Best 7 Art Colleges in Chicago in 2021

March 26, 2021 | Staff Writers

Art Colleges in Chicago
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More students are majoring in Art today than ever before. No longer are students being encouraged to seek a major that will get them “a real job” because many of today’s highest-paying fields require an art background. This is a subject that encompasses many disciplines from drawing and painting to photography and graphic design, and many areas in between. Art schools may offer more than visual arts, such as dance or music, but today we are concentrating on schools that offer visual art education. 

In the past, a college degree was only needed if you chose to pursue teaching but today, it is often difficult to get a position with larger animation or graphic art studios without showing you have the benefit of formal training. For all disciplines in the field of art, you can never know everything so the opportunity to study under masters in their field is priceless. Art is only enhanced by experience, both art-related and life in general. Many times people are the subject of art and having the ability to relate to many types of individuals will help you get that essence across to others in your work. This is especially true of painting and photography.

When searching for art colleges in Chicago, we find that many are located in suburbs. For the purpose of this listing, we are concentrating solely on those within the city of Chicago itself. Expanding your search to the suburbs will offer several more opportunities. A word of caution is needed for anyone seeking an education in Art. Beware of schools that boast they are only for artists and ask for one sample of your work. Often these are scams out to make as much money as possible and your degree is basically worthless. Explore, question, and do plenty of research if the program that catches your eye is not a well-established school in its own right. Let’s explore the top art colleges in Chicago.

Art Colleges in Chicago

1. North Park University

At North Park University, students can choose to perfect their art skills in traditional or graphic design. They may choose to apply their knowledge to a teaching degree or use it in an art therapy degree, which is a growing field. The school also offers a program where you can combine your knowledge of art with the business skills necessary for running a non-profit organization or opening your own art gallery. The Chicago area offers many opportunities for artists and attending this school enables you to participate in many of these events.

  • Cost: $44,450
  • Student: Teacher Ratio: 10:1

2. Roosevelt University

Roosevelt University offers a wide variety of programs that can help undecided art majors get a taste of graphic design, traditional painting, learning art history, or sculpting. This is only the beginning. This program is designed to be as individualized as possible so each student may follow a different path to their overall degree. An internship is part of the art program. This school boasts that Chicago is their campus because they are located right in the heart of downtown Chicago, giving students access to all the best Chicago has to offer.

  • Cost: $49,699
  • Student: Teacher Ratio: 10:1

3. Northeastern Illinois University

Attending an Art + Design program at Northeastern Illinois University allows you to focus on a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art (with a concentration in Art History, Studio Art or Art Education) or a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Attending this school gives students the opportunity to work among peers and with faculty in one of the most diverse universities in the Midwest as well as connect to the Chicago art and design community. The Northeastern Art and Design Association (NADA) Art Club offers a chance to build your portfolio, participate in juried art and design exhibitions, and connect with others who share your passion. In addition, students get the chance to participate in art based study tours to Peru, China, and Italy on organized trips planned by the Art + Design Department.

  • Cost: $30,689 (resident), $40,388 (non-resident)
  • Student: Teacher Ratio: 13:1

4. Columbia College Chicago

Students seeking a degree in Art in areas not normally found at other schools find a home at Columbia College Chicago. In addition to the traditional Fine Arts degree, you may want to pursue a degree that has you working behind the scenes designing record labels, art posters, and more. You may wish instead to enter Fashion Design or Photography or venture into Graphic Design. For those who want to share art with coming generations, you may pursue a degree that allows you to teach your passion. Advanced students may opt to work with after-school programs that bring the arts to children.

  • Cost: $48,212
  • Student: Teacher Ratio: 14:1

5. Loyola University Chicago

The Fine Arts program offers several majors: Art History; Sculpture & CeramicsDrawing, Painting, & Printmaking; Photography; and Visual Communication. Minors are available in each of the above Fine Arts majors, including a Studio Art Minor that combines elements of the five majors.

Through the framework of intellectual curiosity, we challenge our students to consider the human condition by raising global, ethical, and social justice concerns. We provide a creative and inclusive space to explore problems, inviting our students to investigate varied solutions. Through intersectional artistic and research practices, students work across discipline to develop critical consciousness. We aim to set students on the path to becoming productive, responsible, and engaged artists and citizens of the world.  

Loyola University Chicago offers a prime location for this study of fine arts. Its museums, concert halls, and libraries are a vast resource for academic study. And because this city constantly produces fresh examples of jazz, architecture, and public art, Loyola students gain vital access to the living history and practice of the arts.

  • Cost: $63,123
  • Student: Teacher Ratio: 14:1

6. Saint Xavier University

The Studio Art program at Saint Xavier University may not be as diversified as other schools on the list, but graduates are well-respected and prepared for many areas of the art world. You may perfect your art, help design commercial works, open an art gallery, or teach. This 120-hour course will have you feeling your growth from the beginning. During your senior year, you will have the opportunity to undergo a major project based on your largest area of interest.

  • Cost: $49,064
  • Student: Teacher Ratio: 16:1

7. DePaul University

Housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the Art School is built on a commitment to the liberal arts and offers three undergraduate degree programs and five minors.  A portfolio is not required for admission nor to continue in any of our programs.  Our courses emphasize research and conceptual thinking, creative problem solving, the development of medium-specific proficiencies, and the historical functions of art with the aim to impart diverse methods, skills, and challenges as a foundation for the understanding of visual culture historically, as well as to engage as active participants in contemporary art practice. Through the program’s quarter system, students selecting a double major or complementary minors could expand their artistic study and potential career opportunities.

Students take advantage of small class sizes and personalized instruction from studio faculty who are all practicing artists. The school offers two dedicated digital computer studios as well as film darkrooms, a teaching exhibition space, a wood and metal sculpture studio, and studio spaces for video, photography, digital imaging, sculpture, printmaking, painting, and drawing. Ongoing opportunities are available for students to participate in DePaul art exhibitions and internships, an art on campus showcase with purchase awards and a variety of arts related print publications. 

DePaul Newsline: https://resources.depaul.edu/newsline/multimedia/Pages/The-Art-School.aspx

  • Cost: $59,406
  • Student: Teacher Ratio: 16:1

Our Ranking Method

Schools made our list of art colleges in Chicago based on the variety of opportunities prospective students could explore in the field of art, the student: teacher ratio, and the overall standing of the school itself. If you are an art school in Chicago and believe you have been overlooked, please let us know. We will gladly take your information and consider it for future lists. We want to bring together schools and students that benefit each other.

If you are a student seeking a particular college program, please reach out and see how we can help you. If you are still exploring your possibilities or seeking a particular school in one area, also let us know and we can help reduce the amount of time and effort you spend researching. You can better use that time and energy on achieving your dream of finding the perfect program from which to launch your future.

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