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QS World University Rankings 2024 unveil top universities for art and design

By Veerle Versteeg


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Illustrative image of art and design students discussing their work. Credits: RF-Studio / Pexels

Higher education data platform Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) published its 2024 ranking for the world’s top universities to study art and design last week. The Royal College of Art (RCA) in London has come out on top for the second year in a row.

The University of the Arts London, known for its London College of Fashion (LCF) and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (CSM) is QS’ second best international institution for art and design programmes, occupying this position for the third consecutive year.

Moving down to the third place, we notice the first change. The New School in New City which includes Parsons School of Design, has taken the third spot from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which has in its turn moved down to fourth place.

Continuing along the trend of UK and US institutions, we find the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in fifth place and Pratt Institute in New York City with its School of Design, in sixth place.

QS World University Rankings, UK and US institutions dominate top 5

All of the institutions ranked in the top 5, except for MIT, offer one or more fashion programmes.

The QS World University Rankings 2023 list a total of 1500 institutions. Each institution's ranking is based on five indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, publication data, the H Index (a way of measuring the productivity and impact of a professor or university department) and international research network (the ability of institutions to diversify the geography of their international research network through partnerships).

For this year’s World University Rankings, QS implemented its ‘largest-ever methodological enhancement’, introducing three new metrics: Sustainability, Employment Outcomes and International Research Network, the official website reads.

Comparing this year’s ranking to the QS World University Rankings 2023, it is apparent that Finland’s Aalto University, which occupied the sixth place last year, has moved down two spots to the eighth place.

Rounding out the top 10, a second European University, The Netherlands’ Design Academy Eindhoven has ended up in ninth place this year. It is followed by The School of the Art Institute in Chicago which has managed to move up one spot in the 2024 rankings.

In 11th place this year, we find the first institution offering art and design programmes in Asia, Tongji University in Shanghai, China. Another Chinese art and design institution follows not too long afterwards, namely the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Bejing.

View CEO World’s top 10 ranking for 2024 below.

The 10 best art and design schools worldwide according to QS
  • 1 - Royal College of Art (RCA), London
  • 2 - University of the Arts London (UAL)
  • 3 - The New School (Parsons), New York City, US
  • 4 - Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, US
  • 5 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, US
  • 6 - Pratt Institute, New York City, US
  • 7 - Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy
  • 8 - Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
  • 9 - Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • 10 - School of the Art Institute of Chicago, US

Upon further inspection of the list, a few more changes are visible when comparing the 2024 rankings to last year’s rankings. Well-known fashion and design institution the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), based in the US but with a campus in Lacoste, France, has moved up one spot this year, to 15th place.

Fashion students to find prestigious and well known global institutions in 2024 Rankings

In terms of other European institutions that offer fashion programmes, Scotland’s Glasgow School of Art has ended up in 13th place this year, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK) in 22nd place and the Universität der Künste Berlin in Germany in 35th place.

The first French institution in the ranking, Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs (ENSAD), which also happens to offer a fashion (design) programme, appears in 41st place.

One of Australia’s top universities for art and design, RMIT University in Melbourne, which describes itself as ‘a global leader in fashion and textiles education’, occupies spot 18 in the 2024 rankings.

The 20 best art and design schools worldwide according to QS
  • 11 - Tongji University, Shanghai, China
  • 12 - Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
  • 13 - The Glasgow School of Art, Scotland
  • 14 - Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, US
  • 15 - Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), US
  • 16 - Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, US
  • 17 - Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing, China
  • 18 - RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
  • 19 - The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • 20 - School of Visual Arts (SVA), New York City, US

Just like in previous years, US art and design institutions are well represented in the top 20 and 30 of the QS World University Rankings. Apart from the well known, often private, institutions that make it to the top 5 and 10, it is also worth mentioning some colleges and schools that are perhaps not as well known.

For instance, for the second year in a row, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California has firmly maintained its spot in 14th place. Then there is also the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City which has ended up in 20th place this year and the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita in 23rd place.

Education Schools
Fashion Education
Parsons School of Design
Rhode Island School of Design
Royal College of Art
University of the Arts London