Universities with solid art programs

We live in PA and my rising junior is a very talented artist (drawing mostly). He doesn’t want to go to an art school but rather a regular college that has a strong art program. He is still unsure if he wants to major in art or business. So, I’m looking for public or private schools that would have a good art program if he decides to go that way (or a dual major, etc…). Penn State is too big and he would prefer a suburban school preferably within 6 hours of Philadelphia. Does anyone have any suggestions? He is a good student 3.8 GPA , no standardized test scores yet.



As a rising junior, DS has a lot of decisions to make. Does he want to double major in art and something else (if so, what’s the something else?) Is he just looking to keep up his skills or does he also want to be surrounded by a large cohort of fellow artists? One other question I’d ask any future visual artist would be, how good are your computer skills?

As other suggestions, American and Boston College are strong in art and business, and should seem sufficiently suburban for your son’s setting preference.

My kid is similar to yours, a rising junior who wants to do animation but would prefer an art/film program at a university rather than an art college. This summer we visited and liked NYU Tisch, Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts, UCLA’s Film department, and especially USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. I realize your son isn’t necessarily interested in film, but all four of these colleges have very strong art programs in general.

Regarding his search in general, take note of which schools allow for flexibility when scheduling classes, and of which that impose significant restrictions. The presence of a top business school will offer little value to a student in the arts and sciences division if its courses are not generally available to him.

BU - although I believe the school of art is separate from the b-school. He might be looking at a dual degree in that case. LAC’s such as Bard? They don’t offer business, however. But some might have a joint program with a nearby university.

VCUARTS is one of the top rated design schools in the country and is part of the larger VCU. Its ranked #2 in the country by USNWR for its MFA program only behind #1 Yale. Located in Richmond Va. D is a senior GD major and has had a great experience with many many opportunities.

With the exception of the last post, all of these provide good suggestions and food for thought. VCUarts is either distinct from VCU or it is not. The poster alternates depending on which is more desirable at the moment. In any case, VCU is in a city (however small) and VCU is probably well below your son’s academics.

Depending on his test scores, you might want to shoot higher and consider Cornell and/or U Michigan (too big?). U Delaware also comes to mind. Liberal Arts schools may be too small, and/or too competitive, but a school such as Tufts (5-6k range for student body), reasonably outside of Boston and which now owns the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, could provide a great synergy.

again, for your own benefit do not rely on the rhetoric of a poster that seems entirely obsessed with discrediting the top public arts/design program in the country. She is completely transparent at this point as I am sure you can ascertain. I wish you the best of luck on any choice your family decides on.

What? Yes, VCU has a good and well known Art program but the rest of the university is pretty subpar academically. If you want a good Art program along with other strong opportunities academically I’m sorry, but VCU is not going to offer that. That is not rhetoric, that is the reality of the situation. Schools like Carnegie Mellon and Michigan have strong art programs and strong academics in just about all subjects. Matter of fact the Ross school of business in Michigan is one of the top programs on the country and Michigan is very flexible with combining majors or minors. At Michigan you can freely take art classes at Stamps Art and Design while you are in Ross. No one is insulting VCU, but the original question asked what universities both have a strong art program and could offer a strong program in business. VCU is not it. My daughter got a full ride at VCU Art but turned it down for that reason and decided to go to the University of Michigan Stamps school of Art and Design. The resources and opportunities at Michigan are just incredible and the reputation of Michigan alone (regardless of major) has paid off so far.

OP asked for schools preferably within 6 hours of Philly. So UMich. might be outside the box there. OSU (closer, though just outside the 6 hour radius on a good day) has an excellent b-school and a decent art department (so I’ve heard) but might be too big.

A lot depends on what type of art OP’s DC wants to do. The smaller colleges of art and design will tend to be more specialized than larger universities., but the latter will have the business programs.

RIT might be worth looking into, and perhaps NEU in Boston.

You may want to look at CMU, NYU, BC

Syracuse University might be a good fit too. Their Honors Program seemed to allow a bit more flexibility and double majors. There’s both BFAs and BS in the School of Art and BS in Graphic Design, Photography etc via the Newhouse School.

Also RIT again with various degrees spread out among traditional art majors + game design etc.

I’m wishing all of you the very best of luck! It’s such a stressful time for the students. Such big decisions.
May I ask all of you what have you heard about the SMFA/Tufts joint degree program?
I heard its very rigorous. Wondering what you’ve all heard? Thank you!

I am the original poster. We attended NPD recently and it was very helpful. The schools we talked to were: PSU, Drexel, Temple, VCU, Syracuse, RIT, Wash U and Michigan. I know the last two are outside my desired zone but they were there and it can’t hurt to chat. Every school was very high on my son’s portfolio, some expressing disappointment he is only a junior. Others had great advice for things to try and add in the coming year (more direct view, etc…). Unfortunately, some schools we are interested in were not there such as CMU, Skidmore, and Wisconsin. Given the level of interest so far, I am now starting to think about scholarship opportunities. If anyone has first hand knowledge on this topic specific to the above schools I would love to hear about it. I know Drexel and Temple give great scholarships. I also know PSU will give nothing. Thanks in advance!

My daughter received a scholarship from Stamps Art and Design at the University of Michigan. It is the only scholarship they offer. I believe they offer 8 of them a year, at least that was what she was told when she got the offer in 2018. 8 kids were offered the scholarship but I am not sure how many ended up enrolling at UM . She is a sophomore now. It is $12,500 a year and you have to maintain a 3.5 GPA. Michigan actually flew my daughter to campus and put her in a hotel for 3 days to try to convince her to attend. She ended up signing her scholarship like a football player. Pretty cool for a school like UM to treat their art students like that. We also received a very generous Michigan grant on top the the merit scholarship from Stamps and my daughter received a local scholarship for 4 years too. Even though we are OOS we are basically paying less than if she attended a state school in Ohio. The advantages of a Michigan degree the resources she has is well worth it. She just loves Ann Arbor and even though the campus is large she tells us it never feels that way and all the opportunities she has is well worth it. Just keep in mind the acceptance rate at UM is around 20% for OOS students and those admitted that receive any type of merit scholarship is less than 5%, so we were very fortunate. It is my understanding Stamps will not even look at your portfolio unless general admissions accepts you first based on academics and then refers the student to Stamps for the portfolio evaluation.

For the OP , RIT offered a generous scholarship package , though the program is not quite as coveted.

Also, my daughter was offered a Provost scholarship plus another $8K to attend VCU Arts. That was about $22,000 a year. She ultimately decided to go to Michigan instead. So, yeah there are scholarships out there for art students at big universities.

Ill say this, VCUARTS if you’re accepted as an instate student is probably the best deal in the country in terms of top art school costs. We pay considerable more as OOS vs IS. However, vs full priced private art school tuitions even OOS is attractive and as I’ve stated in the past all these schools ultimately were within 5-7k of each other per year. So It really didn’t figure in her choice, rather she focused on where she could have the biggest and most successful impact.