The 10 Best Art Schools in Florida

Artists will find a home in Florida. 

Florida is home to the Salvidor Dali Museum, home to the largest collection of the Spanish surrealist painter’s work. 

Miami is ranked as one of the top 25 best cities for artists to live within by Rent.com. 

Events across the state, such as the Art Basel Miami Beach—the premier modern and contemporary art fair in all of North America—offer invaluable experiences for any artist hoping to hone their craft by immersing themselves in communities dedicated to artistic expression. 

Furthermore, the beauty of Florida is an ideal setting for discovering artistic inspiration, as this natural beauty has inspired the likes of the famous Alfred Hair and the Florida Highwaymen painters group to the nationally loved TV personality Bob Ross, who was born, raised, and passed away in Florida. 

Indeed, it is no wonder so many artists find inspiration in Florida, as it is difficult to find a list of the most beautiful states without Florida in the top ten. 

With so many places across the state with a vested interest in the arts and artists, and so many highly accomplished artists coming from Florida, it is no coincidence that many wonderful arts schools can also be found there.

This list breaks down 10 of the best art schools in Florida, and the critical information students wanting to partake in Florida’s rich artistic tradition might need to decide which of these wonderful art schools is the best fit for them. 

From the gulf-coast beaches to the Everglades, the city skyline of Miami to the rural communities of the Florida panhandle, these schools represent the best institutions for arts education anywhere in the state. 


10. New World School of the Arts (Miami, FL)

The New World School of the Arts started with a pioneering experiment

A local high school, Miami Northwestern, was long renowned for its Performing and Visual Art Center. 

Then, administrators from this school planned to create a successor to the PVAC by studying the foremost arts schools in the nation, including LaGuardia, Juilliard, and the North Carolina School of the Arts.

PVAC administrators then collaborated with Miami Dade College and the University of Florida to create an arts school for both high school and college students, which would sit on the cutting edge: the New World School.

With notable alumni including Marvel comics illustrator Dennis Calero, founder of the Syncretism artistic style Cesar Santos, and Jen Stark, a psychedelic artist who has produced artwork for MTV, it can be confidently said that the original experiment of creating one of the best art schools in the country was a soaring success. 


9. University of South Florida School of Art (Tampa, FL)

University of South Florida
James E. Scholz, USF Library, CC BY-SA 4.0

This university is a part of the larger University of South Florida ecosystem, a public research university in Tampa, Florida. 

On the USF website, students can find a variety of the School of Art’s points of pride which illuminate the school’s excellence, including having at least 1 undergraduate student per year selected by the Juried Annual University Student Exhibition at the Atlantic Center for the Arts since the year 1990.

Throughout the academic year, this school focuses on involving the local artistic community by offering free guest lectures and events throughout the academic year, such as collaborating with the prestigious “Skyway” exhibitions at three major Bay Area museums. 

The University of South Florida School of Art also has unique programs specifically focused on art and health, arts administration, and veterans in the arts. 


8. Miami International University of Art & Design (Miami, FL)

Located in the city of Miami, one of the top 25 cities in the U.S. for artists to live within, the Miami International University of Art and Design has both a wonderful central campus within downtown Miami, but also prides itself on the MIU Global Campus, the online branch of the university. 

For those interested in online coursework or an online degree, this university was ranked #1 in the country for the best online art and design degree programs by OnlineDegrees.com. 

MIUAD has an incredibly accomplished photography department, with BestValueSchools ranking it #1 in the country for photography, above schools like the California Institute of Art or MassArt. 

Notable alumni include fashion designer Billy Reid, actress and author Tabitha Brown, and comedian and actress Franchesca Ramsey. With only about 745 undergraduates total at the school at any given time, this number of notable alumni is awe-inspiring.  


7. University of West Florida (Pensacola, FL)

One of the greatest strengths of the University of West Florida’s Department of Art and Design greatest strengths is the diversity of program types one can find therein—with programs that address 9 different mediums of art, including game development, curation, online creative content development, and more. 

The University of West Florida gives its students access to some of the best in the college artistic experience through 6 different residencies/internships awarded to students each year, including the chance to exhibit art at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Blue Morning Gallery, and the program nominates 3 undergraduate sculptors annually to be published in Sculpture Magazine. 

Furthermore, regardless of one’s artistic specialization, the University of West Florida provides its students state-of-the-art studios, labs, and workshops for printmaking, painting/drawing, digital art, sculpting, ceramics, and photography. 


6. Eckerd College (St. Petersburg, FL)

Eckerd College
Elisa.rolle, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL, CC BY-SA 4.0

Students studying art at Eckerd College will have the chance to study within the award-winning Nielsen Center for Visual Arts, a 33,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility that cost $15 million to construct. 

Truly, when it comes to incredibly high-quality arts education facilities, few locations can match the Nielsen Center. 

Furthermore, Eckerd College provides unique opportunities for those interested in the pursuit of multiple art forms. 

Through their interdisciplinary arts major, students have the opportunity to combine coursework relevant to visual arts, creative writing, theatre, music, and film studies to curate their path of study to best match their artistic aspirations. 

At any given time, students have access to fifteen different art studios, which are open 24/7, in which they can spend as many hours as they wish producing work in the wide variety of artistic mediums accessible to students in the Nielsen Center for Visual arts. 


5. University of Central Florida School of Visual Arts and Design (Orlando, FL)

The following art school just so happens to be a part of the largest university in the country, depending on the year, at the University of Central Florida. 

As such, art students who are attracted to the feeling of a large campus may be right at home at UCF.

The University of Central Florida boasts a particularly strong animation department, which received the number 2 spot nationally for public university animation departments, as ranked by Animation Career Review. 

Recent graduates of UCF’s animation department have gone on to work for Walt Disney Animation Studios, PIXAR Animation Studios, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, and more

Beyond animation, Animation Career Review also ranked UCF as the #3 school in the south for art illustration, the #7 art-illustration program nationally, and the #14 graphic design department in the South. 

Part of the strength of UCF’s animation department is its emerging media majors, which combine animation, graphic design, and storytelling education to produce animator-storytellers. 


4. University of Florida School of Art + Art History (Gainesville, FL)

University of Florida School of Art
Ebyabe, Gville UF University Gallery02, CC BY-SA 3.0

The University of Florida School of Art and Art History provides education in a full range of art-related fields, including art education, art history, museum studies, and graphic design. 

Ranked as the #2 art university in Florida by Niche.com, and the #1 school for athletics for those interested in college sports, the University of Florida promises both the affordances of a large public university and a smaller arts school. 

The University of Florida is home to the University Gallery, founded by Roy C. Craven, which seeks to showcase artwork from the local Gainesville area within a contemporary venue. As such, art students will have the opportunity to learn from academic artistic production while also considering the work being produced by the local community. 

Alongside learning from the local community, the UF brings in a cohort of visiting artists and instructors so that students learn from seasoned professionals. The full list of world-renowned visiting artists that worked with the UF is extensive and impressive.


3. University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)

University of Miami
Darkflowerthree, Shalala Student Center, University of Miami, CC BY-SA 4.0

The University of Miami has more art degree programs than just about any art school in the nation, boasting a staggering 50 internationally acclaimed art degree programs. 

This university is home to the Lowe Art Museum, the first and most prominent art museum in South Florida. 

This museum, which students have easy access to, features everything one can imagine an art museum might offer—professional development courses for artists, multiple lecture series, and a groundbreaking art, health, and wellbeing initiative which analyzes the role of art in healthcare. 

For those interested in studying the arts across the globe, Miami has partners and hosts art classes in over 20 countries, and its faculty and students come from over 55 countries. 

Finally, students at the U of M will have acclaimed artists as professors, such as Bonnie Seeman, whose art can be found in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. 


2. Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)

Florida State University
SeminoleNation, Dunlap Student Success Center at Florida State University, CC BY-SA 4.0

Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the #42 best Fine Arts School in the country, Florida State University was the first university in the state to offer terminal degrees in art history. 

Today, art students at Florida State University will have the opportunity to study at the Ringling Museum of Art, one of the highest quality art museums in the nation with one of the largest art libraries in the Southern United States.

But this campus does not merely have one of the nation’s best art museums, but 2. The Museum of Fine Arts Arts is also housed on the Florida State campus and houses a diverse collection of over 6,000 objects

For those wanting to compete for the chance to have their artwork formally recognized, FSU boasts dozens of competitive awards and scholarships, most of which are monetary, for undergraduate and graduate students.


1. Ringling College of Art and Design (Sarasota, FL)

The Ringling College of Art and Design is a chart-topper—#1 Animation school in the country, #8 best art school in the nation, #2 for illustration in the nation, and the country’s #15 film school.

Alumni include Design Star’s David Bromstad, the current official voice of Mickey Mouse, Bret Iwan, and Captain America and Spider-man comic book artist Mike Zeck.

Part of Ringling’s massive success can be attributed to its studio model of teaching, whereby students receive extensive, hands-on experience in a specific artistic skill or area of study. 

Then, students also learn the conceptual aspects of their artistic medium—the culture surrounding one’s artistic medium, the history of the discipline, and the core values needed to make the biggest impact with one’s art. 

As such, it is no surprise that so many artists, and especially animators of all kinds, leave Ringling College with impressive careers in their field. 

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