What are the top illustration schools in Massachusetts for 2021?

Top Massachusetts Illustration Schools - 2021 College Rankings
1Massachusetts College of Art and DesignBoston
2University of Massachusetts, DartmouthDartmouth
3Lesley UniversityCambridge

Our 2021 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) began as Massachusetts Normal School in 1873. Today, the college is known as “the Commonwealth’s Art and Design School.”

MassArt serves 2,000 undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students enrolled in dozens of programs in areas such as Animation, Film and Video, Glass, Illustration, Industrial Design, Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture. Programs lead to the BFA, MFA, MDES, MAT, or MArch.

The Illustration Department at MassArt offers a BFA in Illustration that “emphasizes the understanding of character development and narrative techniques,” says the school. Students in the program take a variety of Illustration and Liberal Arts courses taught by instructors who are freelance illustrators or illustrators who have their own businesses.

Liberal Arts course highlights include Introduction to Western Art, Literature/Writing/Film, and Thinking, Making, Writing: Using Words with Clarity and Flair. Major course highlights include Advanced Drawing Projects for Illustrators, Black and White Illustration, Book Arts, Color for Illustrators, Digital Illustration, Digital Painting and Techniques, Experimental Illustration Techniques, Human Figure Illustration, Media Techniques, Narrative Illustration, Painting for Illustrators, Professional Illustration, Studio for Drawing, Technical Illustration, Virtual 3D Illustration, and Word and Image.

A Course Assistantship, Independent Study, Professional Freelance Studio, and an Internship are also part of the program.

During the final year of the program, students will complete Illustration Portfolio, Senior Illustration, Studio Electives, and the Thesis Project. Students will present their Portfolio to invited professionals from advertising, corporate, editorial, institutional, and publishing markets.

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

University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (UMass Dartmouth) traces its roots to 1895, when the state legislature chartered two textile schools: New Bedford Textile School and the Bradford Durfee Textile School in Fall River. The school serves just over 8,500 students enrolled in more than 300 majors, minors, certificates, graduate degrees, and fields of study. Programs are offered in eight colleges and schools.

The College of Visual & Performing Arts (CVPA) houses the Illustration Program, which offers BFA and MFA degrees in Illustration. A Minor in Illustration that consists of 18 credit hours and Portfolio Development is also available.

The BFA is a professional degree program that “introduces students to specialized areas such as book illustration, character development, concept art, and documentary illustration,” says the school. Students will gain experience in the “fundamental principles of color, composition, drawing, and rendering.”

Course highlights for the program include 3D Form and Space, Advanced Illustration Topics, Digital Essentials, Illustration: A Personal Voice, Illustration: Character Design and Environment, Illustration: Meaning & Metaphor, Illustration: The Portfolio and the Profession, Illustration: Visual Storytelling, Posters, Comics, and the Illustration Marketplace, Structural Drawing, and Visual Arts Seminar. Other program highlights include the opportunity to exhibit student work at the Campus Gallery and internship opportunities at places such as Hasbro, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Museum of American Illustration.

The BFA in Illustration prepares students for graduate study or careers in Animation, Illustration, Multimedia Design, Scientific Visualization and many others. In addition to the Illustration MFA program at UMass-Dartmouth—a 60-credit, two or three year program of study—Illustration BFA graduates have been accepted into graduate programs at New York Academy of Art (NYAA), Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University (SMFA at Tufts). Others have been hired by Blue Rain Media, GimaSport, Hasbro, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Moss Archive, Old Time Sports, and others.

In addition to the careers already listed, Illustration MFA graduates are qualified for professional work and positions in higher education within a variety of disciplines. “There are also numerous allied career paths, such as curatorial work, arts administration, art direction, and publishing, which benefit from the level of accomplishment the Master of Fine Arts degree entails.”

3. Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Lesley University

Lesley University was founded in 1909. The school serves around 2,700 undergraduate students and nearly 4,000 graduate students enrolled in more than 100 programs through four colleges and schools. The College of Art & Design serves 700 students enrolled in 14 undergraduate majors, 16 minors and six certificates along with 11 master’s degrees, one PhD, One license, and four graduate certificates. Programs for aspiring illustrators include a BFA, Minor and Professional Certificate in Illustration.

The 123 credit hour BFA in Illustration allows students to pursue a second major or one of Lesley’s 45+ Minors in Art and Design or Liberal Arts. Examples include Illustration + Drama = Set Designer or Illustration + Biology = Medical Illustrator. Other program highlights include small studios, hands-on experience, internship opportunities, and exhibitions.

The Minor requires 15 credit hours of study and encourages experimentation across the field. Students may also focus in a specific area such as children’s books, comics, editorial or games through electives. The Certificate consists of 60 credit hours of in-studio study and coursework. The program includes a Senior Studio course and Portfolio for Illustration/Senior Jury (IILLU 4310).

Lesley Illustration graduates work across a wide range of industries, from advertising and publishing to science and medicine, fashion, education, and beyond. Organizations graduates could work for include Artists for Humanity, Charles River Laboratories, Lulu Mena, Muse Paint Bar, Neoscape, Nova Idea Inc., and Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Potential job titles include Book Illustrator, Cartoonist, Graphic Artist, Graphic Designer, Junior Production Artist, Production Artist, and Technical Illustrator.