What are the top illustration schools in Massachusetts for 2022?

Top Massachusetts Illustration Schools - 2022 College Rankings
1Massachusetts College of Art and DesignBoston
2University of Massachusetts-DartmouthDartmouth
3Lesley UniversityCambridge
4Montserrat College of ArtBeverly

Our 2022 ranking of the top illustration schools 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

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) is home to an Illustration Department that houses an Illustration BFA Program that focuses on narrative techniques and character development. Courses for the program are taught by professional freelance illustrators or artists that own their own illustration studios and firms. Course examples for the program include Media Techniques, Experimental Illustration Techniques, Book Arts, Virtual 3D Illustration, Advanced Drawing Projects for Illustrators, Word and Image, Professional Illustration, Independent Study, Technical Illustration, Black and White Illustration, and Professional Freelance Studio.

Three major, but optional, components of the MassArt Illustration BFA Program are the Course Assistantship, Independent Study, and the Internship. The Course Assistantship allows qualified sophomores, juniors, and seniors to assist a faculty member with set up and assisting with demonstrations and critiques during class. Independent Study is available to juniors and seniors Juniors who have a specific studio project that cannot be accomplished through coursework. This gives students an opportunity to work with a faculty member on an independent basis.

The Internship Program is open to all upper level students. Three studio elective credits may be earned for participating in a supervised professional experience at a local or national company or studio.

In the final year of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design Illustration BFA Program students will complete the following courses: Thesis Project I: Research, Thesis Project II: Imagery, Senior Illustration, and Illustration Portfolio. Final student portfolios will be presented to professionals from the advertising, editorial, publishing, institutional, and corporate markets.

Graduates of the Art and Design Programs at Massachusetts College of Art and Design have been hired at Hasbro, Whitney Museum of American Art, Sony Pictures Imageworks, New Balance, Boston Children's Museum, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), PUMA, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Time Inc., Discovery Channel, and Attleboro Art Museum.

Massachusetts College of Art and Design is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Established in 1873 as Massachusetts Normal School, MassArt provides more than 40 degree, minor, and certificate program options to 1,635 undergraduate students, 115 graduate students, and nearly 150 continuing education students. Noncredit students and others at Massachusetts College of Art and Design have access to 100 classes and workshops in all areas of art and design.

2. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth (UMass Dartmouth or UMassD) houses the College of Visual & Performing Arts (CVPA), home to the BFA in Art + Design: Illustration and Visual Design MFA: Illustration Programs. An Illustration Minor is also available.

As part of UMass Dartmouth, the BFA and MFA Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Students in both programs have access to IDEAStudio—a state-of-the-art digital/multimedia space where they can access equipment and software, and collaborate with peers and faculty from across the UMassD campus.

Students also have access to additional digital media labs, the Painting/2D Media Lab, Graphic Design & Illustration studios (graduate students are assigned individual workspaces), the Visual and Media Literacy Hub (HUB), which maintains the largest image and media repository on the UMassD campus, and Textile & Fiber Arts facilities equipped with papermaking studios, a textile media lab, dark rooms, and more.

In the Art + Design: Illustration Program, students will explore color, composition, drawing, painting, rendering, and printmaking, along with specialized areas such as book illustration, concept art, documentary illustration, and character development. The program requires 120 credit hours of study, with 78 credits in the major. The BFA Program culminates with a professional portfolio and participation in the Senior Exhibition. Graduates are prepared for careers in Illustration, Animation, Scientific Visualization, Multimedia Design, and graduate study.

The Visual Design MFA: Illustration Program at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth consists of 60 credit hours of study that can be completed on a two- or three-year schedule. In addition to Illustration, students will have opportunities to explore other areas such as Digital Media, Graphic Design, and Photography. Other MFA Program features include assigned graduate workspaces, individualized attention from faculty who are professionals in traditional, interactive, and time-based media, assistantship opportunities, interdisciplinary projects, visiting artists, access to the Visual Resources Center, which houses more than 150,000 archived images, and exhibition opportunities.

The Visual Design MFA: Illustration Program at UMass Dartmouth requires a Visual Thesis and Thesis Report to graduate. Examples of career paths for graduates of the program include Curator, Art Director, Arts Administrator, Senior Illustration Manager for Publications, Storyboard Director for Advertising, Animation or Film, and Art Educator.

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has been accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) since 1963. The school dates back to 1895, when textile schools launched as New Bedford Textile School and the Bradford Durfee Textile School in Fall River. Today. UMass Dartmouth is a public, four-year, national research university that serves 7,717 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across eight colleges and schools.

3. Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Lesley University

The College of Art and Design at Lesley University houses an Illustration Program that has BFA, Minor, and Professional Certificate options. Students in all programs have access to industry-standard software, equipment, and workstations, mentorship opportunities with professional Illustrators in the Greater Boston area, and internships at places such as National Geographic, Disney, and Cartoon Network, among others. Students will also participate in critiques, workshops, and field trips to world-class museums and other cultural institutions in Boston and Cambridge.

The Illustration BFA consists of 123 credit hours and it can be completed in four years. The Minor is 15 credit hours and it can be completed in one or two semesters. Designed for students who have an undergraduate degree in any area, the Professional Certificate consists of 60 credit hours and it can be completed in two years. Course examples across programs include Illustration Now, 3D Concepts, Illustration Tools & Methods, The Working Illustrator, Design for Illustration, Typography, Illustration Survey, Image and Context, Techniques: Mixed Media, Drawing Intensive, Anatomy and Figure Drawing, Art Across Borders, and Digital Duo.

Through electives, students in all programs will have opportunities to develop additional skills within a several unique areas within the Illustration field. Examples include Body Adornment & Fashion Drawing, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Comic Book and Storyboard, Book Illustration, and Letterpress Studio. Other elective options include The Dynamic Figure, Comix: Process and Practice, and City Sketchbook.

During the final year of the Illustration BFA and Professional Certificate Programs, students will create and present a professional portfolio of their best work to a jury panel.

Graduates of the Illustration Programs at Lesley University work in industries from Advertising, Entertainment, and Publishing to Science, Medical, and Education. In addition to many of the companies Lesley graduates have interned with, potential employers include Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., Artists for Humanity, Neoscape, Charles River Laboratories, Muse Paint Bar, Lulu Mena, and Nova Idea Inc., among others.

Lesley University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Founded in 1909, the school serves more than 6,000 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across four colleges and schools including Liberal Arts, Art and Design, Graduate School of Social Sciences, and the Graduate School of Education.

4. Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Massachusetts
Montserrat College of Art

The Department of Illustration at Montserrat College of Art (Montserrat) houses the Illustration BFA Program. Students will begin the program with Montserrat’s Foundation Program, which consists of Studio I & II, Observation I & II, Color: Material and Light, Art History and English Composition courses, and Studio electives. Other program features include collaborative studios, museum and gallery visits, seminars, individual and team-based projects, research assignments, critiques, and internship opportunities.

Depending on the program students will also have opportunities to travel to Mallorca, Spain, Niigata, Japan or Santa Fe New Mexico to study, create, and explore.

Course examples for the Montserrat Illustration BFA Program include Kinetic Drawing, Illustration I: Drawing for Communication, Storyboarding, Comics and Sequential Art, Illustration II: Media and Methods, Children’s Book Illustration, Illustrating Fiction, Illustration III: Digital Process, Topics in Illustration, Illustration IV: Applications, Digital Illustration, Journalistic Drawing, Applied Illusions, Cinematic Storytelling, and Advanced Digital Projects.

In the final year of the Montserrat Illustration BFA Program, students will complete Illustration Independent Study, Senior Fine Arts Seminar, Senior Illustration: Business Practices, and Senior Illustration: Thesis Projects. Students will work in teams during this final year to curate Senor Thesis Exhibitions—a series of week-long public shows hosted at gallery spaces, on campus and off. Work created by every graduating senior will be displayed at the Graduation Exhibition in the main Montserrat Gallery. The event take place in May.

Graduates of the Art and Design Programs at Montserrat College of Art have worked for (or are currently working for) studios and companies such as Hasbro, Nickelodeon, Puma, FableVision, Disney, Boston Center for the Arts, Sesame Street, Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), Martha Stewart, and Currier Museum of Art. among others.

Montserrat College of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE). Founded in 1970, the school opened as Montserrat School of Visual Arts with just one diploma program. Today, Montserrat serves nearly 400 students enrolled in 10 programs leading to a BFA and five minor programs.