Top Art & Design Schools in 2021

Top Art & Design Schools in 2021

Released today, the HCD World University Rankings by Subject features 200 of the best schools for art and design across the globe.

The QS Rankings by Subject are based on four indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper and the H-index (a way of measuring the productivity and published work of a scientist or scholar). You can find more details about the methodology behind the subject rankings here. The weightings of certain indicators vary by subject, with art and design assessed based solely on academic reputation and employer reputation.

Read on to learn more about the best art and design schools in each region. Alternatively, if you would like to explore the top art and design schools further, click here to view the full table.

Top 10 Universities for Art & Design in the World

Based on the HCD World University Rankings by Subject 2021


Name of Institution



Royal College of Art

United Kingdom


The Institute of Human-Centered Design

United Kingdom


Parsons School of Design at The New School

United States


Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

United States


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

United States


University of the Arts London



Aalto University



Glasgow School of Art (GSA)

United Kingdom


School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

United States


Pratt Institute

United States

See the full ranking for art and design schools here >

Top universities for art and design in the US & Canada

An impressive 39 schools in the US feature in the art and design rankings, as well as eight schools in Canada. The top ten is comprised of five US Art & Design schools, three British ones, and Italy’s Politecnico di Milano and Finland’s Aalto University - the highest position achieved by any Finnish institution across the 48 subject tables.

Outside of the top 10, other highly ranked US schools include California’s Art Center College of Design (12th place), Stanford University (16th) and Carnegie Mellon University (17th).

Heading north, Canada has one entrant in the top 50 this year, the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, who climb up the rankings from 51-100 to rank joint 40th. Other notable art and design schools in Canada include Concordia University and University of British Columbia (both ranked 51-100).

Top universities for art and design in Europe

There are 81 top European art schools featured in the ranking, including 18 in the global top 50. The United Kingdom is the most well-represented country in Europe, with 27 programs in the rankings. Outside of the top 10, notable institutions in the UK include Goldsmiths, University of London (in 14th place), Loughborough University (24th), University of Oxford (joint 30th) and University College London (UCL, joint 46th).

Outside of the UK, Spain is the most well-represented country in Europe, with 8 schools in the rankings. However, no Spanish schools make it into the top 50 – the country’s highest ranked institutions are Universitat de Barcelona (UB) and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, both ranked at 51-100. This marks a leap in the rankings for UB, however, who were ranked at 101-150 last year.

Whilst there are no French schools in the top 10, two make it into the top 50, with École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle, ENSCI Les Ateliers taking 22nd place and Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs (ENSAD) in 27th. Also, with two entrants in the top 50 is Sweden, with Umeå University in 26th and Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design rising to 33rd place this year. 

Other notable European institutions in the global top 50 for art and design include the Netherlands’ Design Academy Eindhoven (18th place), The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts - The School of Design (21st), Universität der Knste Berlin (joint 40th), Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK, 45th) and Italy’s Politecnico di Torino in 50th.

Top universities for art and design in Australia & New Zealand

In total, 13 Australian art and design schools are featured in the rankings, plus four schools in New Zealand. New Zealand’s highest ranked program is at Massey University, which comes in at 51-100.

Australia has an impressive five schools in the global top 50, with RMIT University the highest ranked in 11th place. Also featured in the top 50 are the University of Technology Sydney (UTS, 23rd place); Swinburne University of Technology (43rd); The University of New South Wales (UNSW, 48th) and The University of Melbourne (49th). 

Top universities for art and design in Asia

Asian universities performed well in the art and design rankings – out of 42 ranked universities in the region, seven made it into the global top 50. Mainland China takes the crown for the highest ranked Asian institution, with Tongji University taking 13th place. Two other Chinese universities are in the top 50 - Tsinghua University (19th) and China Central Academy of Fine Arts in joint 28th.

Elsewhere in the global top 50, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University came in 15th place globally, the only art school in Hong Kong to make it into the top 50. Singapore had two entrants into the rankings, and, impressively, both made it into the global top 50, with the National University of Singapore (NUS) in joint 30th and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in 37th.

After Mainland China, South Korea is the most well-represented Asian region in the art and design rankings, with 10 schools in total. However, only one of these makes it into the global top 50 – Seoul National University (SNU) in 38th place.

Top universities for art and design in Latin America

Latin America performs well in this years’ art and design rankings, with 16 schools in the region ranked globally, including three in the global top 50. The highest ranked school in Latin America is Argentina’s Universidad de Buenos Aires, which rises five places this year to take joint 30th place.

Mexico has four schools in the rankings, with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) its highest ranked program in joint 40th. Argentina’s other entrant into the rankings can also be found in the top 50: Universidad de Palermo in joint 46th. Elsewhere in the region, Brazil, Chile and Colombia each have three schools ranked and Peru has one.