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Best Art Schools in the US: The Insider’s Scoop

Considering an undergraduate arts degree that will allow you to pursue creative careers in fashion, graphic design, animation or video production but aren’t sure where to look?

Look no further. We’ve got someone in the know.

Niche Ambassador Sierra Warshawsky attended the California Institute of the Arts’ California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) during her junior year of high school, where she earned the California Arts Scholar medal. She’s also attended the University of the Arts London (UAL), Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design (The New School) as a full-time undergraduate design student.

With a little bit of data dug up by Niche and her personal insight into the art college scene, Sierra ticks off her dream schools and dishes on the best ways to prepare for an arts education.

Art Center College of Design

  • Pasadena, CA
  • 68% Acceptance Rate
  • SAT/ACT optional
  • Private
  • Enrollment: 1,731

Yale University

  • New Haven, CT
  • 6% Acceptance Rate
  • SAT Range: 1460-1570, ACT: 33-35
  • Private
  • Enrollment: 5,939

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

  • Providence, RI
  • 24% Acceptance Rate
  • SAT/ACT optional, SAT: 1180-1440, ACT: 26-32
  • Private
  • Enrollment: 1,994

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

  • Valencia and Santa Clarita, CA
  • 23% Acceptance Rate
  • SAT/ACT optional
  • Private
  • Enrollment: 997

Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD)

  • Laguna Beach, CA
  • 81% Acceptance Rate
  • SAT/ACT optional
  • Private
  • Enrollment: 618

Parsons School of Design: The New School

  • New York City, NY and Paris, France
  • 63% Acceptance Rate
  • Part of The New School
  • Average ACT Range: 21-26
  • Private
  • Enrollment: 4,301

California College of the Arts (CCA)

  • Oakland, CA and San Francisco, CA
  • 88% Acceptance Rate
  • ACT: 19-27
  • Private
  • Enrollment: 1,406

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

  • Savannah, GA; Atlanta, GA; and Lacoste, France
  • 70% Acceptance Rate
  • SAT/ACT optional; SAT: 1030-1230, ACT: 21-27
  • Athletics: NAIA Division II
  • Private
  • Enrollment: 9,752

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)

  • New York, NY
  • 53% Acceptance Rate
  • ACT/SAT optional
  • Athletics Offered
  • Public, State University of New York (SUNY) System
  • Enrollment: 7,246

Pratt Institute

  • Brooklyn, NY
  • 51% Acceptance Rate
  • Athletics Offered
  • SAT: 1050-1310, ACT: 25-30
  • Private
  • Enrollment: 3,536

Could One of Those Be Your Dream School?

Before applying, review Sierra’s tips to help yourself land in the right spot:

  • Take Advanced Placement (AP) classes in art and art studies (especially art history).
  • Network with alumni and/or current students at your top schools to gain insight into what your life might look like as a student there.
  • Watch videos from current and former students on YouTube for a personal perspective when in-person networking isn’t possible.
  • Create a portfolio that showcases your best work as well as your creative process (how you got from the beginning to the final product). Keep in mind some arts colleges require an additional portfolio or works made specifically for their school.
  • Attend National Portfolio Day, a traveling college fair, to meet admissions officers and share your portfolios
  • Take campus tours to connect with camp representatives and a get feel for the campus layout and vibe

Author: Sierra Warshawsky

Cece is a college student pursuing a degree in social media management, public relations, marketing, and branding. She hopes to one day work in the entertainment industry in the field and she enjoys spending time with friends, traveling, cooking, and listening to true crime podcasts.