The Top US Universities To Study Art

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The USA hosts many of the world’s best academic institutions. Not only that, but it’s a country with creativity bred in to the culture – so it’s only natural that its home to some of the most prestigious art schools on the planet too. 

Tempted to study there? It’s certainly not cheap, but the right school and course could prove to be a great investment in your artistic development. Here’s an overview of some of the top US universities for art studies.

Rhode Island School of Design – Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island has been a consistently top-ranked destination for national and international art students for some time now.


It serves over 2400 students, and students typically enter a four-year program, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts course. Graduate Masters courses are available: they offer a Master of Fine Arts and Master of Arts in a variety of specialised design fields.

Although rankings change from year to year, it’s had been ranked number one for fine arts several times in the past few years. It’s particularly strong in the areas of interior design and glass art, which is the discipline of creating two-dimensional glass panels and three-dimensional objects entirely from glass.

School of The Art Institute Chicago – Chicago, Illinois

With one of the largest intakes of art students in the US, Chicago is a top-flight school that offers fantastic opportunities for budding artists.


The school has a distinguished history, first opening its doors in 1866, and has consistently ranked in the top five schools for art in the USA over the past decade.

The university is very well funded, and arts students enjoy cutting-edge facilities and equipment. The open curriculum encourages creativity and exploration, and a wide range of specialisations are taught, including art and technology studies, art education and art therapy.

Cranbrook Academy of Arts – Bloomfield Hills, MI

The Cranbrook academy of arts is widely regarded as one of the most exclusive places to study art in the USA.


It’s a private college, and it’s very small – only around 150 students are accepted each year. Competition for places is naturally very high.

It’s particularly strong overall for fine arts, and excels in fibre arts and ceramics – it’s ranked first and second in the USA for those disciplines respectively.

Masters degrees are also offered in a wide range of art-related subjects such as metal smithing, sculpture and photography. The focus of these courses is biased towards the practical, with learning taking place in a studio-based learning environment.

Yale University

Widely recognised as one of the top universities in the world in various overall rankings, Yale University boasts a particular strong arts faculty. It’s currently considered a premier destination for the study of fine arts in the USA.


Yale is number one in the country for Graphic Design, and number two for Photography. Art students benefit from the world-beating academic environment, surrounding themselves not just with other exceptional artists, but with elite scholars from a variety of disciplines.

Columbia University

The arts faculty at Columbia is another solid choice. Performing consistently highly in the rankings, Columbia boasts strengths in film, theatre and the visual arts. There is also a range of interesting interdepartmental degree programs that allow students to collaborate with others in more technical disciplines to produce impressive synergistic works.


The university has the advantage of being located in in the city of New York, one of the arts capitals of the world. As a student at Columbia you’ll never be far from the latest gallery opening or exhibition, and the city is overflowing with artistic joie de vivre.


The school of Arts and Architecture at UCLA is definitely a department to look out for if you’re considering studying in America.


The laid back Californian campus is very conducive to the creative juices, and the school itself boasts serious credentials.

Particular strengths include visual arts and design. A huge faculty of over 100 staff are on present – that’s one for every eight undergraduate students.

Hopefully that’s given you a taste of the best the US has to offer in terms of formal art studies. If you do settle on the “Land of the Free” for your art studies, you’ll have made a great choice – US culture is

Josh Smith is a representative of Study Now, Australia's biggest directory of online courses and distance education courses.