Best Value Colleges For Art Careers

If you've always dreamed of a job that lets you use your creativity, but have been afraid that working in the arts is just code for starving artist, fear not! PayScale's College ROI rankings of the best value college for those who want to work in the arts determines the return on investment for different colleges based on alumni from each school who went on to work in an arts job.  Read More

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1Academy of Art University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$446,000
Total 4 Year Cost$147,000
Grad Rate32%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,240
2San Jose State University (SJSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$360,000
Total 4 Year Cost$93,000
Grad Rate48%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$20,960
3San Francisco State University (SFSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$356,600
Total 4 Year Cost$96,400
Grad Rate45%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,200
4Fashion Institute of Technology - New York, NY(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$339,700
Total 4 Year Cost$83,300
Grad Rate70%
Time to GraduateN/A
Loan Amt$30,280
5San Jose State University (SJSU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$314,900
Total 4 Year Cost$138,100
Grad Rate48%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$20,960
6San Francisco State University (SFSU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$311,500
Total 4 Year Cost$141,500
Grad Rate45%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,200
7Fashion Institute of Technology - New York, NY(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$307,000
Total 4 Year Cost$116,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to GraduateN/A
Loan Amt$30,280
8University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$297,500
Total 4 Year Cost$125,500
Grad Rate90%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,840
9Texas Tech University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$289,700
Total 4 Year Cost$83,300
Grad Rate59%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$30,800
10Brigham Young University (BYU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$275,700
Total 4 Year Cost$67,300
Grad Rate78%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,200
11University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$268,200
Total 4 Year Cost$94,800
Grad Rate65%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,120
12Texas Tech University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$257,800
Total 4 Year Cost$115,200
Grad Rate59%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$30,800
13University of Washington (UW) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$243,800
Total 4 Year Cost$99,200
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,520
14Ohio State University (OSU) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$229,900
Total 4 Year Cost$103,100
Grad Rate83%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,520
15University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$225,200
Total 4 Year Cost$137,800
Grad Rate65%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,120

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

This job category incorporates everything from art directors to audio and video technicians to copy writers to graphic designers. By using PayScale data to find out which schools produce successful arts professionals, you can study a subject you love and find a way to pay back your student loans.

The Academy of Arts in San Francisco, California claims the 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 7.4 percent to students who graduate and find work in the arts, resulting in a 20 year net ROI of $446,00, 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 $475,300. However, the Academy of Arts only had a graduation rate of 32 percent, and the typical student takes 5 years to graduate if they make it to the degree, so weigh this decision carefully.

Nearby, two public colleges offer alternatives with high returns and lower tuition: San Jose State University offers a lower 20-year net ROI for their arts alumni ($360,000), and San Francisco State University (SFSU) sees an ROI of $356,600. However, because the tuition at these schools is so much more affordable for California residents, their annual ROIs are 8.4 and 8.2 percent, respectively, compared to Academy of Art's ROI of just 7.2 percent. These two schools also offer slightly higher graduation rates (48 percent and 45 percent, respectively).

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 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 $300,000. 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.

A career in the arts needs more than just raw talent to allow you to pay your bills though. Most art jobs now require a bit of technological know-how, whether it's software used in graphic design, video production or fashion, or a little knowledge of computer programming and coding that can help turn a freelance writer into a web produce or interactive copy writer. You can absolutely have a successful career in the arts, but it's imperative that you learn complementary skills and do your research to find out which schools produce arts alumni with real careers.