Best Value Colleges For Art Majors

In terms of return on investment, arts majors get a bad rap, but PayScale’s College ROI Report found that art majors can get a good return on investment if they’re smart about where they go and what kind of art they study.

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Rank
School Name
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
Annual ROI
20 Year ROI annualized to represent the % of expected ROI received each year after graduation.
20 Year Net ROI
 
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
20 Year Net ROI
Difference between 20 Year Median Pay for a bachelor’s grad and 24 Year Median Pay for a high school grad minus Total 4 Year Cost.
Total 4 Year Cost
Full cost, including tuition & fees, room & board, and books & supplies. Actual net cost may vary based on a student’s academic success and family income. Source: IPEDS
Total 4 Year Cost
Full cost, including tuition & fees, room & board, and books & supplies. Actual net cost may vary based on a student’s academic success and family income. Source: IPEDS
Graduation Rate
% of full-time, first-time degree seeking undergrad students who began their studies at the given school and graduate within 6 years. Source: IPEDS
Typical Years to Graduate
# of years it takes for at least 65 percent of graduates from a given school to receive their diplomas. Source: IPEDS
Average Loan Amount
Received by full-time, first-time degree seeking undergrad students, multiplied to represent amount over four years. Includes all Title IV loans and all institutionally- and privately-sponsored student loans. Source: IPEDS
% Grant Money Received
% of full-time, first-time undergrads who received local, state, federal, or institutional grant aid in the 2012-2013 academic year. Source: IPEDS
15.7%N/A13.3%N/A$524,000N/A$716,000N/A$255,000N/A94%4$32,20013%
1Stanford University(Private)
Annual ROI5.7%
Annual ROIN/A
Annual ROI13.3%
Annual ROIN/A
20 Year Net ROI$524,000
20 Year Net ROIN/A
20 Year Net ROI$716,000
20 Year Net ROIN/A
Total 4 Year Cost$255,000
Total 4 Year CostN/A
Grad Rate94%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$32,200
Grant Money Received13%
29.0%8.5%12.5%11.6%$470,000$460,000$517,000$507,000$101,000$111,00086%5$33,50011%
2Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus(In-State)
Annual ROI9.0%
Annual ROI8.5%
Annual ROI12.5%
Annual ROI11.6%
20 Year Net ROI$470,000
20 Year Net ROI$460,000
20 Year Net ROI$517,000
20 Year Net ROI$507,000
Total 4 Year Cost$101,000
Total 4 Year Cost$111,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$33,500
Grant Money Received11%
39.1%7.9%10.6%9.0%$422,000$399,000$443,000$421,000$89,000$112,00077%$33,20031%
3Fashion Institute of Technology(In-State)
Annual ROI9.1%
Annual ROI7.9%
Annual ROI10.6%
Annual ROI9.0%
20 Year Net ROI$422,000
20 Year Net ROI$399,000
20 Year Net ROI$443,000
20 Year Net ROI$421,000
Total 4 Year Cost$89,000
Total 4 Year Cost$112,000
Grad Rate77%
Time to Graduate
Loan Amt$33,200
Grant Money Received31%
45.9%5.7%7.6%7.2%$391,000$381,000$438,000$428,000$180,000$190,00086%5$33,50011%
4Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI5.9%
Annual ROI5.7%
Annual ROI7.6%
Annual ROI7.2%
20 Year Net ROI$391,000
20 Year Net ROI$381,000
20 Year Net ROI$438,000
20 Year Net ROI$428,000
Total 4 Year Cost$180,000
Total 4 Year Cost$190,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$33,500
Grant Money Received11%
57.3%6.4%8.3%7.2%$386,000$363,000$407,000$385,000$125,000$148,00077%$33,20031%
5Fashion Institute of Technology(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI7.3%
Annual ROI6.4%
Annual ROI8.3%
Annual ROI7.2%
20 Year Net ROI$386,000
20 Year Net ROI$363,000
20 Year Net ROI$407,000
20 Year Net ROI$385,000
Total 4 Year Cost$125,000
Total 4 Year Cost$148,000
Grad Rate77%
Time to Graduate
Loan Amt$33,200
Grant Money Received31%
68.0%8.0%10.3%10.3%$374,000$374,000$408,000$409,000$102,000$101,00062%5$22,60039%
6San Jose State University(In-State)
Annual ROI8.0%
Annual ROI8.0%
Annual ROI10.3%
Annual ROI10.3%
20 Year Net ROI$374,000
20 Year Net ROI$374,000
20 Year Net ROI$408,000
20 Year Net ROI$409,000
Total 4 Year Cost$102,000
Total 4 Year Cost$101,000
Grad Rate62%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$22,600
Grant Money Received39%
77.6%7.2%9.3%8.8%$371,000$363,000$400,000$392,000$111,000$119,00067%5$28,00023%
7University of Cincinnati-Main Campus(In-State)
Annual ROI7.6%
Annual ROI7.2%
Annual ROI9.3%
Annual ROI8.8%
20 Year Net ROI$371,000
20 Year Net ROI$363,000
20 Year Net ROI$400,000
20 Year Net ROI$392,000
Total 4 Year Cost$111,000
Total 4 Year Cost$119,000
Grad Rate67%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$28,000
Grant Money Received23%
87.8%7.8%9.2%9.2%$347,000$347,000$370,000$370,000$100,000$100,00080%5$22,50011%
8California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo(In-State)
Annual ROI7.8%
Annual ROI7.8%
Annual ROI9.2%
Annual ROI9.2%
20 Year Net ROI$347,000
20 Year Net ROI$347,000
20 Year Net ROI$370,000
20 Year Net ROI$370,000
Total 4 Year Cost$100,000
Total 4 Year Cost$100,000
Grad Rate80%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$22,500
Grant Money Received11%
96.6%7.2%11.5%13.2%$341,000$356,000$420,000$434,000$133,000$118,00091%4$25,30030%
9University of California-Los Angeles(In-State)
Annual ROI6.6%
Annual ROI7.2%
Annual ROI11.5%
Annual ROI13.2%
20 Year Net ROI$341,000
20 Year Net ROI$356,000
20 Year Net ROI$420,000
20 Year Net ROI$434,000
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Total 4 Year Cost$118,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$25,300
Grant Money Received30%
104.5%4.6%6.9%7.0%$339,000$341,000$425,000$427,000$237,000$235,00060%4$31,10030%
10California College of the Arts(Private)
Annual ROI4.5%
Annual ROI4.6%
Annual ROI6.9%
Annual ROI7.0%
20 Year Net ROI$339,000
20 Year Net ROI$341,000
20 Year Net ROI$425,000
20 Year Net ROI$427,000
Total 4 Year Cost$237,000
Total 4 Year Cost$235,000
Grad Rate60%
Time to Graduate4
Loan Amt$31,100
Grant Money Received30%
116.1%6.1%7.5%7.5%$329,000$330,000$364,000$364,000$147,000$146,00062%5$22,60039%
11San Jose State University(Out-of-State)
Annual ROI6.1%
Annual ROI6.1%
Annual ROI7.5%
Annual ROI7.5%
20 Year Net ROI$329,000
20 Year Net ROI$330,000
20 Year Net ROI$364,000
20 Year Net ROI$364,000
Total 4 Year Cost$147,000
Total 4 Year Cost$146,000
Grad Rate62%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$22,600
Grant Money Received39%
125.2%5.0%6.5%6.3%$320,000$313,000$359,000$353,000$181,000$187,00046%5$28,80028%
12Laguna College of Art and Design(Private)
Annual ROI5.2%
Annual ROI5.0%
Annual ROI6.5%
Annual ROI6.3%
20 Year Net ROI$320,000
20 Year Net ROI$313,000
20 Year Net ROI$359,000
20 Year Net ROI$353,000
Total 4 Year Cost$181,000
Total 4 Year Cost$187,000
Grad Rate46%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$28,800
Grant Money Received28%
136.2%7.0%10.5%12.6%$317,000$337,000$391,000$411,000$136,000$116,00085%5$21,50034%
13University of California-Davis(In-State)
Annual ROI6.2%
Annual ROI7.0%
Annual ROI10.5%
Annual ROI12.6%
20 Year Net ROI$317,000
20 Year Net ROI$337,000
20 Year Net ROI$391,000
20 Year Net ROI$411,000
Total 4 Year Cost$136,000
Total 4 Year Cost$116,000
Grad Rate85%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$21,500
Grant Money Received34%
14 (tie)8.8%8.8%10.4%10.4%$313,000$313,000$332,000$332,000$71,100$71,10083%6$20,00014%
14 (tie)Brigham Young University-Provo(Private)
Annual ROI8.8%
Annual ROI8.8%
Annual ROI10.4%
Annual ROI10.4%
20 Year Net ROI$313,000
20 Year Net ROI$313,000
20 Year Net ROI$332,000
20 Year Net ROI$332,000
Total 4 Year Cost$71,100
Total 4 Year Cost$71,100
Grad Rate83%
Time to Graduate6
Loan Amt$20,000
Grant Money Received14%
14 (tie)7.8%7.8%11.1%11.1%$313,000$313,000$354,000$354,000$90,600$90,60077%5$25,50019%
14 (tie)North Carolina State University at Raleigh(In-State)
Annual ROI7.8%
Annual ROI7.8%
Annual ROI11.1%
Annual ROI11.1%
20 Year Net ROI$313,000
20 Year Net ROI$313,000
20 Year Net ROI$354,000
20 Year Net ROI$354,000
Total 4 Year Cost$90,600
Total 4 Year Cost$90,600
Grad Rate77%
Time to Graduate5
Loan Amt$25,500
Grant Money Received19%

* N/A indicates school does not have an on campus living option.

Not all educational institutes are created equally, and PayScale’s College ROI Report allows you to see which colleges produce the best return on investment for art majors across the country. The report’s calculations are based on the 20-year earnings of art degree alumni as compared to the initial dollar investment made to obtain said degree from each school. You might be surprised by the findings.

One of the biggest surprises is that the best value colleges for arts major are often not art schools. In fact, only a few of the colleges on our art school rankings for art majors are dedicated art schools.

The Fashion Institute of Technology of New York typically provides a high ROI for art majors, largely thanks to its relatively low tuition (FIT is a public school) and specialized education with lots of experiential learning opportunities (internships, etc.).

The rest of the list of best schools for art majors by ROI features a slew of great public schools with strong art programs, including Virginia Polytechnic Institute, the University of California at Davis, San Diego State University and San Jose State University.

Brigham Young University (BYU) is a private school with a great ROI for art majors. BYU has one of the lowest tuitions of any private school thanks to large donations from the Mormon Church, making it a good choice if you want to major in art, where there isn’t necessarily a huge demand for jobs directly associated with your major. BYU also churns out some pretty impressive and well-known talent, too. Jon Heder, star of Napoleon Dynamite and Blades of Glory, has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from BYU, along with fellow BYU alum and all-time Jeopardy! winner, Ken Jennings, who maintained a record-breaking 74-game winning streak on the popular game show back in 2004.

The Academy of Art University located in San Francisco, California has a high return on investment for art majors attending a dedicated art school. However, there is one thing to consider if you’re thinking of pursuing an art degree at Academy of Art University: the average graduation rate for art majors is 32 percent. If you can manage to be one of the lucky ones to don an Academy of Art University diploma, then rest assured that all of your blood, sweat, and tears have a very promising net ROI over the following 20 years. Just ask special effects Academy Award winner and Academy of Art University alum, Rick Baker, whose filmography includes Maleficent, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Star Wars: Episode IV to name a few.

Hopefully these findings will help encourage more students to pursue art majors and nix the ‘starving artist’ stereotype once and for all. To help you make a wise investment in your future, check out PayScale’s College ROI Report to see which colleges offer the best bang for their educational buck, and which ones don’t. However, art majors need to be wise — we also found a number of schools where the ROI for art majors is negative, meaning they don’t earn back the cost of tuition even after working for 20 years.


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