14 Top Places to Study Abroad for Art & Art History

Last updated on July 19th, 2023 at 12:06 pm

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Top places to study abroad for art & art history

Whether you study fine art history, design, digital arts, or studio arts, study abroad art programs can give you a unique opportunity to learn more things, gain new inspiration, and have transformative life experiences all at the same time.

When doing the research for this piece on where to study art and art history abroad, our team at Remitly found hundreds of options. These include study abroad art programs organized by home colleges strictly for their students, programs at global colleges and universities that accept international students, and programs provided by third-party institutions.

With so many options available, choosing a place and program to study art abroad may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. To simplify the decision-making process, we created this guide to some of the best locations in the world for studying art, design, and art history, and for each location, we identify one or two art study abroad programs for you to consider in that city.

For the purposes of this guide, we focus only on global university and third-party study abroad programs, as ones sponsored by universities for their students aren’t open to all. However, if you do plan to study art or art history abroad and are currently enrolled at a college or university, it’s a good idea to check with your school’s study abroad office to learn about other opportunities.

Top places to study art and design

Generally, the best study abroad programs for art and design are those at global universities that consistently earn top marks for their programs. Read on to discover cities around the world that are home to top art schools that accept international students.

London, UK

School(s)/program(s) to consider: Royal Academy of Art, University of Arts London

Home to more than 1,500 art galleries and prestigious art institutions like The British Museum, the National Gallery, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London offers plenty of inspiration for budding artists.

London is also the location of two of the best art schools in the world: the Royal Academy of Art (RCA) and the University of Arts London (UAL).

With the Royal Academy of Art study abroad program, international students can study applied arts, architecture, business, communications, contemporary art, curating, design, environment, fashion, film-making, fine arts, graphic design, illustration, industrial and product design, and textiles.

UAL offers programs in accessories design, animation and film, architecture and interior design, business, ceramics, curation, fashion, film design, fine arts, graphic design, illustration, journalism, photography, textiles, theater, and three-dimensional design.

Learn more: Studying Abroad in the UK: A Complete Guide

New York City, NY

New York

School(s)/program(s) to consider: Parsons School of Design at The New School

New York City is an art and fashion mecca and a great place to study abroad as a result. One of the top art schools in the world, the Parsons School of Design at The New School, offers programs in architectural design, business management, communication design, design history, fashion design, fine arts, illustration, integrated design, interior design, and photography.

In between classes, you can immerse yourself in both classic and contemporary art by visiting some of New York City’s more than 1,400 galleries and top museums like The Met and MOMA.

Learn more: Studying Abroad in the U.S.: 14 Things You Need to Know

Milan, Italy

School(s)/program(s) to consider: Politecnico di Milano

Milan is an excellent study-abroad destination for those striving toward a career in design. The city is home to top fashion brands like Missoni, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and some of Europe’s top product and interior design firms. You can also find inspiration at museums like the Galleria d’Arte Moderna Milano and Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea.

As for your studies, the Politecnico di Milano offers programs in architecture, communication, fashion, interior design, and product design and is consistently ranked among the top 10 art schools in the world.

Espoo, Finland

School(s)/program(s) to consider: Aalto University

Artists hoping to study abroad outside a larger city should look at Espoo, Finland. With a population of around 305,000, Espoo is smaller than the other cities on this list, but it still has a thriving arts scene with great art museums like the Espoo Museum of Modern Art and the Gallen-Kallela Museum.

The big draw for Espoo, though, is Aalto University, one of the most affordable art schools in Europe and one of the top schools for studying art in the world. The school offers dozens of programs in animation, art, design, and film-making and is a popular place for international students to study.

Chicago, IL

School(s)/program(s) to consider: School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For artists and art lovers, Chicago is known for its prestigious Art Institute museum. In addition to drawing inspiration from works at the institution, you can also take courses at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There are more than 40 programs to choose from, including some less-frequently taught subjects like historic preservation, art therapy, and social media design.

The Art Institute isn’t the only place to experience art in the U.S.’s third-largest city. Chicago also has four distinct art districts, each offering unique galleries and performance spaces for you to discover.

Top places to study abroad for art & art history

Shanghai, China

School(s)/program(s) to consider: Tongji University

Shanghai is a major cultural center in China, home to unique art institutions like the Power Station of Art, located in a repurposed power plant, and the Fosun Foundation Shanghai in the Bund Finance Center, which produces music with massive bronze pipes.

The city is also a top destination for art students hoping to study animation, film-making, and graphic design for advertising due to the presence of Tongji University. The school’s College of Arts and Media accepts international students and offers some courses in English.

Sydney, Australia

School(s)/program(s) to consider: University of Technology Sydney

With many commercial galleries and museums like the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney is sure to spark your artistic interests. Australia is also known for being especially welcoming to international students, with colleges and universities in the country enrolling more than 619,000 foreigners in 2022 alone.

Sydney is an especially ideal location for students of architecture and design because it’s the location of the University of Technology Sydney, one of the top-ranked design schools in the world. You can choose from an array of programs that culminate in a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and certificates.

Learn more: Studying Abroad in Australia: A Complete Guide

Top places to study art history

There’s no substitute for seeing the art you study in class in real life, so studying abroad in a city that corresponds with your art history concentration or specialty is a great idea. We selected the following cities as some of the best places to choose for an art history study abroad semester or year because of the quality of programs available and their proximity to important works of art for specific art history periods.

Selianitika, Greece

School(s)/program(s) to consider: The Paideia Institute

If you’re passionate about classical art, studying in Greece for a semester or year will allow you to gain a new appreciation for Hellenistic sculptures, handicrafts, and architecture.

Based in Selianitika, Paideia Institute’s program lets you build your Greek language skills to benefit your studies and explores the art and culture of Ancient Greece. Its location on the north coast of the Peloponnese also makes it a good starting point for tours of Ancient Greek ruins throughout Greece.

Florence, Italy

School(s)/program(s) to consider: Florence University of the Arts

Home to Brunelleschi’s magnificent Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallery, and the Bargello National Museum, Florence brings the Italian Renaissance to life for art history students, and the Florence University of the Arts study abroad program offerings allow you to learn more about the art of the time in between seeing the sites.

The university offers a variety of study abroad options, including semester and year-long, quarter, and three-week intensive options. Most programs include a Field Learning course that takes you into the heart of Florence to learn about the city’s art and architecture and the artists who created it all.

Top places to study abroad for art & art history

Paris, France

School(s)/program(s) to consider: CEA CAPA Paris Study Abroad Programs

Much of the story of Western art of the 19th and early 20th centuries unfolded in Paris, and you can still see many of the most influential works from the period at Parisian museums like the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Musée de l’Orangerie.

While there are many Paris study abroad programs in a variety of subjects, the 19th Century Art: Impressionism & Post Impressionism program through CEA CAPA Education Abroad stands out for art history students. It takes students through the collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works on display in Paris and examines works by key artists like Cezanne, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh.

Learn more: Studying Abroad in France: A Complete Guide

Utrecht, Netherlands

School(s)/program(s) to consider: Utrecht University

For art history students interested in the Northern Renaissance or Dutch Old Masters, Utrecht University offers a variety of classes and a master’s degree in the art history program that includes coursework on both Dutch and global art. The latter culminates in an internship, giving students the opportunity to gain work experience at one of the city’s many museums, like the Centraal Museum or Museum Speelklok, and at other locations.

Less than an hour from Amsterdam by train, Utrecht also provides easy access to the Rembrandt House and the Rijksmuseum, where some of the most important works by Dutch artists are on display.

Tokyo, Japan

School(s)/program(s) to consider: Tokyo University of the Arts

Studying abroad in Japan’s capital city gives you a chance to learn more about Japanese art from the contemporary period through ancient times. The city boasts dozens of art museums, including the Mori Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the Sumida Hokusai Museum, and the Nezu Museum.

In addition, Tokyo is home to one of the top schools for aesthetics and art history in Asia, Tokyo Arts University. The university’s Department of Japanese and Asian Art History offers a variety of courses, and international students can choose to study there for a semester, a year, or the duration of an entire program.

Cusco, Peru

School(s)/program(s) to consider: ISA in Cusco

Close to the Machu Picchu UNESCO World Heritage site, Cusco is a popular place for anthropology and archaeology students to study abroad. It’s also an equally ideal location for future art historians interested in learning more about pre-Columbian art. In fact, you’ll find 400 examples of it on display at the city’s Museum of Pre-Columbian Art.

ISA’s Language, Literature, & Culture study abroad program in Cusco gives you the opportunity to put the artwork into context by learning more about the history of the Incan people and modern-day Peru. The program lasts for one semester and is usually offered every fall and spring.

Cape Town, South Africa

School(s)/program(s) to consider: CIEE in Cape Town

Studying abroad in Cape Town gives you the opportunity to view the collections of some of the top African art museums in the world, like Zeitz MOCAA and the South African National Gallery. Cape Town is also home to a thriving arts scene with many commercial galleries so that you can experience the works of contemporary South African creators during your stay.

For your coursework, CIEE in Cape Town is an excellent choice, partnering with the University of Cape Town to give international students access to a course catalog that includes dozens of classes related to art and history. You can also opt for an independent study course and spend a semester researching African art during your study abroad experience through CIEE.

Can you get a scholarship to study art or art history abroad?

Scholarships are available to help cover the cost of studying abroad. They include needs-based awards for people with demonstrated financial need and merit-based scholarships given to people who show evidence of academic excellence, such as a high GPA or previously having their research published. Some scholarship programs are reserved for people studying specific subjects or individuals who belong to a certain minority group.

For U.S. college students and international students hoping to study in the United States, the U.S. Department of Labor offers a handy search tool that can help you find study-abroad scholarships. In addition, scholarships may also be available through the international university or third-party program provider offering an art study abroad program.

What kind of visa do you need to study abroad?

The kind of visa that you’ll need to participate in art and art history study abroad programs depends on which country you’re a citizen of and where you wish to study. Most countries have international student visa programs for students pursuing degrees or taking courses, but the requirements for these visas vary greatly.

To learn about student visa eligibility rules and begin the application process, contact an embassy or consulate office for your destination country. For a complete list of foreign embassies in the U.S., click here, or click here to find foreign embassies in Canada.

Find the right study abroad program for you

The cities listed above are some of the top destinations for studying art, design, and art history abroad, and there are many other places in the world that you can go to further your studies while immersing yourself in a new culture. To choose the right program for you, consider your career goals and interests as your research opportunities.

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