In today's world, professionals versed in art and design are in high demand, particularly those who can use their skills in both the fine arts and commercial worlds. Those looking to embark on a career in the arts have a huge range of options for their training and education. In a new series, Art & Object delves into the top art schools and programs in the U.S., beginning with the Southeast. From public universities with state-of-the-art studios to solely arts-focused colleges with flourishing overseas programs, this list runs the gamut.
One thing the current pandemic has made clear, within the context of modern careers, is that flexibility and internet savvy are major keys to success. While many argue this has been the trend for some time, current events have certainly pushed things along. Artists who sell work online, who have graphic design skills, who know how to integrate important messages into their art—these individuals are still working and some may be busier than ever. As such, the majority of schools featured here place some degree of emphasis on interdisciplinary practice and education.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top art schools and university programs of the Southeast tend to be associated with regions known for other aspects of the broader arts and culture. Nashville, Tennessee has an incredible music and entertainment scene, Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia are both culturally rich and historically complex, and locations throughout Florida play a significant role in the animation and broader arts industry. While many schools listed still have a lot of room to grow in terms of diversity, others have taken unique steps to honor and include the Latino, Indigenous, and Black members of the student body, faculty, and community.
To determine its final rankings, Art & Object's editorial staff weighed the following factors: school reputation, tuition, cost of living, scholarship opportunities, fields of study, degrees offered, course diversity, faculty expertise, alumni reputation, student body diversity, student life in general, surrounding art scene, cultural opportunities, and post-graduation career help. While Art & Object has strived to craft a list in the most objective manner possible, we recognize that measures of "best" could include many other factors. With that said, here are the Art & Object selections of the best art schools in the Southeast. You can find our rankings for the Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, West, and our overall Top Ten here.