|1||The University of the Arts||Philadelphia|
|2||Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts + University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia|
|3||Moore College of Art and Design||Philadelphia|
|5||Pennsylvania College of Art and Design||Lancaster|
Our 2019 rankings of the top illustration school programs in Pennsylvania. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1876, The University of the Arts (UArts) is the nation’s only comprehensive arts university. The school is home to 1,900 students enrolled in 46 undergraduate and graduate programs, and more than 30 minors, through the College of Art, Media & Design, the College of Performing Arts, the Division of Liberal Art, and the Division of Continuing Studies (Grad Programs).
The College of Art, Media & Design houses the School of Design, which offers a BFA in Illustration and a Minor in Figurative Illustration. An MFA in Studio Art is also available. The BFA program allows students to declare a concentration. Options include Animation Movement, Animation Visual Development, Game Art, Graphic Design Communication, Graphic Design Typography, Photography, Painting and Printmaking.
The program blends creative visual problem solving, digital experiences, drawing, figure modeling, illustration, painting, picture making, digital experiences, as well as specialized graphic design courses, self-discovery through mentor-student relationship, and history of pictorial image making. Sample courses include Communication Design, Figure Anatomy, Illustration I-IV, Image/Time, Materials, Responsive Drawing, and Words, Images & Idea.
The Minor in Figurative Illustration requires 15 credit hours including Figure Anatomy, Illustration I and II, Responsive Drawing, and Figure Communication or Figure Painting.
Graduates of the Illustration Program at UArts have gone on to create illustrations for The New Yorker, New York Times, Rolling Stone, ESPN, Random House, Ralph Lauren, Fortune and others.
2. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts + University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) serves 25,367 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. For nearly 100 years, the school has partnered with Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), established in 1805 and the first museum and school of fine arts in the nation. Per the school, the partnership “provides students with an unparalleled opportunity to pursue their artistic passions and intellectual pursuits in the Ivy League.”
BFA students have access to more than 800 courses in 50+ areas of study. Programs for aspiring illustrators include the PAFA/Penn BFA in Illustration and a Certificate Illustration (PAFA). An MFA program is also available. The PAFA/Penn BFA in Illustration combines studio training with a fine arts focused liberal arts education. The program helps students develop skills in storytelling, visual communication, and entrepreneurship.
Courses in the program include Business Practices of Art, Digital Imaging, History of Illustration, Illustration Methods, Letterpress and Book Arts, Narrative and Sequential Drawing, Visual Narration, and courses with master illustrators such as David Wiesner and E.B. Lewis. Students in both the BFA and Certificate program have access 24-hour access to workspaces and digital facilities including two sky lit painting studios, a number of large painting classrooms, illustration/drawing studios and painting studios, and a rooftop terrace often used for cityscapes.
Per the school, graduates of the PAFA/Penn Illustration Programs “will be equipped with the tools to launch careers in fields including animation, book and magazine illustration, graphic novels, poster and storyboard art, medical illustration, and many other art- and design-related professions.”
3. Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Moore College of Art and Design was founded in 1848 as the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (PSDW). The school serves around 400 students enrolled in ten majors leading to the BFA degree. Several programs are offered for illustrators including a BFA in Illustration and a 15 credit hour Illustration Minor. The school also offers an MFA program.
Offered through the Illustration Department, the BFA in Illustration consists of a “rigorous curriculum takes students through a comprehensive range of contemporary illustration-based courses, classical life drawing and painting courses,” says the school. Sample courses for the program include Business for Illustration, Convention, Canon, Sign; Digital Painting for Illustrators, Digital Modeling for Illustrators, Illustration Concepts and Practices I & II, Pictorial Fundamentals, and Visual Thinking.
Besides a unique curriculum, program highlights include guest illustrators, art directors and artist representatives in advertising, animation, book, corporate, editorial and illustration, a yearly field trip to the Museum of American Illustration in New York, with visits to the art departments of Forbes, Time and The Wall Street Journal, and regular trips to the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, Delaware.
Moore College of Art and Design also provides students with the opportunity to create a customized learning experience, offering 17 tracks leading to one of 12 minors to complement the major courses of study. Besides Illustration, just a few Minor offerings include Animation & Game Arts, Creative Writing, Fine Arts, Graphic Design with two tracks - Communication Design with a Print Emphasis and Interactive Design, and Photography and Digital Arts.
Students also have the opportunity to complete a paid internship. Moore is the only art and design school to provide $1,000 paid internships for each student in every major. Recent internships include Marvel Entertainment, Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art, Penguin Group, Society of Illustrators, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and others. These internships often lead to permanent employment. The school reports that 94% of 2017 Illustration graduates are employed, 88% with businesses in their field of study.
4. Arcadia University, Glenside, Pennsylvania
Arcadia University was founded in 1853. The school serves 3,850 students enrolled in dozens of degree programs across five colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Illustration Program, which has several offerings for aspiring illustrators. Options include a BFA in Art with a Studio Concentration in Illustration, a BA in Scientific Illustration with an Optional Emphasis in Premedical Illustration, and a Minor in Scientific Illustration.
The BFA in Art with a Studio Concentration in Illustration consists of a wide range of academic and studio courses. Students in the program benefit from small class sizes, practical, hands-on internships and apprenticeships, and study abroad opportunities. In addition, each year, the Visual and Performing Arts Department schedules field trips to area museums, including New York and Washington, D.C.
Per the school, graduates of the program are prepared for graduate study in studio art as well as entry-level positions in a variety of “art occupations connected with business and industry, government and social agencies, and future possibilities for careers as exhibiting artists.”
The BA in Scientific Illustration with an Optional Emphasis in Premedical Illustration consists of courses such as Advanced Drawing, Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, Digital Fabrication, Graphic Design (Typography), Human Genetics and Development, Illustration I, Illustration II (Children’s Book Illustration), and Scientific Illustration. Students in the program will have the opportunity to receive supervised training in illustration, design, computer imaging, systematics and/or collections management at a studio or research institution in the Philadelphia area.
Past internship sites include the Academy of Natural Sciences, Jefferson Hospital and the Philadelphia Zoo.
5. Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1982, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design (PCA&D) is a private, non-profit, professional art college that serves more than 200 students. The school offers BFA degrees in Digital Media, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration, and Photography. The BFA in Illustration highlights online community projects, engagement in professional jobs with outside clients, participation in Illustration competitions, internship opportunities and access to a mentorship program.
Sample courses for the program include Digital Painting, Figure Illustration, History of Illustration & Emerging Trends, Illustration Studio, Time Based Media, Typography, and Visual Communication. During the senior years, students will complete an Observational Figure Workshop, Senior Illustration Studio I & II, and Professional Practices. Student work has been recognized in competitions such as the Society of Illustrators, 3×3 Magazine, and Spectrum. Graduates of the PCA&D Illustration program have gone on to become entrepreneurs as well as full-time artists at a number of gaming and animation companies such as LAIKA.