What are the top illustration schools in Missouri for 2022?

Top Missouri Illustration Schools - 2022 College Rankings
1Kansas City Art InstituteKansas City
2Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis
3Webster Universitymultiple
4Missouri State UniversitySpringfield

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

1. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri

Programs at Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) take place in a professional studio environment where students learn by doing. All programs begin with the KCAI Foundation Program. This immersive experience lasts a full year and includes dedicated industrial studios, collaborative programs, 16 contact hours of studio per week, workshops, collaborative projects and problem-solving, independent work and storage spaces, faculty mentors, and training in the Print Center (digital design and output), Beals Studios (digital fabrication), and Central Shop (woodworking).

During this first-year program, students will also participate in the Foundation Seminar, which provides the opportunity to interact with artists, activists, and alumni.

The Illustration BFA Program at Kansas City Art Institute is housed in the Department of Illustration. Students in the program will complete a mandatory internship and a number of collaborative assignments. KCAI Illustration BFA students have interned at The Kansas City Star, Boulevard Brewing Company, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the American Jazz Museum, and Porter Teleo Design Firm, among others. In addition to an internship, BFA students will have the opportunity to double major in Creative Writing and Illustration.

Graduates of the Illustration BFA Program at Kansas City Art Institute have won awards presented by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Print, and Communication Arts. They have been recruited by Nike, Nickelodeon, American Greetings, MTV and Hallmark, and their work has been featured in numerous children’s books and in publications such as Wired, The New York Times, and Women’s Day.

Kansas City Art Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Established in 1885 as a Sketch Club, serves more than 700 students enrolled in 13 studio majors in 15 program areas. In addition to Illustration, examples include Animation, Creative Writing, Filmmaking, Graphic Design, Product Design, Photography, and Sculpture. 

2. Washington University in St. Louis (Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts), St. Louis, Missouri
Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis houses the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. Within the Sam Fox School (est. 2006) are the Colleges of Art and Architecture, and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. The Sam Fox College of Art has two pathways for Illustrators: a BFA in Communication Design with an Emphasis in Illustration, and an MFA in Illustration + Visual Culture (MFA-IVC). A Design Minor is also available and allows students to mix and match courses in areas such as Illustration, the Illustrated Book Studio, Communication, and Design.

The Communication Design BFA with an Emphasis in Illustration is a collaborative program that explores Illustration, Interaction Design, and Graphic Design. Students in the program can focus on illustrating stories, the history of printed images, creating comics, illustrating for advertising, creating pictures for games and motion graphics, or designing printed posters and books.

The Sam Fox Communication Design BFA culminates with a Capstone Project. For this final project, students have created zines, comics, illustrated books, graphic novels, screen-based art, and digital experiences. Capstone Projects are displayed in a public exhibition and reviewed by design professionals.

The Illustration + Visual Culture MFA is a two-year, fully residential program that consists of 50% illustration studio work, 20% visual culture, history and theory, 15-20% hands-on archive work, and 10-15% electives. Electives allow students to focus in specific areas of art, design and entertainment. Elective examples include Branding and Identity, Game Design, Image & Story, Typography, Printmaking, Book Arts, Illustration Concepts and Media, Narrative Comics, Animated Worlds, Type and Image: Experiments on Press, Visual Culture, The Illustrator’s Sketchbook, Applied Illustration, Art History, and Painting.

Consisting of 60 credit hours, the MFA-IVC requires courses such as The Illustrated Periodical, Comics & Cartooning: A Critical Survey, Readings in Visual & Material Culture, Special Collections: Exhibitions & Engagement, Graduate Drawing Studio, and Special Collections: Research Methods. The MFA-IVC Program at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts requires an internship and two final Thesis courses including Thesis Studio 1: Drawing & Voice, and Thesis Studio 2 for a total of 18 credit hours.

Graduates of the Sam Fox MFA-IVC Program are prepared for positions such as Curatorial Staff in Museums, Libraries, and Auction Houses, Critical Writers on Popular Culture, Professors of Illustration, and Author-Artists of Graphic Novels and Picture Books, among others.  

Washington University in St. Louis has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913. Founded in 1853, the school serves nearly 16,250 students enrolled in more than 300 academic programs in seven schools. The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts was founded in 2006 after the merging of the academic units of Architecture and Art, and the Washington University in St. Louis Museum.  

3. Webster University, St. Louis and Webster Groves, Missouri
Webster University

The Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts at Webster University (Webster) houses the Department of Art, Design, and Art History (DADAH), home to the Art BFA and Illustration Certificate Programs. The Art BFA offers an Emphasis in Illustration.

The 18 credit hour Illustration Certificate is designed for students who are not seeking an Illustration BFA degree, but who would rather complete the Certificate as supplement to a related major. Core courses for the Illustration Certificate Program include Digital Visualizations, Narrative Figure Drawing, Illustration, and Topics in Studio Art: Illustration. To reach 18 credit hours, students may choose electives from Art, Design, and Animation. Examples include Comic Book Creation, Design Play, Printmaking Concepts and Techniques, Character Design, and Design for Digital Portfolios.

The Webster DADAH Art BFA Program consists of 120 credit hours including 73 required credit hours, 29 elective credit hours and 18 Global Citizenship Program (GCP) credit hours. GCP requirements come from courses designated “Roots and Cultures,” “Social Systems & Human Behavior,” “Global Understanding,” and “Physical & Natural World” or “Quantitative Literacy.” Students will also complete the Global Cornerstone Seminar and Global Keystone Seminar.

The Illustration Emphasis is an intensive studio program that includes courses such as Topics in Illustration and Drawing, Concept Art, Narrative Figure Drawing, Illustration, Character Design, Anatomy Studies, and Professional Practice for Illustrators.

During the final year of the program, students will complete the DADAH Critique, BFA Review, Senior Critique, and Senior Exhibition. Graduates of the Art BFA (Illustration Emphasis) and Illustration Certificate Programs are prepared to pursue careers in Medical Illustration, Advertising, Courtroom Illustration, Magazine Publishing, Forensic Art, Children’s Book Publishing, Animation and Film, Textile Design, Storyboard Art, Graphic Design, Game Design, Fashion Design, Architecture, Comic Book Publishing, Tattoo Art, and Patent Illustration, among others.

Webster University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Founded in 1915 as Loretto College by the Sisters of Loretto, when the school opened, it became the first senior Catholic college for women in Missouri and one of the first Catholic women’s colleges west of the Mississippi River. Today, Webster University serves a diverse population of 10,000 students enrolled in more than 160 programs across five colleges and schools.

4. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
Missouri State University

Missouri State University (MSU) is home to the Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters. Within the College is the Art and Design Department (MSU A+D), which is the largest publicly funded departments of art and design in Missouri. The Design BFA Department here has an Illustration Track that explores both traditional and digital illustration. Courses such as Special Topics in Design allow students to take courses based on their (and professors) interests. Examples include Comic Book Illustration, Book Arts, Scientific Illustration, Letterpress Printing, History of Book, and Art Direction.

Other course examples for the program include Illustration, Graphic Design Systems, Typography, Drawing I-III, Materials and Techniques for Illustration, Intermediate Illustration, Graphic Production, 3D Design, New Media, and Graphic Design Systems. A Design Internship is also part of the program.

In the eighth and final semester of the Design BFA Program, students will complete the Professional Design Practicum—a design workshop for the development and production of materials for the portfolio that includes preparation of a Final Project containing design work for a non-profit organization or a selected design issue, a written thesis related to it, and public presentation of the project.

Graduates of the Missouri State University A+D Department are prepared for careers as Professional Artists, Studio Owners, Educators, and Illustrators for the Publishing, Animation, Television, and Film, Comic Book, Game Design, and Advertising industries, among others.

Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school was established in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School, and opened with 543 students on June 11, 1906. Today, Missouri State University serves 26,000 students across three physical campuses in Missouri (Springfield, West Plains, and Mountain Grove), and one in Dalian, China. MSU offers more than 270 programs across seven academic colleges and one Graduate College.