Is Art and Design School Really Worth It?

The Economy

Art and design is a rapidly growing sector that has a significant impact on our economy and has played a critical role in innovation and start-up culture. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics reports (May 2018), there are currently more than 5 million people employed directly in art and design occupations across multiple industries. Many of the products and services we use every day were initially the idea of an artist or designer. Everything from the Swiffer to the original Mazda Miata was created and designed by a graduate of an art and design college. Airbnb, a company that changed how we approach finding travel accommodations, was created by two design graduates. And, of course, every building begins as an architect’s drawing, every piece of furniture begins as a design sketch, every piece of clothing the idea of a fashion designer. Art and design surround us and are integral to our economy.

The Workplace

Creativity and innovation are the buzzwords of nearly all industries today. The ability to think creatively, problem-solve and innovate are essential skills in today’s workplace. According to a recent study by The Conference Board, creativity and innovation are among the top-five skills employers list that will continue to increase in importance.

Similarly, in a study done by IBM, 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries were polled on what drives them in managing their companies in today's world. Those polled listed creativity as the most important leadership quality for success in business.

The Training

Through learning by making, through engaging in a rigorous and focused track of study with like-minded mentors and peers, through research, and through creative play and risk-taking, students in art and design colleges learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills which prepare them for the workforce and for the creative careers of today and the future.

"Our students, regardless of their choice of major, engage in project-based learning. They learn through making. They learn integrative team-based thinking and how to build their ideas through iterative, progressive modeling. They gain empathy and an appreciation of how different disciplines bring distinct approaches to solving complex real-world problems. They learn to focus their creative ideas and to make art that matters--not just within the boundaries of our campus, but also out in the world." - Stephen Beal, President, California College of the Arts, in an article appearing in Huffpost College entitled The Art School Brand: Something in the Way We Teach.

The Success

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, a national survey of 92,000 alumni administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, paints a positive picture of the prospects for success with an art and design degree. Survey results have shown high job satisfaction and involvement in the arts well past graduation. In a special analysis, AICAD alumni were shown to be more likely to pursue, achieve, and maintain a career in the arts after graduation, and their first job is more likely to be closely related to their education than other arts graduates. Graduates of art and design colleges go on to lead productive, fulfilling lives, contributing to their local communities and society at large.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

SNAAP data also indicated that AICAD alumni tend to demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit with over 50% of AICAD respondents reporting that they are self-employed.

The Creative Network

AICAD alumni place great professional value on the networks they developed at college, specifically, classmates, alumni, and guest artists. Students studying at AICAD schools graduate into a vast alumni network - a global community of like-minded mentors and peers which they are part of for the rest of their lives.