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Best colleges for the arts in America

  • Best colleges for the arts in America
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    Best colleges for the arts in America

    While the idea of getting an art degree might bring the term “starving artist” to mind, careers in the arts can actually be lucrative. A recent joint report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts showed that the arts industry is booming, contributing more than $763 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015. Art-related industries employ nearly 5 million workers and added more to the economy than agriculture, transportation, or warehousing, as well as creating a $20 billion trade surplus. The arts also grew by 2.6%, higher than the 2.4% increase in the overall economy.

    Students who attend colleges for the arts don't just major in art, however. There's also history, literature, political science, psychology, language, and math, to name a few. Many of these colleges offer the advantages of smaller class sizes, coupled with more choices in areas of study and opportunities to study abroad. Some schools have also expanded their undergraduate programs, helping students learn entrepreneurial and business skills in order to better navigate an ever-changing work world.

    Stacker rounded up a list of the best colleges for the arts in the U.S., using information collected from Niche, a site that provides information on and ranks the best colleges, places to live, and places to work. In ranking colleges for the arts, Niche analyzed a combination of data to include information on academics, financials, admissions, and student life. They considered factors such as student experience, diversity, percentage of undergraduate students majoring in art, surveys that scored students overall experience, and percentage of total annual art grads that come from the programs. Niche also obtains statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, with data updated as recently as 2018.

    Take a look at Stacker's overview of some of America's best colleges for the Arts.

    You may also like: Colleges with alternative grading systems

  • #50. Pennsylvania College of Art & Design
    2/ Jeremy Drey // Flickr

    #50. Pennsylvania College of Art & Design

    - Location: Lancaster, PA
    - Acceptance rate: 50%
    - SAT range: data not available
    - ACT: data not available
    - Faculty ratio: 12:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 250
    - Tuition: $25,000

    Located in Lancaster, Pa., this private, nonprofit school has a wide range of bachelor of fine arts degrees, certificates, and credentials to choose from. The school was founded in 1982 and prides itself on being a leading cultural center within the Lancaster community, with artists' talks, workshops, and gallery events that showcase student work. It is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design. Notable alumni include illustrator Mark Zug, who worked on an adaption of “I, Robot,” and Matt Stawicki, who has designed the covers of numerous science fiction and fantasy novels.

  • #49. Colgate University
    3/ Balon Greyjoy // Wikimedia Commons

    #49. Colgate University

    - Location: Hamilton, NY
    - Acceptance rate: 28%
    - SAT range: 1310-1500
    - ACT: 31-33
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 2,854
    - Tuition: $55,530

    Founded in 1819, Colgate University was originally created to be part of a seminary, the Baptist Education Society. The school started admitting non-seminary students in 1839, and Colgate has since grown to become one of New York's most respected liberal arts colleges. Popular degree programs include psychology, international relations, and political science. Its recently opened Benton Hall, a 17,000-square-foot facility that reportedly cost $16.4 million to build, is home to the Center for Career Services, which was created to help students with fellowships, internships, and career counseling.

  • #48. Maine College of Art
    4/ Motionhero // Wikimedia Commons

    #48. Maine College of Art

    - Location: Portland, ME
    - Acceptance rate: 68%
    - SAT range: data not available
    - ACT: data not available
    - Faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 430
    - Tuition: $34,320

    Portland, Maine's College of Art is the oldest arts educational institution in the state. Founded in 1882, it offers both a bachelor of fine arts and a master of fine arts in various disciplines, as well as certificates, continuing education, and pre-college intensives for high school students. Housed in what was originally a department store, the school is located in the middle of Portland's Art District, with an urban vibe and studios that stay open around the clock. The school was a recent recipient of a donation of $3 million from Maine's Lunder Foundation, dedicated to funding need-based aid to undergraduate students.

  • #47. California College of the Arts
    5/ edwardhblake // Wikimedia Commons

    #47. California College of the Arts

    - Location: San Francisco, CA
    - Acceptance rate: 64%
    - SAT range: data not available
    - ACT: 19-27
    - Faculty ratio: 11:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,409
    - Tuition: $47,266

    California College of the Arts is a private nonprofit school with campuses in both San Francisco and Oakland. Featuring more than 20 undergraduate programs and 11 graduate programs, it emphasizes an immersive atmosphere in a contemporary setting. Students who choose CCA will be in good company, as the school has produced many prestigious alumni, to including the famous sculptor Manuel Neri, now 89, who created life-size figures in bronze, plaster, and marble and was a prominent part of the San Francisco art scene.

  • #46. Kansas City Art Institute
    6/ Americasroof // Wikimedia Commons

    #46. Kansas City Art Institute

    - Location: Kansas City, MO
    - Acceptance rate: 67%
    - SAT range: 1020-1280
    - ACT: 20-27
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 656
    - Tuition: $37,800

    With a faculty comprised mainly of award-winning artists and creators, Kansas City Art Institute gives students the opportunity to learn with top professionals in their field. The school actually started as a “Sketch Club” in 1885 and evolved into the well-known university is it today. Walt Disney got his start here, taking weekend classes at the school as a child, and the late artist Robert Morris studied at KCAI as well. The school recently broke ground on a new 18,000-square-foot building that will house their liberal arts program and student services.

  • #45. Savannah College of Art and Design
    7/ Karan Jain // Flickr

    #45. Savannah College of Art and Design

    - Location: Savannah, GA
    - Acceptance rate: 93%
    - SAT range: 1030-1230
    - ACT: 21-27
    - Faculty ratio: 20:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 9,013
    - Tuition: $36,410

    This private and accredited college was founded in 1978 in order to provide programs that were not available at other Georgia schools. Today, Savannah College of Art and Design offers more than 40 majors and 75 minors to its students, including study abroad degree programs in Hong Kong and a master of architecture degree that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

  • #44. Skidmore College
    8/ Peter Flass // Wikimedia

    #44. Skidmore College

    - Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
    - Acceptance rate: 25%
    - SAT range: 1200-1400
    - ACT: 27-31
    - Faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 2,636
    - Tuition: $52,596

    Located in picturesque Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Skidmore College has more than 60 different areas of study, giving students plenty of educational options and opportunities. The school has consistently earned high rankings in publications such as The Princeton Review, Forbes, and Kiplinger's. Former students include actress Lake Bell and musician Evan Dando of the Lemonheads.

  • #43. Alfred University
    9/ Benjamin D. Esham // Wikimedia Commons

    #43. Alfred University

    - Location: Alfred, NY
    - Acceptance rate: 63%
    - SAT range: 990-1210
    - ACT: 21-26
    - Faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,600
    - In-state tuition: $19,130
    - Out-of-state tuition: $32,494

    Producing students who go on to work at companies such as Tesla and Apple, Alfred University's programs offer a wide range of liberal arts and sciences, including art and design, engineering, business, and education. Established in 1836, the school is the second oldest coeducational college in the United States and was one of the earliest to enroll African American and Native American students.

  • #42. University of California - Berkeley
    10/ Falcorian // Wikimedia Commons

    #42. University of California - Berkeley

    - Location: Berkeley, CA
    - Acceptance rate: 17%
    - SAT range: 1260-1480
    - ACT: 30-34
    - Faculty ratio: 18:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 29,351
    - In-state tuition: $14,170
    - Out-of-state tuition: $42,184

    Berkeley is a well-known advocate of art, social change, and community, and UC Berkeley maintains those values in its educational programs and traditions. There are more than 130 academic departments to choose from, a low student-to-faculty ratio, and several faculty members who also happen to be Nobel Prize recipients. Five of the school's professors were also recently awarded Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowships, which are grants that allow recipients to complete research and book projects.

  • #41. New York University
    11/ Elisa.rolle // Wikimedia Commons

    #41. New York University

    - Location: New York, NY
    - Acceptance rate: 28%
    - SAT range: 1290-1490
    - ACT: 29-33
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 25,347
    - Tuition: $50,464

    One of the largest private universities in the United States, New York University got its start in 1831, created by statesman Albert Gallatin, who served as secretary of treasury for Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. There are more than 230 areas of study to choose from, and their School of Medicine offers full tuition scholarships to help students pursue a career in medicine without the weight of crushing student loan debt. The school's list of famous alumni is lengthy, including stars of stage and screen such as Lady Gaga and Anne Hathaway, as well as business moguls like Alan Greenspan and Paul Levy.

  • #40. Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design
    12/ Dori // Wikimedia Commons

    #40. Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design

    - Location: Milwaukee, WI
    - Acceptance rate: 60%
    - SAT range: data not available
    - ACT: data not available
    - Faculty ratio: 11:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 649
    - Tuition: $36,230

    Wisconsin's only four-year private college and the state's only college dedicated to educating artists, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design was founded in 1974 as a successor to the prestigious Layton School of Art. With degree programs such as illustration and industrial design, the school is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design and is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design.

  • #39. Kenyon College
    13/ Cbc717 // Wikimedia Commons

    #39. Kenyon College

    - Location: Gambier, OH
    - Acceptance rate: 34%
    - SAT range: 1260-1460
    - ACT: 29-33
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,661
    - Tuition: $53,560

    Kenyon College is a smaller school, located in the equally small town of Gambier, Ohio. It was founded in 1824 and is Ohio's oldest private college. Kenyon's alumni list includes the late actor Paul Newman, writer John Green, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, the late Robert Lowell. The school's 1,000-acre campus is also part of a 500-acre nature preserve, with woodland and wetland habitats, as well as six miles of hiking trails.

  • #38. Grinnell College
    14/ Aureliusxv // Wikimedia Commons

    #38. Grinnell College

    - Location: Grinnell, IA
    - Acceptance rate: 29%
    - SAT range: 1310-1510
    - ACT: 30-34
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,662
    - Tuition: $50,714

    The self-proclaimed “Grinnellians” of Grinnell College can choose from upwards of 500 courses and enjoy the added perk of a small 9-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Founded in 1846, Grinnell has an estimated 1,600 students and places a big emphasis on promoting social responsibility, diversity, and cultural awareness. The school also offers a yearly Innovator for Social Justice Prize, a $100,000 award created to honor individuals who demonstrate leadership and are working to build effective social change.

  • #37. Memphis College of Art
    15/ Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

    #37. Memphis College of Art

    - Location: Memphis, TN
    - Acceptance rate: 54%
    - SAT range: 870-1160
    - ACT: 19-26
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 239
    - Tuition: $33,130

    “Walking in Memphis” takes on a whole new meaning at the Memphis College of Art, where creativity is the real king. Starting as the Mid-South School of Fine Arts, it was incorporated as a Tennessee nonprofit educational corporation in 1936, and the name was changed to the Memphis Academy of Arts. It was renamed the Memphis College of Art in 1985. The school recently announced it will no longer be accepting new students and plans to close after the class of 2020 graduates, but it will continue to offer community education, workshops, and other educational opportunities.

  • #36. Scripps College
    16/ Lure Photography // Wikimedia Commons

    #36. Scripps College

    - Location: Claremont, CA
    - Acceptance rate: 33%
    - SAT range: 1290-1460
    - ACT: 29-33
    - Faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,060
    - Tuition: $54,806

    Since its inception in 1926, Scripps College has dedicated itself to women's education programs. Part of the Claremont Colleges, which consist of five separate undergraduate institutions, the schools work together to create a cohesive intellectual network while remaining independent and having their own campuses, faculty, and student bodies. Scripps' curriculum includes a wide range of majors, as well as study abroad programs, fellowships, and internships.

  • #35. University of Texas - Austin
    17/ Larry D. Moore // Wikimedia Commons

    #35. University of Texas - Austin

    - Location: Austin, TX
    - Acceptance rate: 36%
    - SAT range: 1220-1460
    - ACT: 26-33
    - Faculty ratio: 18:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 37,740
    - In-state tuition: $10,398
    - Out-of-state tuition: $36,744

    Consistently ranked as a top U.S. school, the University of Texas at Austin is the flagship school of the University of Texas, part of nine universities and six health institutions. A public university, UT Austin's undergraduate and graduate programs are considered some of the best in the country. More than a few of the 482,000 people in the school's alumni base are well-known—including late journalist Walter Cronkite and actor Matthew McConaughey.

  • #34. Ringling College of Art & Design
    18/ Paul Moody // Flickr

    #34. Ringling College of Art & Design

    - Location: Sarasota, FL
    - Acceptance rate: 64%
    - SAT range: data not available
    - ACT: data not available
    - Faculty ratio: 11:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,395
    - Tuition: $44,560

    The Ringling College of Art and Design is a highly ranked, award-winning school with a multitude of educational opportunities. Located in Sarasota, Fla., this private, four-year institution was started in 1931 as a place to recognize artists and designers as having a pivotal role in society. Available majors include computer animation, virtual reality, and graphic design. Famous Ringling grads include cartoonist John Marshall and YouTube phenom Michelle Phan.

  • #33. Vassar College
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    #33. Vassar College

    - Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
    - Acceptance rate: 24%
    - SAT range: 1330-1500
    - ACT: 30-33
    - Faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 2,334
    - Tuition: $55,210

    Long known as a pioneer in liberal arts education for women, Vassar College was founded by Matthew Vassar in 1861. Situated in the Hudson Valley just 75 miles from New York City, the 1,000-acre campus has more than 100 academic and residential buildings, with nearly all students choosing to live on campus for the duration of their education. Vassar recently announced a partnership with the University of Global Health Equity, a medical school in Rwanda, in order to help the school build a liberal arts program into its curriculum.

  • #32. Bates College
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    #32. Bates College

    - Location: Lewiston, ME
    - Acceptance rate: 22%
    - SAT range: 1385-1460
    - ACT: 30-32
    - Faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,787
    - Tuition: $52,042

    Bates College is located in the town of Lewiston, Maine, just 35 miles outside of Portland. The school was founded in 1855 as the first coeducational college in New England. Academics are centered around more than 30 majors and minors, from film and studies to neuroscience. One of its most famous alumni is journalist Bryant Gumbel, who graduated in 1970 with a degree in Russian history.

  • #31. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
    21/ AndrewHome // GoodFreePhotos

    #31. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

    - Location: Ann Arbor, MI
    - Acceptance rate: 27%
    - SAT range: 1330-1500
    - ACT: 30-33
    - Faculty ratio: 11:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 28,702
    - In-state tuition: $14,826
    - Out-of-state tuition: $47,476

    University of Michigan, or just “Michigan” as locals call it, has some impressive credentials and stats. The school cites a 97% freshman retention rate and has made the list of “Best Colleges for your Money” at Money.com, and its location in Ann Arbor won the #1 spot in Forbes review of the 10 Best College Towns in the U.S. Michigan's most well known alumni include President Gerald Ford and civil engineer James Baird, who directed construction of the Flatiron Building in New York City.

  • #30. College for Creative Studies
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    #30. College for Creative Studies

    - Location: Detroit, MI
    - Acceptance rate: 49%
    - SAT range: 970-1200
    - ACT: 21-27
    - Faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,110
    - Tuition: $42,460

    Originally formed as part of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts in 1906, Detroit's College for Creative Studies went on to evolve into a four-year college and was one of the first organizations of its kind to offer a formal program in art. Undergraduate programs include options such as fashion accessories, product design, and art education. The school recently teamed up with the Detroit Mercy's College of Health Professions and Engineering & Science to develop assistive technology for veterans with disabilities.

  • #29. Columbus College of Art & Design
    23/ Columbus // Wikimedia Commons

    #29. Columbus College of Art & Design

    - Location: Columbus, OH
    - Acceptance rate: 70%
    - SAT range: 980-1200
    - ACT: 19-25
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,001
    - Tuition: $33,960

    Founded in 1879, Columbus College of Art & Design was originally known as Columbus Art School. One of 11 universities in Columbus, it is one of the oldest private, nonprofit art and design colleges in the country. Recently, several CCAD students were the recipients of the Ohio Arts Council's Individual Excellence Awards, which gives artists and creatives an opportunity to explore and advance their careers.

  • #28. University of California - Los Angeles
    24/ brent // Wikimedia Commons

    #28. University of California - Los Angeles

    - Location: Los Angeles, CA
    - Acceptance rate: 16%
    - SAT range: 1220-1450
    - ACT: 29-34
    - Faculty ratio: 18:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 30,458
    - In-state tuition: $13,261
    - Out-of-state tuition: $41,275

    Starting out in 1919 as a two-year undergraduate teacher training program, UCLA has grown into one of the most popular and sought-after liberal arts schools in the country. Students and faculty alike have earned honors such as Nobel Laureates, Pulitzers, MacArthur Fellowships, and Medal of Science awards. The laundry list of famous grads is nearly endless from iconic actor James Dean to athletes such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and astronauts Anna Lee Fisher and Taylor Wang.

  • #27. Art Academy of Cincinnati
    25/ Wholtone // Wikimedia Commons

    #27. Art Academy of Cincinnati

    - Location: Cincinnati, OH
    - Acceptance rate: 45%
    - SAT range: 880-1110
    - ACT: 16-22
    - Faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 168
    - Tuition: $31,290

    One of the smallest four-year art colleges in the country, the Art Academy of Cincinnati makes its small stature one of its biggest strengths. With an average of just 200 undergraduates, it provides a high level of one-on-one between both faculty and peers. This school offers not only a bachelor of fine arts but also a master of arts in art education and an associate of science in graphic design. Founded in 1869 as the McMicken School of Drawing and Design (which eventually became one of the first established departments of the university), the school was renamed in 1887 and moved to a new facility next to the Cincinnati Art Museum.

  • #26. Minneapolis College of Art & Design
    26/ Northern Spark // Flickr

    #26. Minneapolis College of Art & Design

    - Location: Minneapolis, MN
    - Acceptance rate: 59%
    - SAT range: 950-1250
    - ACT: 20-26
    - Faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 668
    - Tuition: $37,812

    Want to draw comics for a living? The Minneapolis College of Art and Design might be just the ticket. With bachelor of fine art programs that include animation, comic art, graphic design, and web/multimedia, this private, nonprofit caters to anyone seeking a career in the arts. Its student population of approximately 800 comes from all around the U.S., as well as other countries, with more than 80% of the student body enrolled in either design or media arts programs. The school's alumni include illustrator Mary GrandPré and visual artist Lisa Nankivil.

  • #25. Art Center College of Design
    27/ Jchobanana // Wikimedia Commons

    #25. Art Center College of Design

    - Location: Pasadena, CA
    - Acceptance rate: 70%
    - SAT range: data not available
    - ACT: data not available
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,717
    - Tuition: $20,704

    The Art Center College of Design was the brainchild of advertising executive Edward A. “Tink” Adams. Adams wanted to create a school that taught real skills to artists and designers, giving them an edge in careers such as advertising, publishing, and design. The Pasadena school opened in 1930 under Adams' directorship, quickly establishing itself as a school that generated employable graduates. In addition to degree programs, the school also offers year-round educational programs for students of all ages.

  • #24. Carnegie Mellon University
    28/ Persage // Wikimedia Commons

    #24. Carnegie Mellon University

    - Location: Pittsburgh, PA
    - Acceptance rate: 22%
    - SAT range: 1430-1560
    - ACT: 32-35
    - Faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 6,298
    - Tuition: $53,910

    Located in the heart of Pittsburgh, Pa., Carnegie Mellon is a private university with a focus on global research. The school was founded in 1900 by businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and has expanded to include several different colleges with both domestic and international locations. Alumni include the artist Andy Warhol and James Gosling, the inventor of Java computer programming language.

  • #23. Colorado College
    29/ Jeffrey Beall // Wikimedia Commons

    #23. Colorado College

    - Location: Colorado Springs, CO
    - Acceptance rate: 15%
    - SAT range: 1220-1430
    - ACT: 28-32
    - Faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 2,091
    - Tuition: $52,818

    Students looking for a different approach to education will find it at Colorado College. The school formats its classes into an immersive block plan where undergraduates take one class at a time for three-and-a-half weeks per class, offering a more intensive foray into various studies. Established in 1874, Colorado College was actually in place before Colorado even became a state, opening in the new town of Colorado Springs, which ran along the railroad. It has continued to grow throughout the years and is currently working on approvals for a new sports arena.

  • #22. Moore College of Art & Design
    30/ Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

    #22. Moore College of Art & Design

    - Location: Philadelphia, PA
    - Acceptance rate: 54%
    - SAT range: 1130-1150
    - ACT: 17-22
    - Faculty ratio: 7:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 361
    - Tuition: $40,052

    Philadelphia's Moore College of Art and Design was the first women's visual arts college in the United States, starting in 1848 as the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. While its undergraduate programs are still only available to women, the college made its graduate programs coeducational in 2009. Notable alumni include illustrator Jessie Willcox Smith, of the Golden Age of illustration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and children's author Anne Parrish.

  • #21. School of Visual Arts
    31/ Beyond My Ken // Wikimedia Commons

    #21. School of Visual Arts

    - Location: New York, NY
    - Acceptance rate: 72%
    - SAT range: 1020-1230
    - ACT: 21-27
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 3,506
    - Tuition: $38,000

    Originally founded as a school for cartoonists and illustrators, New York's School of Visual Arts now has an average of 6,000 students and distinguished alumni from all around the world. While it still offers undergraduate degrees in animation and cartooning, the school also has a wealth of different arts majors such as film and interior design”—as well as graduate programs and continuing education. Former students include Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto and painter Elizabeth Peyton.

  • #20. Reed College
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    #20. Reed College

    - Location: Portland, OR
    - Acceptance rate: 36%
    - SAT range: 1310-1500
    - ACT: 30-33
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,408
    - Tuition: $54,200

    Reed College is an independent, coeducational college in Portland, Ore. A smaller school of about 1,400 students, it prides itself on low student-to-faculty ratios and conference-style classrooms that encourage mentorship between students and instructors. The school was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, which will help add more faculty to its chemistry department.

  • #19. Massachusetts College of Art & Design
    33/ Lyo // Wikimedia Commons

    #19. Massachusetts College of Art & Design

    - Location: Boston, MA
    - Acceptance rate: 76%
    - SAT range: 970-1160
    - ACT: 21-26
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,658
    - In-state tuition: $12,700
    - Out-of-state tuition: $34,400

    MassArt, as students call it, is located in the vibrant city of Boston and is a public, independent college of art and design. The school was founded in 1873 and remains the only publicly subsidized, free-standing art school in the country. It also has several galleries where student, alumni, and faculty exhibitions are frequently hosted.

  • #18. Swarthmore College
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    #18. Swarthmore College

    - Location: Swarthmore, PA
    - Acceptance rate: 11%
    - SAT range: 1380-1540
    - ACT: 31-34
    - Faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,573
    - Tuition: $52,190

    Founded in 1864 by a group of Quakers, Swarthmore College offers not only a wide range of degrees but also a unique learning program that helps students explore different curricula. First semester students work under a pass-fail system as opposed to traditional grading, and they have the option of studying different disciplines concurrently. Famous alumni include the late author James A. Michener and former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.

  • #17. Maryland Institute College of Art
    35/ Colindunn // Wikimedia Commons

    #17. Maryland Institute College of Art

    - Location: Baltimore, MD
    - Acceptance rate: 62%
    - SAT range: 1060-1290
    - ACT: 24-29
    - Faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,673
    - Tuition: $46,990

    The Maryland Institute College of Art got its start in 1826 and is the oldest independent, continuously degree-granting college of art in the U.S. It has consistently been ranked as a top school, making U.S. News' top 10 for Best Fine Arts Programs. It maintains a low student to faculty ratio while offering its 3,500 students a creative and flexible curriculum in Baltimore.

  • #16. Laguna College of Art & Design
    36/ Duncan C // Flickr

    #16. Laguna College of Art & Design

    - Location: Laguna Beach, CA
    - Acceptance rate: 33%
    - SAT range: data not available
    - ACT: data not available
    - Faculty ratio: 12:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 562
    - Tuition: $29,800

    The artistic community of Laguna Beach came together in 1961 to create the Laguna Beach School of Art, a place for like-minded people to learn and grow in their chosen fields of study. Since then, the school has expanded to include 10 undergraduate majors, three graduate degree programs, and eight minors, with seven different school locations around Laguna Canyon and Laguna Beach. The school's student support continues beyond graduation, with its alumni grant program offering a $1,000 award to help alumni create exhibits or design various projects.

  • #15. Cleveland Institute of Art
    37/ Usaf 1832 // Wikimedia Commons

    #15. Cleveland Institute of Art

    - Location: Cleveland, OH
    - Acceptance rate: 54%
    - SAT range: 1010-1270
    - ACT: 20-26
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 620
    - Tuition: $40,655

    Cleveland Institute of Art stands out from the crowd with unique programs such as jewelry and metals, printmaking, and glass design. With alumni such as comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis and Ford Motor Company's former chief designer Joe Oros, the school has built a strong reputation as being a leading independent college in the United States.

  • #14. Dartmouth College
    38/ Kane5187 // Wikimedia Commons

    #14. Dartmouth College

    - Location: Hanover, NH
    - Acceptance rate: 10%
    - SAT range: 1430-1560
    - ACT: 30-34
    - Faculty ratio: 7:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 4,360
    - Tuition: $53,496

    Ivy League school Dartmouth College was founded in 1769 by the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, who established the school to educate Native Americans. The school became coeducational in 1972 and continues to have more Native American graduates than any other Ivy League institution. Dartmouth offers more than 25 advanced degree programs, as well as professional schools Geisel School of Medicine, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business.

  • #13. Williams College
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    #13. Williams College

    - Location: Williamstown, MA
    - Acceptance rate: 15%
    - SAT range: 1400-1570
    - ACT: 31-35
    - Faculty ratio: 6:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 2,047
    - Tuition: $53,550

    Located in Williamstown, Mass., roughly 130 miles from Boston, Williams College is a private, residential liberal arts school, offering three academic divisions that include 25 departments, more than 30 majors, and several different special programs and concentrations. Williams provides substantial financial aid to its students, with a focus on meeting 100% of demonstrated need. Film director John Frankenheimer (“The Manchurian Candidate”) went here, as did actor David Strathairn (“The Bourne Ultimatum”).

  • #12. School of the Art Institute of Chicago
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    #12. School of the Art Institute of Chicago

    - Location: Chicago, IL
    - Acceptance rate: 70%
    - SAT range: 1110-1340
    - ACT: 22-30
    - Faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 2,735
    - Tuition: $49,610

    Attending school at an art museum is bound to be inspiring, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is home to the largest school-museum in the U.S. Founded in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design, the school eventually changed its name to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1882. It offers undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate level degrees, with a diverse array of studies that include art history, fashion design, film, and architecture.

  • #11. Tufts University
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    #11. Tufts University

    - Location: Medford, MA
    - Acceptance rate: 15%
    - SAT range: 1410-1540
    - ACT: 31-34
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 5,483
    - Tuition: $54,318

    Tufts was established in 1862 and has campuses in Boston, Grafton, and Medford/Somerville, Mass., as well as Tufts European Center in Talloires, France. Each school has a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees, and they all focus on a student-centered educational experience. Two Tufts professors recently created the African American Trail Project, which maps out more than 200 historic African American sites across the state.

  • #10. Pratt Institute
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    #10. Pratt Institute

    - Location: Brooklyn, NY
    - Acceptance rate: 57%
    - SAT range: 1040-1290
    - ACT: 24-29
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 3,537
    - Tuition: $49,810

    Pratt got its start in 1887, when American industrialist Charles Pratt decided to provide affordable and accessible education to working-class people. It has two campuses: a sprawling 25-acre campus in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a campus in Manhattan. Well-known former students include actor Robert Redford, who studied painting, and designer Betsey Johnson.

  • #9. California Institute of the Arts
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    #9. California Institute of the Arts

    - Location: Valencia, CA
    - Acceptance rate: 24%
    - SAT range: data not available
    - ACT: data not available
    - Faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 959
    - Tuition: $47,446

    Featuring schools of art, critical studies, dance, film, music, and theater, California Institute of the Arts caters to all mediums of creativity. Formed by Walt Disney and his brother Roy in 1961, CalArts has grown to become a leader in contemporary art schools. The school also manages the distinguished Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a $75,000 award given each year to mid-career artists.

  • #8. Brown University
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    #8. Brown University

    - Location: Providence, RI
    - Acceptance rate: 8%
    - SAT range: 1400-1570
    - ACT: 31-35
    - Faculty ratio: 7:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 6,666
    - Tuition: $53,419

    Brown is a research university dedicated to student-centered learning and an open curriculum. Undergraduates are provided a flexible mode of education with a personalized course of study, as opposed to the standard core course requirements of most universities. Alumni of Brown include the late John F. Kennedy Jr. and actor/producer John Krasinski.

  • #7. University of Pennsylvania
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    #7. University of Pennsylvania

    - Location: Philadelphia, PA
    - Acceptance rate: 9%
    - SAT range: 1420-1560
    - ACT: 32-35
    - Faculty ratio: 6:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 10,496
    - Tuition: $53,534

    Evangelist George Whitefield started what is now the University of Pennsylvania, thinking he would create a charity school that would also be a house of worship. Costs proved to be prohibitive, however, and the school went unfinished until Benjamin Franklin stepped in, organizing 24 trustees to form the Academy and Charitable School in the Province of Pennsylvania in 1751. Today, the school has more than 25,000 students including both full-time and part-time undergraduates, as well as graduate students.

  • #6. Pomona College
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    #6. Pomona College

    - Location: Claremont, CA
    - Acceptance rate: 8%
    - SAT range: 1370-1530
    - ACT: 30-34
    - Faculty ratio: 7:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,578
    - Tuition: $51,075

    Pomona College got its start in 1887 in a small rented home in the city of Pomona, Calif., with its founders wanting to try to recreate the New England style of school. The school eventually became part of the Claremont Colleges, which allowed for cross-registration and shared facilities. Notable alumni include artist James Turrell and actor Richard Chamberlain.

  • #5. Rice University
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    #5. Rice University

    - Location: Houston, TX
    - Acceptance rate: 16%
    - SAT range: 1490-1580
    - ACT: 33-35
    - Faculty ratio: 6:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 3,916
    - Tuition: $45,608

    Rice University makes its home in Houston, Texas. The school has just over 3,900 undergraduate students and 3,000 graduate students, with 683 full-time and 196 part-time faculty members. The school recently created a new initiative to increase financial aid to lower-income as well as middle-class students, potentially offering full-tuition scholarships to students of qualifying middle-class economic status.

  • #4. University of Southern California
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    #4. University of Southern California

    - Location: Los Angeles, CA
    - Acceptance rate: 17%
    - SAT range: 1300-1500
    - ACT: 30-34
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 18,631
    - Tuition: $54,259

    USC first opened its doors in 1880, back when Los Angeles was still a frontier town with no paved streets and a wild west feel. Today, the school has more than 20,000 undergraduates and 27,000 graduate and professional students, and with just a 12% admission rate, it remains a sought-after West Coast school. Many well-known actors, athletes, writers, and scientists call USC their alma mater, including actor Will Ferrell, who studied sports broadcasting, and astronaut Neil Armstrong, who obtained his master of science degree in aerospace engineering.

  • #3. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
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    #3. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

    - Location: New York, NY
    - Acceptance rate: 13%
    - SAT range: 1310-1530
    - ACT: 28-34
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 859
    - Tuition: $45,100

    Cooper Union was founded by industrialist Peter Cooper, who sought to create a place where students could explore art, architecture, engineering, and social sciences. Located in Manhattan's East Village, the school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and recently celebrated its 160th year.

  • #2. Harvard University
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    #2. Harvard University

    - Location: Cambridge, MA
    - Acceptance rate: 5%
    - SAT range: 1460-1590
    - ACT: 32-35
    - Faculty ratio: 7:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 7,147
    - Tuition: $48,949

    The oldest institution of higher education in the United States, Harvard was started in 1636 and is named after the school's first benefactor, a minister named John Harvard, who left his library and half his estate to the school when he died. The school has more than 6,600 undergraduate and upwards of 13,000 graduate and professional students, as well as 16,000 students at its Harvard Extension School. Former students include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who started the popular media site from his Harvard dorm room, and 44th President Barack Obama, who earned a masters of arts in economics while there.

  • #1. Rhode Island School of Design
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    #1. Rhode Island School of Design

    - Location: Providence, RI
    - Acceptance rate: 32%
    - SAT range: 1130-1370
    - ACT: 25-31
    - Faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Undergraduates enrolled: 1,976
    - Tuition: $48,370

    The Rhode Island School of Design was founded in 1877 and was one of the first art and design schools in the United States. Today, more than 2,400 students study here, enjoying a low 9-1 student-to-faculty ratio and areas of study that include apparel design, sculpture, and literary arts. The school recently broke ground on what is the first new student residence in 30 years, creating more space and opportunities for its students to grow.

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