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2021 Best Visual & Performing Arts Colleges for Non-Traditional Students

413 Colleges
94,501 Bachelor's Degrees
$34,951 Avg Cost*

Finding the Best Visual & Performing Arts Schools for Non-Traditional Students

Best Visual & Performing Arts Colleges for Non-Traditional StudentsIn 2018-2019, 94,501 visual and performing arts students received their bachelor's degrees, making the major the 8th most popular in the country.

This year's Best Visual & Performing Arts Colleges for Non-Traditional Students ranking analyzed 413 colleges that offered a bachelor's degree in visual and performing arts. This ranking identifies schools with high-quality visual and performing arts programs as well as strong support for students classified as non-traditional.

Some of the factors we look at when determining these rankings are overall quality of the visual and performing arts program at the school, affordability, and non-traditional population. See our ranking methodology to learn more.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Since the program you select can have a significant impact on your future, we've developed a number of rankings, including this Best Visual & Performing Arts Schools for Non-Traditional Students list, to help you choose the best school for you.

In addition to College Factual's rankings, you may want to take a look at College Combat, our unique tool that lets you pit your favorite schools head-to-head and compare how they rate on factors that most interest you. Test it out when you get a chance! You may also want to bookmark the link and share it with others who are trying to make the college decision.

2021 Best Visual & Performing Arts Schools for Non-Traditional Students in the United States

The colleges and universities below are the best for non-traditional students studying visual and performing arts.

Top 25 Visual & Performing Arts Schools for Non-Traditional Students

#1

The New School

New York, NY

The New School tops the 2021 list of our schools in the United States that are best for non-traditional visual and performing arts students. Located in the large city of New York, New School University is a private not-for-profit school with a fairly large student population. New School University excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list.

About 5.3% of New School University students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. Approximately 899 students take at least one class online at New School University. 1,304 students are part time. New School University does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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The #2 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Rutgers University - New Brunswick. Rutgers New Brunswick is a very large public school located in the small city of New Brunswick. Rutgers New Brunswick also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list. It's in the top 5% of all schools in this category.

The student loan default rate at Rutgers New Brunswick is lower than is typical, just 3.8% of students default in three years. There are approximately 10,368 students at Rutgers New Brunswick that take at least one class online. 7,501 students are part time. Rutgers New Brunswick does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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University of Southern California landed the #3 spot in our 2021 best visual and performing arts schools for non-traditional students. USC is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the city of Los Angeles. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, USC also is in the top 5% of our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts ranking.

The student loan default rate at USC is lower than is typical, just 1.6% of students default in three years. 6,707 of USC students are exclusively distance learners. 6,358 students are part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#4

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Florida State University comes in at #4 in this year's ranking. Florida State is a very large public school located in the midsize city of Tallahassee. Florida State excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list.

About 2.4% of Florida State students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. There are approximately 14,515 students at Florida State that take at least one class online. About 6,270 of the students at Florida State are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#5

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

University of Utah comes in at #5 in this year's ranking. U of U is a very large public school located in the city of Salt Lake City. U of U excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 2.7%. There are approximately 9,847 students at U of U that take at least one class online. 8,158 of U of U students are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#6

New York University

New York, NY

New York University comes in at #6 in this year's ranking. Located in the city of New York, NYU is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly large student population. In addition to being on our bet for non-traditional students list, NYU is in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list.

The student loan default rate at NYU is lower than is typical, just 2.2% of students default in three years. There are approximately 2,264 students at NYU that take at least one class online. There are roughly 8,707 part time students in attendance at NYU.

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Illinois State University earned the #7 spot in our 2021 rankings. Illinois State is a very large public school located in the medium-sized suburb of Normal. Illinois State excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 3.9%. Approximately 3,895 students take at least one class online at Illinois State. There are roughly 2,428 part time students in attendance at Illinois State. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#8

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA

Our rankings recognize George Mason University as the #8 school in this year's rankings. GMU is a very large public school located in the large suburb of Fairfax. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, GMU also is in the top 15% of our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts ranking.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 2.1%. There are approximately 10,589 students at GMU that take at least one class online. 11,606 of GMU students are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Indiana University - Bloomington comes in at #9 in this year's ranking. IU Bloomington is a very large public school located in the small city of Bloomington. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, IU Bloomington also did well on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list. It's in the top 10% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

The student loan default rate at IU Bloomington is lower than is typical, just 3.6% of students default in three years. There are approximately 5,026 students at IU Bloomington that take at least one class online. About 5,192 of the students at IU Bloomington are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#10

Emerson College

Boston, MA

The #10 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Emerson College. Emerson is a small private not-for-profit school located in the city of Boston. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, Emerson also did well on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list. It's in the top 5% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 1.8%. 85 students at Emerson are exclusively online. 166 students are part time. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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The #11 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU is a very large public school located in the medium-sized city of Richmond. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, VCU also did well on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list. It's in the top 10% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

About 4.1% of VCU students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. Approximately 8,072 students take at least one class online at VCU. 5,396 of VCU students are attending part time. VCU does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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#12

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

University of Florida comes in at #12 in this year's ranking. Located in the medium-sized city of Gainesville, UF is a public school with a fairly large student population. UF excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list.

The student loan default rate at UF is lower than is typical, just 1.5% of students default in three years. There are approximately 21,513 students at UF that take at least one class online. 8,083 of UF students are attending part time. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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University of Nevada - Las Vegas comes in at #13 in this year's ranking. Located in the midsize city of Las Vegas, UNLV is a public school with a fairly large student population. UNLV also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list. It's in the top 20% of all schools in this category.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 6.5%. There are approximately 11,188 students at UNLV that take at least one class online. 8,916 students are part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Our rankings recognize Columbia University in the City of New York as the #14 school in this year's rankings. Columbia is a very large private not-for-profit school located in the large city of New York. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, Columbia also is in the top 5% of our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts ranking.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 1.8%. Approximately 1,138 students take at least one class online at Columbia. 5,005 of Columbia students are attending part time.

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#15

Belmont University

Nashville, TN

Belmont University comes in at #15 in this year's ranking. Located in the city of Nashville, Belmont is a private not-for-profit school with a medium-sized student population. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, Belmont also is in the top 10% of our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts ranking.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 2.4%. Approximately 1,856 students take at least one class online at Belmont. 739 of Belmont students are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#16

San Francisco State University

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco State University landed the #16 spot in our 2021 best visual and performing arts schools for non-traditional students. SFSU is a very large public school located in the city of San Francisco.

The student loan default rate at SFSU is lower than is typical, just 5.3% of students default in three years. Approximately 10,593 students take at least one class online at SFSU. There are roughly 5,592 part time students in attendance at SFSU. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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#17

University of Houston

Houston, TX

The #17 spot in this year's ranking belongs to University of Houston. UH is a very large public school located in the large city of Houston. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, UH also is in the top 10% of our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts ranking.

The student loan default rate at UH is lower than is typical, just 3.1% of students default in three years. Approximately 16,613 students take at least one class online at UH. There are roughly 12,716 part time students in attendance at UH. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Our rankings recognize University of Minnesota - Twin Cities as the #18 school in this year's rankings. UMN Twin Cities is a very large public school located in the large city of Minneapolis. In addition to being on our bet for non-traditional students list, UMN Twin Cities is in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list.

The student loan default rate at UMN Twin Cities is lower than is typical, just 2.2% of students default in three years. Approximately 13,571 students take at least one class online at UMN Twin Cities. 10,971 students are part time. UMN Twin Cities does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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#19

Columbia College Chicago

Chicago, IL

Our rankings recognize Columbia College Chicago as the #19 school in this year's rankings. Located in the large city of Chicago, Columbia is a private not-for-profit college with a moderately-sized student population. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, Columbia also did well on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list. It's in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

546 of Columbia students are attending part time. Columbia does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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#20

Academy of Art University

San Francisco, CA

The #20 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Academy of Art University. Academy of Art University is a medium-sized private for-profit school located in the large city of San Francisco.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 5.8%. 4,070 of Academy of Art University students are exclusively distance learners. 4,441 students are part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Fashion Institute of Technology landed the #21 spot in our 2021 best visual and performing arts schools for non-traditional students. FIT SUNY is a medium-sized public school located in the large city of New York. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, FIT SUNY also did well on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list. It's in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

About 4.3% of FIT SUNY students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. There are approximately 2,451 students at FIT SUNY that take at least one class online. There are roughly 1,361 part time students in attendance at FIT SUNY. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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#22

Purchase College

Purchase, NY

The #22 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Purchase College. Purchase College is a small public school located in the suburb of Purchase. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, Purchase College also is in the top 15% of our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts ranking.

About 6.1% of Purchase College students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. Approximately 47 students take at least one class online at Purchase College. 376 students are part time. Purchase College does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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The #23 spot in this year's ranking belongs to University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. Located in the medium-sized city of Ann Arbor, U-M is a public college with a fairly large student population. In addition to being on our bet for non-traditional students list, U-M is in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list.

The student loan default rate at U-M is lower than is typical, just 1.1% of students default in three years. There are approximately 487 students at U-M that take at least one class online. There are roughly 2,376 part time students in attendance at U-M. U-M does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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The #24 spot in this year's ranking belongs to California State University - Fullerton. Located in the suburb of Fullerton, Cal State Fullerton is a public school with a very large student population.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 2.6%. Approximately 12,133 students take at least one class online at Cal State Fullerton. There are roughly 9,948 part time students in attendance at Cal State Fullerton. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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The #25 spot in this year's ranking belongs to California State University - Long Beach. Located in the city of Long Beach, CSULB is a public college with a very large student population. CSULB excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 20% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Visual & Performing Arts list.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 2.3%. There are approximately 10,391 students at CSULB that take at least one class online. 6,387 students are part time. CSULB does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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Rest of the Top Schools for Best Visual & Performing Arts Colleges for Non-Traditional Students

#26

Loyola Marymount University

Los Angeles, CA
#27

San Jose State University

San Jose, CA
#32

University of Virginia - Main Campus

Charlottesville, VA
#34

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX
#35

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA
#36

Towson University

Towson, MD
#37

San Diego State University

San Diego, CA
#39

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, VA
#40

Syracuse University

Syracuse, NY
#43

Ball State University

Muncie, IN
#44

Chapman University

Orange, CA
#49

DePaul University

Chicago, IL

Remaining Award Winners

This list represents the remainder of the colleges awarded a Best Visual & Performing Arts Colleges for Non-Traditional Students badge. Showing in this list means the college was ranked in the top 15% of the 413 different United States visual and performing arts schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 Stephen F Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX
52 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
53 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
54 Southern Methodist University Dallas, TX
55 Temple University Philadelphia, PA
56 Oklahoma City University Oklahoma City, OK
57 California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA
58 Montclair State University Montclair, NJ
59 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ
60 Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus, OH
61 University of Washington - Seattle Campus Seattle, WA

Additional Noteworthy Schools

These are some additional schools worth mentioning that are also great but just didn't quite make the cut to earn our top Best Visual & Performing Arts Colleges for Non-Traditional Students award.

Rank College Location
62 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
63 University of Oregon Eugene, OR
64 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
65 University of California - Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA
66 University of Colorado Boulder Boulder, CO
67 Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN
68 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
69 Pace University - New York New York, NY
70 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rouge, LA
71 Texas State University San Marcos, TX
72 University of Wisconsin - Whitewater Whitewater, WI
73 Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY
74 University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia, MO
75 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
76 Bowling Green State University - Main Campus Bowling Green, OH
77 University of Georgia Athens, GA
78 California State University - Northridge Northridge, CA
79 University of Maryland - College Park College Park, MD
80 Marymount Manhattan College New York, NY
81 Cornell University Ithaca, NY
82 Colorado State University - Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO

Visual & Performing Arts by Region

View the best for non-traditional students Visual & Performing Arts colleges in a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

Visual & Performing Arts Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Fine & Studio Arts 33,643
Design & Applied Arts 29,541
Music 25,623
Drama & Theater Arts 16,329
Film, Video & Photographic Arts 14,870

View All Visual & Performing Arts Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 458,966
English Language & Literature 55,609
Foreign Languages & Linguistics 31,173
Theology & Religious Vocations 29,245
Philosophy & Religious Studies 15,993

View All Visual & Performing Arts Related Majors >

Notes and References

Footnotes

*Avg Cost is for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Veteran-specific data can be found at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to Bonnielou2013.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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