Top Art and Design Schools in the U.S.

There are many factors that need to be considered when selecting an art and design school. A round of research may help you identify your interests, understand industry trends, and how things are evolving in the art and design world. Once you know the kind of stuff you want to learn, you can sift through the various programs and identify the most suitable programs for you.

A great art college should have its pulse on the changing landscape and provide its students with the skill sets, technology, and tools that are current. You may also want to look at its faculty, alumni, curriculum, and access to workshops, museums, galleries, exhibitions, and other artistic pursuits.

Finally, there’s the location.

Top Art and Design Schools in US
Image Credit: Phillip Capper


There are schools with some great art and design programs as well as specialized art schools. So here you go.

1. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

  • Private college
  • BFA, MFA and MA degrees
  • 19 majors in architecture, design, fine arts and art education
  • Programs: Graphic design, ceramics, photography, illustration, industrial design, textiles, and more
  • Facilities: RISD museum, Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, and Fleet Library
  • Location: Providence, RI

2. School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

  • ‘Most Influential Art College in the United States’, Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism Survey
  • Undergraduate and graduate art programs
  • Interdisciplinary curriculum: Painting and drawing, fashion design, performance, sculpture, and more
  • Facilities: Modern Wing of the Art Institute, Gene Siskel Film Center, Visiting Artists Program, and Sullivan Galleries
  • Location: Chicago, IL

3. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

  • Undergraduate and graduate degrees in visual and performing arts
  • BFA, MFA, MA in Fine Arts, Doctor of Musical Arts, interschool degrees
  • Schools: School of Critical Studies, Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, School of Art, School of Film/Video, The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, School of Theater
  • Facilities: Eight galleries, media labs, Super Shop, REDCAT
  • Location: Valencia, CA

4. Parsons the New School for Design

  • Part of the New School that includes a liberal arts college and a progressive performing arts school
  • Undergraduate and graduate degrees offered via its five schools –
  • School of Art and Design History and Theory, the School of Art, Media, and Technology, the School of Constructed Environments, the School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion
  • Integrative curriculum
  • Courses include digital arts, fashion, architectural design, product design, transdisciplinary design, and more
  • Location: New York, NY (Also located in Paris, France)

5. Cranbrook Academy of Art

  • Private school that has around 156 students every year
  • Graduate-only program
  • Programs run by 10 Artists-in-Residence
  • Known for its graphic design and ceramics programs
  • Other departments include 2D and 3D design, metalsmithing, architecture, fiber, photography, print media, painting and sculpture
  • Studio space for each student and departmental facilities
  • Cranbrook Art Museum featuring modern and contemporary work in art, architecture, and design
  • Location: Bloomfield Hills, MI

6. Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

  • Known for its MFA programs in visual arts, graphic design, sculpture, and painting/drawing
  • Offers undergraduate, graduate, open studies, study abroad, and off-campus study programs
  • Also provides post-baccalaureate certificate courses in Fine Art and Graphic Design
  • Choice of majors, minors, and dual degree
  • Facilities: Decker Library, fabrication studios, and writing studio
  • Location: Baltimore, MD

7. Yale University School of Art

  • Undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Courses cover graphic design, painting/printmaking, photography and sculpture, and filmmaking, video and interdisciplinary
  • Facilities: School of Art’s Green Gallery, Moving Image Labs, Photography Lab, Edgewood Exhibition Spaces, Yale Art Gallery, and more
  • Location: New Haven, CT

8. Pratt Institute

  • Located in Brooklyn, NYC – a cultural hub
  • Interdisciplinary curriculum
  • Undergraduate, graduate and dual degrees
  • Six schools: School of Architecture, School of Art, School of Information, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and School of Continuing and Professional Studies
  • Facilities: Pratt Library, Business Incubators, Center for Experimental Structures, Intelligent Materials Applied Research and Innovation Lab, and more
  • Location: New York City, New York


These are few of the top art and design colleges in the U.S., each of which boasts of cutting edge facilities, reputed faculty, and a broad curriculum. Which of these would you go for?