art teachers in Colorado, while the other options devote more time to in-studio practice.

Studio Art classes expose students to a broad range of skills, including ceramics, sculpture, and printmaking. 
Students can often be found attending class and working in one of several courtyard learning areas. The Communication Design major will take undergraduates on a deep dive through Adobe Creative Suite, including its InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator extensions.

Previous articleThe 10 Best Art Schools in Boston
Next articleThe 10 Best Coding Schools & Bootcamps in the US