Top Ten Schools for Fine Arts

This blog post is for the student that is considering pursuing a B.A. in Art, which could mean a few things. Maybe you love art but also want to take general education classes to supplement your education. Maybe you want to be able to draw, paint, or make sculptures but aren’t sure if you want to make a career out of it. Or maybe your parents won’t let you go to RISD. Keep scrolling to read about some of our favorite programs:


The art department at UCLA prides itself on exposing students to a wide variety of mediums. The school offers courses in painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, ceramics, art theory, and new genres such as performance art and non-studio work. Art majors at UCLA must take at least one foundation course in all areas, and then advanced level classes in areas of your choosing. UCLA is a research university, so in addition to studio work, students study the historic and scholarly aspects of the art they create. Students can collaborate with professors, and this year an adjunct professor at UCLA created an installation for Coachella.  


Penn’s school of arts and sciences offers a fine arts major with studio classes in the areas of animation and 3D modeling, ceramics, design, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video. In addition to the studio classes, the curriculum focuses on contemporary art, creative research, interactive design, and public art. The school is big on connecting students with professionals that currently work in the field, so visiting artists often join seminars on campus.


Yale’s art offerings run the gamut, and student choose from one of the following concentrations: graphic design, printing/printmaking, photography, sculpture, or filmmaking. What’s unique about the program is that, with the permission of the program director, students can repeat courses (for credit) if they want to. And apparently, a lot of students do that. Students compete for the Ellen Battell Stoeckel fellowship, a summer fellowship at the Yale University Summer School of Music and Art.  


USC offers both a BFA and BA, but as discussed, this post focuses on the BA program. The art major at USC is a good fit for students that are interested in more than just art, as most art majors are either double majors or supplement their degree with a minor. You’ll fulfill all of USC’s general education requirements, and in addition must take three semesters of foreign language.


Art majors at Pomona graduate will a full body of work, and it’s shown at Pomona’s Studio Art Hall's Bernard Charnwut Chan Gallery during their senior year. Students can also apply for a number of funded research grants that usually take place during the summer. Like many other schools on our list, course subject matters includes painting, drawing, photography, design, digital media, sculpture, performance, installation, and social practice.  


The studio art major at Dartmouth offers courses in architecture, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. But there’s more. The Artist-In-Residence program started at Dartmouth in the 60’s, and every year there are three or four artists from around the world that live on campus for ten weeks. Those artists continue working on their art, talk to students, and sometimes host events that art students are welcome to join.


Art is a way of life at Swarthmore, so much that the school’s website says that the ability to understand art is the key to a richer understanding of the human experience. They offer an Art major, and an Art History major. But you’ll be getting a well-rounded education, because you’ll still have a lot of general education requirements. As a senior, you’ll present your own exhibition in the on-campus gallery and write a 2,500 word statement defining your artistic style.  

Rice University:

At Rice, you can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Dramatic Arts. There are three concentrations to choose from: film and photography; studio art; and theater. Rice is in Houston, which the students love because the art scene in Houston is not nearly as developed as say, New York City, so it can be more welcoming to newcomers. The school has its own cinema and campus is walking distance from Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Arts Museum. Students partake in field trips, attend guest lectures, and put on their own exhibitions.


The W.L.S. Spencer Studio Art Building at Williams is a popular hang out spot for studio art majors at Williams. According to Williams, it’s a place where creativity can flow freely. There are classrooms, studios, office hours, and the Wilde Gallery – which is the student exhibition space on campus. There will be some art history classes peppered into the studio art concentration course load, but studio art students primarily focus on their creation of their own work.


The Art and Visual Culture major at Bates offers studio classes along with classes about the intersection of art, architecture, visual culture, and material culture. There are two tracks: history and criticism; and studio art. Bates student take classes in both areas, and then decide on their preferred track. The requirement list is long and detailed, but you’ll also have room for general education requirements.


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