Here Are the 10 Best Art Schools In the US

Not everyone goes to college to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or tech employee.

Many students prioritize their passions over their pocketbooks when it comes to choosing a college major.

Perhaps the major best exemplifying this mantra is Art. At art school, students learn about the craft of creating visual art, including painting, graphic design, ceramics, printmaking, and more disciplines.

The professions for these degrees can be surprisingly lucrative.

Common jobs for art majors include animation, graphic design, art direction for businesses, interior art, and even becoming an art teacher or professor.

For this list, we compiled eight lists available online of the top art schools in the country, then assigned a weighted score to each school based on their position in each list. Sources are at the end of this article.

Here are, by critical consensus, the 10 best art schools in the country.

10. Yale University (New Haven, CT)

Photo by Interrupt via Wikimedia Commons

Yale has held an unusually large influence in the world of fine arts.

The Yale School of Art is perhaps the most selective fine arts institution worldwide. In its class of 2010, 1,142 students applied; only 65 were accepted. This represents an astoundingly low 5.7% acceptance rate!

So what does Yale look for in its class of students? Exceptional student accomplishment, top grades, and a portfolio demonstrating exceptional artistic ability.

Yale has an important and historic collection of fine art housed in the Yale University Art Gallery. Yale’s gallery, according to Wikipedia, is best known for Italian painting, African sculpture, and modern art.

One of the most important summer arts program for collegiate students is also held at Yale, known as the Yale Norfolk School of Art program. A fellowship offering, the Norfolk School brings together student artists from around the world to participate in a week-long session of hands-on artistic growth and study.

Some of the world’s most famous painters come from Yale; they include Chuck Close as well as Jennifer Bartlett.


9. School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

photo by Alanscottwalker via Wikimedia Commons

What makes School of the Art Institute of Chicago, abbreviated as SAIC, so unique is its inherent connection to one of the world’s great art museums. This museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, permanently houses some 300,000 works and hosts 1.5 million attendees annually, according to this source.

SAIC itself has seven buildings dedicated to its campus, all located within downtown Chicago.

SAIC is known for funding resident artist visits. In these residencies, established fine arts professionals host classes and workshops for students, providing a forum where students and masters may interact.

Many of the most influential artists attended SAIC or its predecessor Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Perhaps the most universally recognized are Walt Disney and Orson Welles. Other prominent alumni include installation artist Tania Bruguera, sculptor Jean Shin, and author Ben Marcus, faculty at Columbia University.

In 2002, the school was named the most influential art school. Since then, SAIC has continued in the conversation among the top 10 arts programs in the nation.

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