Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

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Updated January 27, 2023

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Considering an art or design degree? Learn more about the best online art schools for fine arts, design, animation, and art education.

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Want to hone your creative skills? Interested in art and design careers? Then online art school might be the right path for you. Many art and design jobs require a bachelor's degree — and online art schools offer a flexible path to an art degree.

What can you do with an online art degree? How do you get into art school? And is online art school worth it? Our resources, including a ranking of the best online art schools, can help you learn more and make an informed decision.

What Is an Online Art Degree Exactly?

Online art schools emphasize visual design, digital media, and creative studies. Students who enroll in art programs online complete graduation requirements in a virtual classroom. You'll collaborate on projects, critique work, and build a portfolio in online classes.

You can earn an online art degree in many fields, including animation, fine arts, music, and photography.

Many online art schools also offer design majors like graphic design, web design, fashion design, game design, and interior design. Alternatively, you can study art education or art history.

In the performing arts, you can complete some coursework online while also taking in-person classes.

Explore Our Featured Art Programs Today

Did You Know?



Does Accreditation Matter for Online Art School?

When you're earning a degree, accreditation matters. Accreditation indicates that a school or program meets certain standards of educational quality.

What's more, only accredited colleges can distribute federal financial aid. And many employers only hire graduates from accredited institutions.

As you look for art programs online, check that they're accredited by one of the following art and design accreditors:

Top Online Art Schools to Check Out

Read About Our Methodology Here

#1 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Alternatives to the University of Florida’s on-campus programs in Gainesville draw many learners to the public institution. This online master of arts in art education is a good school for graduate students who prefer remote learning, with 68 online programs now available. Approximately 24,310 enrollees are classified as online learners. These online learners appreciate the flexibility of a master’s degree.

Enrollees receive instruction from art education faculty who are skilled in teaching courses online. Learners access additional support through academic and career advising. Students can work with faculty on other issues, such as professional development and career advancement.

The school can provide more information about the art education program, including how to apply and qualify for financial aid opportunities.

University of Florida at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 126

Online Master's Programs: 42

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $10,770

Religious Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,477
Out-of-state
$25,694
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
52,407
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

University of Missouri

  • Columbia, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Degree-seekers have access to a comprehensive academic catalog at the University of Missouri, a public institution located in Columbia. Students can choose from 58 online programs in various fields. According to school information, about 9,722 enrollees choose to study online. The online learning platform allows students to earn a master’s without giving up other important obligations.

The master of education in art education builds on a bachelor’s degree with advanced training in the field. Career services and academic advising are made available to all distance learners. Many students rely on faculty mentorship and industry connections to help advance their career.

Prospective applicants can contact the art education program for more information about application requirements and how to apply for financial aid.

University of Missouri at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 80

Online Master's Programs: 21

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,264

Religious Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,120
Out-of-state
$26,991
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
30,014
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Azusa Pacific University

  • Azusa, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A private institution, Azusa Pacific University offers a variety of degrees on campus in California, and through remote learning. This MFA in visual art is a good option for graduate students who prefer remote learning, with 18 online programs now available. Presently, 2,750 enrollees at the school choose online learning as their preferred format. The online learning platform allows students to earn a master’s without giving up other important obligations.

Enrollees receive preparation for higher-level careers with the MFA in visual art’s advanced curriculum. Distance learners have access to academic advising and career services, just like their on-campus peers. By working with faculty mentors and career advisors, students can prepare for successful professional lives after college.

Application and financial aid requirements are available online or by contacting the art department.

Azusa Pacific University at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 27

Online Master's Programs: 11

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 11-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $17,592

Religious Affiliation: Christian

Average Tuition
In-state
$39,640
Out-of-state
$39,640
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
9,297
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#4 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Maryland Institute College of Art

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Maryland Institute College of Art, located in Baltimore, is a private institution that uses flexible program delivery to meet the needs of busy learners. Two degrees can be completed remotely or mostly online. School information shows an enrollment of 149 online learners. A master’s degree delivered online can help many professionals keep their jobs, and that is one reason why virtual learning is so popular.

The curriculum of the online MA in art education is the same as a similar program delivered on campus. Learners receive additional support through academic and career advising. Faculty mentors and career advisors help students set professional goals.

The school can provide more information about the art education program, including how to apply and qualify for financial aid opportunities.

Maryland Institute College of Art at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 16

Online Master's Programs: 2

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 9-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $48,510

Religious Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Average Tuition
In-state
$48,510
Out-of-state
$48,510
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
2,227
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Minneapolis College of Art and Design is a private institution with a comprehensive catalog delivered from its campus in Minnesota. In addition to on-campus programs, the school offers three online programs. School information shows an enrollment of 160 online learners. Many students are drawn to online master’s programs because of the flexibility.

The MA in graphic and web design provides advanced knowledge and training in graphic design. Online enrollees can take advantage of services available to all learners, such as academic and career advising. Faculty and other staff can provide mentorship and career development opportunities that are integral for student success when they graduate.

The school or program can provide prospective enrollees with application requirements for the graphic design degree.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design at a Glance:

Total Master's Programs: 3

Online Master's Programs: 2

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 10-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $39,946

Religious Affiliation: Non-affiliated

Average Tuition
In-state
$39,946
Out-of-state
$39,946
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
796
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
20% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

What Are the Requirements for Online Art School?

While admission requirements can vary, most online art schools require you to submit:

  • An online application
  • A portfolio
  • Transcripts
  • Test scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement

Online art schools often require a final project such as a portfolio, thesis, performance, or exhibition in order to graduate.

Due to the field's hands-on nature, many online art programs incorporate some on-campus components, such as summer studio intensives.

What Can I Do With an Online Art Degree?

Artists play a critical role in many industries.

Designers, illustrators, and graphic designers often work in advertising, manufacturing, publishing, and entertainment. Art education majors may work as teachers in art departments.

Art history students, meanwhile, may be interested in becoming museum curators.

Although many art positions don't require a degree, a college education can help you stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs.

10 Popular Jobs for Online Art Degree-Holders
Job Median Annual Salary (May 2021) Job Growth Rate (2021-2031) Minimum Education Required
Actors $23.48 per hour 8% Some college, no degree
Art Directors $100,890 4% Bachelor's
Fashion Designers $77,450 3% Bachelor's
Fine Artists $60,820 6% None
Graphic Designers $50,710 3% Bachelor's
Industrial Designers $77,030 3% Bachelor's
Interior Designers $60,340 1% Bachelor's
Musicians and Singers $30.49 per hour 4% None
Photographers $38,950 9% High school diploma
Special Effects Artists and Animators $78,790 5% Bachelor's

Source: BLS

Q&A With a Real Artist and Art School Graduate



Q: Why did you decide to go to art school?


“I've been a 2D artist since I was a child, but as I got into high school, I saw on the internet how I didn't quite compare to the best out there. I was introduced to 3D modeling and animation by my sister. I tried a Maya class in my community college, loved it, and got my associate of arts in art and new media. I eventually searched for ways to get my bachelor's [in 3D modeling].”
 — Anna Cavasos, 3D Visual Effects Artist

Q: How did you choose your art program?


“I considered a few schools. I ended up choosing Gnomon [School of Visual Effects] because the student reels looked like professional work.”
 — Anna C.

Q: What surprised you the most about earning an art degree?


“I was surprised at how much a school's name can get you in the door. … The job department was excellent and would follow up with studios after I applied to make sure I got that extra edge. I also had interviewers tell me that since I went to Gnomon, they knew I was capable and would be able to perform their work.”
 — Anna C.

Q: How did art school help you reach your personal or professional goals?


“The biggest way art school helped me was to give me access to industry professionals. Getting critique from them really helped me bring my work to another standard. They taught me techniques and skills that I would never have been able to learn otherwise. They also helped me look at my own work with a critical eye, which helps me in my personal work.”
 — Anna C.

Is Online Art School Worth It?

Whether online art school is worth it depends on your interests, circumstances, and goals. For some, an art degree can open doors. Others, however, might benefit from a different major or delivery format.

Carefully consider the pros and cons of online art schools before you apply.

Online Art School May Be Worth It If …

  • You need a flexible schedule.
  • You're working and need the flexibility of an online program to pursue your career goals.
  • You choose an art school that fits your budget and offers degrees in your creative field.
  • Earning an art degree would lead to new job opportunities or a higher salary.
  • You have a clear plan for your career path and it requires a bachelor's degree.

Online Art School May Not Be Worth It If …

  • You're interested in an art degree that requires in-person training not offered by online programs.
  • Earning an art degree would require significant debt, and you plan to pursue a lower-paying role.
  • You can gain experience in your field and qualify for roles without a degree.
  • You're not sure whether you want to pursue a career in the arts and want a more interdisciplinary education.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Art School

Can you learn art online?

Yes, you can learn art online. Many art programs offer online options in areas like animation, design, and drama. For example, you can earn a game design or interior design degree online. You can also study web design, art history, music, and art education online.

Some fields require in-person study. If you're a performance-based major, you might consider a hybrid program that blends in-person and online coursework.

Are art jobs in demand?

Many creative careers are projected to grow over the next decade. For instance, jobs for fine artists are projected to grow by 6% from 2021-2031 according to the BLS, while jobs for special effects artists and animators are projected to grow by 5%.

Jobs for fashion designers and graphic designers are also projected to grow in the next decade.

Currently, the fastest-growing creative field is digital design, which includes web developers. According to the BLS, this field is projected to grow at a 23% rate, with around 21,800 job openings each year between 2021 and 2031.

What type of artist gets paid the most?

The highest-paid art career is art director, according to the BLS. These creative professionals typically work in advertising, publishing, or public relations. Art directors create a visual style for product layouts, packaging, media productions, and magazines.

In May 2021, art directors reported a median annual salary of $100,890.

Other high-paying art and design careers include animation, fashion design, and industrial design. These careers all reported median salaries of over $75,000 per year in May 2021.

What is the best degree for art?

Many art and design jobs require a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions. A bachelor's can lead to opportunities as a graphic designer, animator, fashion designer, or interior designer.

Roles like digital designer also typically require a bachelor's degree.

If you're considering an online degree in art, research the program's graduation and job placement rates. You should also ask about internships and experiential learning opportunities. Finally, look for programs that offer career advising and support.

What is the cheapest art school?

The cheapest art schools are public and private schools that offer low tuition rates and/or plenty of financial aid support. For example, you can earn a bachelor's degree in art or design at a public university for around $9,000 per year.

While private art schools usually charge higher tuition rates, many offer scholarships and discounts for fully online students.

When researching the best online art schools, check tuition rates. Reach out to schools and ask about financial aid opportunities. And don't forget to calculate the total cost of the degree to determine your potential return on investment.

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AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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