How to Get an Art Scholarship for College

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Learning how to get an art scholarship starts with understanding the type of scholarship you’re looking for and where to find the right one for you. There are a variety of scholarship opportunities available, regardless of your discipline — whether you’re studying performance arts, fine arts or design. Art scholarships are also offered by private- and public-sector sources, like schools, nonprofit organizations, professional associations and local community groups.

These scholarship opportunities are a helpful way to lessen the burden of college expenses. If you’d like to discover scholarships for art students, here are a few choice options to consider.

How to get an art scholarship: What you should know

When researching art scholarships for college, the first thing you might notice is that scholarships come in many forms. These opportunities are offered for various disciplines, including:

  • Animation scholarships
  • Culinary art scholarships
  • Design scholarships
  • Drawing scholarships
  • Fine arts scholarships
  • Game design scholarships
  • Graphic design scholarships
  • Interior design scholarships
  • Music scholarships
  • Performance arts scholarships
  • Photography scholarships
  • Visual arts scholarships

Despite the array of discipline-based art scholarships available, it can take more than submitting an application form to be eligible. For example, some art scholarships for music students require applicants to take a test and audition, while a fine arts scholarship might require students to submit a digital portfolio of exemplary creative projects.

Note that some art scholarships may be state- or school-specific, so you’d need to reside in a certain state or be accepted into a particular university to be eligible — in addition to demonstrating exceptional talent in your discipline.

11 art scholarships to consider

Here’s a short list of scholarships for art students to help you or your family pay for an art-based education. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it can give you a sense of some of the unique requirements you could expect to see.

1. Academy of Art University Emerging Artist Scholarship
2. Against The Grain Artistic Scholarship
3. Archibald Rutledge Scholarship Program
4. AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships
5. CBC Spouses Performing/Visual Arts Scholarships
6. Culinary Institute of America Merit Scholarship
7. CWRU Undergraduate Theater Scholarships
8. IFDA Philadelphia Scholarship
9. The John F. and Anna Lee Stacey Scholarship Fund
10. The John Lennon Scholarship
11. Victor Agnoni Visual Arts Foundation Scholarship

Academy of Art University Emerging Artist Scholarship

  • Discipline: Various, including drawing and film
  • Amount: Up to $3,000

The Academy of Art University’s Emerging Artist Scholarship is a school-specific scholarship for first-time, enrolled undergraduate students of the university who are pursuing a degree. The scholarship offers a limited number of awards per year, each at a maximum of $3,000, to pay for the cost of applicants’ second full semester. To apply, you’ll need to submit a maximum 2,000-word essay about how a degree from the Academy of Art University will help you fulfill your dreams, and provide up to three digital samples of your best artistic work.

Against The Grain Artistic Scholarship

  • Discipline: Performing and visual arts (including film, theatre, fashion, photography, graphic design, dance and music) and journalism or mass communications
  • Amount: $1,000

The Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship is open to Asian American high school seniors or current college students enrolling in full-time study in an eligible discipline. Your ethnicity must be at least 25% Asian and/or Pacific Islander, and a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA is required. You’ll also need to have shown leadership through extracurriculars, community service or other activities. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you’ll need to submit an essay or artistic portfolio, submit letters of recommendation and undergo an in-person or phone interview with the selection committee.

Archibald Rutledge Scholarship Program

  • Discipline: Creative writing, dance, music, theatre or visual arts
  • Amount: $2,000

High school seniors pursuing a liberal arts degree, who are residents of South Carolina and enrolling in an in-state college or university, have a unique scholarship opportunity. The Archibald Rutledge Scholarship program offers awards of approximately $2,000 to students who demonstrate “academic and artistic excellence.” Applicants must be a U.S. citizen and have attended a public high school in the state for the past two years to be eligible. In addition to submitting the art scholarship application form, students must submit an original portfolio or composition (specific requirements will vary based on the discipline).

AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships

  • Discipline: Graphic design (including visual and communication design, UX/UI and game design), illustration (including animation and computer animation) and photography
  • Amount: Up to $5,000

To be eligible for an AIGA Worldstudio Scholarship, students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA and be studying toward an undergraduate or graduate degree in graphic design, illustration or photography. Applicants must demonstrate financial need; in addition, whether a student identifies as a minority may also be a factor into the scholarship panel’s decision. To apply, you’ll need to also submit your personal and school information, a 400-word written statement, financial documentation, a portfolio consisting of five to 10 art samples and a self-portrait.

CBC Spouses Performing/Visual Arts Scholarships

  • Discipline: Performing arts (including comedy, drama, theater, dance, music and marching band) or visual arts (including architecture, ceramics, fashion, graphic design, interior design, painting and photography)
  • Amount: $3,000

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation and CBC Spouses offer two art scholarships for Black or African American students pursuing an education in performance or visual arts. You must be a current college student (or a student planning to attend college) with at least a 2.5 GPA and be a constituent of a CBC member’s district to qualify for the art scholarship. Required application documents include a resume, transcript, letters of recommendation and samples of your work, among others. If you’re one of 10 award recipients chosen in either discipline, you must reapply for the scholarship each academic year.

Culinary Institute of America Merit Scholarship

  • Discipline: Culinary arts
  • Amount: Up to $10,700

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) offers merit-based scholarships to current and prospective students attending its New York or California campuses. Your GPA and/or SAT/ACT scores and leadership activities are used to determine your academic merit. CIA will automatically review school applications for eligible candidates, so there’s no need to apply for this scholarship separately. Award recipients who maintain a 3.0 GPA will have their award renewed the following year.

CWRU Undergraduate Theater Scholarships

  • Discipline: Theater (including acting, directing, dramatic writing/playwriting, state management and design)
  • Amount: $10,000 or full-tuition

Undergraduate theater students at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University may apply to the theater department’s scholarship program. You must submit an audition video or digital portfolio as part of the application process. The scholarship awards the cost of full-time tuition (not including room and board) to selected theater-major recipients and $10,000 awards to students pursuing a theater minor or theater as an extracurricular activity. Awards are renewable if recipients meet certain requirements, including maintaining an established GPA.

IFDA Philadelphia Scholarship

  • Discipline: Furniture design, textile design, graphic design and interior design
  • Amount: $2,500

The International Furnishings and Design Association’s Philadelphia chapter offers design scholarships to current, full-time undergraduate students enrolled in a two-, three- or four-year school. The scholarship rotates within a series of design disciplines each year; check the IFDA website to learn which discipline is eligible for the scholarship during your application year. In addition to an application and academic transcript, you’ll need to submit a 200- to 400-word essay, one design project sample, four additional design sample images and a letter of recommendation.

The John F. and Anna Lee Stacey Scholarship Fund

  • Discipline: Fine art (such as drawing, painting and composition)
  • Amount: $500 to $5,000

Students who are dedicated to the classical or traditional forms, colors, drawings, paintings, design and techniques of western culture may apply for the John F. and Anna Lee Stacey Scholarship. The opportunity is only available to applicants between the ages of 18 and 35. Awards may be disbursed quarterly and recipients will be required to submit quarterly reports of their work, as well as a final report after the scholarship ends.

The John Lennon Scholarship

  • Discipline: Contemporary music (specifically songwriters and composers)
  • Amount: Varies; total scholarship fund for three recipients is $20,000

To apply for the John Lennon Scholarship, you must be between ages 17 to 24 at the time of submission and enrolled in a U.S. college or university (or a recent graduate). You’re required to submit an original song to be reviewed by a panel of notable, music-industry professionals, though the submission cannot be owned by a major music publisher or major record label. Previous award recipients are ineligible to reapply.

Victor Agnoni Visual Arts Foundation Scholarship

  • Discipline: Open
  • Amount: Not specified

The Victor Agnoni Visual Arts Foundation Scholarship is open to LGBT high school seniors who are entering higher education. Students are required to submit a digital art portfolio of up to 10 work samples, but are not required to declare an art-related major. Portfolios are judged on cohesiveness, development and technique. When submitting an application, you must also provide your high school transcript, a 250- to 500-word personal statement and a letter of recommendation.

Shannon Insler contributed to this report.

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