What are the top illustration schools in Ohio for 2022?

Top Ohio Illustration Schools - 2022 College Rankings
1Columbus College of Art and DesignColumbus
2Cleveland Institute of ArtCleveland
3Art Academy of CincinnatiCincinnati

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

1. Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio
Columbus College of Art and Design

Columbus College of Art and Design has an Illustration Program with BFA and Minor options. Students in the BFA Program have the opportunity to specialize in an area of illustration or other creative area through a Concentration or Minor. Minors consists of 15 credit hours and concentrations are nine credit hours. Minor examples include Business, Comics & Narrative Practice, Animation 2D or 3D, Film & Video, Advertising & Graphic Design, Copywriting, Design Research, Photography, Narrative Practice, and Industrial Design.

Concentration options include Animation/Experimental, Fine Arts/Painting, Animation/Game, Fine Arts/Printmaking, Illustration/Entertainment, Fine Arts/Drawing, Design/Modeling, Fine Arts/Glass, Illustration/Illustrative Design, Fine Arts/Sculpture, Design/Drawing, Fine Arts/Ceramics, Fine Arts/Jewelry, and Fine Arts/Sculpture.

Students in both the BFA and Illustration Minor have access to state-of-the-art labs and equipment such as 2D and 3D illustration labs, a computer lab with Cintiq monitors, ZBrush, and Adobe software, a printmaking lab, and the CCA FabLab, which includes 3D printers and laser cutters, spray booths, and CNC machines. Other program features include visiting artists and scholars, courses taught by industry professionals, projects such as Spitball, which allows students to collaborate with professional writers, and participation in Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, which hosts professional panels and lectures led by animators, cartoon storytellers, and comic artists.

The CCAD Illustration BFA Program culminates with an Illustration Portfolio Project and Illustration Capstone.

Graduates of the Columbis College of Art and Design Illustration BFA Program have been hired for a wide variety of roles at major advertising agencies, companies, and studios such as Hasbro, Cartoon Network, DC Comics, Ogilvy & Mather, Hallmark, Marvel Comics, Disney Consumer Products (DCP), Sony Pictures, Boeing, Pixar, American Greetings, Wall Street Journal, DreamWorks Animation, Williams Sonoma, CBS News, Bath & Body Works, and Forever 21.

Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). CCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). Established in 1879, Columbus College of Art & Design was is one of the nation’s oldest private, nonprofit art and design schools. Serving more than 1,000 students, CCAD offers 11 BFA programs, one MFA degree, and one MPS.

2. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) has an Illustration BFA Program that is one of only a few BFA degrees of its kind in the United States. Designed for artists who have an interest in art and science, the CIA BFA in Life Sciences Illustration explores topics such as botanical, biological, and zoological sciences, and animation, illustration, and information design. The program also covers areas such as research methods, serious game design, animation, sound design, interactive design, and professional development.

Course examples for the program include Cellular + Molecular Illustration, Life Sciences Illustration: Advanced Problems, Concepts, + Media, Serious Game Design: Theory + Applications, Educational Media Installation, Veterinary Illustration, 3D Animation, Digital Color: Style + Representation in Science, Line: Information Visualization, Surgical Illustration & Media, Gross Anatomy, Principles of Biology I-II, Digital Biomedical Illustration (EP), Life Sciences Illustration: Forensic Imaging/Modeling, Anatomy for the Artist, Applied Portfolio and Professional Strategies, Sound Design Fundamentals, and Natural Science + Zoological Illustration (EP). An internship is also part of the program.

In the Applied Portfolio and Professional Strategies course, students will gain insight into art practice and leadership in the business environment. They will develop applied portfolios in online and offline media, demo reels, and print-related materials relating to professional packages (business cards, resumes, cover letters, etc.). Life Sciences Illustration students will also learn about copyrights, budgeting, contracts, marketing, and presentations as they relate to commercial-based work and freelance careers.

The Life Sciences Illustration BFA Program at Cleveland Institute of Art culminates with the BFA Thesis and Exhibition. Graduates have been hired for positions such as Biomedical Illustrator, 3D Animation Artist/Designer, Illustrator, Forensics Illustrator, and Art Director, among others.

For students interested in a traditional illustration program, CIA has an Illustration BFA Program that focuses on learning by doing. Students will work on a variety of real-world projects with CIA partners and clients—all before graduation. Students in the CIA Illustration BFA will learn how to work with traditional materials and techniques, such as acrylics, oils, and inks, collage, and pencils as well as industry software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. The skills learned in the program will prepare student for positions in advertising, animation, publishing, entertainment, gaming, and comics, among others.

Course examples for the program include Picture Book Illustration, Layout Rendering Techniques, Illustration for Publication, Character Design + Development, Professional Standards in Illustration, Graphic Novels + Sequential Art, Illustration: Advanced Illustration Studio Projects, Illustration I-II, Community Projects, and Visual Concepts in Illustration. Students will also complete an internship.

The Illustration BFA Program at Cleveland Institute of Art culminates with the BFA Thesis and Exhibition. Students in all CIA Illustration Programs will have their own studio space, along with access to Integrated Media Environment Facilities, lighting and shooting spaces, a sound recording studio, and the fabrication studios. Other program benefits include visiting artists, networking opportunities with employers, illustrators, and designers who are invited to CIA each year, small-group seminars, professional writing courses, and travel to professional art studios, advertising agencies, and others.

Cleveland Institute of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Chartered in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women, this independent, not-for-profit college serves around 600 students enrolled in 13 majors in  entertainment arts, design, fine arts, and crafts.

3. Art Academy of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
Art Academy of Cincinnati

Art Academy of Cincinnati (AAC) has a studio-based Illustration Program that features a unique trans-disciplinary curriculum. This means students will have the opportunity to explore a variety of creative areas such as animation, installation, printmaking, design, sound art, motion graphics, digital sculpture, drawing, painting, new media, and photography. Other program features include seminars and professionalism workshops, summer internships in New York City, and two- to six-month study abroad experiences in places such as Berlin, London, and Hong Kong. 

Leading to a BFA, the Illustration Program at AAC requires 120 credit hours, with 42 credit hours in the Major and 27 in studio electives. Course examples for the program include Comic Book Art, Illustration: Narrative, Storyboarding and Compositing, Illustration: Narrative, Silm, Video, and Audio: Motion Graphics, Illustration: Process and Media, Artist Books, Illustration: Communication, Storytelling Art for Motion Graphics, and Introduction to Animation 2D and 3D. In the final year of the program, BFA students will complete 18 credit hours as follows: Senior Seminar (3), Senior Pathway Studio 1 (6), Senior Pathway Studio (6), and Senior Thesis (3).

Graduates of the Illustration BFA Program at Art Academy of Cincinnati work in Entertainment (Film/Video/TV), Advertising, Game Art and Design, Book and Magazine Publishing, Motion Graphics, Corporate Branding, Packaging, and many other areas.

Art Academy of Cincinnati is a private independent college of art and design accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). AAC is also a Charter Member of NASAD. Founded in 1869, Art Academy of Cincinnati serves 310 students enrolled in seven Majors leading to a BFA, one Graduate Program in Art Education, which leads to an MA, and a Graphic Design Program leading to an AS.