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Best 11 Visual Arts Programs in 2021

February 18, 2021 | Staff Writers

Visual Arts Programs
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Visual Art programs are a great opportunity for students to combine a passion for the arts with a dedication for solving real world problems.  Visual Art programs often apply creative thinking and visual interest to a common problems, leveraging the way in which humans interact with art and visual representation.  This discipline has several different applications which can include fine arts, graphic design, theater, and even media and technology.  Visual Art programs are often varied and customizable, allowing students to create a program and path that will help them better define their future career.  

What is a Visual Arts Program?

Because there are many different ways to define Visual Art programs, the look of a program can take on many different forms.  Often, technologically backed schools create Visual Art programs that are centered around engineering, science, and technology.  Liberal arts schools tend to focus on more artistic endeavors with Visual Art programs such as theater, music, and studio arts.  Regardless of the discipline and concentration, programs around the world are focused on connecting people to art.  This can be to solve world issues, or to design creative ways to think and interact with the humans around us.  Visual Art can also be directed toward historical perspective and study, understanding the ways in which art has impacted culture, society, and politics throughout history.  

Top 5 Visual Arts Programs

RankSchoolLocation
1Prescott CollegePrescott, Arizona
2Lindenwood UniversitySaint Charles, Missouri
3Michigan Technological UniversityHoughton, Michigan
4Mississippi State UniversityStarkville, Mississippi
5Rice UniversityHouston, Texas

What Are The Benefits?

Students who look to pursue a degree in a Visual Art program usually get the opportunity to enhance their already artistic mindset.  Many Visual Art programs give students the opportunity to develop their skills in a hands-on, real world approach.  Schools regularly outfit their studios and laboratories with the latest software and technology which can make students ready to enter the career world upon graduation.  Many students with a Visual Arts degree understand that there is more than one way to solve a problem.  These students learn the critical and creative thinking skills necessary to become successful in the corporate world.  

What is the Outlook And Salary?

Visual Art programs can span a wide range of disciplines, so it is difficult to narrow down an outlook and salary for this particular field.  Some concentrations have a positive career growth outlook, with fine artists and multimedia directors increasing in demand by up to 4% in the coming years.  Comparatively, graphic designer and art director careers are declining as much as 4% each year.  This is a niche program so it is important to fully understand what you are able to accomplish with your chosen concentration upon graduation.  The median salary for students who graduate from Visual Art programs is $50,000 per year with some art directors making an average of $72,000 per year.

If you are artistic and passionate about finding creative ways to solve common world issues then a career in the Visual Art might be for you.  This is a complicated program that requires extensive research to ensure that the school will provide the right concentrations for your future study.  Looking through several Visual Art programs can be overwhelming, but luckily we are here to help.  We have put together the top 11 Visual Art programs available to allow you to find the right program for your interests and future goals.  

The Best 11 Visual Art Programs

1

Prescott College

  • Prescott, Arizona
  • Points: 19

The Visual Art program at Prescott College is perfect for students who want to explore the connection visual media has with people. This is the ideal program for students who want to go on to pursue their Masters degree, or for students who wish to pursue a career in the arts, curation, or teaching disciplines. The studio at Prescott College allows students to explore a number of different media types and hone their artistic skills.

Courses are designed to not only develop and heighten a student’s visual art skills, but to also explore the ways in which art has contributed to human development throughout history. Connections are explored in a cultural, historical, social, religious, and environmental way, giving students a well-rounded education.

  • Application Requirements: Transcripts, test scores, autobiographical essay, letters of recommendation

School Overview

Tuition: $1,356 per credit
Visit School Website
2

Lindenwood University

  • Saint Charles, Missouri
  • Points: 18

Lindenwood University gives students the opportunity to explore Visual Art through a number of different sources including performing arts, radio, television, visual art, and corporate communication. This degree offers a state of the art laboratory filled with up to date technology that allows students to develop their artistic abilities even further.

Students at Lindenwood University will have the opportunity to showcase their skills through annual exhibitions and performance opportunities. Not only does this allow the students the chance to perfect their art and learn the value of feedback, but it will also allow the students much needed exposure to their peers’ art. While the degree program is intended for students to earn their Bachelor degree, there are options to earn a minor in the various Visual Art courses offered.

  • Application Requirements: Transcripts, financial records, test scores, personal essay, letters of recommendation encouraged but not required

School Overview

Tuition: $750 per credit
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3

Michigan Technological University

  • Houghton, Michigan
  • Points: 16

The Visual Art program at Michigan Technological University is a sought after program for many new students entering the exciting world of Visual Art. The program has two main objectives; to teach both the artistic side of Visual Art, as well as the technical side. Students graduating with a degree from Michigan Technological University are well rounded and ready for fulfilling careers in a diverse range of disciplines.

  • Application Requirements: Application, application fee, transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores

School Overview

Tuition: $1,466 per credit
Visit School Website
4

Mississippi State University

  • Starkville, Mississippi
  • Points: 14

Mississippi State University offers students the rare opportunity to learn Visual Art through a variety of different concentrations. Students will have the opportunity to choose from three different concentrations that will help them build their portfolio, and enhance their understanding of the visual and artistic world. Students may elect a concentration in the Fine Arts, Graphic Design, or Photography.

Students have the opportunity to work in a hands-on studio, allowing them real access and experience working with a variety of different mediums. This degree is perfect for students who wish to go on to purse a higher education degree in the Fine Arts. Incoming students into the art program at Mississippi State University are expected to own required art equipment that will not be provided to students upon enrollment. This includes technological equipment and software, as well as art supplies.

  • Application Requirements: Application, application fee, test scores, transcripts – students entering into the University will be assigned “undeclared” until a successful portfolio review is completed for admission to the art program

School Overview

Tuition: $997 per credit
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5

Rice University

  • Houston, Texas
  • Points: 13

The Visual Art program offered at Rice University helps to give students a well rounded background in the visual arts as they apply to other disciplines. While this is certainly an area of study in and of its own, it is also open to students from engineering, history, architecture, and economics allowing all students to better appreciate the visual arts and the way they relate to the every day world.

Students are encouraged to learn new perspectives and evolve their understanding and ability to create visual art as it relates to human communication. Students enrolled in this program thrive on changing environments and have a risk-taking mindset. Rice University pairs the Visual Art degree with Dramatic Arts degree, offering students even more opportunity for study.

  • Application Requirements: Application, application fee, letters of recommendation, test scores, transcripts, interview (optional for students)

School Overview

Tuition: $2,046 per credit
Visit School Website
6

University of Utah

  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Points: 12

The University of Utah offers a competitive Visual Art program for students that offers several opportunities for development and education. The program offers several different areas for concentration including Theatre, Dance, Art and Art History, Fine and Media Arts, and Music. This is a comprehensive program that gives students the opportunity to hone their skills and develop the necessary understanding and theory needed to excel in an art driven career.

Through the several programs offered, the University of Utah is dedicated to developing students as independent artists. Not only will this allow them to refine their skills, but it will give them the confidence needed to move forward with their career. Students will have access to real, hands-on experience working with the most up to date technology needed to excel in the competitive world of Visual Art.

  • Application Requirements: Application, application fee, transcripts, test scores.

School Overview

Tuition: $1,134 per credit
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7

Savannah College of Art and Design

  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Points: 11

Although not a dedicated Visual Art program or degree, the Savannah College of Art and Design offers students an unprecedented amount of courses to take in an astounding number of concentrations. Unlike other schools, the Savannah College of Art and Design gives students several different paths to follow as they relate to the Visual Arts. Students have the ability to select Photography, Visual Effects, Film and Television, Graphic Design, Furniture Design, and even more. This is a school that really allows students to find what they are passionate about and hone their abilities.

The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private college that is small and selective. The school has an all-star team of faculty that have impressive resumes and success when it comes to exciting careers in Visual Art. The school has up to date technology and allows for real, hands on experience allowing students the much needed time working through various mediums used for design.

  • Application Requirements: Application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, portfolio or writing sample, test scores, resume, statement of purpose, phone interview

School Overview

Tuition: $1,586 per credit
Visit School Website
8

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • Troy, New York
  • Points: 9

Long touted as an engineering powerhouse, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute offers a competitive and comprehensive Visual Art program for students. Students have the ability to minor in four select concentrations including Music, Electronic Arts, Studio Arts, and Video, Performance, and Social Practice. Further, students then have the opportunity to earn a Bachelor degree in Music or Electronic Arts. This school even offers a PhD program in Electronic Arts for those students wishing to pursue higher education options.

The program successfully intertwines the principles of engineering and science with an artistic bend, allowing students to pursue artistic endeavors, understanding they way they relate to engineering and technology. Students emerge from the program well-rounded and set up for success in a number of different, exciting careers. Students will have the opportunity to engage in independent, or collaborative projects throughout their academic career.

  • Application Requirements: Application, transcripts, letters of recommendations, essay, portfolio

School Overview

Tuition: $2,307 per credit
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9

Emory University

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Points: 7

The Visual Art degree at Emory University allows students to not only hone their artistic abilities, but to gain an understanding of the humanities with concentrated study in a number of varied courses. Students will have the opportunity to pursue classes in Art History, Drawing, Painting, Design, and Sculpture, as well as Digital, and New Media.

The program at Emory University encourages students to take a hands on approach and allows plenty of real world experience for students. Incoming students are met with new technology and software programs, setting them up for early success in a Visual Art career. The program at Emory University gives students the opportunity to work closely with faculty, boasting a small student to faculty ratio.

  • Application Requirements: Application, transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, essay

School Overview

Tuition: $2,241per credit
Visit School Website
10

Penn State University

  • Centre County, Pennsylvania
  • Points: 7

Penn State University has a competitive and diverse Visual Art program available for students. The program seeks to blend critical thinking with creative thinking in order to create real world solutions to common, every day problems. It is the belief that when creativity enters critical thinking it is possible to better experience and understand the world around us.

There are plenty of different concentrations and opportunities for students to pursue with concentrations focusing on Photography, Fine Arts, Digital Multimedia Design, and Digital Arts. Students can take a wide variety of classes with up to date technology and resources available.

  • Application Requirements: Application, transcripts, test scores, foreign language requirements

School Overview

Tuition: $1,479 per credit
Visit School Website
11

University of Texas – Austin

  • Austin, Texas
  • Points: 6

The University of Texas – Austin provides students with the opportunity to explore several different artistic endeavors as they relate to the Visual Arts. Students have the chance to explore Fine Arts, Art History, Public Arts, Performing Arts, and more. With a range of courses and concentrations available to students it is possible to create a customized program to set students up for future endeavors.

Students will have access to theaters and performing arts studios, coupled with the opportunity to explore the latest technology for media and digital arts. Students who graduate from this program go on to be creative thinkers, makers, and designers through all areas of industry.

  • Application Requirements: Application, transcripts, test scores, essay, short answer, letters of recommendation (not required by encouraged)

School Overview

Tuition: $1,598 per credit
Visit School Website

Methodology

Creating a list of the top 11 Visual Art programs available was done in a calculated manner based on a number of metrics.  First, the individual schools were compared on their tuition cost per credit.  Schools that offered a yearly tuition cost for an undergraduate degree were divided by two semesters.  Further, the tuition was divided by 12, assuming an average of 12 credits per semester.  Schools were ranked in order of tuition cost, with the least expensive tuition receiving the most number of points, and thus a more favorable ranking.  Tuition costs were calculated based on out of state tuition rates for all schools.

The next metric that was used to calculate the top schools on our list was the enrollment size for the university.  Smaller enrollment size assumes that students will have smaller classes, and thus more one on one attention from faculty and staff.  The enrollment sizes were compared and schools with fewer students received more points.  The awarded points for the tuition cost and enrollment size were totaled together.  The school with the most points was awarded top position on our list, with the highest point totals following in order.

We always want to make our information as accurate as possible for incoming students.  If your school has been featured as a top school for its Visual Art program, and you notice that the information we have listed is not correct, let us know!  We always want to be sure we include the most up to date and recent information to convey to our perspective students.  

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