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The Best Schools of Fine Art in the United States

by Tanya Lee

Many famous artists do not go to art school at all. But many find that a postgraduate art education is beneficial to a successful career. And a Master of Fine Arts is usually required to teach in the field at most post-secondary level institutions. While the order may differ, three U.S. college rankings put the following fine arts programs at the top of their lists.

Yale University School of Art

Yale University in New Haven, Conn., offers an MFA in graphic design, printing and printmaking, photography and sculpture. The school also offers graduate-level courses in film and video. Applicants to this highly competitive program must have a a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or a diploma from a four-year accredited professional art school.

Rhode Island School of Design

Familiarly known as RISD, the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I., offered two- or three-year Master of Fine Arts degrees in ceramics, digital media, furniture design, glass, graphic design, jewelry and metalsmithing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and textiles. All master's degree programs at RISD are full-time.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago offers a wealth of master's degrees and post-baccalaureate certificates in the fine arts. Applicants are required to submit a portfolio, statement of purpose and letters of recommendation.

University of California-Los Angeles Department of Art

The University of California-Los Angeles Department of Art offers a Master of Fine Arts in six areas of specialization: ceramics, interdisciplinary studio, new genres, painting and drawing, photography and sculpture. Completion of coursework, a formal exhibition and a comprehensive examination by faculty are required for graduation.

Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts is located in Richmond. The school offers Master of Fine Arts degrees in ceramics, fiber, furniture design, glassworking, jewelry/metalworking, kinetic imaging, painting, photography and film, printmaking and sculpture as well as an MFA in theater and an MA in art history.

California Institute of the Arts

Located in Valencia, the California Institute of Arts offers two- or three-year MFA programs in art, critical studies, dance, film/video, music and theater. Applicants must submit an application, transcripts, portfolio, artist's statement and letters of recommendation.

Carnegie-Mellon College of Fine Arts

The Carnegie-Mellon College of Fine Arts in Pittsburgh, Pa., offers a three-year Master of Fine Arts degree. The first year is devoted to structured coursework, the second is a mix of structured and independent work and the final year consists of independent work, preparing a formal exhibition and writing a thesis paper.

About the Author

Tanya Lee is a professional writer with more than 30 years experience. She has published extensively in the field of education and as a journalist, the latter in such publications as "High Country News" and "News from Indian Country." Lee holds a M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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