What are the fine differences between art schools and universities with a good art program?

Question by yosquared: What are the fine differences between art schools and universities with a good art program?
I have researched quite a bit on the topic and the curriculum requirements are very similar. Other than the obvious such as the size of the student body etc., what are the finer differences between an art school such as RISD and a university like NYU with a renowned art program? (And I am talking visual arts.) I love art but I don’t know if a small, specialized art college is right for me. Anyone have some information regarding this?

Best answer:

Answer by bogz89
For both undergrad and grad school, RISD is considered the best art school in the nation and one of the best in the world. It’s heavily focused on fine arts and design, although they do have other departments like liberal arts, maths and sciences (some majors are very math and science focused, like architecture and industrial design). They are located right next to Brown University (an ivy) and RISD students get to take classes there too. RISD takes an almost bauhaus approach to arts and design – not in style, but in educational technique: lots of time in studio and workshop, with some theory thrown in and in-class instructional time as well. Students really need to be devoted to go to RISD. Their freshman foundation year is considered the most challenging 1st year at any college (whether art school or big university) in the US.

NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts program is only for graduate students (they offer an MA and a PhD). The Steinhardt School at NYU has studio arts BFA program for undergrads. It’s not as famous as RISD’s program, but NYU has the advantage of being in a big city, and you have access to classes in the other schools of NYU. Their program emphasizes concurrent enrollment in the liberal arts, bringing theory in to your practice.

If you can arrange visits at both schools, I’m sure you will notice the differences. One striking difference is space – New York is very crowded, while Providence is not. As a result, RISD students have the advantage of lots of studio space. But NYU students have the advantage of a busy city. That’s not to say you need to be in NYC to “make it” in art. Because RISD (and other smaller, specialized schools) are so small and focused on their art programs, there are lots of opportunities to show your work and connect with professionals through the school. NYC and NYU can be a struggle for attention.

You should talk to the students directly too. They’ll probably be the most helpful in making a decision.

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