Top 11 Art Schools in America

We collected the list of 10 best undergraduate art schools in America, taking into consideration tuition, acceptance rate and after-graduation statistics.
art schools in america

Before going into the rankings of art schools in America, many students have asked us “Should I go straight to art school to pursue an art degree, or should I go to a liberal college that offers art majors?”, or “What’s the difference between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts?” This article will answer all questions that you have!  

1. The difference between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Schools in America

TLDR: The main difference between Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Bachelor of Arts is the amount of art practice you receive. A BFA is more about a professional degree, because two-thirds of your time in the BFA will be dedicated to creating and studying your art specialization. While a BA normally dedicates much more time to liberal arts courses, giving you more well-rounded knowledge.  

Below is the comparison table from All Art schools to differentiate between a BA and BFA: 


Bachelor of Arts (BA) 


Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) 

Type of Degree 



Time to Completion 

4 years 

4 years 

Type of Coursework 

Liberal Arts 

Your Fine Arts Major 

Examples of Courses 

Math, Physics, English, History or whatever youliberal arts area of specialty is. 

Depends upon the area of the arts you intend to practice. Could be: Photography, Theater, Dance, Art History, etc. 

Ratio of General Ed to Specialty Courses Focus (in program hours) 

50 – 60 hours general ed. The rest in liberal arts specialty. 

30 hours general ed; 60 -70 hours in art specialty 


However, we also want to reiterate the nuances between two programs also depend on the college, whether it’s an art school or an art major within a liberal arts college. So, please double check the curriculum for your program of interest to see if that’s the program you want to attend.  

Once you choose your degree type and the school you want to attend, you will have to choose an arts specialty. Taking RISD for example, RISD offers a BFA in a variety of applied arts:  

With your art interest, there are various specializations you can choose from. For example, Graphic Design can be a great fit for you if you prefer using your design to communicate ideas, concepts that inspire and inform consumers. Graphic Designers will focus on developing the layout and production design for advertisements, magazines, brochures, etc.  If you prefer a broad and well-rounded education related to Graphic Design, you can also consider pursuing Digital Media major.  

2. Art Schools vs Fine Arts program at college and universities

Another question we frequently are asked is: “Should I go straight to art school to pursue an art degree, or should I go to a liberal art college that offers art majors?”

To keep it short, going to art schools in America will give you a fully immersive experience in the art world as well as valuable connections with rising and famous artists. Going to a prestigious art school will provide a great launch to your creative career, because of the school’s reputation and brand name.

On the other hand, a liberal arts college that offers art majors, like Williams College, gives you opportunities to interact with non-artists and use your art skills to work in a cross-disciplinary fashion. You should consider an art major at a liberal arts college if you prefer collaborating with people who are not from an art background and enjoy learning about different fields, not limited only to art.

3. School Ranking

In the school ranking table below, we separate the ranking to two categories: Fine Arts Program at Colleges & Universities and Art School.  Let’s dive into the art world and see which schools are in the list! 

Art Schools

1. RISD – Providence, Rhode Island  

Rhode Island School of Design is a private art and design school that offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs across 19 majors. RISD is affiliated with Brown University, with which it shares a contiguous campus. 

Tuition (annual cost): $72K 
Average cost after aid: $42K  
Acceptance rate: 24% 

RISD Career Statistics

2. School of the Art Institute of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois 

Located in the heart of Chicago, SAIC is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. It’s ranked #8 art and design program in the world by QS World University Rankings. 

Tuition (annual cost): $70K  
Average cost after aid: $43K   
Acceptance rate: 59%  
SAIC Career Statistics (2019): Outcomes represent 390 out of 540 alumni who completed their bachelor’s degrees six months after graduation:  

  • 84.3% are employed
  • 10.2% are continuing their education 

3. Pratt Institute – Manhattan, Brooklyn, NYC  

Located in NYC, one of the world’s multicultural epicenters for arts, culture, design and business, Pratt offers programs that are consistently ranked among the best in the country, and its faculty and alumni include the most renowned artists, designers, and scholars in their fields. 

Tuition (annual cost): $70K  
Average cost after aid: $46K    
Acceptance rate: 51%   
Pratt Career Statistics (2018)

4. Savannah College of Art and Design – Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; and Lacoste, France. 

The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited university conferring bachelor’s and master’s degrees at distinctive locations and online to prepare talented students for professional careers. SCAD offers degrees in more than 40 majors. 

Tuition (annual cost): $60K   
Average cost after aid: $42K     
Acceptance rate: 70%    
SCAD Career Statistics (2018-2019)

5. California Institute of the Arts – Santa Clara, CA 

California Institute of the Arts is a private college and a small institution with an enrollment of 1000 students. CalArts today offers more than 70 comprehensive degree programs in the visual, performing, media and literary arts. 

Tuition (annual cost): $73K    
Average cost after aid: $48K      
Acceptance rate: 23%   
CalArts Career Statistics

6. The New School — New York, NY 

Located in New York City, The New School includes Parsons School of Design, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, the College of Performing Arts, The New School for Social Research, the Schools of Public Engagement, and Parsons Paris. 

Tuition (annual cost): $74K   
Average cost after aid: $42K      
Acceptance rate: 57%   
The New School Career Statistics

Fine Arts Program in College & Universities

1. Yale College Arts, Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut 

Yale College, the undergraduate division of Yale University, offers a Bachelor of Arts degree program with a major in art. Yale School of Art is the first professional fine arts school in the United States 

Tuition (annual cost): $76K      
Average cost after aid: $19K      
Acceptance rate: 6%   
Yale Career Statistics

2. University of California–Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA 

The UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts) is a professional school at the University of California, Los Angeles. Through its four degree-granting departments, it provides a range of course offerings and programs. Additionally, there are eight centers located within the school.  

For students who’re interested in trying out Design Media Arts, Design Media Arts isn’t currently offered as a minor. 

Tuition (annual cost): $35K (in-state students), $66K (out of state) 
Average cost after aid: $14K      
Acceptance rate: 14%   
UCLA Career Outcome

3. Stanford University – Stanford, CA 

The Department of Art & Art History is an interdisciplinary department offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in art history, art practice, documentary filmmaking, and film studies. 

Tuition (annual cost): $75K    
Average cost after aid: $12K      
Acceptance rate: 4%   

4. Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCU) – Richmond, Virginia 

Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCUarts) is first in the country as a public university art school — and second in the country overall. One of many degree-offering schools at VCU, the School of the Arts comprises 18 bachelor’s degree programs and six master’s degree programs. 

Tuition (annual cost): $25K (in-state), $47K (out-of-state) 
Average cost after aid: $14K      
Acceptance rate: <25%
VCU Career Outcome 

5. Princeton University  – Princeton, NJ

The Program in Visual Arts introduces students to the studio arts in the context of a liberal arts education. The school offers courses in painting, drawing, graphic design, photography/digital photography, film/video, and sculpture.  

Tuition (annual cost): $74K    
Average cost after aid: $9K      
Acceptance rate: 5%   
Princeton University Career Outcome

Aralia is opening slots for our Art Portfolio Preparation Program. Taught by a RISD professor, this program covers a series of painting, design, and three-dimensional design projects. Students have a chance to improve their creative research and material experimenting abilities, and finally create an electronic art portfolio. 

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