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The Top 5 Art Schools in the US

by Buffy Naillon

Many aspiring artists dream of attending a top art school or college, and these dreams offer these artists some practical advantages. While there is sometimes a difference between art school and art college, both types of schools should give students a solid foundation in the arts. Further, a degree in art from a top-ranked school, especially a graduate degree, can open many doors for future artists, including teaching positions at the university level.

Yale University

Yale University is an Ivy League school located in New Haven, Connecticut. The school enjoys an excellent reputation across the disciplines, including fine art, where U.S. News and World Report ranked it in the top five best art schools in the country. Yale offers programs in painting and printmaking; sculpture; film, video, interdisciplinary; photography and graphic design. Students enjoy access to art studios, experienced faculty members and lecture series. Students entering the master of fine arts program can only do so in the fall of the year.(ref1, 2)

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Rhode Island School of Design, or RISD as students and professionals alike call it, has pushed the boundaries of the art world from the beginning when a group of women banded together to form the school. RISD offers master of fine arts, master of arts, master of arts in teaching, master of architecture, master of design in interior studies, master of industrial design and master of landscape architecture degrees at the graduate level. The school has added itself to the debate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects by suggesting that art and design be added to the conversation; this is based upon a belief that true innovation comes from the creative mind. (ref1,3)

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago fosters a spirit of cooperation between the disciplines so that students in the graduate program can make connections between different subjects. As the school's website pointed out, a person studying architecture might benefit from taking a photography course that allows her to visually experience architecture in more detail. Additionally, it offers advanced degrees in subjects such as New Arts Journalism and Historic Preservation, allowing students to look fully at the arts from almost every conceivable subject and profession. (ref1,4)

University of California, Los Angeles

The Department of Art at UCLA encourages graduate students to think deeply about art and how it has contributed to the growth and development of culture and change. The program offers six specialization areas in the master of fine arts program from the traditional subjects such as ceramics to a specialization in new genres. Students can take courses outside the art department to further their understanding of their discipline within other contexts. Graduate students work independently throughout their time at the school, but have up to three faculty members guiding them in any given semester. (ref1,5)

Virginia Commonwealth University

This arts school houses disciplines in the visual as well as the performing arts and has been on the receiving end of some pretty impressive awards, including the MacArthur Genius Awards and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Awards. Thousands of students call the school home and have access to faculty members who are also practicing artists. This allows students to see firsthand how the theoretical foundations of art fit into the practical aspects of running an art career. VCU is also housed within a larger research university, allowing students to come into contact with some of the most important research that can ultimately inform their work.(ref1,6)

About the Author

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.

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