The 10 Best For-Profit Colleges in the US

Trying to decide where to go to school can be a daunting task – with so many schools and majors to choose from – not to mention so much pressure to choose the right path. 

For many students, what seems right may not be traditional. Choosing the career path and college that best fits a student’s interests and strengths may require them to look beyond those typical state institutions and universities and towards for-profit education. 

For-Profit colleges may sometimes get a negative reputation. However, they can be perfect for students interested in specialized niche fields, such as fashion, film, music, art, etc.

Imagine the chance to go to school for music and record in the same studio that Elvis did or perform on the same stage that hosts Broadway shows. What if your designs were showcased in the same spaces you see on TV shows and in movies, or being able to create video games in state-of-the-art facilities? 

This is what for-profit college offers – the chance to learn and grow in the same place that those who do it best did. To be inspired by the space you are in.

So, before you pass by for-profit education, take a look at our picks for the 10 of the best for-profit colleges in the US. 


Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (Los Angeles, CA)

Founded in 1969 and with three different campuses to choose from, the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising offers a unique experience to its students when attending school. 

Each of the California campuses – Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orange County – are innovative architectural facilities that offer students a unique studying experience in visually-appealing indoor/outdoor spaces. 

Students may recognize parts of the campus from television. FIDM was the host location for Lifetime’s Project Runway Season 6, and the MTV hit show The Hills was also filmed in part on their campus.

FIDM offers 26 Associate of Arts degree programs and 9 Bachelor of Arts programs that prepare students for a career in areas such as fashion, entertainment, beauty, interior design, and graphic design, to just name a few. 

The Los Angeles campus is also home to a costume and fashion museum that showcases more than 200 years of fashion.

Students who enroll at FIDM will join the long list of notable alumni artists, including fashion designer and actress Amanda Bynes and Project Runway 5 winner Leanne Marshall


DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)

Located in Redmond, Washington, DigiPen began by offering courses in 3D animation during the video game craze of the late 80s and early 90s. Through collaboration with Nintendo, DigiPen started offering one of the first post-secondary programs for video game programming. 

With campuses now located in Singapore and Spain, DigiPen offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Science, Animation, Video Game Development, Game Design, and other related fields. 

Each campus offers a diverse set of degree programs and coursework as well as varying campus sizes. DigiPen prides itself on providing a low student-to-teacher ratio to address the unique needs of each student.

Approximately 1,200 students attend classes each year at the Redmond, Washington campus, which offers a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:11. 

DigiPen’s Bachelor’s in Game Design program was ranked 3rd by the Princeton Review in 2015, and its Master’s in Game Design was ranked 5th.


Full Sail University (Miami, FL)

Full Sail University
Comb4ckszn, Full Sail Studios, CC BY-SA 4.0

Full Sail University is located in Winter Park, Florida, and has held a world-renowned Recording Arts program since the 1980s. Rolling Stone stated in 2005 that Full Sail University was “one of the five best music programs in the country.”

Beyond music recording, FSU also offers a nationally recognized Video Game Design Program that continues to be listed as one of the top 50 by the Princeton Review.

In addition to recording arts and video game design, FSU has programs in film and media production, animation, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) as well. 

The university continues to invest in its campus by adding new laboratories, research development centers, and creative arts spaces that were designed through partnerships with the WWE and ESPN. 

Full Sail University’s new esports arena, The Fortress, was named a top 10 facility for esports in 2020 and an elite venue to pursue a career in esports. 


Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA)

The Academy of Art began as an advertising school in 1929 primarily focused on the magazine advertising boom of the Roaring 20s. Since then, the school has created associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in 25 subjects. 

Academy of Art University has made quite a name for itself in the past few decades in the fashion world. The school has been participating in the NY Fashion Week, where it showcases student work, since 2005. 

Claimed the Largest Art and Design School in the US, AAU’s campus is similar to many university campuses and has a student body hovering around 9,000. This means that beyond instruction in art and design, students also participate in sports and clubs found in more traditional universities. 

Don’t let the school’s 100% acceptance rate fool you, though; the list of alumni from AAU includes several notable figures in the art world, including the cartoonist Art Spiegelman and the director Rodrigo Prieto


Grand Canyon University (Phoenix, AZ)

Grand Canyon University is the largest Christian university globally, with a student population of over 20,000 on-campus and over 70,000 online. Due to its size, the school participates in NCAA Division I athletics and has everything a large university campus has to offer.

With over 200 different degree programs to choose from, GCU has separate colleges that cater to the individual needs of each program. Students may choose from a wide variety of degree tracks from engineering to theology, nursing, education, and performing arts. 

The campus of GCU is constantly growing and allows students to participate in watching performing arts and sporting events in its state-of-the-art facilities. Large dormitories, a spacious recreation center, and unique study spaces give the campus a proud college feel. 

In fact, in 2017, Town and Country named the GCU campus as one of the ten best in America. 


ECPI University (Virginia Beach, VA)

ECPI
Coder K, ECPI University building, CC BY-SA 3.0

East Coast Polytechnic Institute prides itself on offering the best-accelerated learning programs in the country. With six different campuses to choose from, the school offers degree paths in technology, nursing, health sciences, business, criminal justice, culinary arts, and electronics engineering. 

Founded in 1966 as an institute for electronic computer programing, ECPI now offers varied accelerated degrees for students looking to graduate and get to work. 

The school caters the degree track to each student and can offer in-person, online, or hybrid coursework for any of its degree paths. The university’s accredited associates and bachelor’s degrees meet the rigors of any other program but in a much more streamlined process. 

For each degree path, ECPI has a 15-month associates degree plan and a 30-month bachelor’s degree plan. 


Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (Provo, UT)

Just as the name states, this school offers graduate healthcare education to its students in beautiful Provo, Utah. 

Beginning in 1998, the school was modeled to provide quality education for people pursuing a healthcare career after completing an undergraduate program. 

RMUoHP now offers students the opportunity to complete a Doctorate Degree in Medical Science, Health Science, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology, or Pediatric Science. These programs can be completed in conjunction with a master’s degree or post-master’s coursework.

Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions also offers medical certificates to students interested in moving across the medical industry. Certificate programs include nursing, mental health, and neonatology. 


Five Towns College (Dix Hills, NY)

Five Towns College is known for producing talented artists in music, media, and performing arts, with a long list of notable alumni singers and recording artists that started their music career in Dix Hills. 

The school offers associates, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in eight different academic areas. These include music, theatre arts, mass communications, film/video, business, and entertainment industry studies, liberal arts, interactive computer graphics, and teacher education.

Five Towns College provides students with the best music technology and studio space for up-and-coming artists to produce high-quality work. The campus hosts several full recording studios, editing labs, a film and sound stage, and an interactive computer graphics lab. 

The Performing Arts Center on the Five Towns campus is home to live theatre, including musicals, dramas, and comedic performances. The campus also hosts several film festivals and other events that showcase student work. 


School of Visual Arts (New York, NY)

School of Visual Arts
Beyond My Ken, SVA East 23rd, CC BY-SA 3.0

The School of Visual Arts, located in New York City, was founded as a college of art and design in 1947 and was known as the go-to school for illustrators. 

Today, the school offers 11 undergraduate and 22 graduate programs, including advertising, animation, film, and interior design. 

The U.S. News & World Report ranked the School of Visual Arts as the 18th best graduate art school in the country, and the school is repeatedly on the list of top 10 for salary potential. 

Classrooms and studio spaces of the School of Visual Arts are designed with the student’s creativity in mind and are mostly encompassed within historical downtown buildings surrounded by highrises. 

The school’s auditoriums and theatres regularly host movie and event openings for Hollywood celebrities as well as venues to showcase student work. 


Los Angeles Film School (Los Angeles, CA)

Los Angeles Film School
Minnaert, LAFilmSchool02, CC BY-SA 3.0

The LA Film School offers associates and bachelor’s degrees related to the entertainment industry. Located on Sunset Boulevard, the school encompasses a giant campus with the world-famous RCA building

It is on the campus of the LA Film School where artists such as Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones found the inspiration to record their hit albums. 

Students at the Los Angeles Film School can choose a degree path in digital film making and film production, video game production and design, and computer animation, to name a few. 

The school’s 1st Chance Film Program pairs students with noteworthy film producers in the industry and uses the campus to produce the student’s first film. Student work then premieres on campus in some venues that host film festivals and awards ceremonies.

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