Posted May 2014
Scroll through the list below to see 50 of the best, most affordable schools offering superior art and music programs. The process in compiling this list was simple: it combined 1) the best cities for art and music with 2) the schools that have the best fine art and music programs with 3) tuition rates that won’t break the bank. The sources used include articles listing the most cultured cities for art and music lovers as well as articles that compiled lists of the most impressive programs for creative, artistic students.
Convenient, Affordable Online Schools
Initially, there was a long list of schools that potentially qualified to make the cut. However, the process was not yet complete. The list was shortened significantly when all the schools that were considered overly expensive were removed from the running. Unfortunately, most art and music schools could be considered “overly expensive” for probably a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean that getting a stellar education can’t be affordable. For the purposes of this article, any school that had roughly average tuition rates or lower was considered affordable. Because art and music schools are often so expensive, any school that has a mid-range tuition rate (when including in this “average” every college, university, and online school across the country) is actually quite inexpensive compared to many specialty fine arts academies.
The 50 schools with the lowest tuition rates, best scholarship packages, and highest-rated programs that are also located in or near highly-cultured cities made the list. Take a look at all of them below, organized by region for your convenience.
Curtis Institute of Music
Curtis offers diploma, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate degrees to students and offers each admitted musician a full-tuition scholarship. This ensures that all those selected to attend Curtis show artistic promise and musical talent. Students may take diversified music classes as well as liberal arts courses and participate in concerts, festivals, performances, and other events throughout the year. Philadelphia has also been listed as one of the 30 best cities for musicians and one of the 25 best cities for art lovers.
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Kutztown offers a variety of music and art programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, including music, art education, communication design, crafts, and studio art. The campus is perfectly located far enough out in the suburbs to keep students free from distractions but close enough to big cities like Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York to provide ample fodder for inspiration. The campus even provides an “art bus” that takes students to New York on the weekends to explore various art galleries.
Tuition: $8,819 (In-state) $18,943 (Out-of-state)
Bronxville, New York
Located just outside Manhattan, Concordia is surrounded by opportunities to study art, theater, and music firsthand. The school’s unique liberal arts program allows students to combine two or three majors together (including art, music, new media, and digital production) for the ultimate creative and flexible academic experience. Concordia also emphasizes experiential learning, and students may choose from a number of unique programs, including the ability to work at an MTV studio, study abroad, or even work Broadway shows into their curriculum.
CUNY – Hunter College
New York, New York
Artistic and musically inclined students at Hunter College can major in art, art history, film and media studies, music, theater, or dance. The programs are designed to help students gain experience even outside the classroom, and aspiring artists can curate shows, write catalog essays, or engage in a foreign exchange program, while aspiring musicians can take private lessons or join one of nine different musical ensembles. The school’s tuition is incredibly affordable and much lower than average, despite the fact that the college is located in expensive and crowded Manhattan.
Tuition: $6,129 (In-state) $12,639 (Out-of-state)
Montclair State University
Montclair, New Jersey
Montclair State University’s College of the Arts is a state designated “Center for Excellence in the Arts” and has national accreditation in every single one of its art disciplines. The school offers more than fifty majors, minors, and concentrations in areas like art and design, dance, music, and theater. The faculty includes working composers, actors, musicians, fine artists, actors, directors, composers, and conductors, some of whom are Howard, Guggenheim, and Fulbright award winners. Montclair students often benefit from classes and sessions taught by guest artists, many of whom are widely recognized figures from nearby New York City.
Tuition: $11,318 (In-state) $20,196 (Out-of-state)
CUNY – Brooklyn College
Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn College’s School of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts includes both undergraduate and graduate departments, as well as a number of graduate interdisciplinary programs. Classes are taught by renowned performers and artists, including Mark Rothko, Philip Pearlstein, Itzhak Perlman, Tania Leon, and Vinit Parmar. There are also a number of student clubs for artists and musicians, including the Art Group, Ballroom Dance Society, Belly Dancing Club, Comedic Artists Association, Community Arts Practice Group, Gospel Choir, Percussion Club, Photography Club, and Student Film Society.
Tuition: $6,184 (In-state) $12,694 (Out-of-state)
CUNY – City College
New York, New York
The City College of New York offers programs in art education, art history, electronic design and multimedia, studio art, film and video, and five different music majors – including classical vocal performance, jazz instrumental performance, and music and audio technology. City College already has inexpensive tuition, but on top of that, the school offers a number of fellowships and scholarships for students interested in art and the humanities, plus an opportunity to do research at Stanford.
Tuition: $6,089 (In-state) $12,599 (Out-of-state)
University of Maryland – College Park
College Park, Maryland
The University of Maryland – College Park is a large research university with majors in Art History and Archaeology, Studio Art, Dance, Film Studies, Music, Theater, and Museum Scholarship and Material Culture, all within the College of Arts and Sciences. The school also has a Chamber Music Connections Program and Shakespeare Monologue Festival and that focus in K12 outreach, a Choreographer’s Showcase, a Music Technology Lab, and a number of other programs, events, and workshops created specifically for art and music students. Its in-state tuition is close to the average, making it a great deal for Maryland residents, but it’s out-of-state tuition is about $6,000 above average. The university is also in great proximity to Washington D.C. and Baltimore – two great cities for art and music lovers.
Tuition: $9,162 (In-state) $28,348 (Out-of-state)
Suffolk University New England School of Art and Design
Located in the heart of downtown Boston (the 11th best city for music and the 5th best city for art), Suffolk University’s New England School of Art and Design is a great choice for creative students, and is much less expensive than some other top art and music schools. The unique program allows students to receive an art and design education while still benefiting from other liberal arts and general studies courses within Suffolk University. The school offers a pre-college high school program as well as an on-campus art gallery that encourages interaction between faculty, students, and visitors.
Endicott has an extensive visual arts program with a number of unique majors, including art therapy, print making, installation, digital media, and mixed media. The school also offers a fifth-year master’s of fine arts program in interior design. Endicott also has a number of updated art facilities, including multiple galleries, theaters, and art studios. Students will particularly enjoy the 250-ft. performance hall, the digital recording studio, the museum-quality art gallery, a rehearsal room, a photography shooting studio, and Macintosh computer labs.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
PAFA includes programs for undergraduate and graduate students, and offers certificate and post-baccalaureate degrees as well. Most classes are studio-centered and encourage experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to the visual arts. The school prides itself on fostering a community of fine artists, comprised of both faculty and students, which actively participates in programs like Art at Lunch Program and Visiting Artist Program. The school also sponsors an extensive collection of art work and organizes frequent exhibits and events.
Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Lyme Academy is a four-year, nationally accredited arts program that offers bachelor’s degrees in drawing, sculpture, painting, and illustration. Located in the heart of New England, Lyme is just a short ride away from Boston, New York, New Haven, and Hartford, where students can absorb phenomenal art in some of the nation’s premier museums. The school has a great financial aid program, with 100% of first-time freshmen and 99% of other students receiving some type of monetary assistance.
Brenau University, located just a short drive from Atlanta, one of the musical and artistic centers of the South, has separate departments in theater, music, dance, interior design, and art and design. At Brenau, students receive the best of both art education and liberal arts courses. Special programs include the Young Women’s Art and Design Exhibition and numerous study abroad opportunities. The school has also instituted a generous commitment to consistently upgrade old instruments so that music students only use the very best.
Belmont’s College of Visual and Performing Arts contains a School of Music as well as an art department and a theater/dance department. The school has all state-of-the-art facilities, with studio spaces, a gallery, a 118-seat audio/visual lecture hall, specialized classrooms for different art forms, and two Macintosh computer graphics labs. The music school is one of the best in the world, and students will love that the university is located in Nashville, a renowned spot for musicians and one of the top cities for music lovers.
George Mason University
Students at George Mason will benefit from being just a short drive from Washington D.C., a city widely known for its cultural diversity, large art museums, concert halls, and theaters. Students at GMU can major in art and visual technology, dance, film and video studies, music, computer game design, art education, art management, or theater. The university’s Center for the Arts, a large performance hall, puts on student productions as well as other art, dance, music, and theater performances around the world that draw large crowds from the surrounding community. There are also four separate fine arts galleries on campus.
Tuition: $9,908 (In-state) $28,592 (Out-of-state)
Corcoran College of Art and Design
Washington, District of Columbia
“Corcoran” refers to both a prominent art museum in Washington, D.C. as well as a prestigious art school. As a result, students can not only appreciate the surrounding city’s artistic culture, but can also feature their own artwork in the Corcoran’s own public museum – even as an undergrad! The school offers a Visual Artist Series, which brings contemporary designers, musicians, and arts to campus to give presentations nearly every night. The Corcoran is also known for its international programs, especially its Artist in Residence program, which brings international faculty to teach, mentor students, and enhance the cultural vibrancy of the community.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
UNC offers degrees in studio art, art history, dramatic art, and music. All faculty are all exceptional professors as well as practicing artists and performers. The schools keeps the departments small in order to ensure that students get one-on-one attention from instructors, but the classes are still diverse enough to give students a comprehensive education. There are also a number of museums in the surrounding area, and students can easily drive to nearby Charlotte, one of the top-rated cities for art enthusiasts. The tuition is a bargain for in-state students, although is on the pricier side for those residing outside of North Carolina.
Tuition: $8,340 (In-state) $30,122 (Out-of-state)
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina
Appalachian State is also only a few hours from Charlotte and has a unique College of Fine and Applied Arts that includes traditional majors, such as art, theatre, and dance, as well as more unusual offerings, such as military science and leadership and technology and environmental design. The school also offers a variety of exhibitions, workshops, concerts, and recitals throughout the year as well as a nationally recognized summer arts festival. Students also run programs themselves, including a series that combines different artists with entertainment.
Tuition: $6,462 (In-state) $18,670 (Out-of-state)
Memphis College of Art
Art students love to study at the Memphis College of Art, which has one campus located in the middle of a beautiful park (for undergrads) and another right in historic downtown (for grad students). Students find no shortage of inspiration amid their scenic surroundings and have access to all the resources they need through state-of-the-art, nationally renowned facilities. It is one of only four independent colleges in the South that are both regionally- and nationally accredited. All programs are interdisciplinary and integrated, with a unique focus on both didactic education and professional practices, including entrepreneurship, networking, self-promotion, and communication skills.
Middle Tennessee State University
Located just outside of Nashville, MTSU offers students all the resources of one of the country’s premier music cities while still offering them a taste of quiet, suburban life as well. The school is the number one choice for undergraduates in Tennessee and its in-state tuition is $1,000 below average. The school has 12 art and music degree options at both the undergraduate, graduate, and certificate levels in areas such as art education, museum management, music composition, and theater. The school is also connected to the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, a four-week residency summer program for high school students who are gifted in music and the fine arts.
Tuition: $7,546 (In-state) $23,002 (Out-of-state)
University of South Florida
The College of the Art at USF provides students with a variety of unique resources, including a plethora of art electives and a doctoral program in music education. There are four separate schools with numerous majors, the students of which have access to three theaters, two concert halls, an art gallery, a museum, a graphics studio, a digital media lab, and still other modern resources. The university also puts on more than 300 performances, events, and workshops annually for both its students and the surrounding community. And at tuition rates that are far below average, regardless of residency status, this school is a hard deal to beat.
Tuition: $6,410 (In-state) $17,324 (Out-of-state)
St. Louis, Missouri
The Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts at Webster is a prestigious and nationally selective program with an impressive array of faculty and renowned artists. The music program even includes faculty members who are members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra! Students get the best of both worlds, with small classes in an intimate setting, access to the artistic cultural center of St. Louis, and opportunities to interact with a diverse student population. At nearly $7,000 less than the average private university tuition rate, Webster is a great home for any student looking to find a home-away-from-home in the Midwest.
University of Missouri – Kansas City
Kansas City, Missouri
UMKC has an internationally recognized music and dance program that has a reputation for artistic excellence. Programs include music theory and musicology, instrumental studies, and music education/music therapy. Kansas City has been ranked one of the best cities in the country for enjoying music and culture, due in no small part to UMKC’s contributions. The school puts on over 500 events, recitals, concerts, and workshops a year, offers master classes, hosts music camps and festivals, and partners with a diverse range of organizations to enhance the musical superiority of its programs.
Tuition: $9,456 (In-state) $22,203 (Out-of-state)
Columbia College Chicago
The School of Fine and Performing Arts at CCC offers majors in art and design, business and entrepreneurship, creative arts studies, dance, fashion studies, music, photography, and theatre. Small class sizes help students thrive academically, studio-based curriculum helps them get professional practice, and a contemporary approach to education pushes students to grapple with issues such as cultural diversity, sustainability, and civic engagement. Students can partake in research, work with a variety of industry organizations, and tap into the rich artistic and musical tapestry of Chicago.
Illinois State University
Located within a short drive of Chicago, ISU has majors in studio arts, graphic design, art history, music education, music composition, acting, design/production, and many other areas. Students can take advantage of a Visiting Artists Program, several university galleries, a Normal Editions Workshop (which encourages students to interact with NEW artists and learn about printmaking), a Design Streak Studio for graphic artists, and an online art and culture collection database. Music enthusiasts can join one of five different ensembles and enjoy a full calendar of musical events. The school also offers full tuition scholarships and waivers for promising students.
Tuition: $13,010 (In-state) $20,450 (Out-of-state)
The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University consists of both a music conservatory and a theater conservatory. Music conservatory classes are taught by Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestra members, Grammy award-winning jazz artists, Metropolitan and Lyric Opera stars, and other widely recognized figures. The university has a strong commitment to global education and offers an ESL summer institute for non-English speakers. Roosevelt has an impressive fourteen musical ensembles and is home to beautiful, modern facilities, including the elaborate 195-seat Ganz recital hall, a 210-seat theater venue, a black box style studio, and a large auditorium partially designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Northern Illinois University
The College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois prides itself on its artistic contribution to the community, from putting on exhibitions in art museums in galleries to counting numerous professional orchestra and dance company members among its distinguished faculty. The visual arts program if one of the best and most comprehensive art programs of any public university in the United States and is well-known for its excellence in many fields. The school has a beautiful music building complete with a library, practice and rehearsal rooms, a music computer lab, a keyboard lab, a recital hall, smart classrooms, and recording studios. There are numerous scholarships available to both freshman and returning arts students that can help offset the cost of tuition (which is about average for nonresidents, and slightly above average for those living in Illinois).
Tuition: $12,976 (In-state) $22,072 (Out-of-state)
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
The Peck School of the Arts at UW in Milwaukee prepares students not just to be artists, but also to excel in education, business, and finance, and even to become inventors. The school offers exciting on-campus events like the Year of the Arts and several artistic competitions. UW also has unique areas of study, including an inter-arts program for art and technology, musical theater, and dual discipline majors. The university also has a unique first-year program for students in the art and design program that includes intensive hands-on work and one-on-one instruction that prepares students for advanced, specialized study later on.
Tuition: $9,300 (In-state) $19,029 (Out-of-state)
Columbus College of Art and Design
CCAD offers majors in advertising and graphic design, animation, cinematic arts, photography, interior design, industrial design, illustration, fine arts, and fashion design. The school is located in downtown Columbus, a city that has been highly rated for its art scene. Students can take free workshops, sell goods at the annual art fair, and attend fashion shows and student exhibitions. The college is also just a short drive from Cleveland, another center of art and music culture in the Midwest.
Also in Columbus University, Capital University is a great place for students who want to study art and music. The Conservatory of Music and School of Communication has nearly twenty different majors and degree programs where students can study their passion and learn from some of the finest professionals in the nation. There are over twenty different ensembles for music students, off-campus programs like The Recording Workshop, and distinctive study abroad programs in places like Hungary. Art students can engage in internships, exhibit their art in the Schumacher Gallery, and listen to prestigious visiting lecturers.
Students attending Baldwin-Wallace University will delight to their proximity to Cleveland, Columbus, and Chicago, putting at their disposal an endless list of art museums, music concerts, and other events. The school’s Conservatory of Music provides exceptional opportunities to students who are interested in experiential learning techniques. Students can study both music and the liberal arts, participate in music outreach with the surrounding community, collaborate with accomplished faculty members, and contribute to entertaining events like the Bach Festival. The below-average private school tuition makes BW a great deal for an excellent education at an affordable price.
Cranbrook Academy of Art
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Cranbrook is a famous school of art and design located in a suburb of Detroit and just shy of an hour away from Ann Arbor, Michigan. The school counts a slew of distinguished artists and designers among its faculty as well as a number of notable alumni. All art students are assigned their own personal studio space, can meander through or share artwork in the Cranbrook Museum, or explore additional classes at the remarkable Summer Institute. Departments are as diverse as 3D Design to Metalsmithing to Sculpture, and in all classes students are taught to take an interdisciplinary approach to design and to incorporate critique and discussion into class time.
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
The University of Iowa has a prestigious fine arts program that is consistently ranked in the Top 25 of graduate schools for the fine arts. The UI Art Collection boasts over 14,000 pieces, there are over 400 performances every year (available to students for a mere $5), and students can take in a myriad of stunning art pieces scattered throughout campus. Many enjoy unique programs like the Grant Wood Art Colony, which blends an appreciation for creative work and art history. There is also a long list of scholarships and fellowships available to both studio artists and art history scholars.
Tuition: $8,061 (In-state) $26,931 (Out-of-state)
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Minneapolis has been rated as a top city for both art and music, and the city’s College of Art and Design provides an additional attractive quality for aspiring artists and musicians. There are thirteen BFA programs, two graduate majors, and two professional certificates available to people wishing to study anything from advertising to comic art to furniture design. The college’s professional facilities include a store, media center, library, printing services, studios, and several galleries. Students can fill their schedules with numerous events, such as the Emerging Talent Showcase or the Art Sale.
Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College
The Conservatory of Music at Wheaton combines rigorous academics with a diverse music program and the cultural richness of nearby Chicago. Students in the conservatory can major in one of six areas and are prepared to pursue careers in either performance, scholarship, teaching, or composition. Students can pursue their musical passions in one or more of nine different ensembles and enjoy a variety of on-campus chapels, auditoriums, theaters, and halls in which they can listen to or perform music. Students can also engage in community outreach and encourage musical scholarship among young people through programs like the Community School of the Arts.
Located within driving distance of both Cleveland and Columbus, putting it in the perfect geographic position for pursuing music and the arts, Ohio University is home to departments in art and design, dance, film, theater, music, and interdisciplinary arts. The school’s unique Arts for OHIO initiative allows students to attend most events and performances for free. Film students can expand their horizons at the Athena Cinema in downtown, art students can wander through the Kennedy Museum of Art, and music and theater students can find a wealth of entertainment and performance opportunities through the Performing Arts Series.
Tuition: $10,446 (In-state) $19,410 (Out-of-state)
Santa Fe University of Art and Design
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Not only is this university located in the thriving cultural community of Santa Fe, which is especially known for its music scene, but the school offers students comprehensive art and design programs that cover areas from business arts management to graphic design to studio art. Music students love The Bandshell, a stage at the center of campus where they can host performances at any time. Film students can gather around The Screen for student-run movie nights, and art students can set up exhibitions at the gallery space in Necessities, the student-operated store.
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
UNM’s College of Fine Arts has programs for students in art and art history, music, theater and dance, and cinematic arts. Interested students can tap into the resources of the unique interdisciplinary program for film and digital media and develop their skills in computer-based applications as well as writing, producing, and directing. The Tamarind Institute is ideal for art students who want to learn about fine art lithography and prepare themselves to be collaborative printers. Students also love the Arts Learning Laboratory, which encourages collaborative learning, research, and an understanding of art from multiple perspectives.
Tuition: $6,846 (In-state) $20,688 (Out-of-state)
University of Texas – Austin
Austin is a city that attracts people from all over the U.S. who want to immerse themselves in its artistic culture and strong local music scene. UT Austin supports degrees in multiple areas of music and studio art, including composition, jazz, product design, and ceramics. The college boasts Texas Performing Arts, a national leader in the presentation of many cultural and international art forms. Students can also get involved in Landmarks, a public arts program that can enhance their learning and appreciation of visual arts. Other initiatives include the Butler Opera Center, the Greater Tomorrow Youth Art Program, and a Musical Theatre Initiative.
Tuition: $9,798 (In-state) $33,842 (Out-of-state)
Arizona State University
ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts supports programs in art; arts, media, and engineering; dance; design; film, dance, and theater; and music. This large resource institution has continued to elevate its creative arts disciplines despite the fact that many other universities have pared down their arts programs. The campus art museum has been named the most impressive venue for contemporary art in the entire state and is an integral part of the university. Students are also encouraged to join in on community programs that bring the wonders of art, dance, and music to youth in the area.
Tuition: $9,861 (In-state) $23,654 (Out-of-state)
University of Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Located in a suburb of Las Vegas, the University of Las Vegas puts students right at the door of a city exploding with cultural, artistic, musical, and other entertainment venues. The school has below-average tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students, making it a great deal for those who want all the resources of a large research university without the hefty price tag. UNLV has an array of campus facilities for arts students, including theaters, performance halls, studios, and even an architectural library. There’s also an artist-in-residence program that brings esteemed artists and performers to campus from all over the world.
Tuition: $6,690 (In-state) $20,600 (Out-of-state)
University of North Texas
UNT is located within a short drive from Dallas, a city that has made lists for both the premier art and music towns in the country. It is a nationally ranked university and has been called one of the “best in the West.” Every year the university brings renowned speakers to the College of Visual Arts and Design as part of a spectacular lecture series, and students can choose from over thirteen degree programs in order to cultivate their artistic passions. The faculty is both nationally and internationally recognized, and students can develop their skills outside the classroom through initiatives like the Design Research Center, North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts, the Texas Fashion Collection, the Print Research Institute of North Texas, and a visiting artist/scholar program with broad international reach.
Tuition: $8,745 (In-state) $17,241 (Out-of-state)
University of Houston
The University of Houston has departments of art, theater, and dance, as well as the Moores School of Music. The Moores School is an example of the university’s commitment to academic excellence and is a resource for the cultural life of the city. Music students study in new, state-of-the-art facilities and can partake in numerous public concerts. The school also has alliances with esteemed art organizations throughout the city, including the Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts. Students also enjoy participating in Countercurrent, a city-wide festival for bold interdisciplinary projects. The school is affordable for both Texas residents and others, but is an especially good deal for out-of-state students.
Tuition: $8,401 (In-state) $16,897 (Out-of-state)
University of Washington – Seattle
Students at UW love that they feel surrounded by art – from impromptu student performances to shows from esteemed artists around the globe. Because the university is only a short drive from Seattle, students can easily migrate to the big city to immerse themselves in concerts, exhibitions, and performances off campus as well. Students can major in art, dance, drama, or music, visit the Burke Museum or the Henry Art Gallery, experiment at the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media, and mark their calendars with a plethora of events from the UW World Series.
Tuition: $12,397 (In-state) $31,971 (Out-of-state)
University of Oregon
The University of Oregon attracts students from both the West Coast and beyond to study art, architecture, music and dance in one of two separate schools. Both schools are renowned for their commitment to academics and studio-based approach to learning. Students learn how to positively impact the world around them through artistic expression and have the benefit of studying under passionate mentors. Students can find inspiration in the greenery surrounding campus as well as the busting city center of Portland, which is less than two hours away. Students also enjoy the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the Art Gallery, and the University Theatre, and can purchase tickets to both the Oregon Bach Festival and Cinema Pacific Film Festival.
Tuition: $9,763 (In-state) $29,788 (Out-of-state)
California State University – Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Students at CSU Long Beach can engage their artistic senses through the university’s College of the Arts and find majors in art, dance, design, film, music, or theatre. They can take in all the exciting collections at the University Art Museum or walk by the Carpenter Performing Arts Center to see an esteemed artist or student production perform. The university is California’s largest and most comprehensive publicly funded school for the arts and boasts nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. There are seven different performance venues, multiple exhibition centers, and nearly 100,000 square feet of studio space. Students can take their pick of more than 500 annual events, shows, and festivals housed in the facilities.
Tuition: $6,240 (In-state) $17,400 (Out-of-state)
Pacific Union College
Students at Pacific Union College often choose to attend the school for its ideal geographical placement. Located in Northern California, the college is surrounded by greenery and multiple national parks, and yet is just a short drive from the sprawling urban cultural center of San Francisco. The music department is fully accredited and is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, the national honors society for music. The school also offers substantial scholarships to talented musicians to help offset the cost of tuition, which is already below average for a private institution. The department of visual arts includes majors in traditional mediums as well as film and graphic design, and has several collections on display at the Rasmussen Art Gallery. Art and photography students also go on frequent field trips to San Francisco, Napa Valley, and even the Yucatan Peninsula.
Oregon College of Art and Craft
OCAC is a small, exclusive college in Portland that is known nationally for its commitment to visual arts. Classes are intimate and taught by celebrated artists and teachers, and programs are organized to be mentor-based so that each student gets the attention he or she needs. There are seven studio areas that facilitate the school’s emphasis on studio-based curriculum, but students are expected to study liberal arts and develop critical thinking skills as well. The school is heavily involved in the community through youth arts programs, travel studio programs, artist-in-residence programs, and numerous lectures and collaborations.
Portland State University
Portland State’s College of Art contains programs in art, architecture, design, music, theatre, and film. The school is working on expanding its arts program and is in the process of constructing a number of new facilities, including an art gallery, and experimental theatre, and new studio rooms. Because of the university’s location in the heart of downtown Portland, students have easy access to a community of culture, art, creativity, and sustainability. The School of Art and Design is the largest in the state, and all four departments within the College of Art have faculty who are recognized both locally and nationally. Although the school’s tuition is slightly above average for out-of-state students, its in-state price tag makes it a bargain for Oregon residents.
Tuition: $7,878 (In-state) $23,088 (Out-of-state)
San Diego State University
San Diego, California
San Diego State has programs available in art, design, and art history; music and dance; and theatre, television, and film. The school of Art and Design is one of the finest in the nation, as reported by US News and World Report, and is ranked 6th among visual and performing arts programs for bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanics. San Diego is rated one of the best cities for both music and art lovers, and the culturally diverse urban environment is perfect for creative students looking for both inspiration and entertainment. There are two galleries located on campus; there are multiple community outreach programs and service opportunities; and the school has enough funding to support foundry, woodworking, and 3D rapid prototyping equipment as well as tuition waivers and scholarships.
Tuition: $6,766 (In-state) $17,926 (Out-of-state)