This is a list for my daughter, Grasshopper and Sensei, who wants to go to Art School but does NOT want to be a fine artist. I suspect she will end up doing commercial art, mostly because she dislikes working alone but, on the flip side, is amazing working collaboratively.
A Fairly Comprehensive List of Top Art and Design Colleges (but not Fine Art Schools)
So … I am not including Fine Arts programs that focus on students who want to exhibit in a museum or art gallery. My daughter also wants to go to Art School where she is pretty much in studio all day as opposed to liberal arts classes, so I have also not included liberal art colleges with great art and design departments.
We will use this page for our notes, updating and adding photos as we visit some of these art schools. We’d love your feedback as well!
Massachusetts Art and Design Colleges
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Summer Programs for High School Students (United States high school students who have finished their sophomore year and who are 16 to 18 years old). My daughter’s experience at the RISD Pre-College Summer Program 2016 (6 weeks, intense, great instructors, learned a lot!).
Acceptance Rate: 27.3%
Total Enrollment: 2,406
Location: Urban in an upscale area in Providence, Rhode Island.
Notes: Great joint program with Brown University. Students there seem to sleep less than 4 hours a night. Ouch! Zoe’s Art and Design College counselor, Jeanette of Tiny Rotten Peanuts went here. Also, Ann of Doodles and Jots went here. Both are helping her.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Summer Programs for High School Students (A pre-college studio art program for students entering grades 11 and 12)
Tuition: $11,900 for MA in-state
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Total Enrollment: 2,098
Location: Boston near Museum of Fine Arts, Northeastern University, and Wentworth College. In a safe, urban environment accessible by the Green Line subway.
Notes: My daughter did a vacation program there and loved it. Great faculty! My freshman dormmate is a faculty professor in the Graphic Arts department.
New York City Art and Design Colleges
School of Visual Arts
Summer Programs for High School Students (Pre-College is open to all students who will be enrolled in high school in fall 2015. The summer program is scheduled for three weeks in July and classes are taught Monday through Friday from 9 am – 4 pm.)
Acceptance Rate: 76%
Total Enrollment: 4,195
Location: 209 E 23rd St near Baruch College in Manhattan.
Notes: My friend, the artist Jenny Brown, did her MFA here.
Summer Programs for High School Students (The Cooper Union Summer Art Intensive accepts resident and non-resident students, ages 15-18, who will be living in New York City or surrounding areas this summer during the course of the program.)
Tuition: Starting in the Fall of 2014, all students enrolling for the first time at Cooper Union receive a half-tuition scholarship currently worth $20,400 per year ($10,200 per semester). $40,800 is the value but $20,400 is actual cost.
Acceptance Rate: 8%
Total Enrollment: 939
Location: Cooper Union, is a privately funded college located in Cooper Square in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.
Notes: My brother’s high school friend went here for architecture. He is amazingly talented and it was his first choice because it was 100% free when he went.
New School—Parsons School of Design
Summer Programs for High School Students (Parsons offers summer programs for students from grade 3 through graduate school. Pre-college students can enroll in Summer Intensive Studies New York, Summer Intensive Studies Paris, or Parsons Pre-College Academy. College-age and adult students can choose from Summer Intensive Studies New York, Summer Intensive Studies Paris, and Summer Studies in Constructed Environments. )
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Total Enrollment: About 5,000
Location: 209 E 23rd St near Baruch College in Manhattan.
Notes: My neighbor, Tracy Coughlan, went here.
Summer Programs for High School Students (Every summer, Pratt sponsors a college-level program for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors at its Brooklyn campus. It is an intensive immersion experience; approximately 400 high school students, ages 16–18, seize the opportunity to experience a college-level study in Pratt Institute’s PreCollege program.)
Acceptance Rate: 67%
Total Enrollment: 4,627
Location: Pratt Institute is a private, non-sectarian, non-profit institution of higher learning located in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, United States, with a satellite campus located at 14th Street in Manhattan.
Canadian Art and Design Colleges
Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Summer Programs for High School Students (The Summer Institute for Teens at Emily Carr is a pre-university program that helps teens aged 15 to 18 ready themselves for an education at an art + design university with an immersive one-month experience that engages them through intensive studio practice and visual culture.)
Tuition: $17,900 (international student)
Acceptance Rate: not reported
Total Enrollment: 1,828
Location: Emily Carr University of Art and Design is a public post-secondary University located on Granville Island in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
California Art and Design Colleges
California Institute of the Arts
Summer Programs for High School Students (CalArts is the site of the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), held from early July to early August. High school students, grades 8-12, may apply for admission to CSSSA and they do not have to be residents of California to attend.)
Acceptance Rate: 27.5%
Total Enrollment: 1,489
Location:The California Institute of the Arts, colloquially called CalArts, is a private university located in Valencia, in Los Angeles County, California.
Art Center College of Design
Summer Programs for High School Students (Saturday High introduces a four-week intensive summer program for students seeking a rigorous in-depth experience in a chosen area of concentration. In addition to studio classes, weekly guest speakers (practicing artists and designers) will share their stories and career paths. Lectures about art and design will familiarize students with design history, cultural icons, and design trends. The program will conclude with a final exhibition and celebration of student work open to friends, family, and educators.
Classes meet weekdays at the South Campus from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.)
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Total Enrollment: 1,489
Location: Art Center College of Design is a private college located in Pasadena, California.
Otis College of Art and Design
Summer Programs for High School Students (This intensive, four-week, pre-college program is for individuals 15 and older who wish to study at one of the top art and design colleges in the country.)
Acceptance Rate: 51%
Total Enrollment: 1,032
Location: Established in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design is L.A.’s first independent professional school of art. The main campus is located in the former IBM Aerospace Headquarters at 9045 Lincoln Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.
Laguna College of Art & Design
Summer Programs for High School Students (Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD) offers summer courses that give aspiring art and design students opportunities to sample foundation courses while earning college credits. And what’s even better is that LCAD’s Pre-college courses are offered at a fraction of the cost of standard tuition. Just classes, not sleepaway.)
Acceptance Rate: 39%
Total Enrollment: 448
Location: Laguna College of Art and Design, or LCAD, is a small private college located in Laguna Beach, California. With an enrollment of approximately 450 students, LCAD focuses on a fine arts program.
Notes: My mother-in-Law lives in Laguna Niguel.
Academy of Art University
Summer Programs for High School Students (Just classes not sleepaway.)
Acceptance Rate: not reported
Total Enrollment: 10,508
Location: The Academy of Art University, formerly Academy of Art College, is a privately owned for-profit art school in San Francisco, California, USA.
Other U.S. Art and Design Schools
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
Summer Programs for High School Students: (This summer, experience one of the most challenging and rewarding opportunities for young artists and designers. Collaborate with MICA expert faculty, visit working professionals, earn college credit, learn how to put together an application portfolio that stands out, and dramatically expand your creative skills. Live, learn, and socialize on campus with other creative-minded students like you from all over the world. In addition, travel to the global centers of art and design: New York, Washington, DC, and even Italy—the birthplace of the renaissance.) My daughter’s friends did the summer program and are now at MICA.
Acceptance Rate: 47%
Total Enrollment: 1,872
Location: Maryland Institute College of Art is an art and design college in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. 1300 W. Mount Royal Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217
School of the Art Institute Chicago (SAIC)
Summer Program for High School: The Early College Program (ECP) provides high school students with the necessary creative freedom to develop a sustained, structured dialogue between ideas and process. Mirroring the methods and practices of the contemporary artists and designers, students choose courses within focused disciplines, yet retain opportunities to freely explore across media in order to build strong skills and a portfolio that reflects their personal interests.
Acceptance Rate: 66%
Total Enrollment: 2,843
Location: Urban setting in Chicago
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Summer Programs for High School Students (This three-week, studio-intensive, residential program provides high school sophomores through seniors the opportunity to complete rigorous coursework and learn critical skills to prepare them for college. Students leave with three college credits and the confidence and experience necessary for any aspiring art student.)
Acceptance Rate: 64%
Total Enrollment: 688
Location: Minneapolis College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit four-year and postgraduate college specializing in the visual arts
University of Cincinnati (College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning)
Summer Programs for High School Students (This camp designed for high school students grade 9-12 begins June 21–27, 2015)
Tuition: $26,334 (out of state)
Acceptance Rate: ?
Total Enrollment: 2,438
Location: The University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, commonly referred to as DAAP, is a college of the University of Cincinnati.
Columbus College of Art and Design
Summer Programs for High School Students (Spend three weeks taking classes with our faculty, meeting professional artists, exhibiting your work, and exploring Columbus and its art scene. You’ll live on campus and take classes at one of the country’s best art and design colleges. You’ll leave campus ready to drive your college search. Grades 10-12)
Acceptance Rate: 69%
Total Enrollment: 1,486
Location: Columbus College of Art & Design is a private college of art and design located in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Originally founded in 1879 as the Columbus Art School, CCAD is one of the oldest private art and design colleges in the United States.
Savannah College of Art and Design
Summer Programs for High School Students (SCAD Summer Seminars offer workshops for high school students who have completed their freshman, sophomore, or junior years. Students gain valuable educational experience while developing their creative vision through exciting art and design assignments and projects.)
Acceptance Rate: 49%
Total Enrollment: 10,826
Location: Savannah College of Art and Design, is a private, nonprofit university with locations in Savannah, Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France.
Maine College of Art
Summer Programs for High School Students (Pre-College is open to students who have completed their sophomore, junior or senior year of high school.)
Acceptance Rate: 95%
Total Enrollment: 352
Location: The Maine College of Art is a fully accredited, degree-granting art college in the city of Portland, Maine. Founded in 1882, the Maine College of Art is the oldest arts educational institution in Maine.
* All images from Wikipedia or school website unless watermarked.
p.s. Related posts:
Art Competitions for Kids and Teens
p.p.s. More about Art Colleges from our college tours:
Visiting School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
Visiting California College of the Arts
Visiting Emily Carr Art + Design University in Canada
Visiting California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
Applying to Art School: School of Visual Arts
Visiting West Coast Art Schools & Foodie Stops Nearby
Applying to RISD: Advice from Antonio Peters in Admissions
Tips for National Portfolio Day
Xtreme Week at Mass College of Art
and some fun stuff …
If you are visiting New York City, here are our cheap foodie finds.
45 Art Gifts for Seriously Arty Kids (by my arty daughter)
Our Art Gift Kits for Arty Kids
10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
28 thoughts on “Top Art & Design Colleges for Undergraduates”
This is such a great list, Mia–thank you! My daughter is an aspiring artist, and I’d love to see her go to art school. Thanks for including links to summer programs. She’s only in 7th grade now, but I’ll keep this info handy for later!
I’ll be posting on the whole process so I hope it helps your daughter. I thought those summer programs were for rising juniors in high school but there is one school that has a program for a rising sophomore. It’s too late for us for my daughter because she’s doing something else but just FYI.
I went to RISD for Industrial Design and loved it! Great list, of course MassArt is such a smart choice for Mass residents. And also I should say we hired a lot of grads from Art Center where they really prepare them for jobs.
Thanks for your help too! My daughter is going to visit Continuum which is right near my house and hopefully they will tell her more about Industrial Design which she is very interested in! Thanks for your info about Art Center — that’s the one in Pasadena? We will be sure to visit it. My daughter wants to do a west coast sweep to check out art schools next year.
Just saw Cooper Union is not totally free anymore that is a bummer. I applied there and didn’t get in, it is so competitive.
8% acceptance rate! I think it’s still high even though it only pays half tuition. That’s still a great deal though. My daughter’s art teacher went there and that is blowing my daughter’s mind because of the acceptance rate. She said that she got in because she did the summer program. I do think that helps!
Wow, what a list! So helpful for those seeking art and design schools. So much more available than when I was in college. Thanks for sharing. I know someone who will be interested in your post.
Awesome list, and it’s crazy to see the prices of these schools now!!! And the difference in prices. I loved RISD as well. I was initially going to go to Parsons, and I’m really glad I decided to stay out of NYC for undergrad; I think it would have been a big stressor on top of the college experience. It will be fun to follow which way G and S leans when she gets closer to making a decision!
Thanks so much for all your help with her. She’s a typical teen and not really taking advantage of all the support she’s getting. I was surprised to learn that Cooper Union is no longer free. Half price though. But that art school in Canada is the same price and in such a great location. My daughter wants to do a west coast swing next year and will do a summer session at RISD. She loved the week at Mass College of Art which solidified her interest in Art and Design School (and wants to go there right now instead of high school LOL!).
These sound like great programs!
I’m excited for her and I’m glad she’s narrowed it down to Art and Design Schools; makes choosing where to visit and apply a lot easier!
Mia, this is a great list of art and design colleges! I am hoping to go to an art school as well. The Canadian school seems pretty cool. I have heard that Canada is a nice place. Going to school there might be fun!
Grenville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia is an amazing place! My brother was living in that general area for a few years for his work and I visited him. I fell in love with Grenville Island and that art school, I hear, is quite good and very well priced!
This is a great list but this is of no use for me as I am from India, Plz do suggest for the same.
I’m so sorry but I am not familiar with art schools in India.
Mia, this is a great list of art and design colleges! All the colleges information you shared will be very beneficial for every student. Thanks for sharing this amazing blog.
Thanks so much for your kind words. I am pulling the info for my daughter and will continue to post as we begin the art college visiting process.
Its such a nice post. Keep it up.
Thanks so much Nikita,
I’ll be posting on Art and Design School college visits as we see a few of these over the next three years.
Great list! Some of these schools make me want to go back in studying again. I’ll forward this to my brother since he’s looking to get into a good art school next year.Cheers!
Glad this list will help your brother!
Great schools! Thanks for listing them. All I need to do is choose which suits me best.
I think there are a few more to add to. I’ll add as I figure that out. Glad you like the list!
Thanks for the list of this useful arts resources for studies. My niece likes anything art and Most of these books helped her really much. Though, she is till in artschool and you can recommend more useful art books for her if there is any for improvement.
Glad your niece will benefit from this! I have some posts on art books for kids here: http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2012/01/top-10-childrens-art-books-by-author-sarah-pinneo/ and here: http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2011/07/top-10-childrens-books-for-budding-artists-ages-2-18/
A huge and great list of arts and design institutions. I love art and design.
we also providing art and design fair and exhibitions in Dubai.
We are also a great art gallery and design week.
Thanks so much Art Dubai! Your event sounds great!
Thank you for sharing this blog. Keep sharing this information. Xgen College of Visual Art