Illinois Art Schools

Illinois Art Schools – 12 Best Art Schools in Illinois (Ranked for 2024)

Choosing the right art school is akin to choosing the right canvas—it sets the groundwork for the masterpiece that is one’s future.

Illinois’ art schools cover a broad spectrum of disciplines, reflecting the evolving nature of art itself. While the classics of fine art such as painting, sculpture, and drawing continue to be foundational, the digital age has ushered in a slew of new categories. Prospective students can immerse themselves in fields like digital illustration, animation, graphic design, and virtual reality artistry, to name just a few.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the 15 best art schools in Illinois, spotlighting the major cities that have become the cradles of artistic innovation and education in the state.

What Is The Best Art School In Illinois?

1. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

  • Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA in Fine Arts, Design, Architecture, and more.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 3,200 students.
  • Community: SAIC is an integral part of Chicago’s art scene, collaborating with local galleries and museums like the Art Institute of Chicago.

Full Sail University – Sponsored

Online College

Areas of Study: Music & Recording, Technology, Games, Art & Design, Film & Television, Media & Communications, Business, Sports
Enrollment: 15,500
Student Life: Digital interaction
Annual Tuition (after aid): $28,000

2. Columbia College – Chicago, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BA, BFA in Fine Arts, Photography, Graphic Design, etc.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 7,000 students.
  • Community: Located in downtown Chicago, Columbia College influences and participates in city art events and festivals.

3. Northwestern University – Evanston, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BA, MA in Art Theory, Fine Arts, and Media Arts.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 20,000 (all departments).
  • Community: Northwestern contributes to Evanston’s and Chicago’s art scenes through exhibitions and community classes.

4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA in Studio Arts, Graphic Design, Art Education, etc.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 51,000 (all departments).
  • Community: UIUC students often engage with Urbana-Champaign’s local art festivals and the Krannert Art Museum.

5. Loyola University – Chicago, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BA in Fine Arts, Studio Art, and Digital Media.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 16,000 (all departments).
  • Community: Loyola’s location in Chicago provides students ample opportunities to immerse themselves in the city’s rich art scene.

6. DePaul University – Chicago, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BA, BFA in Animation, Game Design, Graphic Design, and more.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 22,000 (all departments).
  • Community: DePaul’s students are active in Chicago’s art community, contributing to digital innovations and exhibitions.

7. Illinois State University – Normal, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BA, BFA in Studio Arts, Art Education, and Graphic Design.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 21,000 (all departments).
  • Community: ISU has a strong relationship with local galleries and museums, enhancing Normal’s cultural landscape.

8. Northern Illinois University – DeKalb, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA in Time Arts, Design, Drawing, and Illustration.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 17,000 (all departments).
  • Community: NIU contributes to DeKalb’s cultural scene through public art projects and student exhibitions.

9. Roosevelt University – Chicago, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BA in Studio Art, Graphic Design, and Photography.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 4,000 students.
  • Community: Roosevelt engages with Chicago’s dynamic arts community through collaborative projects and exhibitions.

10. Wheaton College – Wheaton, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BA in Studio Art, Art History, and Community Art.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 2,400 students.
  • Community: Wheaton College is a hub for Christian arts, and its artists often work with local organizations.

11. Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BA, BFA, MFA in Fine Arts, Design, and Art Education.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 12,000 students.
  • Community: SIU Carbondale students contribute to the local art scene and the University Museum.

12. Dominican University – River Forest, IL

  • Degrees Offered: BA in Studio Art, Graphic Design, and Digital Art.
  • Enrollment: Approx. 3,000 students.
  • Community: Dominican University enhances River Forest’s cultural offerings by hosting exhibitions and art fairs.


The sweeping prairies and bustling urban centers of Illinois have long inspired artists, from the impressionist landscapes of yesteryears to the digital masterpieces of the modern era.

Today, the state offers a rich tapestry of art education opportunities nestled within its borders. From Chicago’s vibrant skyline to the historic charm of Springfield, and the picturesque riverside settings of Peoria; Illinois is home to art institutions that cater to every aspiring artist’s dream.

Whether you’re an admirer of the old masters or a tech-savvy creator eager to push the boundaries of digital expression, Illinois has the perfect institution for you.

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