I know that most question in this community refer to (natural or engineering) sciences. This question is concerned with the quality of higher education in the field of arts though, I hope it is on topic here.

My question goes along the lines of "What is the proper way to judge the quality of education of a university?". It is different from the question linked in that art schools have to be judged by looking at different metrics.
In user6726's answer to the question linked above, they state:

[...] If students from institute X stumble more over questions at conferences compared to those from institute Y, or if they publish in lesser venues, or produce less-solid papers (more errors, more failures to think a problem through), then you can conclude either that Y attracts better students or that Y does a better job of training students than X [...].

Former students of an university of arts will not attend conferences as often as graduates from other fields, and rarely publish papers at all. While it is true that a university of art's value for a student's career is heavily dependent on the reputation of that university, this is not limited to the field of arts. Additionally, the reputation of an educational institution can be difficult to assess, if one is not in the same place and get hands-on experience there.

What should be considered when judging a university of arts, if one considers to study there? This should be applicable to both undergrad and postgrad programmes.

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    Are you talking: Arts in general; fine arts; performing arts; or any more detail in particular? (In general I expect that there will be some analog to conferences/papers, such as exhibits, public-arts grants, performance roles, etc. -- much as is the case for tenure procedures.) Mar 25, 2018 at 13:24
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    @DanielR.Collins Sorry if my vocabulary is mixed up. I'm talking fine arts (painting, sculpting..), illustration, and design (product, graphic, fashion...). What term would represent those better?
    – Orphevs
    Mar 25, 2018 at 13:35
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    So replace « conferences » with exhibitions... ie how many graduates run exhibitions? How many exhibit in exhibitions? How many graduates have exhibitions dedicated to their own work exclusively?
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 25, 2018 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


Graduation rate, and time to graduation. A school with a graduation rate of 50% is not a good thing. Nor is a school with average time to bachelors degree of 6 years. Historically, the 'rejection rate' of students applying has also been a sign of school quality, although many schools (Harvard, etc) now game this by providing free or reduced priced applications so as to raise this rate. They also market like mad, so they can pocket your admission fee...

  • Further, what percentage of graduates are employed in, say, six months (in art-related fields, and in general)? And how do graduates' starting salary compares to their student debt? May 8, 2018 at 21:06
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    Is graduation rate really a reliable proxy for quality? It seems to me that it isn't, at least not on its own. On one extreme you have great but challenging programs with high drop-out rates, and on the other hand diploma mills, which presumably have close to 100% graduation rates. (Although a school with a great program but low graduation rates certainly might want to rethink how they structure things.)
    – Anyon
    May 8, 2018 at 21:33
  • @Anyon: Yes, to a reasonable degree. Better schools attract better students--better prepared, with more 'grit', who are more likely to complete, and complete on time.
    – Mox
    May 8, 2018 at 23:26
  • @cactus_pardner: These are also good information; good luck finding it in compiled form.
    – Mox
    May 8, 2018 at 23:40
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    Luckily, the U.S. now collects and publishes some of the relevant data. (The salary data is the median for students who had federal financial aid, 10 years after graduating; they probably use tax records to get this information.) Here are the College Scorecards for Visual & Performing Arts programs at Private, For-Profit colleges. (Though they use the typical measure of graduation rate: what percentage graduate in 150% of the stated time.) May 9, 2018 at 0:03

Did you tell what you want to do with your degree? Think this through. Then ask the admissions office in schools that you are considering to please refer you to some recent alumni who might be willing to exchange a few emails with you. Ask those former students what they thought of the program and how it enabled them for the work they have chosen.

All the other metrics make sense and are reasonable, but unless you know what you'd like to do upon graduation, the measures of a quality education might not answer your question.

Finally, I'm an artist and I suggest that you look critically at the quality of instruction in drawing. Other fine art courses will stem from the drawing courses, so pay particular attention to drawing and you should be able to build your skills well.

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