|1||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Boston|
|2||Montserrat College of Art||Beverly|
|3||University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth||Dartmouth|
Our 2019 ranking of the top illustration school programs in Massachusetts. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) was founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring drawing teachers, architects, artists, and designers. Today, the school offers more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and around seven certificate programs to a population of more than 2,000 students. The Illustration Department at MassArt offers a BFA in Illustration that the school says, “emphasizes the understanding of character development and narrative techniques.”
Students in the program take a variety of illustration and liberal arts courses taught by instructors who are freelance illustrators or illustrators who have their own businesses. Sample liberal arts courses include Introduction to Western Art, Literature/Writing/Film, and Thinking, Making, Writing: Using Words with Clarity and Flair. Sample major courses include Color for Illustration, Digital Illustration, Form Study, Human Figure Illustration, Media Techniques, Studio for Drawing, Technical Illustration, Visual Language, and Word and Image.
During their senior year, students will complete 18 major credit hours consisting of Studio Electives, a Thesis Project, Senior Illustration, and the Illustration Portfolio. Students will present their portfolio to invited professionals from advertising, corporate, editorial, institutional, and publishing markets.
2. Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Massachusetts
Montserrat College of Art traces its roots back to the 1960s when it was known as Montserrat School of Visual Arts. At the time, the school offered a professional diploma in the same studio concentrations it offers today. Serving more than 370 students, the school’s programs now lead to the BFA degree and include Animation + Interactive Media, Art Education, Book Arts, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interdisciplinary Arts, Painting, Photo/Video/Film, Printmaking, and Sculpture.
The BFA in Illustration covers areas such as drawing, painting, sculpting, design and fine art. Sample courses for the program include Digital Illustration, Graphic Design, Life Drawing, Perspectives in Anatomy, Painting, Color, Light, and Topography. A Senior Illustration Seminar is also part of the program as well as the Senior Studio Capstone, Illustration Thesis, an internship, and the opportunity to study for a semester locally or abroad.
The Semester Mobility Program — U.S. & Canada provides the opportunity to study at over 30 partnering art schools in the U.S. and Canada. Travel/study abroad experiences include Mallorca, Spain (Winter-Session), Niigata, Japan (Summer Intensive), and Viterbo, Italy (Summer Intensive).
Besides these once-in-a-lifetime experiences, students will leave the program with the following competencies: Knowledge of Materials and Processes, Communications Proficiency, Historical and Contemporary Awareness of the Medium, Contextual Awareness, Analytical Proficiency, and Professional Business Practice. Graduates or the Illustration Program are accomplished art directors, authors, award-winning designers, and published illustrators. They work in advertising, game design, publishing (books, magazines, etc.) web design, and more.
3. University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (UMass-Dartmouth) was founded in 1895 as New Bedford Textile School. The school, which serves around 8,400 students from 45 states and 60 countries, offers 82 undergraduate fields of study, 33 master’s degree programs, and 14 doctorate programs of study. Minors, certificates and online programs are also available. Programs are offered through seven colleges and schools and the Online & Continuing Education Division.
The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) houses the BFA in Illustration Program. Per the school, this professional degree program “introduces students to specialized areas such as book illustration, character development, concept art, and documentary illustration.” Students will gain experience in the “fundamental principles of color, composition, drawing, and rendering.”
Sample courses for the program include Advanced Illustration Topics, Digital Essentials, Illustration: A Personal Voice, Illustration: Character Design and Environment, Illustration: Meaning & Metaphor, Illustration: Visual Storytelling, Posters, Comics, and the Illustration Marketplace, Structural Drawing, 3D Form and Space, and Visual Arts Seminar. Other program highlights include the opportunity to exhibit student work at the Campus Gallery and internship opportunities at places such as Hasbro, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Museum of American Illustration.
The BFA in Illustration prepares students for graduate study (the school has an MFA program) or careers in Animation, Illustration, Multimedia Design, Scientific Visualization and many others. In addition to UMass-Dartmouth, Illustration graduates have been accepted into graduate programs New York Academy of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Savannah College of Art and Design, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Others have been hired by Blue Rain Media, GimaSport, Hasbro, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Moss Archive, Old Time Sports, and others.