Best Value Colleges For Art Careers

If you've always dreamed of a job that lets you use your creativity, but are discouraged by the fear of becoming a starving artist, pay close attention to the following College ROI rankings! This job category incorporates everything from art directors to audio and video technicians to copywriters to graphic designers.  Read More

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1University of California - Berkeley(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$531,000
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
2California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) - San Luis Obispo(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$488,000
Total 4 Year Cost$96,300
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,400
3Academy of Art University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$474,000
Total 4 Year Cost$150,000
Grad Rate31%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,900
4Fashion Institute of Technology - New York, NY(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$446,000
Total 4 Year Cost$85,800
Grad Rate74%
Time to GraduateN/A
Loan Amt$32,000
5California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) - San Luis Obispo(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$443,000
Total 4 Year Cost$141,000
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,400
6University of California - Berkeley(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$439,000
Total 4 Year Cost$225,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
7Fashion Institute of Technology - New York, NY(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$412,000
Total 4 Year Cost$120,000
Grad Rate74%
Time to GraduateN/A
Loan Amt$32,000
8San Jose State University (SJSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$407,000
Total 4 Year Cost$96,600
Grad Rate52%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,900
9Brigham Young University (BYU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$389,000
Total 4 Year Cost$69,400
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$20,200
10San Jose State University (SJSU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$362,000
Total 4 Year Cost$142,000
Grad Rate52%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,900
11School of Visual Arts (SVA) - New York, NY(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$337,000
Total 4 Year Cost$217,000
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$48,600
12Western Washington University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$305,000
Total 4 Year Cost$88,900
Grad Rate72%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,000
13Boston University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$303,000
Total 4 Year Cost$241,000
Grad Rate85%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$40,900
14University of Texas (UT) - Austin(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$301,000
Total 4 Year Cost$103,000
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
15University of Washington (UW) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$300,000
Total 4 Year Cost$104,000
Grad Rate84%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,600

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

By using PayScale data to find out which art schools provide the best ROI, you can study a subject you love and still find a way to pay back your student loans and eat more than Top Ramen every night.

A school that seems to excel in any and all areas of study, including fine art, the University of California, Berkeley ("Cal") comes in first on PayScale's College ROI Report when it comes to earning a degree in the arts. Cal fine arts majors receive a net 20-year ROI of $597,000 with an annualized ROI of 12.4 percent, assuming financial aid is being collected. Those figures are slightly smaller for majors who do not receive financial assistance, dropping to a (still impressive) $531,000 ROI over 20 years and 8.5 percent annualized return. Incredibly, Cal is the only university to consistently rank in the top three or four on the College ROI Report for multiple majors. Notable UC Berkeley alums who went on to a have successful career in the arts include actor Chris Pine ("Star Trek"), musician Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles), and legendary actor Gregory Peck ("To Kill a Mockingbird", "Roman Holiday" and "Moby Dick")

California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) holds the number two spot on PayScale's 2016 College ROI Report when it comes to careers in the arts. Located on California's central coast in the city of San Luis Obispo, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, CalPoly owns a total of 9,678 acres, making it one of the largest land-holding universities in the United States. Part of that acreage is a 3,200 acre ranch used for the school's agriculture program. It's also a place for the Mustang,CalPoly's masco, to roam. CalPoly graduates who've earned a degree in the arts can expect to receive a net 20-year ROI of $488,000 with an annualized ROI of 9.6 percent, not including financial aid.

The Academy of Art in San Francisco, the third straight California school on this list, claims the third-highest return on investment for alumni who go on to work in the arts. This private art school in Northern California gives an annual ROI of 7.6 percent to students who graduate and find work in the arts, resulting in a 20 year net ROI of $474,00, even if they pay full price to attend. Thirty-nine percent of Academy of Art students receive financial aid to help cover the costs of tuition and living expenses, which raises that number to $504,000. However, the Academy of Arts only had a graduation rate of 31 percent, and the typical student takes five years to graduate if they make it to the degree, so weigh this decision carefully.

If you live for Fashion Week and have always dreamed of having your creations appear in the pages of Vogue, then The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, the fourth-ranked school on this list,may be the best school for you. Despite the fact that fashion jobs are some of the hardest arts jobs to come by and that fashion is a competitive field, FIT alumni who go on to work in their chosen field do in fact see a 20-year return on investment of over $446,000. Most people don't know that the Fashion Institute of Technology is a public school, which may explain how it keeps costs down for students. Reem Acra, Nina Garcia, Nanette Lepore and Calvin Klein all attended FIT.

These days, pursuing a career in the arts requires more than just raw talent if you want to be able to pay your bills. Most art jobs now require some technological know-how, whether it's familiarity with the software used in graphic design, video production or fashion, or a little knowledge of computer programming and coding. You can absolutely have a successful career in the arts, but before you choose that professional path, it's imperative that you learn complementary skills and do your research to find out which art schools provide their alumni with the best return on investment.