Best art and design schools: 2020 ranking

Which are the best art and design schools of 2020?

Best art and design schools of 2020 (1 - 5)
art and design school comparison
Comparison winner
art and design school comparison
Comparison winner
Central Saint Martins
Comparison winner
College of Arts and Science
Comparison winner
London College of Fashion
Comparison winner
Herberger Institute
Comparison winner
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Comparison winner
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Comparison winner
Institute of Fine Arts
Comparison winner
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Comparison winner
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Comparison winner
Cornell College of Arts and Sciences
Image
Central Saint Martins
100points
College of Arts and Science
89points
London College of Fashion
85points
Herberger Institute
78points
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
77points
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
75points
Institute of Fine Arts
74points
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
72points
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
70points
Cornell College of Arts and Sciences
69points
Summary
Summary
  • General info (98)
  • Admissions (100)
  • Facilities (49)
  • Honors (4)
  • Tuition & Aid (96)
  • General info (90)
  • Admissions (64)
  • Facilities (63)
  • Honors (49)
  • Tuition & Aid (56)
  • General info (88)
  • Admissions (0)
  • Facilities (48)
  • Honors (1)
  • Tuition & Aid (96)
  • General info (87)
  • Admissions (30)
  • Facilities (76)
  • Honors (31)
  • Tuition & Aid (49)
  • General info (100)
  • Admissions (64)
  • Facilities (90)
  • Honors (100)
  • Tuition & Aid (53)
  • General info (90)
  • Admissions (28)
  • Facilities (76)
  • Honors (31)
  • Tuition & Aid (49)
  • General info (51)
  • Admissions (60)
  • Facilities (63)
  • Honors (43)
  • Tuition & Aid (65)
  • General info (71)
  • Admissions (56)
  • Facilities (47)
  • Honors (57)
  • Tuition & Aid (72)
  • General info (99)
  • Admissions (65)
  • Facilities (90)
  • Honors (100)
  • Tuition & Aid (45)
  • General info (80)
  • Admissions (62)
  • Facilities (70)
  • Honors (44)
  • Tuition & Aid (70)
Pros
Pros
  • Lower tuition required
  • Lower tuition required from international full-time students
  • More international full-time students
  • Higher place in Fashionista ranking
  • More years since its establishment
  • Lower tuition growth rate
  • More enrolled students
  • More student unions and societies
  • More academic staff
  • More years since its establishment
  • Bigger average financial aid for students
  • More Pulitzer Prize winners
  • Lower tuition required
  • Lower tuition required from international full-time students
  • More study programs on offer
  • Lower tuition growth rate
  • Lower tuition required
  • Lower tuition required from international full-time students
  • More student unions and societies
  • More enrolled students
  • More museums
  • Lower tuition growth rate
  • Lower tuition required
  • More academic staff
  • More international full-time students
  • More years since its establishment
  • Ivy League member
  • More museums
  • Lower tuition required
  • Lower tuition required from international full-time students
  • More student unions and societies
  • More enrolled students
  • More academic staff
  • More museums
  • Lower tuition required
  • Lower tuition required from international full-time students
  • More enrolled students
  • More student unions and societies
  • Bigger average financial aid for students
  • More Pulitzer Prize winners
  • Lower tuition required
  • More international full-time students
  • More academic staff
  • More years since its establishment
  • Ivy League member
  • More applicants
  • More enrolled students
  • More academic staff
  • More international full-time students
  • Ivy League member
  • More museums
  • More Pulitzer Prize winners
  • More enrolled students
  • More academic staff
  • More student unions and societies
  • More years since its establishment
  • Ivy League member
  • Lower tuition growth rate
Cons
Cons
  • Library collection
  • Undergraduate students
  • Enrolled international students
  • Tuition fees per year
  • Tuition fee growth rate
  • Tuition fees per year for international students
  • Grants per year per student
  • Library collection
  • Year established
  • Patent applications
  • Grants per year per student
  • Enrolled international students
  • Library collection
  • Dorm capacity
  • Rhodes scholars
  • Year established
  • Undergraduate students
  • Graduate students
  • Tuition fees per year for international students
  • Grants per year per student
  • Enrolled international students
  • Undergraduate students
  • Library collection
  • Dorm capacity
  • Rhodes scholars
  • Undergraduate students
  • Enrolled international students
  • Tuition fee growth rate
  • Grants per year per student
  • Library collection
  • Dorm capacity
  • Undergraduate students
  • Enrolled students
  • Dorm capacity
  • Tuition fee growth rate
  • Graduate students
  • Grants per year per student
  • Undergraduate students
  • Tuition fee growth rate
  • Tuition fees per year
  • Graduate students
  • Tuition fees per year for international students
  • Undergraduate students
  • Library collection
  • Tuition fees per year for international students
  • Grants per year per student
  • Dorm capacity
  • Pulitzer Prize winners
General info
Academic staffNumber of academic staff. Data is obtained from national agencies such as National Ministry of Education, National Bureau of Statistics, National Association of Universities and Colleges, National Rector's Conference.
Academic staffNumber of academic staff. Data is obtained from national agencies such as National Ministry of Education, National Bureau of Statistics, National Association of Universities and Colleges, National Rector's Conference.N.A.6755N.A.400210713644136621000600
Position in Fashionista top 50 rankingThe Fashionista Top 50 Fashion Schools is based on student experience, staff experience, the reputation of the school with employers, as well as tuition costs and demographics. Source: fashionista.com, 2020.
Position in Fashionista top 50 rankingThe Fashionista Top 50 Fashion Schools is based on student experience, staff experience, the reputation of the school with employers, as well as tuition costs and demographics. Source: fashionista.com, 2020.1N.A.12N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.
Number of programsThe school offers a wider range of study programs to choose from. There are likely to be a lot more options when choosing which classes to enroll on, and you can specialise in your area of interest.
Number of programsThe school offers a wider range of study programs to choose from. There are likely to be a lot more options when choosing which classes to enroll on, and you can specialise in your area of interest.9N.A.74N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.
Student unionsA students' union, student government, free student union, student senate, students' association, guild of students or government of student body is a student organization present in many colleges and universities and many high schools. In higher education, the students' union is often accorded its own building on the campus, dedicated to social, organisational activities, representation and academic support of the membership. Source: university's official website, 2020.
Student unionsA students' union, student government, free student union, student senate, students' association, guild of students or government of student body is a student organization present in many colleges and universities and many high schools. In higher education, the students' union is often accorded its own building on the campus, dedicated to social, organisational activities, representation and academic support of the membership. Source: university's official website, 2020.N.A.450N.A.11004001100450N.A.4001019
Year establishedThe university's long history can indicate excellent traditions and more resources. Source: university's official website, 2020.
Year establishedThe university's long history can indicate excellent traditions and more resources. Source: university's official website, 2020.1854183219061964187219541931188018901865
Total score for "General info"
Total score for "General info"
Admissions
Enrolled studentsEnrolled students include both undergraduate and graduate students. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Enrolled studentsEnrolled students include both undergraduate and graduate students. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.N.A.50000N.A.59004160205205000032492100011906
Enrolled international studentsThe percentage of international students among all students show if the university is attractive abroad and the level of diversity. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Enrolled international studentsThe percentage of international students among all students show if the university is attractive abroad and the level of diversity. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.32%17%N.A.12%34%12%17%25%20%18%
Graduate studentsA high number of Masters and PhD students can indicate that the university has a research focus. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Graduate studentsA high number of Masters and PhD students can indicate that the university has a research focus. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.N.A.27720N.A.1399641602478883249145001500
Number of applicantsA high number of applicants can indicate that a university is in high demand and has a good overall image and reputation.
Number of applicantsA high number of applicants can indicate that a university is in high demand and has a good overall image and reputation.N.A.42807N.A.11223421640574280763073421628977
Undergraduate studentsUndergraduate education is an education level taken in order to gain one's first tertiary degree. When you're studying at bigger university you have better possibilities of networking and usually an access to better resources. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Undergraduate studentsUndergraduate education is an education level taken in order to gain one's first tertiary degree. When you're studying at bigger university you have better possibilities of networking and usually an access to better resources. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.N.A.7423N.A.5938267001804222280067004100
Total score for "Admissions"
Total score for "Admissions"
Facilities
Dorm capacityThe number of students that can be hosted in dormitories. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Dorm capacityThe number of students that can be hosted in dormitories. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.N.A.11000N.A.130001381513000110005200138157600
Library collectionWith a bigger library collection, the university can offer more books, magazines, online resources, etc. to its students. Source: university's official website, 2020.
Library collectionWith a bigger library collection, the university can offer more books, magazines, online resources, etc. to its students. Source: university's official website, 2020.9485001385000090390453080917000000453080913850000123117661700000016140000
MuseumSource: university's official website, 2020.
MuseumSource: university's official website, 2020.
Number of museumsSource: Wikipedia, 2020; city's official website, 2020.
Number of museumsSource: Wikipedia, 2020; city's official website, 2020.1113331N.A.31
University dormitoriesThe university has its own halls of residence available for students. These can provide an exciting social life, and sometimes work out cheaper than private accommodation.
University dormitoriesThe university has its own halls of residence available for students. These can provide an exciting social life, and sometimes work out cheaper than private accommodation.
Total score for "Facilities"
Total score for "Facilities"
Honors
Ivy League memberThe Ivy League is an athletic conference composed of sports teams from eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group. The term Ivy League also has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism. Source: university's official website, 2020.
Ivy League memberThe Ivy League is an athletic conference composed of sports teams from eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group. The term Ivy League also has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism. Source: university's official website, 2020.
NASAD accreditationNASAD is the national accrediting agency for art and design (and related disciplines) in the US.
NASAD accreditationNASAD is the national accrediting agency for art and design (and related disciplines) in the US.
Patent applicationsA patent application is a request pending at a patent office for the grant of a patent for the invention described and claimed by that application. Number of applications shows how creative and inventive are students. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Patent applicationsA patent application is a request pending at a patent office for the grant of a patent for the invention described and claimed by that application. Number of applications shows how creative and inventive are students. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.5350580001230N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.
Pulitzer Prize winnersThe Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition. Source: http://www.pulitzer.org/, 2020.
Pulitzer Prize winnersThe Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition. Source: http://www.pulitzer.org/, 2020.N.A.19N.A.447419N.A.473
Rhodes scholarsThe Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil John Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford.[1] It was the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, and is widely considered the world's most prestigious scholarship. Source: university's official website, 2020.
Rhodes scholarsThe Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil John Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford.[1] It was the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, and is widely considered the world's most prestigious scholarship. Source: university's official website, 2020.N.A.3N.A.5332535332230
Total score for "Honors"
Total score for "Honors"
Tuition & Aid
Average financial aidA general amount of financial aid for students in millions of dollars. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Average financial aidA general amount of financial aid for students in millions of dollars. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.N.A.223$ millionN.A.59.6$ million41.77$ million59.6$ million223$ million28.1$ million41.77$ million245$ million
Grants per year per studentThe average amount of funding that is available for a student per academic year (grants, scholarships and/or financial aid given to eligible students). Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Grants per year per studentThe average amount of funding that is available for a student per academic year (grants, scholarships and/or financial aid given to eligible students). Source: university's official statistics, 2020.N.A.26 000.00$N.A.9 573.00$40 000.00$9 573.00$26 000.00$37 608.00$40 000.00$38 170.00$
Tuition fee growth rateA lower growth rate for tuition fees indicates that the cost of studying at the university is not increasing too quickly year on year. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Tuition fee growth rateA lower growth rate for tuition fees indicates that the cost of studying at the university is not increasing too quickly year on year. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.0%3.9%0%2.9%3.5%2.9%3.9%4.5%3.8%3.13%
Tuition fees per yearTuition payments, known primarily as tuition, refer to the annual fee charged for educational instruction during higher education. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Tuition fees per yearTuition payments, known primarily as tuition, refer to the annual fee charged for educational instruction during higher education. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.14 708.00$42 472.00$14 708.00$8 510.00$38 888.00$8 510.00$23 904.00$25 171.00$52 650.00$42 300.00$
Tuition fees per year for international studentsTuition payments, known primarily as tuition, refer to a fee charged for educational instruction during higher education. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Tuition fees per year for international studentsTuition payments, known primarily as tuition, refer to a fee charged for educational instruction during higher education. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.14 708.00$42 472.00$14 708.00$16 542.00$38 888.00$16 542.00$23 904.00$25 171.00$52 650.00$42 300.00$
Total score for "Tuition & Aid"
Total score for "Tuition & Aid"

The best art and design schools and colleges

Throughout history, we have been driven to create, understand, and appreciate art. While there is value in engaging in art casually or as a hobby, taking a more immersive approach and studying art and design at the collegiate level at one of the top universities for art & design can be incredibly rewarding and transformative. A degree from any of the best fine arts schools and colleges can allow you to improve the means by which you express yourself and communicate with the world, deepen your knowledge and appreciation of artistic and cultural history, and prepare you for an exciting variety of careers by expanding your artistic and professional skills. In addition to careers in the fine arts, academics, or fashion, studying art and design can even open unexpected career paths for you in the fields of business and technology, with many great innovations in those fields coming from people who studied graphic design or product development at one of the best design schools and colleges in the world. If you are interested in pursuing a degree in the fine arts or design, you will have a wide range of excellent schools to choose from around the world, and we have developed this helpful guide in order to help you understand exactly what you will need to keep in mind when making this important decision.

Academics

While everyone looking to attend a top university for art & design will have their own set of unique professional and personal goals in mind, strong academics play a large part in almost everyone's pursuit of higher education. Everything from the number and makeup of the student body and faculty, to the amount, range, and types of academic programs and degrees offered by prospective schools will make an impact on the value and types of opportunities each university offers to students such as yourself. It is important to gain an understanding of the various components affecting a school’s overall academic standards, so that you may then see which school will provide you with the tools to achieve your own personal and artistic goals.

University Establishment

The date of a university’s establishment can be an important indicator of its overall academic quality. Older, more established schools often have applied their experience to develop practices, courses, and programs that serve students very well and contribute to long traditions of excellence. A school with a lengthy history will also be more likely to have attracted the most skilled and practiced faculty, allowing you to benefit from instructors whose knowledge of academics and craftsmanship will be of superior quality. Well established schools also often have impressive lists of influential and renowned alumni, who can potentially serve as useful connections for you as you begin building your career. The relevance of a university’s history is reflected by the fact that many of the best fine arts schools and colleges have been around for over a century, with many, such as the Royal College of Art and ESMOD dating back almost two hundred years.

Enrolled Students

The number of students enrolled in both the graduate and undergraduate programs will make a huge difference in campus life and your overall college experience. While most design schools and colleges are relatively small, and have around 1000-2000 full-time students, some, such as the London College of Fashion are home to over 4000 undergraduates and about 500 additional graduate students.

Number of programs

The number of study programs and major and minor degree options offered by a school is one of the biggest determining factors in many people’s school choice. If you have already decided for certain which degree program you would like to pursue, it might not be as important for you for a prospective college to have a multitude of additional study programs, as long as the program you would like to apply for has a distinguished track record. However, as a variety of programs will naturally mean a larger variety of course offerings as well, even if you have already decided your major or concentration, having some additional options to explore or expand your horizons can further enrich and add depth to your educational experience. Ultimately, the importance of the number and type of programs offered will vary given your individual academic and post-academic goals, and while many of the best fine arts schools and colleges offer extensive and diverse catalogs, others, such as Parsons School for Design, specialize in a few available programs and provide a catalog which is relatively limited but focuses on those programs to maintain an extremely illustrious standard.

Entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary degree programs

While most applicants to the top universities for art & design naturally prioritize schools with acclaimed fine arts and design programs, taking stock of available opportunities to expand your skill set in other fields can also pay great dividends for you in the future. A school that offers strong opportunities for cross-discipline study and entrepreneurial growth can give you a leg up over your peers by arming you with a more well-rounded set of skills. Having additional training in business fields such as management, marketing, and entrepreneurship can help you broaden your range of career choices, while also helping you gain skills necessary to succeed in the commercial side of the art world. Schools such as the London College of Fashion offer programs such as Fashion PR & Communication or Design & Development that integrate fashion and design with business or technical training, allowing you to gain a solid foundation regarding developing your brand and managing your career or company alongside your artistic training and creative development. A school with strong entrepreneurship and cross-disciplinary programs can provide a great boost in getting your future career in the fine arts or design off of the ground.

Foreign Double Degree Programs

Double degree programs are another academic feature that can add new and extremely rewarding dimensions to your university experience. Almost all of the top universities for art & design provide you with a variety of study abroad and foreign exchange options, wherein you will complete part of your coursework while living in and gaining exposure to another country’s culture and artistic history. Some schools, such as Italy’s Istituto Marangoni, even have campuses in some of the worlds other fashion capitals, allowing you to neatly and conveniently fit foreign study programs into your existing degree programs.

Academic staff & student to staff ratio

The makeup of a prospective school’s faculty can be extremely telling concerning its overall quality as an academic institution. You should look for schools with not only a higher percentage of faculty being comprised of professors and other academic staff, but those whose academic staff is both academically and professionally accomplished in the field you wish to pursue. A well-experienced staff is invaluable, especially in creative fine arts fields, as they will be able to give you first-hand insight and practical guidance that cannot be found from other sources. You should also look for colleges with lower student to staff ratios, as this indicates an increased amount of personal attention and focused instruction on the part of your teachers. Most of the best art and design schools and colleges will have academic student to staff ratios below 20:1, such as the 17:1 ratio at the Royal College of Art. However, there are are excellent schools that happen to have higher ratios, such as ESMOD with a student to staff ratio of 29:1.

Tuition and finances

The tuition and broader financial costs of attending an art and design school will be a key practical part of your decision set. Costs vary from school to school. While higher costs can indicate prestige and academic quality, some schools are run by state funds and have lower costs while maintaining a good educational standard. You will have to look at tuition rates and fees, cost of living in the area, potential additional tuition for international students, as well as available financial aid when you are analyzing the financial components of your decision.

Ranking and prestige

The prestige a school enjoys in the world at large can make a big difference both while you are attending and once you graduate. A well-known institution with a strong reputation can open doors for you and help you make connections that can greatly aid both your creative and professional success. Here are some key properties that reflect the reputability of a given school:

  • Number of applicants & admission rate. A school with a large amount of aspiring applicants but a relatively low admission rate can mean that entrance into its programs is extremely desirable and competitive, and their selective acceptance means that the students that they do accept will seem more accomplished and have access to a rare opportunity. Most of the top universities for art & design have acceptance rates below 35% and some accept even less than half a quarter of applicants, like the Royal College of Art.
  • Forbes US colleges ranking. Forbes annually publishes a list of America’s 650 Top Colleges, focusing mainly on a school’s academic offering and educational experience. While this list is not specifically focused on fashion schools, ranking on it indicates a well-maintained and high-quality educational experience that stands alongside the best institutions in the nation regardless of field.
  • Fashionista ranking. Ranking among Fashionista’s Top 50 Fashion Schools is an industry specific distinction that reflects a high level of respect and acclaim for a college's academic staff, degree programs, and past graduates among employers and professionals working in the fashion and design industries. New York City’s Parsons School for Design is perennially the highest ranked institution in the USA, and London College of Fashion, Istituto Marangoni, the Royal College of Art, and ESMOD are annually among the top five or ten schools in the global rankings.
  • NASAD accredited. All of the best design schools and colleges in the USA are accredited members of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and this certification is a mark that a university passed peer review and meets, if not surpasses, the standards for undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of fine arts and design.
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