What are the top Florida illustration schools for 2024?

Top Illustration Schools and Colleges in Florida - 2024 College Rankings
1Ringling College of Art and DesignSarasota
2University of Central FloridaOrlando
3University of MiamiCoral Gables
4Jacksonville UniversityJacksonville

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

1. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Ringling College of Art and Design

The Illustration Department at Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) has a BFA program with two paths including General Illustration or Visual Development. Both options provide a rigorous studio-based curriculum with a liberal arts foundation. Students also benefit from participation in real-world projects with local businesses; networking opportunities with visiting artists from DreamWorks and other major studios; and participation in the Society of Illustrators Annual Competition. 

All RCAD Illustration students have the opportunity to work at RCAD’s In-House Design firm the Design Denter; connect with more than 200 unique companies thru Ringling’s experiential education initiative INDEX (Industry Experience); and internships with major companies and studios such as Disney, Hasbro, and Pixar. 

The RCAD Illustration BFA program also provides access to painting and drawing studios, two Cintiq labs exclusively for illustration, and three additional Cintiq labs with 24-hour access. In addition, every RCAD Illustration student receives a laptop fully equipped with the latest Adobe Creative Suite software. 

The General Illustration path explores illustration as it relates to 2D and 3D; traditional and digital media; and current techniques used in the industry. The program also explores the fundamentals of color theory, anatomy, and composition. Course examples include Figure Drawing; Illustration Media; Advanced Illustration; History of Illustration; Development of Art & Ideas; 2D Design; and Professional Practices. 

Visual Development explores illustration as it relates to animated and live-action productions for film, TV, themed entertainment, advertising, publishing, and graphic novels. This area also explores illustration for comics, games, and toy design. Course examples include Figure Anatomy; 3D Design for Illustration; Visual Development I-IV; Painting I-II; Writing Studio; and Film & Narrative. 

To enhance either path, RCAD provides 10 minor options that require 15 credit hours taken outside the BFA degree program. Examples include Graphic Design, Realistic Painting, Business of Art + Design, Visual Development, Creative Writing, and Film Studies. 

In addition to the internship program, Illustration BFA students have the opportunity to participate in RCAD’s semester-long exchange program or a four-to-five-week summer program in Florence, Italy at Studio Arts Center International (SACI). Students may also participate in RCAD’s Annual Illustration show Illest of the Ill

Graduates of the Illustration BFA program at Ringling College of Art and Design are prepared to pursue careers across industries. Program alumni have been hired at major companies and studios such as Lucasfilm, United Airlines, Riot Games, Marvel Comics, GM, Walt Disney, American Greetings, Cartoon   Network, Apple, EA Games, Google, and Hallmark. 

Ringling College of Art and Design is a private, not-for-profit college accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1931 by Dr. Ludd M. Spivey (then president of Southern College) and circus baron John Ringling, RCAD serves approximately 1,705 students enrolled in 11 different majors leading to a BFA degree, two majors leading to a BA, and minor options in 10 areas.

2. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

The School of Visual Arts and Design (SVAD) at University of Central Florida (UCF) has two paths to study Illustration—the Art BA with a Studio track, and the Studio Art BFA. Both programs allow students to specialize in an area such as Illustration, Drawing + Illustration, Book Arts, or Drawing. BFA students may choose wone specialization, while BA students may select several. BA and BFA students will take courses such as Art of Walt Disney; Image, Culture, and Society; Advanced Illustration; Computer Art; History of Illustration; Procedural Animation; The Illuminated Book; Experimental Painting; Art as Interface; Drawing Intensive; Type and Design; Book Binding; Visual Storytelling & Visual Development Workshop; Design Theory and Methods; and The Professional Environment. 

Both the Studio Art BFA and Art BFA provide the opportunity to compete an internship and/or participate in the UCF study abroad program with experiences in places such as include London, Germany, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, France, Vietnam, Asia Pacific, Hong Kong, the UK, and Sweden. 

The Studio Art BFA culminates with the BFA Exhibit/Seminar course. BA students will complete a professional portfolio of their best work. 

Graduates of the Art and Studio Art programs at University of Central Florida are prepared to pursue titles such as Illustrator for Animation and Film; Comic Book Illustrator; Storyboard Artist; Game Illustrator; Medical or Scientific Illustrator; Advertising Illustrator; and Fine Artist. 

UCF SVAD alumni have gone on to establish careers at places such as Pixar, Apple, DreamWorks, Google, Electronic Arts (EA), Amazon, Universal Orlando, Disney, Blizzard Entertainment, Weta FX, YouTube, and Lightstorm Entertainment.   

University of Central Florida opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University. On the first day of classes, the school had less than 2,000 students. Today, UCF serves approximately 68,440 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the state of Florida, and one of the top 10 largest universities in the U.S. The school provides 243 bachelor’s degrees, 219 master’s degrees, and 81 doctorate degrees across 13 colleges. University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida
University of Miami

The College of Arts and Sciences (C&S) at University of Miami (UofM) employs 450 full-time faculty that serve approximately 4,840 students. The largest academic unit at UofM, the College provides more than 2,500 course options across 38 Majors, 46 Minors, and dozens of graduate programs. The C&S also houses the Department of Art & Art History, home to the Studio Art MFA. 

This three-year program allows students to focus in Illustration and Multimedia. All Studio Art MFA students will take 24 credits in their chosen area, as well as 12 elective credits, and nine Art History credits. Illustration and Multimedia students will complete projects and assignments in state-of-the-art computer labs, work areas, and studio spaces; attend seminars; and participate in critiques, including a day-long experience discussing and displaying work with faculty. 

MFA students will also interact with visiting lecturers; take field trips to businesses and museums; work independently and in teams on multidisciplinary projects; and take interdisciplinary classes. Course examples include Graduate Painting; Experimental Illustration for Print and Interactive Media; Computer Assisted Printmaking; Seminar in Studio Art; Graduate Digital Photography; Graphic Design; Lithography, and Multimedia. A Special Projects/Multimedia/Portfolio course allows students to design, develop, and finalize their illustration portfolios for presentation and critique. 

The Studio Art MFA program at University of Miami culminates with the Thesis and Exhibition. Graduates are prepared for leadership roles in areas such as publishing, game design, animation, film, advertising, fine art, television, graphic design, consulting, and art education. Program alumni are also prepared to pursue a variety of senior level positions at art galleries, theaters, and museums. 

Founded in 1925, University of Miami opened its doors with 646 full-time students enrolled in programs across the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Music, and the Evening Division. Today, this private research university serves more than 16,000 students enrolled in nearly 350 majors and programs across 12 colleges and schools, and three campuses including Coral Gables, Virginia Key, and downtown Miami. University of Miami is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, University
Jacksonville University

Jacksonville University (JU) is home to the Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts and Humanities, which houses the School of Art and Design. Within the school is an Art program leading to a BA or BFA. Both options provide the opportunity to concentrate in Illustration or add the Illustration minor. The Illustration concentration for the BA program is 19 credit hours. For the BFA the concentration is 35 credit hours. The Illustration minor requires 19 credits of study. 

Required courses for the minor include Drawing I; Illustration Methods; Illustration Studio I; Narrative Illustration; and Editorial Illustration. Examples of common courses for the BA and BFA program include 2-D Art Foundations; 3-D Art Foundations; Drawing I; and Foundations Seminar. BFA students will complete the Art History Core consisting of Western Art to 1850; 20th Century Modern Art to Post-Modern Art; and an Art History elective.

Common concentration courses for the BA and BFA include Illustration Methods; Digital Art; Editorial Illustration; Narrative Illustration; and Illustration Studio I. BFA students will take additional courses such as Concept Art; Illustration Studio II; and the Illustration Portfolio course. BFA students will also select one four credit art elective. 

Graduates of the Art/Illustration programs at Jacksonville University are prepared to pursue roles across the publishing, entertainment, science and medicine, architecture, and advertising industries, among others. Program alumni are also prepared to pursue the Visual Arts MFA at Jacksonville University. 

The JU Visual Arts MFA allows students to practice any medium or a path of interdisciplinary studies. This includes, but is not limited to, Illustration, Mixed Media, Animation, Visual and Graphic Design, Film, Printmaking, and Painting. Low-residency and no-residency options are available, and students may choose from two-year and three-year course plans. 

Visual Arts graduates are prepared for leadership roles across the industries listed earlier and many others. Program alumni also qualify for teaching and research positions at educational institutions, galleries and museums, and non-profit organizations.  

Founded in 1934, Jacksonville University serves approximately 3,955 students from all 50 states and 30+ countries. JU provides more than 100 academic majors, minors, and programs across seven colleges and institutes. Jacksonville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).