The art of creating visual patterns on a surface using a brush is as old as time itself. From the earliest cave drawings in Spain to Pablo Picasso, the history of painting is filled with great artists and artworks.

Fortunately, there are a number of institutes around the world that offer degree programs in painting. These schools will nurture your talent and train you in any of the traditional painting techniques like oil painting and acrylic painting, and even expose you to recently invented forms of digital painting.

If you have an interest in and aptitude for painting, get your portfolio ready and consider applying to one of the seven universities on this list!

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Top Painting Schools

1. Royal College of Art

The Royal College of Art is the epitome of a prestigious art and painting school in the world. Founded in 1837 as the Government School of Design, it has a rich history that includes students like Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, Henry Moore, Alan Rickman, and Ridley Scott.

RCA exclusively offers postgraduate programs. Its Master of Arts in Painting is one of the best studio-based programs in the world. Its alumni regularly find employment in creative industries due to the networking opportunities offered by the program, which is a huge plus when it comes to fine arts schools.

At RCA, students are also encouraged to think about their art not in a vacuum, but as part of a broader tradition. As a student, you won’t just be painting, but also learning about the social and cultural impact of your work.

2. University of the Arts London

The University of the Arts London is one of the largest institutes dedicated to arts and design in the world, being made up of six distinct colleges. It offers a wide range of programs that cater to a variety of interests.

At the undergraduate level, students can take their BA in Fine Art: Painting. This program is offered by the Camberwell College of Arts and provides an introduction to multiple painting styles. At the graduate level, UAL offers more general master’s programs in fine arts through several of its colleges.

UAL is driven by the philosophy of art as a medium for changing the world. It’s no surprise, then, that its students regularly produce innovative paintings with a strong social context.

3. Parsons School of Design

When it comes to North America, the Parsons School of Design is the top destination in the world for anyone looking for a fine arts education. Located at the heart of New York City, which is arguably the creative capital of the world, students are surrounded by art galleries, museums, and myriad other art establishments.

While Parsons does not offer a dedicated painting program, students can study fine arts at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. These programs teach students how to both create and understand works of art.

As far as careers as an artist go, there aren’t many better places to start than a top school in New York City.

4. Rhode Island School of Design

The Rhode Island School of Design is another excellent painting school across the globe located in the US. What sets it apart from Parsons are its painting-specific programs: RISD offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in painting. Here, your talent will be nurtured by a team of experienced teachers who will give you the freedom to explore your interests.

RISD was founded in 1877 to increase access to education in the arts among women. The university has stayed true to its principles, so you can be sure to find a welcoming and supportive environment here, whatever your background.

5. School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is another top school for painting in the world that offers one of the most educational experiences out there. As an undergraduate student, you do not have to declare a major, which gives you the freedom to explore different areas of the arts. At the graduate level, aspiring painters usually go for the Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts. This program is studio-based and gives students the space to find inspiration while being mentored by the SAIC’s world-class faculty.

As an aspiring painter, you’ll work with the Department of Painting and Drawing. The department’s philosophy combines a respect for tradition with the bravery to experiment. Painters at the SAIC regularly have their work featured in galleries all over the world.

6. The Glasgow School of Art

Located in one of the cultural capitals of the world, the Glasgow School of Art is one of Europe’s premier institutes of the arts. What makes this school unique are its PhD programs, which include one in fine arts. This is perfect for those who want to study art from an academic perspective or who’d like to teach art in the future.

At the undergraduate level, the GSA offers a Bachelor of Fine Art with a wide range of potential specializations. One of these is Painting and Printmaking, which is what you’ll be interested in if you want to be a painter. The school also offers a Master of Fine Art program.

7. Pratt Institute

The Pratt Institute offers world-class fine arts programs at both the undergraduate and graduate through its School of Art. A Pratt education provides students a personalized experience that allows them to explore their unique interests and skillsets. While Pratt doesn’t offer specific degrees in painting, the fine art programs here are extremely flexible.

While studying fine arts at Pratt, you’ll have the opportunity to take science and liberal arts. This is because the university believes that artists should know more than how to make art. The Pratt Institute believes that students should be aware of how their works fit into the history of their field and of their impact on society.


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