What are the top Connecticut illustration schools for 2024?

Top 5 Illustration Schools and Colleges in Connecticut - 2024 College Rankings
1University of HartfordHartford
2University of ConnecticutStorrs
3Eastern Connecticut State UniversityWillimantic
4Central Connecticut State UniversityNew Britain
5Sacred Heart UniversityFairfield

Our 2024 ranking of the top five illustration schools in Connecticut. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut
University of Hartford

Hartford Art School (HAS) at University of Hartford (UHart) serves 400 students enrolled in nine studio majors leading to a BA or BFA, and two MFA programs. All HAS students benefit from interactions with visiting artists; partnerships and programs with local galleries and organizations, including the Launchpad program with Five Points Gallery; and study abroad experience at institutions such as Glasgow School of Art (Scotland), University of Tasmania (Australia), and Slade School of Fine Art (London). 

All UHArt HAS students also have opportunities to complete an internship with industry leaders and HAS partners such as ESPN; Taylor Design; The Visual Brand; Florence Griswold Museum; Art Basil/Bass Museum; and Five Points Center for the Visual Arts. 

For students seeking an Illustration degree, Hartford Art School has BFA and MFA options. An 18 credit hour Illustration minor is also available. The Illustration BFA requires successful completion of the HAS Foundation Year. Featured courses include 4D Studio I-II; Foundation Issues in Art Making I-II; Academic Writing I-II; and 3D Studio I-II. Students will also select six credits of electives from a pre-selected list. Examples include Illustration: Narrative Composition for Illustration; Painting/Drawing: Observation to Abstraction; Sculpture: Object vs. Experience – What is Installation Art?; and Painting, Drawing, Illustration: Landscape Space.  

After passing the Foundation Year, students will select courses from a variety of studio options in areas such as Editorial Illustration; Digital Illustration; Book Illustration; Drawing for Illustration; and Advertising Illustration. 

In the final year of the UHart Illustration BFA program, students will finalize a number of samples to be included in a professional portfolio. The portfolio course also covers the business of illustration, billing, taxes, dealing with art agents, interviewing, and career opportunities. 

The Illustration BFA program culminates with the Senior Project, which includes one-on-one critiques with faculty, and group meetings with peers. 

Graduates of the Illustration BFA at University of Hartford are prepared for careers in areas such as Book Publishing, Magazine Illustration, Comics, Graphic Novels, Advertising, Editorial, Fine Art, Exhibit Design, Animation, Game Art, and Graphic Design. 

The Illustration MFA at University of Hartford is a low-residency program designed for practicing Illustrators with full-time, professional careers. Intensive on-campus sessions take place during the summer semester, with travel during spring and fall to places such as California, New York, Ohio, Georgia, and Pennsylvania to tour studios and interact with professionals in animation, children’s book publishing, editorial, comic book publishing, advertising, and product design. 

UHart MFA students have visited Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Animation, the Society of Illustrators, Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts (EA), Lucasfilm, DreamWorks Animation Studios, Brandywine Museum, Norman Rockwell Museum, and Mazza Children’s Book Museum. 

The Uhart Illustration MFA requires 60 credit hours. For the 2023-2024 school year, students spent the fall semester in New York. Courses included New York Illustration Issues and New York Illustration Assignment, worth a total of four credits. Other course examples include Illustration in Context; Advanced Illustration; Digital Illustration; Children’s Book Illustration; and Reportage Illustration. 

Each semester, students will complete one thesis course leading up the final course—Thesis Project 5. The final Thesis includes a capstone body of work, marketing plan, and descriptive essay of work. 

Graduates of the Illustration MFA program at University of Hartford are prepared for advancement in their current careers, leadership roles across industries, and research or teaching positions. Some graduates also go on to launch their own studios or freelance businesses. 

Chartered in 1957, University of Hartford is a private four-year university that serves approximately 5,915 students from 48 states and 51 countries. The school provides nearly 180 programs spanning the Arts, Business, Education, Health, Humanities, and Engineering and Technology. Programs at UHart are housed across seven colleges and schools. University of Hartford has been continuously accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) since 1961.

2. University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
University of Connecticut

University of Connecticut (UConn) is home to the School of Fine Arts, which houses the Department of Art and Art History. Fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the department has Art BA and BFA programs that provide the opportunity to study Illustration through a concentration (BFA) or electives (BA). 

Consisting of 120 credit hours, the BFA program curriculum explores both traditional approaches in Illustration and new technologies. The Illustration/Animation concentration allows students to create projects in digital and analog environments including character and environment design; children’s illustration; 2-D and stop-motion animation; comics, cartoons, and graphic novels; design for products; book, editorial, and institutional illustration; and self-promotion. 

Also consisting of 120 credits, the BA includes 24 Art Studio elective credits, allowing students to create an informal focus in Illustration. Students in this program have access to courses such as Illustration; Animation Fundamentals; Topics in Illustration; Life Drawing; Studio Concepts; Introduction to Digital Media; Graphic Design; and Going Pro: Professional Practices in Illustration and Animation.  

In addition to a variety of courses, both BA and BFA students benefit from small class sizes; collaborative, project based-learning; study abroad opportunities; and access to state-of-the art computer labs, exhibition spaces, and art-making studios in the UConn Bishop Center. Facilities include a high-powered Cintiq computer lab for high-end 3D work, a speedy render farm, and a brand new 688 ft Motion Capture Studio. 

In addition, each year UConn hosts an on-campus Internship Fair. Many internships lead to full-time employment upon graduation. UConn students have interned at places such as NASA, Disney, NBC Sports, the Connecticut Museum of Natural History, The Bronx Zoo, GE, and the State Department of Education. 

The Art BA and BFA programs at University of Connecticut culminate with the Senior Project course and participation in the Senior Show. Graduates are prepared to pursue roles across industries. 

UConn Art BA and BFA alumni typically land positions within six months of graduation. Program alumni have gone on to successful careers as Children’s Book Illustrators, Product Designers, Comic Book Artists, Editorial Illustrators, Cover Art Designers, Cartoonists, Storyboard Artists, Character and Environment Designers, and Graphic Novel Illustrators. 

UConn Illustration/Animation alumni are employed at major studios and companies such as Pixar, Google Creative, Lego, YouTube Gaming, and Stoopid Buddy Studios. 

Some graduates go on to be accepted into MFA programs at the places such as Yale University (Yale); Goldsmiths, University of London (Goldsmiths); Royal College of Art (RCA); Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). 

University of Connecticut began as Storrs Agricultural School in 1881. The school opened with just three faculty members and 13 male students. Today, UConn’s more than 18,000 faculty and staff members serve a coed population of approximately 32,100 students across the main campus at Storrs, and four regional campuses. 

Programs at UConn are administered across 14 colleges and schools. Options include eight undergraduate degrees in 123 majors, 17 graduate degrees in 95 fields of study, and six professional degree programs. University of Connecticut is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

3. Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, Connecticut
Eastern Connecticut State University

The Art and Art History Department at Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU or Eastern Connecticut State) is home to the Art BA with an Illustration concentration. Program features include access to state-of-the-art digital and traditional studios in ECSU’s Fine Arts Instructional Center; the opportunities to display student artwork in the Art Gallery and other spaces across campus; and participation in the Eastern Connecticut State University Internship Program. 

The Art BFA program begins with 26 credit hours of required Foundation courses such as Digital Illustration; Relief Printmaking; 2D and 3D Design; Drawing I; and Three-Dimensional Design. Upon successful completion of all Foundation courses, students will submit a portfolio for admission to upper level courses. 

The Illustration concentration (IC) requires 21 credit hours of concentration courses and electives. Concentration courses include Illustration I-III; and Figure Drawing I. Electives examples include Scientific Illustration; Advanced 3D Animation; Picture Book Illustration; Visual Journaling & Bookmaking; Scientific Illustration; Painting I-II; Advanced Topics in Illustration; and Polyester Plate Lithography. 

Illustration students will also take the Independent Study and Digital Portfolio Preparation courses. The program culminates with Senior Seminar in Studio Art (Capstone). 

Graduates of the Art BA/Illustration program at Eastern Connecticut State University are prepared to pursue careers in areas such as illustration for books and editorial; preproduction; advertising and marketing; animation, film, television, and video; packaging; game art and design; corporate and not-profit organizations; medical and scientific; fashion and retail; technical and 3D; greeting card design; and architecture. Some program alumni go on to launch their own studios and freelance businesses. 

Founded in 1889, Eastern Connecticut State University school serves approximately 3,980 students from 29 states and seven countries. Programs include 40 majors, 65 minors, and 70+ concentrations leading to an undergraduate or graduate degree. Eastern Connecticut State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

4. Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut
Central Connecticut State University

Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) is home to the Carol A. Ammon College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS). Within the college is the Department of Art & Design, which has an Art BA with an Illustration Studio Option. Program features include hands-on coursework and projects; small class sizes; courses led by active professionals in the field; portfolio development courses; and internship and study abroad opportunities. 

Course examples for the Art BA/Illustration Studio program include Illustration I-II; 3D Design; Comics and the Graphic Novel; Life Drawing I-II; New Media Arts; Sequential Art and Advanced Drawing; Painting I-II; Advanced Watercolor Painting and Related Media; and Digital Processes in Art Making. 

In the final year of the CCSU Art BA program, students will take Independent Study in Art and/or Art Education; Exhibition Research; the thesis course with studio-based research; and the Capstone in Art course. For their final project, students can choose between the Professional Level Portfolio or Research Project in Art. 

Graduates of the Art BA program at Central Connecticut State University are prepared to pursue positions at traditional book publishing companies, animation and film studios, children’s book publishing companies, graphic design firms, advertising agencies, comic books, newspapers and magazines, art studios, museums and other cultural institutions, design firms, and art galleries.  

Founded in 1849 as the New Britain Normal School, Central Connecticut State University is the oldest public institution of higher education in the state. Serving approximately 9,710 students, CCSU is also the largest university within the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities System. The school provides 100 undergraduate majors in 80+ fields, and graduate degrees in 41 fields across one college and four schools. Central Connecticut State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

5. Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut
Sacred Heart University

The School of Communication, Media & the Arts (SCMA) at Sacred Heart University (SHU) houses the Department of Art & Design, home to the Art and Design BA program with an Illustration concentration. An Illustration minor is also available. Art and Design majors will complete a total of 51 credit hours with 18 in foundational courses and 33 in the Illustration concentration. Students in the Illustration minor will complete 18 credit hours of study. 

Across programs, students benefit from access to the state-of-the-art Digital Design Laboratory; participation in the SCMA Student Art Club; access to five art studios for illustration, painting, and graphic design projects; and study abroad experiences in places such as India and Ireland. 

Required courses for the SHU Illustration minor include Introduction to Illustration; Design: Visual Organization; Illustration II; Drawing I; Drawing II: Life; and Design II: Color. The minor complements most creative majors and it prepares students for entry-level roles in Illustration and other related areas. 

The Art and Design BA with a concentration in Illustration begins with the following courses: Design: Visual Organization; Design II: Color; Digital Design Basics; and Drawing I. Examples of concentration and advanced courses include Introduction to Illustration; Illustration II-IV; Drawing II: Life; Drawing III; Design for the Web; Introduction to Painting; Graphic Design I; and Painting II. 

The Art and Design BA/Illustration program at Sacred Heart University culminates with the Illustration Portfolio course. During the course, students will continue to develop works, focusing on the final construction of a professional presentation portfolio and promotional materials. The course also explores business-related issues such as contracts, expenses, and taxes. 

Graduates of the Art and Design/Illustration program at Sacred Heart University are prepared to pursue titles such as Cartoonist, Graphic Novel Illustrator, Comic Book Artist, Editorial Illustrator, Animation Illustrator, Environment Designer, Advertising Illustrator, Scientific and Medical Illustrator, Cover Art Designer, Game Artist/Illustrator, Children’s Book Illustrator, Storyboard Artist, and Product Designer. 

Founded in 1963, Sacred Heart University opened with 200 undergraduate students. Today, the school serves approximately 11,180 students enrolled in nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and certificate programs across six colleges and three schools. With campuses in Fairfield, Connecticut (mani), and a satellite campus in Dingle, Ireland, Sacred Heard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).