Art Graduate School Rankings: The Best Options for Your Master’s Degree


Art Graduate School Rankings: Getting accepted into an elite art graduate school can help further your career and open doors in the competitive arts field. While artistic talent and passion are essential, choosing the right graduate program is also important.

With so many excellent options across the United States and abroad, how do you determine which schools are truly the best fit for your goals and budget? This guide will help explain what to consider when researching art graduate school rankings to find top programs in your area of interest.

Art Graduate School Rankings and How are They Determined?

School rankings create a way to compare programs objectively based on common metrics. For art graduate schools, several reputable sources publish annual rankings that are widely consulted by prospective students. However, it’s important to understand what these rankings actually measure and their limitations.

The key factors influencing rankings generally include school reputation, admissions rates and selectivity, employment data after graduation, available resources and facilities, student/faculty ratio, tuition costs, and academic or artistic excellence. Reputation surveys also ask other academics, creative professionals, and employers to rate programs in their fields.


Top Art School For Master’s Program

Let’s explore some top ranked options to consider across major art graduate degree areas according to some key ranking sources (U.S. News & World Report Graduate School Rankings, QS World University Rankings and The Hollywood Reporter’s).

1. Fine Arts Programs (Painting, Sculpture, etc.)

Yale School of Art (New Haven, CT)

Consistently ranked #1 in the U.S. for prestigious faculty and resources at a private Ivy League institution. Highly selective and expensive but provides an elite credential.

California College of the Arts (San Francisco, CA)

Public institution ranked top 10 nationally known for innovative interdisciplinary programs combining fine arts with design thinking. Emphasis on artistic experimentation in the Bay Area.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Large private college that places within the top 10 nationally, providing a vibrant arts community in a major city. Resources, facilities, and community engagement opportunities.

Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)

consistently top ranked public program nationwide focused on traditional fine art practices in a historic city full of arts culture. More affordable out-of-state tuition than private schools.


2. Design Programs (Graphic Design, Product Design, Architecture, etc.)

Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)

Top nationally ranked private college seen as the most prestigious design-focused institution globally. Highly competitive portfolio admission. Known for cross-disciplinary collaborations.

California College of the Arts (San Francisco, CA)

Again a strong public option, this time focusing specifically on its top-ranked design programs spanning animation to industrial design. Innovative curriculum.

Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)

Public research university with nationally top-ranked architecture, industrial design, and HCI programs. Interdisciplinary initiatives in technology and business.

Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA and Atlanta, GA)

Private nonprofit focused solely on art and design, spanning fine arts to animation and game development. Well-known competitive programs at multiple campuses.

3. Performing Arts Programs (Dance, Music, Theatre, etc.)

Juilliard School (New York, NY)

The most prestigious conservatory in the world, famously selective and expensive but globally renowned faculty and alumni in classical music, dance, and drama. Located in NYC.

University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

Strong dance, cinema, theatre programs in the heart of Hollywood, providing industry connections. USC brand recognition as a highly ranked private research university.

Northwestern University (Evanston, IL near Chicago)

Private research university with nationally top-ranked theatre, music, and performance studies programs located just north of a major city and cultural hub.

The Boston Conservatory at Berklee (Boston, MA)

Conservatory focused solely on performing arts with top 10 ranked dance, music, and theatre programs held in high regard across the country. Boston arts scene.

Other Important Factors When Searching for Top Art schools for Graduate Programs

While rankings provide a starting point for comparisons, they don’t tell the whole story – your specific interests, fit, experience goals, and financial situation must also be carefully weighed. Consider exploring these additional factors:

  1. Program Focus & Specialties – Ensure your chosen programs deeply specialize in your medium/discipline specifically.
  2. Faculty & Visiting Artists – Research if they are actively exhibiting or publishing to stay current. Look at the caliber and reputation of any guest lecturers.
  3. Admissions Requirements & Support – Make sure you understand requirements like GPA, test scores, portfolios. Consider availability of mentors, advising, and career services.
  4. Tuition & Cost of Living – Compare not just tuition but total costs like fees, supplies, housing. Look for assistantships or on-campus job opportunities.
  5. Location & Facilities – What are amenities like dedicated studio spaces, galleries, performance spaces like? Consider access to city arts hubs or industries.
  6. Class Size & Learning Approaches – Find programs focused on close oversight, critiques and individualized learning. Consider student-faculty ratios.
  7. Career Outcomes – Look at graduate placement rates and how alumni are currently employed in industry, academia, and area of interest. Connect with them directly.

By weighing factors like these in addition to rankings, you can assess which top programs will provide the best environment and experiences to match your unique talents and professional goals in the arts. Don’t hesitate to directly contact potential schools too for an inside perspective.

Financial Aid, Assistantships & Scholarship Options

Even among top ranked art graduate schools, tuition and living costs will vary dramatically based on public versus private status. The average annual tuition for a fine arts master’s program ranges from $15,000 to $50,000, not including additional supplies, materials, transportation and housing expenses that can easily top $30,000 more per year. Fortunately, there are many options to finance your degree:

  • Graduate Assistantships – Teaching or research positions that come with full or partial tuition remission and sometimes even a small salary or stipend. Very competitive but prestigious.
  • Fellowships – Awards given based on talent, merit or need that provide substantial tuition assistance or a living stipend. Examples are Fulbright Fellowships, Pollock-Krasner Grants.
  • School-Based Aid/Scholarships – Programs typically offer competitive, need-based grants or scholarships. Research specific deadlines and requirements carefully.
  • External Grants & Scholarships – Consider private foundation grants or annual awards given by professional arts organizations. State grants also exist for residents.
  • Student/Parent Loans – Federal student loans offer flexible repayment, while private loans vary in interest rates and terms. Avoid over-borrowing if possible.
  • Crowdfunding – Services like Kickstarter allow pitching creative projects for financial support from donors online as an emerging option.

Choosing the Program that Fits You Best

With this overview of top Art graduate school rankings, other factors beyond rankings need to be investigated, along with options for funding your degree. You now have the foundation to zero in on Art graduate schools. The most important things now are:

  • Define your career goals and interests specifically based on your strengths and passions.
  • Refine your list of top 2-3 programs with the resources, specialties and environments ideal for supporting those aspirations.
  • Schedule virtual info sessions or campus visits if possible to get a true feel for the program culture before applying.
  • Address any gaps in your qualifications for those top choices with additional coursework, projects or fellowships so your application stands out.
  • Create a strong personal statement expressing why their program is the ideal next step on your journey as an artist.
  • Apply early with care given to your portfolio, letters of recommendation and following all instructions precisely.

Conclusion on Art Graduate School Rankings

In conclusion, when it comes to choosing the best Art Graduate School for your Master’s degree, looking at Art Graduate School Rankings can be really helpful. These rankings give you an idea of which schools are considered the best by experts. Remember, it’s not just about the ranking number but also about finding a school that feels right for you and your artistic goals.

With focused research, passion, talent and perseverance, the right art graduate program can absolutely provide the advanced training and credentials to transform your creative career.

So, take your time, explore your options, and pick a school that inspires you to create amazing art!

Sources for This Post Art Graduate School Rankings

U.S. News & World Report Graduate School Rankings – One of the most well-known sources for school ranking.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 25 Art & Design Schools – Rankings for film/TV, graphic design using factors like graduate success rates, critical reviews, and curriculum innovation.

QS World University Rankings by Subject – An international ranking of over 300 top programs globally.

Read More: Top Film and Arts Schools


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