Everything You Need to Know About the Best Five Art & Design Schools in the World | Top Universities

Everything You Need to Know About the Best Five Art & Design Schools in the World

By Guest Writer

Updated February 20, 2021 Updated February 20, 2021

This article is based on the results of the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017. To read about the most recent ranking of top art & design schools, click here.

The 2017 QS World University Rankings by Subject are hot off the press, with 900 universities from over 80 countries ranked this year. You won’t have a better chance to find out which universities are at the top of their game for your chosen subject of study.

The Top 25 for Art & Design continues to be dominated by USA-based institutions, though they’re closely followed in representation by UK universities, with just a handful of schools from other countries making the cut. 

If you’re a first rate student with a real desire to study at one of the most well-respected art schools on the planet, this year’s top five are where you’ll want to apply. Producing some of the world’s most influential artists and designers, these schools are at the forefront of technology, providing first class teaching and a passion for research and innovation. Here’s a bit more info about them

Royal College of Art: United Kingdom


Topping the rankings for Art & Design is the UK’s prestigious Royal College of Art.  If you choose RCA for your studies, you’ll find yourself studying in a college full of history (180 years of it in fact) in the country’s vibrant and diverse capital of London. 

A long history doesn’t mean an outdated approach however, as RCA prides itself on being at the centre of pioneering design. The College proudly boasts: Products designed by RCA graduates are all around us, from the Routemaster bus to the Dyson vacuum cleaner…the original NHS bed to modern end-of-life care”

RCA provides a mixture of creative freedom and strong academic framework.  A recipe that definitely seems to work, as the college has topped the QS charts for the third year in a row.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): USA


Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranks as Best University in the World for 2017 (an achievement they’ve managed to maintain for five years in a row) and takes second place in the Art & Design rankings. 

This is an outstanding institution to study your creative degree with a long list of talented alumni and an impressive mission statement to match. The university says: “The arts at MIT connect creative minds across disciplines and encourage a lifetime of exploration and self-discovery. They are rooted in experimentation, risk-taking and imaginative problem-solving.”

First-class facilities and benefits await you here, ranging from a museum and visual research centre hosting innovative exhibitions, to a whole host of competitions, grants and awards. 

Parsons School of Design at the New School: USA


Up one place from 2016 is New York-based Parsons School of Design, offering a range of cross-disciplinary creative Art & Design courses.

As if studying in the Big Apple wasn't inspiring enough, the school also offers a research-led culture that puts them at the forefront of the arts. While at Parsons you’re not only challenged to become a master of your craft, but also to create “more reflectively, resourcefully, and responsibly than you ever have before.”

Mentoring, practical experience and building links with external industry are also at the heart of Parson’s courses. The opportunity to study at their European campus in Paris is also available, giving you the chance to experience a different continent and culture.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD): USA


Rhode Island School of Design is conveniently sandwiched between the cultural hubs of Boston and New York in the vibrant and arty city of Providence.

As one of the most long standing Art & Design colleges in the USA (founded in 1877), RISD has a strong sense of history, with a mission to “make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation.”

Alongside an art museum and one of the longest-standing independent art college libraries in the USA, RISD also offers a Nature Lab.  Designed as a resource for exploring the “patterns, structures and interactions of designs in nature”, the lab offers a unique way to enhance your studies.

Pratt Institute: USA


Last but not least is Pratt Institute, a New York based school and “living lab of craft and creativity”with three campuses in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Utica.

Lecturers and alumni include a long list of well-respected artists, designers and scholars. Studying at Pratt will give you access to an institute whose “interdisciplinary curriculum promotes collaborative and creative strategies for design thinking and provides students with unparalleled training facilities.” 

Pratt offers an eclectic range of arts programs ranging from Photography and Fashion to Creative Arts Therapy and Urban Design.

Emily Valentine writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specializes in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To browse their graduate jobs, visit their website. 

This article was originally published in March 2017 . It was last updated in February 2021

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Written by


+ 9 others
saved this article

+ 10 others saved this article


Related Articles Last year

Monthly updates
QS Community
QS Community

Get the latest student and graduate news straight to your inbox.

Sign me up
Course Matching Tool
Course Matching Tool
Course Matching Tool

Use our tool to find your perfect course. Answer a few questions and we will do the rest!

Start Matching
QS Leap
Test Preparations
Test Preparations

Free test prep platform with practice questions and more.

Start Now