The 10 Best Art Schools in Georgia

In Greek mythology, a muse is more than a vague, interesting thought. 

It is an actual goddess of poetic inspiration, one who selects dedicated artists to bless with ideas for dance, writing, sculpting, and painting. 

These “muses” may have been initially born in ancient Greece, but one look around the gorgeous state of Georgia is enough to convince any onlooker that these goddesses have found a new home.

From the breathtaking waterfalls of Amicalola Falls State Park to Rock City Gardens, the jaw-dropping landscape is enough to inspire creativity in even the most “stuck” of artists.

It’s been said that the best art makes the viewer feel an emotional connection to its subject. 

With its stunning landscapes, impeccable art schools, and Southern way of living, Georgia is doubtlessly one of the ideal states to begin a flourishing career in the arts. 

What’s more, it is already home to some of the most renowned art programs in the nation!

Here are our picks for 10 of the very best art schools in Georgia. 

University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art (Athens, GA)

Named after one of its most famed alumni, the University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art has gone on to prove its namesake’s legacy: art is food for the soul.

After a brief education at Georgia Tech, Lamar Dodd moved to Alabama for a brief stint as a teacher. 

This position only cemented his determination to push his own limits; he ultimately decided that the only way to do so would be through a rigorous education at the University of Georgia art school.

For the next four decades, Lamar Dodd’s fame carried him all across the world, but he always honored his home state of Georgia through his works. 

Today, this prestigious university continues to do its namesake justice by seizing every opportunity to show students the ways in which they can put their education to use. 

Whether it is through their regular presence at the historic Athens Porchfest– where students can participate in a tradition dating back fifty years– or events like their recent Art Party Extravaganza, the University of Georgia teaches students real-life, manageable ways they can use their own art to influence the world around them.

Currently, it rests in the prestigious position of 32nd in the country, according to the US News and World Report. 

Savannah College of Art & Design (Savannah, GA)

Savannah College of Art and Design
Michael Rivera, Savannah College of Art and Design, Poetter Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Since its founding in 1978, the Savannah College of Art and Design has dedicated itself fully to inspiring our generation’s brightest, most creative minds.

Whether a young artist hopes to change the world through animation, design, or any other area of visual art, they are in good hands with the trusted professors at what The Hollywood Reporter, DesignIntellegence, and the Business of Fashion all ranked among their top universities in the nation.

Already, this relatively young college is producing some of the most influential working artists in the nation, including Daniela Yapez, who put her design education to work by founding Design by Daye. 

According to the recent rankings from the US News and World Report, the Savannah College of Art and Design is considered the sixth most innovative school in the South, using a constant flow of exhibits and programs to keep its young artists bursting with creativity. 

From fashion to film, paintings to sculptures, the Savanna College of Art and Design is not afraid to radically push beyond the expected to the kind of art every person uses in their everyday life. 

Georgia State University Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design (Atlanta, GA)

Georgia State University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Located in downtown Atlanta, the Georgia State University Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design carries the same electric energy as the city that houses it, earning it a ranking as the second most innovative school in the entire nation. 

Very little encompasses this innovation quite like this campus’s art program.

This art program allows students the opportunity to learn from some of the “greats,” with regular access to some of the most stunning art museums in Georgia.  

These institutions include the High Museum of Art, the immersive VanGoh experience, and world-renowned Museum of Design Atlanta.

Students at this university also have 24-hour access to a state-of-the-art studio space, including an iron forge, pottery station, 3D printers, sewing machines, and much more!

By embracing all methods of art– from the most ancient to modern– the Georgia State University Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design teaches the values of accepting change and embracing the future. 

Georgia Southern University Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art (Statesboro, GA)

The Georgia Southern University Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art may have been named for a famed sketch-based artist, but the education it provides does not stop there. Enrollment in this famed program includes a truly immersive artistic experience.

All across campus, students from all majors are free to seek inspiration from the artistic influence of the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art.

By stepping into the Sculpture Walk, students and visitors alike can observe how students in Casey Schachner’s 3D Art and Design course rose to the challenge to create stunning steel sculptures, preserved and arrayed with brilliantly colored powder. 

All year round, the Fine Arts Gallery is home to nearly a dozen exhibitions, including faculty and student shows, visiting artist exhibitions, and the annual Georgia U.S. 1st Congressional District Juried High School Exhibition.  

Rather than simply hoping to impassion those who plan on making a career in the arts, this program reaches as many students as possible, truly demonstrating how art has no boundaries. 

As such, it embraces its simple, powerful philosophy: every student has the power to become a critical thinker, creative problem solver, compassionate human being, and lifelong learner.

Brenau University (Gainesville, GA)

Though a creative, inspiring place to learn, the Art and Design Department at Brenau University is one dedicated to building careers. 

From the very first day of enrollment, this program begins rigorously working for every student, aspiring to give them the skills they need to succeed.

Rather than attempting to cover a wide spectrum, Brenau hones in on two key fields: fashion and studio art. Taking a tactical approach, Brenau University starts by helping each student focus on their particular niche.  

To help their students gain real-life skills, Brenau University helps place students in optional internships where they can hone their skills in photography, marketing, design, and sales. 

Meanwhile, the Brenau Center for the Arts and Design works tirelessly to unite students of all disciplines, keeping students from all areas of study united through fashion shows, galleries, and regular events like the recent Winter exhibition at the Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center

While studying at this university, students have the chance to build a portfolio, advocate for their own work in a professional setting, and find ways to display their skills. 

With an education from Brenau University, a student can be sure that their skills will not wither away in the dark. Instead, they can embrace ways to show their art to the world!

Columbus State University (Columbus, GA)

While in an arts-based class at Columbus State University, students embrace the chance to learn from a variety of different perspectives. 

By taking a community-forward approach, this school encourages students to learn from their peers as well as their teachers, building connections and finding creativity in a new realm of places.

Education does not stop there. Columbus State University extends beyond the protected walls of the studio space, using community outreach programs to teach its student body practical skills and encourage a deeper level of thought in those around them. 

At Pasaquan, students look deep into the past to learn from cultures long gone, then jet towards the future for an inspiring look at what art can truly be. 

The Art Throw Down Invitational allows college students the chance to inspire the next generation through high-school outreach competitions. 

Both in and out of the classroom, the Department of Art at Columbus State University gives students the skills they need to thrive.

Agnes Scott College (Decatur, GA)

The opportunities for art excel at Agnes Scott College, home to the Dana Fine Arts Building. Students can showcase their original artwork to faculty and the public in this multipurpose space.

Agnes Scott celebrates a place within the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the nation, with its current placement as sixty-third best

Though it remains dedicated to encouraging creativity and innovation across all disciples, few areas are more successful than its thriving arts and writing programs. As the number one most innovative liberal arts college, it encourages unique skills across every discipline. 

Art students can participate in the school’s Global Awareness program, where they can work semester-long opportunities studying studio art and art history.

LaGrange College (LaGrange, GA)

With an average enrollment of fewer than 600 students, LaGrange College may be the most exclusive on our list. 

Though tiny, however, this arts program has a significant impact.

Rather than spreading its art students across a broad spectrum of skill sets, LaGrange College focuses intensely on five distinct areas: ceramics, graphic design, drawing, photography, and market design. 

No matter what field a student may select, each has access to the same level of high-quality, rigorous arts education as any of their most renowned alumni can attest.

Anyone who has read Dean Young’s “Blondie” comic strip or seen Disney classics such as The Little Mermaid has already sampled the effects of a LaGrange College education in the arts. 

Likewise, Dwayne Shattuck, a photography major at LaGrange College, later put his artistic eye to work as a producer on the series Mad Men, earning an Emmy for his efforts.  

With access to a 32,000-square-foot, light-filled studio space– including a full art museum right on-campus– students have plenty of room to explore their talents– literally! 

Augusta University (Augusta, GA)

The Department of Art and Design at Augusta University looks toward the future of art, helping students find pathways to turn their passions into lucrative careers. 

From film to design, this program hopes to show how art touches every life, whether that person is fully aware of its impact or not.

Though this arts program covers all the traditional art forms as well, it makes its name in the fields of filmmaking, animation, and visual storytelling. 

The regular Cinema Series at Maxwell Theatre offers multiple genres, ensuring every student can find something to gain. 

Meanwhile, the famous Mary C. Byrd Gallery draws artists from all over the state and beyond, allowing students the chance to absorb art from a variety of diverse perspectives. 

Regardless of where a person might turn, the plethora of art programs in Georgia has enough to entertain, astonish, and inspire. 

Emory University (Atlanta, GA)

Emory University embodies the idea that art comes in all forms. 

In addition to a thriving fine arts program, Emory University contains one the most awe-inspiring writing programs in the nation, currently ranking fifteenth out of hundreds of schools nationwide.

Through a series of outreach programs, Emory leads its fine arts students into the community around them, where their work impact real social change.

By working in the Art and Social Justice Fellows Program, students are paired with a faculty member from another discipline, who helps them design a project to shine a light on a social issue within that space.  

Through the Praise House Project and support from the National Endowment for the arts, art students work alongside activist Charmaine Minniefield to create site-specific displays for various communities within Atlanta, each celebrating a part of that community’s African-American heritage. 

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