If you are thinking about pursuing a career in art and design, or picking up some specific skills, there are multiple paths you can choose from. Here are five of those options:
1. Independent art/design schools
2. Art/Design departments affiliated with colleges and universities
3. Two-year community colleges
4. Classes offered by adult education programs
5. Tutorials and self-guided instruction in books, magazines and websites
We have already discussed Independent art schools. You can find that discussion here. Today we turn our attention to Art/Design departments in colleges and universities.
Art/Design departments affiliated with colleges and universities come in multiple sizes and configurations but they all provide solid educations in studio art and design. Many departments offer introductory and intermediate classes in art history, design, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and ceramics. Larger departments will have advanced offerings in these same subjects plus some additional studio areas. If you are looking for a general education in design or studio art most college and university art/design departments have what you want. If you want an in-depth education in a particular area you should look at programs in major universities.
In addition to providing education about studio practices, a primary advantage of college and university art departments is their affiliation with a larger more comprehensive institution. If you want to learn some specific information about another field, or if you are interested in learning how art and design can interact with other disciplines, a college or university is the ideal place. You can take a few classes in areas outside the arts or you can minor in an area that complements your art/design major program of study.
Just living and studying in a diverse environment has its advantages. At a college or university you will encounter many people with different backgrounds and interests…and you will be surrounded by activities promoting a wide range of ideas. There are informative public lectures nearly every week as well as concerts and sporting events. College and university campuses are awash with interesting things to do.
Larger colleges and universities have more resources to offer, but smaller schools have their own advantages. Small and exclusive colleges tend to have fewer students in each class and it is easier for students to interact directly with their teachers. They also tend to have more advisors and councillors per student.
Although the cost of equipment and supplies for an art or design major are the same at all schools, state supported colleges and universities usually have lower tuition rates, particularly if you are a resident of that state.
The magazine U.S. News and World Report publishes a yearly ranking of college and university programs (including the arts). Every art/design department also has a website. Check out both of these resources and ask yourself the same questions we asked about private art schools: Does this institution and department seem like a natural fit for my interests? Are you impressed by the examples of faculty and student artwork you see there? Are there famous artists/designers who are graduates of the school? How long will it take for you to finish a program and get a degree? How much does it cost and do they offer financial aid?
In a future post we will discuss two-year community colleges and adult education programs.