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.  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
2Massachusetts College of Art and Design(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$251,000
Total 4 Year Cost$102,000
Grad Rate74%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,600
3Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$218,800
Total 4 Year Cost$234,200
Grad Rate87%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$27,480
4School of Visual Arts (SVA) - New York, NY(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$211,400
Total 4 Year Cost$211,600
Grad Rate65%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$45,600
5The New School(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$190,400
Total 4 Year Cost$232,600
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$35,600
6Massachusetts College of Art and Design(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$182,600
Total 4 Year Cost$170,400
Grad Rate74%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,600
7Pratt Institute(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$92,300
Total 4 Year Cost$220,700
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,160
8Columbia College - Chicago, IL(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$66,300
Total 4 Year Cost$156,700
Grad Rate41%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,680
9School of the Art Institute of Chicago(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$26,000
Total 4 Year Cost$227,000
Grad Rate54%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$37,960
10Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI($1,000)
Total 4 Year Cost$194,000
Grad Rate68%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$37,240
11Columbus College of Art And Design(Private)
20 Year Net ROI($7,400)
Total 4 Year Cost$165,600
Grad Rate59%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$45,200
12Maryland Institute College of Art(Private)
20 Year Net ROI($138,800)
Total 4 Year Cost$207,800
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$35,800
-Bellevue College(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROIN/A
Total 4 Year CostN/A
Grad Rate24%
Time to GraduateN/A
Loan Amt$21,200
-Art Center College of Design(Private)
20 Year Net ROIN/A
Total 4 Year CostN/A
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,120
-Bellevue College(In-State)
20 Year Net ROIN/A
Total 4 Year CostN/A
Grad Rate24%
Time to GraduateN/A
Loan Amt$21,200

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

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. 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.

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 $451,900, easily making it the best value art school on our list.

With its location on Boston's Huntington Avenue, which is better known as the "Avenue of the Arts," the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, or MassArt, reports a median return on investment of $251,000 over the two decades following graduation. With financial aid, that figure jumps to $283,300. Founded in 1873, the school 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. With annual enrollment of about 1,800 students, MassArt is a small school that offers a wide array of majors in many disciplines, including environmental design, art education, media and performing arts and the fine arts. This prestigious art school is home to 10 art galleries and has produced many notable alumni, including painters, game designers, sculptors and photographers.

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 $218,800 in the 20 years following graduation, and that figure increases to $320,100 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.

With its non-traditional style, it's fitting that The New School is located in NYC's famously funky, unique Greenwich Village neighborhood. Founded in 1919 and made up of seven schools, The New School offers 81 degree programs, diploma programs and majors spanning a wide array of art and design related subjects. The 20 Year Net ROI of this well-regarded school is $190,400 without financial aid and $249,500 with it. Perhaps its best-known school, Parsons the New School for Design, offers 25 undergraduate and graduate programs, making it easy for students to find the major that's right for them. Some of The New School's top alumni include Woody Allen, Donna Karan and folk singer Ani DiFranco.

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 $92,300, which rises to $157,700 with financial aid. Many prominent alumni have come out of the prestigious private school, with fashion designer Betsey Johnson being a particular standout.