5 Best Colleges Around the World for Art and Design

Have you seen the latest episode of Say Yes to the Dress? 

Better yet, how about Project Runway or America’s Next Top Model?

Even if you haven’t, you still know these shows are about fashion, and that they rake in millions of viewers every episode.

Each episode, these shows display branded clothes and shoes by famous fashion designers.

Even if you’re not into branded clothes, you’re probably into Jimmy Choo sneakers.

Still not interested? Then how about The Family Guy? Yeah, you watch that?

Many viewers, no matter what age, still watch animated shows. In fact, films like Finding Dory earn millions of dollars within days of coming out in local theaters.

According to Forbes.com Finding Dory earned a whopping $14.7 million in 12 days!

Finding Dory Trailer:

It’s no secret that good animation is one of the reasons people watch these films.

Art degrees are not something to be ashamed of; in fact, you can earn good money in an art career these days.

If you’re considering taking an art degree, look up these art and design colleges that have been ranked in the top 5 by the most recent QS World University Ranking.

These art schools have produced many successful fashion designers, animators, and actors.

Best Art and Design Colleges

Royal College of Art


image source: rca.ac.uk

Location: Kensington Gore, London, England, United Kingdom

Type of College: public postgraduate university

Famous Alumni: film directors Tony & Ridley Scott; actor Alan Rickman; sculptor Barbara Hepworth; designer Thomas Heatherwick; artist Sir George Clausen; book illustrator Kate Greenaway; garden design artist and writer Gertrude Jekyll

The Royal College of Art only offers post-graduate programs in art and design. That’s right. This isn’t for novices and wannabes.

Royal College of Art Video Tour

The Royal College is the only college of design in the entire world that only allows those who have already completed their undergraduate degree.

RCA began in 1837 when it was founded at the Somerset House, a building that historically housed a Tudor palace. It didn’t begin as RCA.

Instead, it was called “Government School of Design”, then the National Art Training School, then finally the Royal College of Art in 1896.

It offers master’s and doctor’s degrees in fine arts, applied art, design, communication, and humanities.

Royal College of Art has two campuses: one in South Kensington, and one in Battersea.

There are 6 schools in RCA offering 26 programs in all:

  • Architecture
  • Communication
  • Design
  • Fine Art
  • Humanities and Material

RCA has been ranked in the top spots many times. In 2011, Modern Painters magazine ranked in No. 1 in the UK.

The QS World University Ranking in 2015 and 2016 also ranked it No. 1.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


MIT building “10” and dome – image source: en.wikipedia.org

Location: 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Type of College: private university

Famous Alumni: Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin; Dropbox founders Drew Houston & Arash Ferdowsi; physicist Nobel laureate Richard Feynman; architects Gordon Bunshaft, Lois Lilley Howe, Kevin A. Lynch, Raymond Hood

MIT offers free tours of its campus to over 40,000 people each year peaking in July and August.

MIT Video Tour:

MIT is well-known for its sciences and engineering programs. In fact, it’s the best college for STEM studies and research. So it’s a bit surprising to see it in a list for art and design.

But MIT proves that it’s more than meets the eye when it comes to design.

QS World University Ranking placed it No. 2 in art and design, but it’s No. 1 when it comes to architecture.

Case in point: the Ray and Maria Stata Center or Building 32, which is one of the most amazingly constructed infrastructures in the world. MIT sure knows how to impress!


MIT Ray & Maria Stata Center(Building 32) amazing architectural design – photo source: mit.edu

MIT was founded in 1861 primarily as a science school; it was patterned after European polytechnic universities, where students focused on applied science and engineering in laboratories

It emphasized experiment and application over theories and classroom lectures. Now, many of its research projects have been used to solve real-world problems.


MIT Simmons Hal dorm – image source: en.wikipedia.org

The MIT offers degrees under the following:

  • School of Humanities
  • Arts and Social Sciences
  • School of Architecture and Planning

Rhode Island School of Design


Rhode Island School of Design – image source: en.wikipedia.org

Location: 2 College St, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Type of College: private university

Famous Alumni: “Family Guy” animators Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzo; “The Simpsons” animator Lance Wilder; gallery owner Mary Boone; fashion designers Nicole Miller, Diana Eng, Katie Gallagher

Video Tour of Rhode Island School of Design Freshman Studios

RISD is a fine arts and design college, but it works together with Brown University to offer courses and hold events.

The founding of RISD is unlike the creation of other schools. A group of women in Rhode Island (The Centennial Women) raised funds so that women could showcase their works at the 1876 Centennial Exposition.

Over a year, the group was able to raise more than $10,000. That’s big money now – imagine how much that was a century ago!

The exhibit displayed artworks, business patents or startups, and books by women.

At the end of the event, the group still had $1,675 left to use. They decided to invest their money in the founding of RSID in 1877.

Rhode Island School of Design offers various programs of study:

  • Apparel design
  • Architecture
  • Ceramics
  • Digital and media
  • Film & animation
  • Furniture design
  • Glass work
  • Graphic design
  • History of art and visual culture
  • History
  • Philosophy & social sciences
  • Illustration
  • Industrial design
  • Interior architecture
  • Jewelry and metalsmithing
  • Landscape architecture
  • Literary arts and studies
  • Painting, photography
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Teaching & learning in art and design
  • Textiles

Parsons School for Design


Parsons School for Design in the network of “The New School” – image source: screen shot YouTube.com

Location: 66 5th Ave, New York City, New York, USA

Type of College: private university

Famous Alumni: designers Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Jenna Lyons, Anna Sui; photographer Duane Michals; art director and graphic designer Paul Rand

The Parsons School for Design is one of the 7 colleges under The New School.

It was also the first school to offer fashion design, advertising, interior design, and graphic design in the United States.

Video Tour Inside Parsons School for Design

The school was founded by William Merritt Chase, an impressionist painter. He had named it Chase school in 1896, as a way to house an art education that was more individualistic in expressions of art.

In 1898, the school was renamed to New York School of Art.

In the early years of the 20th century, Frank Alvah Parsons joined the school as a teacher.

He became the school president and decided to make some changes to the school curriculum, predicting that the Industrial Revolution would have an impact in education and jobs.

He later added fashion design, interior design, advertising, and graphic design to the school.

In 1909, the school was renamed again to New York School of Fine and Applied Art.

It eventually became Parsons School of Design in 1936, six years after Parsons’ death.

Officially, the school is Parsons The New School for Design after it became part of the The New School in 1970.

Parsons offers 13 undergraduate programs and 17 master’s degrees:

  • Architecture & lighting design
  • Data visualization
  • Fashion design
  • Design and technology
  • Fine arts
  • Photography
  • Interior design
  • Theories on urban practice
  • Urban design
  • Integrated design
  • Transdisciplinary design
  • More….

There are also non-degree programs like: continuing education, pre-college academy, summer intensive studies, and certificate programs like business of design, fashion design, fine arts and foundation, and graphic and digital design.

University of the Arts London


University Of The Arts in London – image courtesy: en.wikipedia.org

Location: 272 High Holborn, London, England, UK

Type of College: public university

Famous Alumni: Founder of the Dorling Kindersley publishing group Peter Kindersley

Alumni Actors

  • Ralph Fiennes
  • Paul Bettany
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Colin Firth
  • Anne-Marie Duff

Director & Producer Steve McQueen

Illustrator Quentin Blake

Fashion Designers

  • Jimmy Choo
  • Mich Dulce
  • Alexander McQueen
  • Stella McCartney
  • Sophia Kokosalaki
  • Katharine Hamnett

Sculptor Juan Muñoz

Video Tour University of the Arts London (UAL)

The University of the Arts London is the largest college in Europe that specializes in art and design

It has other colleges in the network that offer degrees in different artistic fields too:

  • Camberwell College of Arts
  • Central Saint Martins
  • Chelsea College of Art and Design
  • London College of Communication
  • Wimbledon College of Art
  • London College of Fashion

It was founded in 1986 as the London Institute, and was formed from the union of 7 different art colleges that had already been established in the 19th and early 20th century.

It was only in 2004 when it was called the University of Arts London.

With six colleges offering degrees in art, design, fashion, and performing arts, students can choose out of more than a hundred bachelor’s and master’s programs.

There are numerous degrees that you can select from:

  • Fashion
  • Film
  • Animation
  • Directing
  • Television
  • Publishing
  • Photography
  • Fine arts
  • Drawing
  • Architecture
  • Screenwriting
  • Costumer for theater & screen
  • Game design
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • More….
Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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