The best art schools in the world

By Katharina Wenzel-Vollenbroich
The best art schools in the world The best art schools in the world

So you want to be an artist? For most people, the first big step to achieving this dream is signing up to a university arts programme that will provide you with the professional resources and exposure to launch into group shows and beyond.

College is an investment which in some regions, such as the US, has financial repercussions far beyond the degree. So in addition to a widely connected and talented faculty, prospective students must consider tuition and scholarships. The world’s top universities are shown with 2019/20 figures for tuition and rate to help you navigate your choices.

Read further below, to find out how a handful of top fine art undergraduate degrees stack up in terms of resources and tools to help you succeed as an artist once you’re released into the hyper-competitive art world.



Tuition per Year


Royal College of Art & Design

London, UK


Central St. Martins

London, UK

£9,250 UK & EU/17,920  int.

Slade University

London, UK

£9250k UK & EU/26,740 int.

Bristol School of Art & Design

Bristol, UK

£9,250 UK & EU/11,750 int.

Design Academy of Eindhoven

Eindhoven, Netherlands

€1,951 UK & EU/8,432 int.

Universität der Künste Berlin

Berlin, Germany

€300 per semester

Kunst-akademie Düsseldorf 

Düsseldorf, Germany
€300 per semester


Frankfurt, Germany

Enrolled students pay no tuition

Kunst-hochschule für Medien Köln 

Köln, Germany

€300 per semester

Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden

Dresden, Germany  

€100-1500 per semester 

Politecnico di Milano

Milan, Italy

Regular fees for EU and Non-EU students applying to a Laurea (equivalent to Bachelor of Science) programme are dependent on the student's family income and on the number of credits included in the study plan.


Yale University

New Haven, CT


Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Providence, RI


Massa-    chusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA


School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago, IL


University of California--Los Angeles (UCLA)

Los Angeles, CA


Pratt Institute 

New York, USA

$51,754 annually

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

Santa Clarita, CA


Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Mexico City, Mexico

$0–1000 USD

Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)

Buenos Aires, Argentina

All under-graduate courses are free of charge.


National University of Singapore (NUS)


S$29,350 - S$38,450

The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA)

Beijing, China

RMB300   int.

Tsinghua University

Beijing, China

RMB 24,000 to RMB 40,000 per year

Peking University

Beijing, China,

RMB 13,000 to RMB 15,000

Seoul National University

Seoul, Korea

Average tuition fee is 6,000 USD

Five of the best

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)—Providence, RI

Price and financial aid: Tuition, fees, and room and board add up to US$63,188 for each of the four academic years. Additional material fees are required in certain courses. Granted on a mix of merit and financial background, RISD offers approximately 40% of student scholarships.

Career services: Throughout your time studying, a team of career advisors offer 30 and 60 minute sessions on topics from residencies, custom career paths, portfolios, and resumes.

Exposure: Throughout the year, fine art portfolio reviews give junior and senior students an audience with top companies and galleries, such as Marianne Boesky Gallery and New York Foundation for the Arts, NYFA. In most fine art majors, senior portfolio exhibitions allow soon-to-be graduates to showcase their best work. Graduate portfolios are also displayed online.

Extras: Students can cross-register for courses at Brown University after sophomore year.

Central Saint Martins —London, England

Price and financial aid: Tuition for each year of this three-year degree is £9,250 for UK/EU students and £13,690 for international students. Merit-based scholarships are available.

Career services: At the end of their second year, students can take a one-year diploma in professional studies in addition to their BFA, which includes internship placement at galleries and museums. Other services include portfolio assistance and professional development events. Funding awards available for new businesses coming out of CSL.

Exposure: Degree shows for third year students allow students to showcase their work in front of editors, collectors, and curators.

Extra: External projects at institutions such as Camden Art Centre, The Freud Museum, Tate Modern, allow students to think about their art practice outside of the studio and provide the opportunity to form valuable connections.

Städelschule — Frankfurt, Germany

Price and financial aid: For all students tuition is free thanks to city funding. Each student pays a social contribution fee of €132.10 per semester.

Career services: Classes are framed as conversations around students’ work and are taught by renowned global artists, such as Judith Hopf and Peter Fischli. With classes heavily contingent on studio work, this program emphasizes the exposure and relationships with faculty who are successful working artists.

Exposure: Seniors in the “Free Fine Art” degree can present works at the annual graduate exhibition.

Extra: Classes are taught in English.

The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) —  Beijing, China

Price and financial aid: As of 2017/2018, international students pay RMB 52000 yuan and Chinese students pay 15000 yuan for each year of this three year degree.

Career services: The School of Fine Art is led and taught by China’s most acclaimed working artists, such as known sculptor Sui Jianguo.

Exposure: CAFA is considered by many the go-to source for Beijing and Shanghai’s hot new artists, with recent alumni including Zhang Huan and Liu Wei. Collectors are known to perform campus visits regularly, including to see the annual student exhibition.

Extra: CAFA encompasses six schools and colleges — School of Fine Art, School of Chinese Painting, School of Design, School of Architecture, School of Humanities, and College of City Design. Founded in 1918, the School of Fine Art’s Oil Painting Department is one of the earliest sources for contemporary oil painting instruction in China.

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) — Valencia, CA

Price and financial aid: Tuition, fees, and room and board add up to US$56,406 a year for this four year degree. Merit and financial-based scholarships are available from CalArts, in addition to California State Grants, private scholarships and federal grants. The CalArts financial aid office reports that more than 73% of students receive some form of scholarship or financial aid.

Career services: Career counselors offer individual career counseling, services, programmes, and workshops to help students and alumni best navigate their careers as working artists. Counselors also cultivate relationships with recruiters and practicing professionals to create opportunities for students.

Exposure: Art BFA faculty members include multi-media artist Sam Durant. Senior solo exhibitions for each graduating Fine Arts major in their last semester take place in San Francisco and Oakland, depending on major, and typically last one week in a CCA gallery space

Extra: Well-known BFA alumni include Mark Bradford (’95) and Cameron Jamie (’95).

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The best art schools in the world The best art schools in the world

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