What are the top illustration schools in Massachusetts for 2023?

Top Massachusetts Illustration Schools - 2023 College Rankings
1Massachusetts College of Art and DesignBoston
2Montserrat College of ArtBeverly
3Lesley UniversityCambridge

Our 2023 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

The Illustration Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) houses the Illustration BFA Program, which has several optional, but noteworthy components including the Course Assistantship, Independent Study, and the Internship. The Course Assistantship allows qualified Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors to assist a faculty member with the set-up and management of demonstrations and critiques during class.

Independent Study is available to Juniors and Seniors 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.

The Illustration BFA requires 120 credit hours of study. This includes 18 credits in Studio Foundations, 42 in Illustration, and 18 in Studio Electives. Course examples include Book Arts, Narrative Illustration, Technical Illustration, Word and Image, Virtual 3D Illustration, Black and White Illustration, Technical Illustration, Media Techniques, Advanced Drawing for Illustrators, and Experimental Illustration Techniques.

In the final year of the Illustration BFA Program at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, students will complete Thesis Project I: Research, Thesis Project II: Imagery, Senior Illustration, and Illustration Portfolio. Final student portfolios will be presented to professionals from the Editorial, Publishing, Corporate, Advertising, and Institutional markets.

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

Founded in 1873 as Massachusetts Normal School, Massachusetts College of Art and Design is the nation’s first and only public college of art and design. The school serves approximately 1,785 students enrolled more than 40 degree, minor, and certificate programs. More than 150 continuing education students are enrolled in over 100 classes and workshops in all areas of art and design. Massachusetts College of Art and Design is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) and it is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

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

Montserrat College of Art (Montserrat) is home to the Department of Illustration, which has an Illustration BFA Program that requires 120 credit hours to graduate. This includes 78 studio credits. Students will begin the BFA Program with Montserrat’s Foundation Program, which consists of Studio I & II, Observation I & II, and Color: Material and Light. Students will also take Art History and English Composition courses, as well a number of 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, Illustration BFA students at Montserrat 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, Illustration II: Media and Methods, Children’s Book Illustration, Comics and Sequential Art, Illustration III: Digital Process, Cinematic Storytelling, Illustrating Fiction, Illustration IV: Applications, Digital Illustration, Journalistic Drawing, Advanced Digital Projects, Topics in Illustration, and Applied Illusions.

In the final year of the 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 to curate their Senor Thesis Exhibitions, which is a series of week-long public shows hosted at on-campus and off-campus gallery spaces. Work created by every graduating Senior will be displayed at the Graduation Exhibition in the Main Montserrat Gallery. The event takes place in May.

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

Founded in 1970, Montserrat College of Art is one of only five stand-alone independent art colleges with an enrollment under 400. The school opened as Montserrat School of Visual Arts with just one Diploma program. Today, Montserrat provides 10 Concentrations leading to a BFA and five minor programs ranging from Art Education to Curatorial Studies. 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).

3. Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Lesley University

The Illustration Program at Lesley University is part of the College of Art and Design. Within the Program are three paths to study Illustration including a BFA, Minor, and a Professional Certificate. Students in all programs have access to industry-standard software, equipment, and workstations; mentorship opportunities with professional Illustrators in the Greater Boston area; and internship opportunities at places such as Cartoon Network, Disney, and National Geographic (Nat Geo). Illustration BFA and Certificate students also have opportunities to participate in workshops, critiques, and field trips to museums and other cultural institutions across Boston and Cambridge.

The Illustration BFA Program at Lesley University consists of 123 credit hours completed over four years. The 15 credit-hour Minor 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 that can be completed in two years. Across programs, students will explore Traditional and Digital Media, Color and Composition, Thumbnails and Storyboarding, Conceptual and Narrative Skill-Building, and Visual Problem Solving. Students will use the skills they have learned to create editorial illustrations, character designs, sequential narratives, product designs, and natural history drawings.

Course examples across programs include Design for Illustration, 3D Concepts, Illustration Tools & Methods, Typography, Techniques: Mixed Media, The Working Illustrator, Image and Context, Anatomy and Figure Drawing, Illustration Survey, Digital Duo, Illustration Now, Sequential Projects, and Visual Culture Seminar.

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

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 are prepared to pursue positions such as Book Illustrator, Graphic Designer, Technical Illustrator, Cartoonist, and Production Artist. Program alumni work in industries such as Advertising, Entertainment, Publishing, Science, Medicine, and Education.

Potential employers include Warner Bros. Entertainment, Neoscape, Artists for Humanity, Charles River Laboratories, Muse Paint Bar, Robb Report Singapore, Lulu Mena, Nova Idea Inc., and the Stride Awards.

Lesley University was founded in 1909 by Edith Lesley (1872-1953). The school serves more than 6,000 students enrolled in 100+ programs across four colleges and schools including Liberal Arts, Art and Design, the Graduate School of Social Sciences, and the Graduate School of Education. Lesley University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).