Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.ASO Rankings Team
Updated April 9, 2024
Edited by
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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.

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Top 10 Online Art Schools to Check Out

Read About Our Methodology Herearrow-circle-right

#1 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

University of Florida

  • Location-markerGainesville, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,477
  • Out-of-state$25,694
  • Retention Rate97%
  • Acceptance Rate31%
  • Students Enrolled53,372
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment92%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Liberty University

  • Location-markerLynchburg, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,791
  • Out-of-state$14,791
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate50%
  • Students Enrolled93,349
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment93%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Arizona State University Digital Immersion

  • Location-markerScottsdale, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,710
  • Out-of-state$10,820
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate73%
  • Students Enrolled53,993
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Eastern Illinois University

  • Location-markerCharleston, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,036
  • Out-of-state$11,231
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate56%
  • Students Enrolled8,626
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment63%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

University of Denver

  • Location-markerDenver, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$52,596
  • Out-of-state$52,596
  • Retention Rate84%
  • Acceptance Rate61%
  • Students Enrolled13,856
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment89%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

University of Northern Iowa

  • Location-markerCedar Falls, IA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,665
  • Out-of-state$19,949
  • Retention Rate86%
  • Acceptance Rate79%
  • Students Enrolled9,507
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment83%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

  • Location-markerNatchitoches, LA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,180
  • Out-of-state$15,968
  • Retention Rate76%
  • Acceptance Rate95%
  • Students Enrolled11,447
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment91%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Winthrop University

  • Location-markerRock Hill, SC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,306
  • Out-of-state$29,636
  • Retention Rate70%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled5,576
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment93%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

Radford University

  • Location-markerRadford, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,922
  • Out-of-state$19,557
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate79%
  • Students Enrolled10,695
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment87%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Art Schools for Creative Thinkers

SUNY Empire State College

  • Location-markerSaratoga Springs, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,070
  • Out-of-state$16,980
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled10,724
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment78%
  • AccreditationYes

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.

Some art programs will be programmatically accredited. Here are some of the major art and design accreditors to look for:

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
JobMedian Annual Salary (May 2023)Job Growth Rate (2022-2032)Minimum Education Required
Actors$20.50 per hour3%Some college, no degree
Art Directors$106,5006%Bachelor’s
Fashion Designers$79,2903%Bachelor’s
Fine Artists$59,3004%None
Graphic Designers$58,9103%Bachelor’s
Industrial Designers$76,2502%Bachelor’s
Interior Designers$62,5104%Bachelor’s
Musicians and Singers$39.14 per hour1%None
Photographers$40,7604%High school diploma
Special Effects Artists and Animators$99,0608%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 …

  • check-circle You need a flexible schedule.
  • check-circle You’re working and need the flexibility of an online program to pursue your career goals.
  • check-circle You choose an art school that fits your budget and offers degrees in your creative field.
  • check-circle Earning an art degree would lead to new job opportunities or a higher salary.
  • check-circle 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 …

  • x-circle You’re interested in an art degree that requires in-person training not offered by online programs.
  • x-circle Earning an art degree would require significant debt, and you plan to pursue a lower-paying role.
  • x-circle You can gain experience in your field and qualify for roles without a degree.
  • x-circle 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

question-mark-circleCan 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.

question-mark-circleAre 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.

question-mark-circleWhat 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 2023, art directors reported a median annual salary of $106,500.

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 2023.

question-mark-circleWhat 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.

question-mark-circleWhat 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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