August 14, 2018

Study Finds Favorable Outlook for Growth in U.S. Art Schools

NEW YORK—Despite a negative outlook for higher education nationwide, Moody’s Investor Service, the bond credit rating agency, has issued stable or favorable ratings for eight private art schools in the United States, Amanda Albright and Sophie Alexander report for Bloomberg. The report is based on a study by the Association of Independent of Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) that found that art school enrollment fell only four percent as the American high school graduate population remained flat between 2006 and 2016. Enrollment in colleges in universities declined six percent during the same period, and in December 2017, Moody’s downgraded investment in higher education from stable to negative.

“Artists and designers are happier and have more life satisfaction because they are doing something that they are passionate about, that they love, and oh, by the way, they are also making money,” said Minneapolis College of Art and Design vice president of enrollment management Melissa Huybrecht.

Art schools stemmed the decline thanks to niche programs like animation and car design, which lead to higher-paying jobs after graduation. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary in the art and design sector in 2017 was $45,250, compared to $37,690 for the nationwide workforce.

Pacific Northwest College of Art, for example, will offer programs in coding and other high-demand, technology-affiliated fields. The school will welcome its largest incoming class this academic year and plans to increase enrollment from 600 to 1,000 students. “We paid a lot of attention to how do you take great creativity and apply it to the larger world. Some liberal arts schools didn’t pay attention to that enough” PNCA president Don Tuski said.

Private and public universities have recently expanded their art and design programs to attract potential students to their campuses while offering more competitive tuition rates than art schools. Despite this, enrollment at art schools like the Rhode Island School of Design have held steady on the strength of internship opportunities and career training.

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