An art form that has been around since as early as the first century BCE, glassblowing is a craft that takes a significant amount of time, practice, and resources to learn.
If creating glass-blown objects is something you are interested in seriously pursuing, then studying the art at a reputable school is one of the best ways to kickstart your long, successful career as a glassblower.
There are many different program options for learning glass blowing. In addition to the many associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs offered by various colleges, there are also shorter-term community classes, certificate programs, and other non-degree options.
Studying glassblowing involves not just learning how to manipulate glass to create visually pleasing works, but also learning how to be a professional artist.
This entails developing your networking skills, marketing your glassware to potential buyers, creating a solid portfolio, and so much more.
Since glassblowing programs are not as common as business, literature, and STEM degrees — to name just a few examples — it is crucial to do your research to find the perfect glassblowing program for your goals.
That being said, choosing the best-fit school to attend can be an overwhelming and stressful process for many students, regardless of area of study. To alleviate some of this potential stress, we have compiled the following list of schools with strong programs in glassblowing.
Here are 10 of the best glassblowing schools in the United States.
Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)
The Rhode Island School of Design was established in 1877, placing it among the oldest art and design schools in the United States.
Over the course of the school’s long history, RISD has become a highly-respected art school with some of the best faculty and programs in the country.
RISD is home to a robust glass department, offering degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Students in glass courses at RISD can expect to learn not just the technical aspects of glassblowing but also the more abstract, creative aspects of the art.
For example, in a glass studio course taught by Professor Sean Salstrom, students are encouraged to get up and move, using choreography as a source of inspiration for their glass creations.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston, MA)
The first public college for the arts and design, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design is one of the best art schools in the state of Massachusetts.
MassArt offers two different degree programs for glassblowing. One of these is the bachelor of fine arts in glass. The program curriculum covers all aspects of glass as an art, from the history and fundamentals of glassblowing to contemporary, interdisciplinary considerations.
At the graduate level, the school offers an MFA in 3D fine arts. This program covers a wider range of art forms than just glassblowing, allowing graduate students to explore and develop their style through various mediums.
Temple University Tyler School of Art and Architecture (Philadelphia, PA)
According to CollegeFactual, Temple University is ranked within the top 15% of colleges in the United States in terms of their BFA program offerings.
Tyler’s graduate programs in glass, however, are even more highly-ranked than their undergraduate counterparts, with the school ranking second in the nation in terms of best glassblowing MFA.
Students in Tyler’s robust glass program can use the school’s world-class facilities, including a 10,000-square-foot hot room, 16 kilns, four flame-working stations, and even a one-ton crane for particularly large clay casts.
On top of that, there are several art studios dedicated to undergraduate and graduate major students.
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
The official birthplace of vinyl, synthetic rubber, and bubble gum, the University of Washington has a legacy of innovation and creativity.
As such, one can safely assume that the UW School of Art, Art History, and Design offers high-quality academic programs in the arts.
Glass is one of the many fields of art covered by the robust art curriculum at the UW School of Art, with a variety of courses for major and non-major students.
The glass department at the school has a total of four faculty members. One of these is Mark Zirpel, a well-known glass artist whose work draws heavily on the sciences to create a visionary, interdisciplinary effect.
For students who are interested in glassblowing from a more scientific perspective, the Department of Physics also has its own state-of-the-art glass shop.
Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Alfred University is home to many glass programs, ranging from creative programs in the arts to more science-focused options.
For students who are interested in studying glassblowing from a more artistic perspective, the Sculpture/Dimensional Studies Division at Alfred University has a bachelor of fine arts program with a number of glass course offerings.
Although the BFA curriculum is intended to cover a wide range of three-dimensional mediums, the program offers students the opportunity to use state-of-the-art glassblowing facilities as they simultaneously explore various other art forms.
All glass programs at Alfred make use of the school’s hot glass studio, which is part of the National Casting Center.
Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)
Firmly committed to producing meaningful research and fostering creativity in higher education, Virginia Commonwealth University is home to a stellar array of glassblowing offerings.
VCU Arts is known for its belief in trial and error in the artistic process, encouraging students to experiment freely as they come to develop their sense of artistic identity.
At the graduate level, the school offers an MFA in fine arts, allowing students to concentrate on glassworking.
Similarly, VCU Arts also offers glassworking as an area of concentration for students in the fine arts BFA program.
Housed in a converted trolley station and glass factory, VCU Arts’ glass facilities are designed to serve students working with all kinds of artistic forms, including both traditional and contemporary mediums.
Illinois State University (Normal, IL)
Illinois State University, a public university with an undergraduate enrollment of over 18,000 students, is home to an excellent art school, the Wonsook Kim School of Art. Wonsook offers glassblowing as a major option for students in both BS and BA degree programs.
Students in undergraduate glass programs at the school receive rigorous practical training in the fundamentals of glassblowing techniques, including sand casting, flameworking, kiln casting, and many more.
On top of that, students are also educated in the history of glass and glassblowing.
In addition, all students are expected to develop a clear, distinct artistic identity throughout the course of their time at the school.
The glass programs at the Wonsook Kim School of Art are spearheaded by Associate Professor John Miller, a prolific glassblower whose works have garnered substantial international acclaim.
University of Texas at Arlington (Arlington, TX)
Formerly a part of the Texas A&M University system, the University of Texas at Arlington is a large public research college that has a lot to offer students looking to earn a degree in glassblowing.
In particular, UTA offers two different glass degree options. For undergraduate students, there is the BFA in art with a concentration in glass studies. At the graduate level, UTA offers an MFA in glass.
UTA’s Art and Art History Department offers various research programs in the arts, making it an excellent school choice for those interested in delving into the academic side of glassblowing.
All of the studio classes, academic courses, and research programs relating to glass are led by the school’s world-class faculty of more than 60 highly-accomplished artists, academics, and art historians.
Ball State University (Muncie, IN)
Ball State University, a public research university that was founded in 1918, has a bachelor of fine arts program. Students in this program can choose glass blowing as an area of concentration.
Since 2011, glass blowing at Ball State has been housed in the Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass, a 9,254 square-foot facility featuring many spacious, professional-quality glass studios.
The Glick Center is open to all art students at the school, making it an excellent place to explore various mediums, as well as refine one’s glassblowing techniques.
Advanced glassblowing students at Ball State can further hone their craft through one of the school’s many study abroad programs in the Czech Republic, Poland, and other international locations across the globe.
Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)
Located in the city of New Orleans, a well-known hub for culture and the arts, Tulane University provides the perfect backdrop for earning a degree in creative arts. On top of that, Tulane is home to the largest collegiate glassblowing studio in the southern United States.
The school is known for emphasizing the use of glass as a sculptural element, as opposed to a craft or a means of creating functional objects. As a result,
At the undergraduate level, students can choose to study glass either as a part of a bachelor of arts or as a BFA.