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.

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.  Read More

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90 (tie)Western Illinois University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$171,000
Total 4 Year Cost$100,000
Grad Rate54%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,800
92 (tie)College for Creative Studies(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$170,000
Total 4 Year Cost$205,000
Grad Rate62%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$38,700
92 (tie)SUNY - College at Oneonta(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$170,000
Total 4 Year Cost$88,000
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,600
92 (tie)SUNY - Purchase College(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$170,000
Total 4 Year Cost$136,000
Grad Rate67%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,100
92 (tie)University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$170,000
Total 4 Year Cost$134,000
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$27,400
92 (tie)University of California - San Diego (UCSD), Warren College(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$170,000
Total 4 Year Cost$123,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
92 (tie)University of Wisconsin (UWEC) - Eau Claire(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$170,000
Total 4 Year Cost$75,700
Grad Rate68%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,100
92 (tie)Western Washington University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$170,000
Total 4 Year Cost$91,300
Grad Rate72%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,000
99 (tie)New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$169,000
Total 4 Year Cost$198,000
Grad Rate45%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,000
99 (tie)North Dakota State University (NDSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$169,000
Total 4 Year Cost$78,600
Grad Rate56%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$34,400
99 (tie)University of Colorado - Boulder (CU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$169,000
Total 4 Year Cost$118,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$34,900
102 (tie)SUNY - College at Potsdam(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$167,000
Total 4 Year Cost$124,000
Grad Rate54%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$27,000
102 (tie)William Paterson University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$167,000
Total 4 Year Cost$111,000
Grad Rate51%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,000
104Biola University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$166,000
Total 4 Year Cost$190,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,200
105Ohio State University (OSU) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$164,000
Total 4 Year Cost$102,000
Grad Rate83%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,700

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

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.