The Top 5 US Art Schools to Achieve Artistic Excellence

25/08/202310 minute read
The Top 5 US Art Schools to Achieve Artistic Excellence

Choosing the right art school is a crucial first step on your path to artistic greatness. After all, the right environment can nurture your talents and help you transform into the artist you dream of becoming.

In this blog, we’ll explore the best art schools in the US, what they are, what makes them the best, and some new emerging art schools that could join the list!

The right art school can provide you with mentors who are established artists themselves, exposure to different artistic styles and techniques, access to state-of-the-art facilities, and connections within the art industry.

Remember, this is a place where you'll spend a significant chunk of your time, so it should feel like a second home where you can explore, experiment, and evolve.

What Makes an Art School Stand Out?

1. Faculty Expertise

The quality of faculty is like the foundation of a sculpture. An experienced, diverse, and accomplished faculty brings a wealth of knowledge to the table, guiding you through the intricacies of your chosen medium.

2. Facilities and Resources

Imagine a painter without a canvas or a sculptor without clay. Top art schools provide cutting-edge facilities, studios, workshops, and the latest equipment to give you the tools you need to bring your visions to life.

3. Alumni Success

The art world is vast and competitive, but an art school with a history of successful alumni shows that their education translates into real-world success. Graduates who have made a mark in the industry speak volumes about the school's quality.

4. Exposure to Industry

Just like a gallery showcases your artwork, a good art school should provide opportunities to display your creations. Internships, exhibitions, and partnerships with galleries or museums can be a great way to gain exposure.

5. Curriculum

A well-rounded curriculum is like the palette of colors you choose from. It should offer a mix of foundational skills, theoretical knowledge, and room for exploration. Look for a program that aligns with your interests and aspirations.

6. Student Support

Like a supporting frame, a strong support system is crucial. Look for schools that offer mentorship, counseling, and resources to help you navigate both your artistic and personal growth.

Blog Banner
Blog Banner

Best Art Schools in the US

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

Welcome to the vibrant canvas of SAIC! Here, creativity knows no bounds. SAIC boasts an impressive lineup of programs, from painting to fashion design, ensuring you have the tools to turn your wildest ideas into reality.

Best Art Design Schools School Art Institute Chicago

One of its unique strengths is its interdisciplinary approach, encouraging you to blend various mediums and techniques. This means you can seamlessly combine sculpture with digital art or even experiment with performance art.

SAIC's notable alumni, such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Grant Wood, have paved the way for artistic innovation. They're proof that SAIC doesn't just teach art; it shapes visionaries who redefine the boundaries of creativity.

Notable alumni:

  • Grant Wood - Painter
  • Georgia O'Keeffe - Painter
  • Claes Oldenburg - Sculptor
  • Jeff Koons - Contemporary artist
  • LeRoy Neiman - Illustrator

2. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

RISD is where innovation and imagination collide. Imagine a curriculum that allows you to explore a range of artistic avenues, from fine arts to industrial design. 

RISD believes that creativity flourishes in collaboration, so get ready to work with students from various disciplines. 

Rhode Island School Of Design

This unique approach means you might find yourself collaborating with a sculptor while you explore photography or teaming up with a graphic designer for a multimedia project.

What sets RISD apart is its dedication to interdisciplinary studies. Here, you can dive into the world of science, technology, and social sciences to infuse your art with new dimensions and fresh perspectives.

Notable Alumni: 

  • Dale Chihuly - Glass sculptor
  • Nicole Miller - Fashion designer
  • Seth MacFarlane - Animator and comedian
  • Shepard Fairey - Street artist and activist
  • Jenny Holzer - Conceptual artist

3. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

If you've ever dreamed of shaping the world of film, animation, or visual arts, this is your stage.


CalArts has a unique influence on these industries, with its alumni contributing to iconic films and animations. From Tim Burton to John Lasseter, this school has nurtured visionaries who redefine storytelling through art.

What's more, the faculty at CalArts aren't just teachers; they're industry professionals. They bring real-world insights and connections that can help launch your career in the world of entertainment arts.

Notable alumni:

  • Tim Burton - Filmmaker and artist
  • John Lasseter - Animator and filmmaker
  • Brad Bird - Director and screenwriter
  • Don Cheadle - Actor and filmmaker
  • Ed Harris - Actor, director, and screenwriter

4. Pratt Institute

Design mavens, architects, and liberal arts enthusiasts, Pratt Institute is your creative haven! Situated in the heart of NYC, this institute provides an urban backdrop that fuels inspiration.

Pratt Institute Main Building

Pratt's focus on design means you'll be honing skills that are in high demand across industries, from graphic design to explo.

What truly sets Pratt apart is its industry connections. Being in the creative epicenter of the world means you'll have unparalleled access to internships, collaborations, and opportunities that could jumpstart your artistic journey.

Notable alumni:

  • Betsey Johnson - Fashion designer
  • Robert Redford - Actor, director, and producer
  • Ellsworth Kelly - Painter and sculptor
  • Robert Mapplethorpe - Photographer
  • Richard Meier - Architect

5. Yale School of Art

If you're ready to take your art to the next level, Yale School of Art is calling your name. With an esteemed MFA program, you'll be immersed in a community of dedicated artists and mentors who are as passionate about your growth as you are.

Yale Background

The integration of theory and practice is a hallmark here, ensuring your artistic journey is both deeply reflective and hands-on.

The faculty at Yale School of Art are renowned in their fields, giving you the chance to learn from true masters. Here, you'll find yourself challenged, inspired, and equipped to make your mark on the art world.

Notable alumni:

  • Chuck Close - Painter and photographer
  • Mickalene Thomas - Contemporary artist
  • Nancy Spero - Visual artist and activist
  • Eva Hesse - Sculptor
  • John Currin - Painter
Blog Banner
Blog Banner

Spotlight: Emerging US Art Schools

Just as artists break new ground with each masterpiece, emerging universities are carving their own path in the realm of artistic education.

Besides the top art schools mentioned previously, there are art schools in the US that are making a name for themselves by delivering quality education and unparalleled support.

1. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

With campuses spanning the globe from Savannah to Hong Kong, this university's innovative approach to art education is breaking down boundaries. SCAD is not just a school; it's an experience that transcends geographical limitations.

Whether you're in Georgia or across the ocean, you can tap into their creative environment.

SCAD isn't afraid to dive into uncharted waters. They're leading the charge in digital arts and virtual reality programs, equipping students to navigate the increasingly digital landscape of the art world.Savannah Scaid

If you've ever dreamed of merging traditional artistry with cutting-edge technology, SCAD might just be your creative haven.

2. Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

Welcome to a place where art meets social impact at the crossroads of creativity and community. MICA isn't just about crafting beautiful artworks; it's about crafting a better world through art.


The emphasis here is on community engagement, ensuring that your creative endeavors aren't just confined to the studio—they extend to the world around you.

But that's not all; MICA is redefining artistic education with a multidisciplinary curriculum. It's like having an artistic buffet where you can sample a little bit of everything, from fine arts to design.

MICA is all about nurturing creative entrepreneurship, giving you the tools to turn your passion into a profession.

Blog Banner
Blog Banner

Which Art School is Right For You?

When considering which art school is the right fit for you, it's crucial to take a step back and objectively evaluate your own goals, interests, and strengths. Each art school has its own unique strengths and areas of focus. 

The right art school for you will depend on how well its offerings resonate with your artistic aspirations, allowing you to grow, explore, and excel within an environment that complements your unique journey.

If you need help deciding on the perfect university for you, our expert strategists can guide you through the selection process, as well as the admissions process from A to Z. Students working with Crimson are 7 times more likely to gain admission to their dream university!