What are the top illustration schools in Pennsylvania for 2022?

Top 5 Pennsylvania Illustration Schools in Pennsylvania - 2022 College Rankings
1University of Pennsylvania + Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine ArtsPhiladelphia
2University of the ArtsPhiladelphia
3Pennsylvania College of Art and DesignLancaster
4Moore College of Art & DesignPhiladelphia
5Marywood UniversityScranton

Our 2022 ranking of the top illustration schools in Pennsylvania. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) offer a Coordinated BFA Program that combines fine arts training at PAFA and with Penn’s liberal arts curriculum. Students in the PAFA/Penn BFA will take 90 credits of studio art courses across five concentrations at PAFA during their freshman, sophomore, and junior years. During this time, students will have opportunities to study Illustration through required coursework, studios, and electives.

In the third year of the PAFA/Penn BFA, students are assigned their own private studio. In the final year of the PAFA/Penn BFA, students will enroll full-time to complete the liberal arts curriculum at Penn, where they gain access to the school’s Fischer Fine Arts Library, Van Pelt Library, and talks, exhibits, lectures, and performances on Penn’s campus.

The PAFA/Penn BFA is a competitive program. Students who are not selected for the program may enroll in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts four-year BFA Program. Like PAFA/Penn students, Penn BFA students will gain access to private studios—in the fourth year of the program. Studios are accessible 24/7. Students will have the opportunity to invite faculty and Artists from the PAFA Visiting Artist Program to their studios to critique of their work as they prepare for the Annual Student Exhibition at PAFA. The Exhibition allows students to organize, install, present, and sell their work in the PAFA museum galleries.

The PAFA BFA Program begins with the first-year foundation experience, where students will study traditional and contemporary art-forms. In the second and third years, students will complete a combination of liberal arts and studio classes. Students will also collaborate with peers in shared spaces in a group studio. Students can choose an area of study such as Illustration, Printmaking, Drawing, Painting, Animation or Sculpture. Additional program features include access to digital labs and workshops, lectures, and demonstrations, and hands-on critiques—throughout the program.

Led by the Illustration Department at PAFA, the Illustration students can expect to take courses such as Illustration Methods, Digital Print & Web Design, History of Illustration, Narrative and Sequential Drawing, Narrative Projects, Letter Press and Book Arts, Digital Imaging, Illustration I-II, Visual Narration, and Business Practices of Art. All Programs require completion of a Thesis, the Illustration Projects course, and the Portfolio course.

Graduates of the PAFA/Penn BFA and the PAFA BFA are prepared to launch careers in Book and Magazine Illustration, Animation, Poster and Storyboard Art, Graphic Novels, and Medical Illustration, among others.

University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania serves more than 28,000 students enrolled in more than 400 programs in four undergraduate and 12 graduate schools. Since 1929, Penn has partnered with Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA).

Founded in 1805, PAFA is the first art school and museum in the United States. This private, non-profit school serves several hundred students enrolled in BFA, MFA, and certificate programs. PAFA is accredited through the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). PAFA is also member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) and The Common Application.

2. University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of the Arts

The School of Design at University of the Arts (UArts) has an Illustration Program with BFA and Minor options for students seeking a career in Illustration or those looking to enhance a creative major such as Painting or Animation. The BFA Program features opportunities to experiment and collaborate with other majors in the School of Design such as Animation, Interaction Design, Fine Arts, Product Design, and Graphic Design.

Students in the program will work and learn in shared studio spaces and in facilities such as the Cintiq Lab and Makerspace. Students will also receive intense training in industry-standard software such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, After Effects, and Illustrator.

Although it is not required, Illustration BFA students have the opportunity to complete a Design Internship at an individual artist studio or major companies and studios such as Cartoon Network, Barnes & Noble, and as Anthropologie.

The Figurative Illustration Minor requires 15 credit hours of study. Courses include Figure Anatomy, Illustration I: Pictorial Foundation, Illustration II: Illustration Methods, Responsive Drawing, and Figure Communication or Figure Painting.

Graduates of the Illustration Programs at University of the Arts have been hired at or worked with a wide variety of companies, studios, brands, magazines, newspapers, networks, publishers, and agencies. Examples include DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Marvel Comics, Time Magazine, NASA, Penguin Group Publishing, MTV, Cartoon Network, Disney, American Museum of Natural History, Martha Stewart, Simon & Schuster, ESPN, Oprah, Meta, Nickelodeon, Fortune, 20th Century Fox, Blizzard Entertainment, NPR, Mattel, Hallmark, The Wall Street Journal, NASA, Fisher Price, Ralph Lauren, Scholastic, PBS, Harper-Collins, the United States Postal Service, Random House, Rolling Stone, Fisher Price, Major League Baseball, National Geographic, The New York Times, Hasbro, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, and Warner Bros.

University of the Arts is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Founded in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, UArts serves close to 1,500 students enrolled in more than 40 degree programs in design, fine arts, music, media arts, dance, theater, and crafts. More than 20 minors are available and open to all students. Programs at University of the Arts are housed in the Schools of Art, Dance, Design, Film, Music, Theater Arts, and Graduate and Professional Studies.

3. Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania College of Art and Design

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design (PCA&D) has an Illustration Program that allows students to specialize in an additional area through a Certificate or Minor. Certificate options consist of four or more classes and include Animation, Business in Creative Industry, Communication Design, Data Visualization, Digital Marketing & Social Media, Entrepreneur: Design and Digital Marketing, Esports Management, Game Art, Print, UX/UI Design, and Web. Minors include Animation & Game Art, Business in Creative Industry, Art History & Visual Culture, Creative Writing, Esports Management, Fine Art, General Humanities, Graphic Design, Literature, Live Experience Design, and Photography & Video. Minors are 18-24 credits. An 18 credit hour Illustration Minor can also be added to any PCA&D program as a specialization.

Additional program features include a required internship component, the PCA&D mentorship program, participation in online community projects, and the chance to create entrepreneur-based projects. Course examples for the program include 3D & Head Figure, Time Based Media, Design in Illustration, Digital Painting, Observational Figure Workshop, Illustration Studio I-II, Typography, Visual Communication, Painting Methods, Digital I-II, and Senior Illustration I-II.

The PCA&D Illustration BFA Program culminates with the Senior Project, which will be presented at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design Senior Exhibition.

Before graduating, BFA student work has been featured in competitions hosted by the Society of Illustrators, 3×3 Magazine, and Spectrum. PCA&D Illustration BFA graduates go on to successful careers in animation, game design, and many other industries. Some program alumni have launched their own studios and freelance businesses.

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design (PCA&D) is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Founded in 1982, PCA&D is a private, non-profit, professional art college that serves more than 200 students enrolled in six majors leading the BFA degree, 12 minor programs, and 11 certificate programs.

4. Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Moore College of Art & Design

The Illustration Program at Moore College of Art & Design (Moore or Moore College) consists of critiques, studio tours, workshops, and mentorship experiences with leading design professionals. Leading to a BFA, the program also provides access to computer labs installed with the latest industry software including Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Fireworks, and Photoshop.

A major component of all Moore College programs is the internship opportunity. Moore is the only art and design college that provides a $1,000 paid internship for every student. Many of these internships lead to offers for full-time employment.

Course examples for the Illustration BFA Program include Digital Imagemaking, Cultural Collisions and Transformations, Illustration Concepts and Practices, Writing Workshop, Digital Painting for Illustrators, Life Drawing for Illustrators, Business for Illustration, and Professional Development. Students may also take a number of studio and open electives to enhance the degree. In the final year of the program, students will complete the Senior Studio course and the Senior Thesis.

Graduates of the BFA Programs at Moore College of Art & Design enjoy a 100% job placement rate. Employers of Moore graduates include Penguin Publishing Group, Dynamite Entertainment, Smithsonian Institution, mock5design, and Bust Magazine, among others.

Moore College of Art & Design is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Founded in 1848, the school is the nation’s first and only historically all-women’s visual arts college. Moore College of Art & Design serves around 350 students, enrolled in nine BFA majors, 11 BFA minors, two MFA programs, one MA program, and nine 4+1 programs (BFA+MA).  

5. Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Marywood University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Marywood University houses the Department of Art, which has both two pathways for illustrators. The Studio Art BFA has an Illustration Track that explores digital design, printmaking, painting, animation, typography, graphic design, digital illustration, and more. The program requires successful completion of the Foundation Year, which consists of field trips, attending visiting artist talks and exhibits, and participating in the Foundation Portfolio Review.

Other program features include independent study programs, internships, practicums, access to (and participation in) student clubs and organizations such as the Art History Club and Zeta Omicron, and study abroad experiences for a semester, a summer, or several weeks in places such as Italy, Spain, England, Scotland, France, Australia, and Ireland.

At the graduate level, the College of Arts and Sciences at Marywood University has a low-residency Visual Arts Program with an Illustration Concentration, Children’s Book Track, and Sequential Art and Storytelling Certificate. This MFA is designed for full-time, working professionals such as Art Directors, New Media Artists, Illustrators, Art Educators, and others. The program consists of lectures, summer classes, four two-week residential summer sessions, and independent study.

Students will also take six study tours in New York, Boston, and other cities to visit museums, ad agencies, professional organizations, and well-known designers and illustrator’s studios.

Graduates of the Illustration Programs at Marywood University are prepared to pursue positions such as 3D Illustrator, Caricaturist, Educator, Comic Book/Strip Artist, Courtroom Sketcher, Curator, Children’s Book Illustrator, Fashion Illustrator, Art Director, Game Designer, Greeting Card Illustrator, Researcher, Illustrator for Graphic Novels, Editorial Illustrator, Medical Illustrator, Muralist, Political Cartoonist, Publishing: Book Cover Artist, Stamp Illustrator, Storyboard Artist, and Technical Illustrator, among others.

Marywood University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Founded in 1915, Marywood University was the first college for women in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the first Catholic college for women in the state. Today, Marywood serves more than 3,000 students from all backgrounds. Nearly 150 programs are offered in the College of Health and Human Services, Insalaco College of Arts and Sciences, and Reap College of Professional Studies.