These 10 Art Schools Have the Best ROI

7. Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, Rhode Island)

photo by DanielPenfield via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to ranking No. 7 on Payscale’s list of best value colleges, the Rhode Island School of Design boasts the highest graduation rates amongst the other top 10 contenders, at 90 percent.

The private art and design school has a little more than 2,500 students and more than 30,000 alumni. It has more than 20 programs, including architecture, apparel design, glass, furniture design, jewelry and metalsmithing, and printmaking.

The school offers students a number of diverse spaces to learn. The RISD Museum is home to more than 90,000 works of art from around the world. Additionally, it hosts lectures, concerts and screenings. You’ll also find the Nature Lab, which allows students to learn about design in nature, as well as Co-Works, an research space for students and faculty to experience and explore new materials.

20-year net ROI: $236,000


6. Otis College of Art and Design (Los Angeles, California)

On Payscale’s list of best value art schools, Otis College of Art and Design comes in at No. 6. It’s worth noting, though, the private college has the lowest average loan amount out of the top ten contenders. The average full-time undergraduate student borrows $26,100 in their four years at Otis College.

Students at Otis College of Art and Design spend their first year taking foundational courses before diving into their chosen major. Majors range from communication arts to game and entertainment design to product design to toy design. The school also offers student abroad programs that take place around the world.

Graduates from Otis College have gone on to receive Fulbright, MacArthur, and Guggenheim grants. They’ve also won Oscars, become costume designers, entrepreneurs, and designers at well-known brands including Apple, Pixar, DreamWorks, Nike, and Disney.

Here’s a fun fact: The school’s main campus, in Los Angeles, is located in the former IBM Aerospace Headquarters.

20-year net ROI: $245,000


5. Pratt Institute (New York, New York)

photo by jim.henderson via Wikimedia Commons

With its main campus located in Brooklyn, New York, the Pratt Institute is a private college with nearly 5,000 students. Its location offers students the perfect opportunity to learn and dive into their professional art careers. 

When Pratt was established back in 1887, its goal was to offer an affordable college education. Additionally, it was one of the first schools in the country to accept students regardless of gender, color, or class. Today, Pratt has more than 62,000 alumni in 83 countries.

Incoming students take part in what’s called the Pratt Foundation. This allows students to explore core creative concepts. After their first year, students dive into their chosen program, whether that’s architecture, printmaking, fashion design, or writing, to name a few options.

Students also have ample opportunities to study abroad. The school has programs in cities around the world, including Florence, Milan, Tokyo, and Copenhagen.

20-year net ROI: $247,000


4. Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston, Massachusetts)

photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Payscale ranks the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (commonly referred to as MassArt) No. 4 on its list of best value art schools for students who are paying in-state tuition.

The school, founded in 1873, is the oldest on this list — and one of the oldest in the country. It was actually the first art college in the U.S. to give an art degree.

MassArt is home to more than 2,000 students. Its campus, located in Boston, houses the MassArt Art Museum, which opened in February 2020. The contemporary art museum is also a teaching museum and gives students the opportunity to showcase their works. You can also check out the school’s online interactive gallery.

The school has all amenities other colleges have — residence halls, cafeteries, a school store library, student center, etc. But it also has some other unique features. These include a letterpress lab, studio spaces, a spray booth, a woodworking spot, a digital maker’s studio, a sound studio, and performing spaces.

20-year net ROI: $250,000

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