What are the top illustration schools in Pennsylvania for 2020?

Top Pennsylvania Illustration Schools - 2020 College Rankings
1The University of the ArtsPhiladelphia
2Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts + University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia

Our 2020 ranking of the top illustration schools in Pennsylvania. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The University of the Arts

Founded in 1876, The University of the Arts (UArts) is the nation’s only comprehensive arts university. The school serves 1,900 students enrolled in 46 undergraduate and graduate programs, and more than 30 minors, through the College of Art, Media & Design, College of Performing Arts, Division of Liberal Art, and the Division of Continuing Studies (Graduate Programs).

The College of Art, Media & Design houses the School of Design, which offers a BFA in Illustration and a Minor in Figurative Illustration. An MFA in Studio Art is also available. The BFA program allows students to declare a concentration. Options include Animation Movement, Animation Visual Development, Game Art, Graphic Design Communication, Graphic Design Typography, Photography, Painting, and Printmaking.

The BFA program blends creative visual problem solving, digital experiences, drawing, figure modeling, illustration, painting, picture making, digital experiences, as well as specialized graphic design courses, self-discovery through mentor-student relationship, and history of pictorial image making. Sample courses include Communication Design, Figure Anatomy, Illustration I-IV, Image/Time, Materials, Responsive Drawing, and Words, Images & Idea.

The Minor in Figurative Illustration requires 15 credit hours including Figure Anatomy, Illustration I and II, Responsive Drawing, and Figure Communication or Figure Painting.

The MFA in Studio Art is a low-residency, year-round program that consists of an immersive eight-week on-campus summer semester, independent study (fall and spring), and mentoring. The 60 credit hour curriculum includes Graduate Drawing, Major Studio, Contemporary Topics in Art and Design, Culture Study, Independent Studio, Studio Topics, Graduate Seminar, Professional Practices, Thesis Preparation, and Thesis Writing Project. MFA Thesis Exhibition is also part of the program.

Graduates of the Illustration Program at UArts have gone on to create illustrations for The New Yorker, New York Times, Rolling Stone, ESPN, Random House, Ralph Lauren, Fortune and others.

2. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts + University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) serves 25,860 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. For nearly 100 years, the school has partnered with Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), established in 1805 and the first museum and school of fine arts in the nation. The partnership “provides students with an unparalleled opportunity to pursue their artistic passions and intellectual pursuits in the Ivy League,” says the school.

BFA students have access to more than 800 courses in 50+ areas of study. Programs for aspiring illustrators include the PAFA/Penn BFA in Illustration and a Certificate Illustration (PAFA). An MFA program is also available. The PAFA/Penn BFA in Illustration combines studio training with a fine arts focused liberal arts education. The program helps students develop skills in storytelling, visual communication, and entrepreneurship.

Courses in the program include Business Practices of Art, Digital Imaging, History of Illustration, Illustration Methods, Letterpress and Book Arts, Narrative and Sequential Drawing, Visual Narration, and courses with master illustrators such as David Wiesner and E.B. Lewis.

Students in both the BFA and Certificate program have access 24-hour access to workspaces and digital facilities including two sky lit painting studios, a number of large painting classrooms, illustration/drawing studios and painting studios, and a rooftop terrace often used for cityscapes.

Graduates of the PAFA/Penn Illustration Programs “will be equipped with the tools to launch careers in fields including animation, book and magazine illustration, graphic novels, poster and storyboard art, medical illustration, and many other art- and design-related professions.”