Best Value Art Schools

With PayScale's College ROI Report for Art Schools, students and their parents can quickly and easily identify the arts schools and colleges that provide the highest return on investment.

Students with creative talent seek out art schools in order to pursue careers in a wide range of fields, including fashion design, graphic design and photography.  Read More

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1California College of the Arts(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$403,000
Total 4 Year Cost$221,000
Grad Rate54%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,500
2Academy of Art University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$391,000
Total 4 Year Cost$150,000
Grad Rate31%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,900
3School of Visual Arts (SVA) - New York, NY(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$301,000
Total 4 Year Cost$217,000
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$48,600
4 (tie)College for Creative Studies(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$276,000
Total 4 Year Cost$198,000
Grad Rate62%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$38,700
4 (tie)Otis College of Art and Design(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$276,000
Total 4 Year Cost$218,000
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$30,200
6Massachusetts College of Art and Design(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$204,000
Total 4 Year Cost$106,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$38,000
7Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$201,000
Total 4 Year Cost$242,000
Grad Rate87%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$30,500
8The New School(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$166,000
Total 4 Year Cost$238,000
Grad Rate60%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$38,000
9University of the Arts (UArts) - Philadelphia, PA(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$156,000
Total 4 Year Cost$218,000
Grad Rate60%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$48,500
10Pratt Institute(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$144,000
Total 4 Year Cost$230,000
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,300
11Massachusetts College of Art and Design(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$134,000
Total 4 Year Cost$176,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$38,000
12Ringling College of Art and Design(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$121,000
Total 4 Year Cost$223,000
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$35,500
13Columbia College - Chicago, IL(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$105,000
Total 4 Year Cost$159,000
Grad Rate43%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,100
14Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$86,600
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Grad Rate40%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$40,500
15Columbus College of Art And Design(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$65,300
Total 4 Year Cost$168,000
Grad Rate56%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$36,200

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

Numerous art and design schools are located across the nation, but some deliver better value than others. If you have your heart set on attending a school that focuses on art, design or music, consider availing yourself of PayScale's data to zero in on the best value art schools before you apply.

With its location in Pasadena, a short train ride away from Downtown Los Angeles, Art Center College of Design, or ArtCenter, reports a median return on investment of $394,000 over the two decades following graduation. With financial aid, that figure jumps to $449,000. Founded in 1930, and building its reputation as a vocational school for returning G.I.s, the college has long had a strong reputation for arming students with the skills and knowledge they need to pursue successful careers across a wide array of art-and-design-related fields. On top of that, in 2003 the ArtCenter was granted NGO status by the United Nations, in recognition of the school's commitment to addressing social and humanitarian issues through design. With an annual enrollment of about 1,700 students, ArtCenter is a small school that offers a wide array of majors in many disciplines, including environmental design, including environmental design, film, photography, illustration, graphic design, product design, transportation design, interaction design and the fine arts. This prestigious art school was named one of the world's top-25 film schools by The Hollywood Reporter and has produced many notable alumni, including painters, game designers, sculptors and photographers and filmmakers; Batman v. Superman director Zach Snyder.

The return on investment for art schools tends to be lower than many other school types, simply because the demand for jobs with fine arts skills and degrees simply isn't as high, and the jobs that do exist are very competitive. However, alumni from San Francisco's Academy of Art and Design see an impressive 20-year net ROI of $391,000, making it one of the best value art school on our list.

Consistently ranked among the top art schools in the United States, the Rhode Island School of Design, or RISD, earns a well-deserved slot on our art schools return on investment list. The Providence-based school was founded in 1877 and is located on a 13-acre campus that's contiguous with the campus of Brown University, a top Ivy League school. Those who graduate from the school report a median return on investment of $201,000 in the 20 years following graduation, and that figure increases to $302,000 with financial aid. RISD offers 17 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate majors in many fields, including ceramics, architecture, graphic design and illustration, photography and sculpture. The school counts among its famous alumni Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, fashion designer Nicole Miller and actor/director James Franco.

Rounding out our list of best value art and design schools is the Pratt Institute, which is located in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill. With five schools offering programs in architecture, industrial design, interior design and many other fields, the private university has long attracted some of the most talented creative types in the nation. Alumni report a median return of investment of $144,000, which rises to $210,000 with financial aid. Many prominent alumni have come out of the prestigious private school, with fashion designer Betsey Johnson being a particular standout.