Learning Is a Work of Art: 25 Schools for Art Lovers

Whether you're an aspiring artist or an art lover just about to start your bachelor's degree program, you can cultivate a creative sensibility at these 25 colleges. Features include a strong arts education set amid a vibrant cultural scene of museums, galleries, and artistic communities.

As you peruse these top schools, remember not to paint yourself into a corner. An bachelor's degree in art on its own might not be the best base on which to build a career. Consider taking a few business courses, leaning towards teaching in your program, or even learning a second language. A little forethought can help you pay the bills while you create your masterpiece.

Top 25 Art Schools for the Aesthete in You

Paint the town red at one of these top art schools...

  1. Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI) This premier school is a haven for art lovers in part because of the vast art collection on campus at the RISD Museum.
  2. Institute of American Indian Arts University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN) The most literate city in the U.S. is also a visual arts mecca. In addition to Open Book, the largest book arts center, Minneapolis boasts influential art museums such as the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, and the university's Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum.
  3. Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield, MI) An epicenter of the Arts and Crafts Movement, the grounds and architecture of this school will inspire you.
  4. California College of the Arts (San Francisco and Oakland, CA) This university has roots in ceramics arts and the Figurative Movement. Two Bay Area campuses lend a rich, culturally diverse context for your art education.
  5. Parsons The New School for Design (New York, NY) Set in the creative hotbed of Greenwich Village, this school was founded in 1896.
  6. School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL) This Chicago institution is an art lovers' dream: an art school within an art museum in one of the nation's most cultured cities.
  7. Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM) Santa Fe is not only a major art market, but also site of a unique art school focusing on traditional Native American arts.
  8. Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) Various art disciplines win acclaim at this public university, including glass, ceramics, and industrial design.
  9. California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA) This Southern California institution is situated in Santa Clarita, California, listed by Money magazine as one of the top 100 places to live in the U.S.
  10. Miami International University of Art & Design (Miami, FL) Art museums and a thriving fashion scene have earned Miami distinction as a leading arts center in the Southern U.S.
  11. School of Visual Arts (New York, NY) This school is smack dab in the middle of Manhattan's vibrant art scene.
  12. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) Who knows what present or future cinematic geniuses you might run into at this school?
  13. Temple University (Elkin Park, PA) This university enjoys access to neighboring Philadelphia's up-and-coming arts scene.
  14. University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM) Albuquerque is one of several affordable Southwest havens for artists. The colorful art scene complements the university's art curriculum.
  15. Brooks Institute (Santa Barbara, CA) An oceanfront setting offers plenty of inspiration for students honing their artistic vision.
  16. The Illinois Institute of Art (Chicago, IL) This school is set in the vibrant arts city of Chicago.
  17. Alfred University--New York State College of Ceramics (Alfred, NY) The historic village of Alfred, located in rural New York, offers a peaceful setting for the school's renowned ceramics and glass art programs.
  18. University of Washington (Seattle, WA) Seattle's arts scene brings together the diverse influences of artisan crafts, Native American art, and technology. Glass artist David Chihuly and local fiber artists enrich local art education.
  19. Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA) This university not only boasts on-campus art galleries, but there's a thriving art community as well.
  20. Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY) Pratt boasts a convenient location in New York's artsy Brooklyn borough.
  21. Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) Befitting its reputation as a high-tech leader, this university features top programs in interaction design and other digital media specialties.
  22. Naropa University (Boulder, CO) If Boulder's offbeat art scene and mountain vistas aren't enough to draw you, this unique Buddhist university's art programs might.
  23. Reed College (Portland, OR) Portland's creative free spirit finds academic expression in this university, which emphasizes independent study.
  24. Corcoran College of Art and Design (Washington, D.C.) The nation's capital offers unparalleled access to American art collections, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
  25. Massachusetts College of Art (Boston, MA) Home to more than 100 higher education institutions, Boston offers a rich cultural and intellectual backdrop to your art education.

Whether your interests lie in creative expression or cultural appreciation, these institutions expose you to the nation's most inspiring and vibrant artistic environments. Nothing eases the tension of finals better than a trip to the local art museum. Make your bachelor's degree or graduate education all that much more memorable at one of these schools.

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