Earning a college degree prepares aspiring creative professionals for successful careers. Art programs help enrollees refine their work and study new techniques. They also develop essential networking, marketing, and presentation skills.
With higher education costs rising, attending college presents a significant financial hurdle. Art scholarships may help degree-seekers reduce out-of-pocket college expenses. These awards encompass many disciplines, including traditional fine art media, design, performing arts, and digital media.
Our guide features some of the top art scholarships for college students. We outline the application process and discuss additional financial aid and scholarship resources.
Explore Art Scholarships
Since scholarships do not require repayment, they allow learners to graduate with less student loan debt. The following list profiles a diverse sample of art awards. Scholarship-seekers can discover the various available scholarships for art students and jump start their own search.
AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships
Undergraduate and graduate students majoring in graphic design, illustration, or photography qualify for this scholarship. Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA and must demonstrate financial need. Submission requirements include a personal statement, portfolio, and self-portrait. Applications should demonstrate engagement with social and environmental issues. Minority candidates may receive preference.
Award: $2,500 – $5,000
Deadline: April 2021
American Society of Interior Designers Foundation Legacy Scholarships
These merit-based art scholarships support accredited interior design program enrollees. Graduate students and junior or senior undergraduates qualify. Application materials include portfolios, personal statements, transcripts, and essays. The ASID Foundation administers a separate scholarship especially for those with work reflecting classical Greek and Roman design.
Deadline: April 2021
This scholarship benefits women under 35 pursuing a church career and a fine or performing arts graduate degree. Applicants must reside in one of the 10 qualifying states. They must demonstrate Presbyterian Church membership, financial need, and good academic standing.
Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Performing and Visual Arts Scholarships
The CBC Foundation awards up to 20 annual scholarships for full-time art program enrollees. Graduate and undergraduate students qualify to apply. They must reside in a CBC-represented congressional district and identify as Black or African American.
Deadline: April 2021
Educational Theater Association Thespian Scholarships
The EdTA scholarship program encompasses multiple awards open to International Thespian Society members and alumni. Some individual awards serve specific groups such as students pursuing careers in theater education. Others focus on individuals of racial and ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in theater.
Award: $1,000 – $3,000
Deadline: April 2021
New York City Dance Alliance Foundation College Scholarship Program
This scholarship program benefits bachelor’s students attending dance or musical theater programs. Submission requires a written application and an in-person audition. Audition opportunities require dancers to either attend NYCDA’s four-day summer workshop or raise $1,000 in donations for the organization.
Award: $5,000 – $25,000
Deadline: Spring 2021
Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarship
The Society of Health and Physical Educators awards three undergraduate and two graduate scholarships annually. Applicants majoring in health, physical education, or dance qualify. Undergraduates must hold junior or senior standing. The selection committee seeks applicants demonstrating academic achievement, leadership, character, and service.
Award: $1,250 – $1,750
The Bruce Marson Memorial Scholarship
Reston Community Players (RCP), a Reston, Virginia arts organization, sponsors annual performing art scholarships for local high school seniors. Applicants studying technical theater production can apply for the scholarship. Qualifying emphasis areas include lighting, sound, costuming, set design, stage management, and production management.
Deadline: To be scheduled
The Shelton Hall Memorial Scholarship
One of two annual RCP scholarships, the Shelton Hall Memorial Scholarship provides funding for music, theater, or dance majors. The organization accepts scholarship applications from local high school seniors.
Deadline: To be scheduled
Women Band Directors International Scholarships
WBDI supports women’s careers in instrumental music education. The organization sponsors five annual scholarships for female students pursuing careers as school band directors. Scholarship applicants may attend an undergraduate or graduate instrumental music program.
Deadline: December 2021
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Steps to Finding and Winning Art Scholarships
Art scholarships encompass a diverse field with awards for students in many creative majors. Starting early, approaching the application process methodically, and using support resources may increase learners’ chances of winning scholarships. The following section discusses steps for finding opportunities and crafting successful applications.
1. Do Your Research and Narrow Your Options
Scholarship-seekers should compile a personalized list of options aligned with their goals, skills, and backgrounds. Scholarship matching websites list numerous scholarships for art students. Guidance counselors and financial aid offices offer search tips and suggest awards matching learners’ qualifications.
To target the best possibilities, students should become familiar with scholarship types. Art scholarships benefit learners in a variety of majors. Lower-income applicants may meet need-based scholarship eligibility requirements. Merit-based scholarships provide funding for candidates with high academic achievement. Some people qualify for awards based on activities or personal background.
2. Understand the Application Requirements
Scholarship selection committees expect students to understand and follow application instructions. Applicants should adhere to requirements strictly and tailor their writing to the award. Learners applying for art scholarships can highlight art experience throughout their application.
Understanding what committees seek gives applicants a competitive advantage. Students should research the organization’s mission and articulate how it aligns with their own goals. Examining past scholarship recipients provides insight into previously successful strategies. Learners can add depth and specificity to their applications by including college program information.
3. Keep Scholarships Organized
Starting the scholarship process early allows time to perform research, request recommendations, compose essays, and gather supporting materials. After the research phase, applicants must decide which opportunities to pursue. Some learners prioritize high-ticket scholarships. Others apply for many smaller, less competitive awards. Deadlines also factor into considerations.
Planners, spreadsheets, and apps make it easier to organize scholarship lists. Students can use apps to track deadlines, compare different schools’ financial aid, and even submit multiple applications simultaneously. Applicants typically browse these apps by scholarship type and enter personal information to receive targeted results.
4. Create a Winning Portfolio
Visual art scholarships often require a portfolio. As with other scholarship components, students need to tailor their portfolios to each application. They should take time to curate portfolios carefully to present only their strongest and most original work.
Portfolio specifications vary by scholarship. Applicants can check the guidelines for how many pieces to include and how to submit them. Some committees look for cohesion within the presented body of work. Others encourage variety and experimentation. Programs may require a physical portfolio, accept submissions via flash drive or CD, or allow applicants to upload digital files directly.
5. Nail Your Personal Statement
While portfolios and auditions demonstrate talent and training, personal statements constitute an equally crucial application piece. These short essays demonstrate students’ ability to reflect thoughtfully on their skills, work, and goals.
Through personal statements, scholarship committees get to know applicants on a deeper level. Like academic essays, outstanding statements often center on an overarching theme. A clearly defined structure featuring an introduction, body, and conclusion provides cohesion. To craft an engaging story, applicants can weave in specific examples reflecting on their achievements and life experiences.
6. Review and Revise Your Application
Students should aim to submit scholarship applications before the deadline to avoid last-minute complications. Allotting extra time reduces stress and allows for a thorough final review. With time to spare before application deadlines, candidates can revisit the requirements and ensure nothing remains uncompleted.
To ensure that the application shines, learners should ask a family member, friend, advisor, or counselor to review their work before submission. College counselors may provide an invaluable source of expert feedback. However, these professionals often maintain busy schedules. Asking for help as early as possible increases the likelihood of a positive response.
Creative Ways to Pay for Your Art Degree
Art scholarships for college represent one of many ways to keep educational costs low. In the next section, we discuss different funding sources for defraying tuition expenses. Many of these sources generate income to cover indirect college costs including books, computer equipment, and art supplies.
- Start Saving Now
- Many families save for college with a 529 plan, a tax-deferred investment account that students can use to pay for tuition and qualifying expenses. While 529 plans cannot guarantee a specific return, the earlier you open an account, the larger the balance can grow.
- Do Commissions
- Many art buyers support emerging artists by commissioning original works. Artists receive commissions through networking, word of mouth, gallery exposure, social media, and portfolio hosting websites. In addition to generating income, taking commissions develops business skills useful in future art careers.
- Federal Work Study
- The federal government partners with higher education institutions to provide work-study opportunities for enrollees with financial need. Work-study recipients may attend graduate and undergraduate programs full time or part time. Through this program, learners work on- or off-campus. Their school may pay them directly or apply their wages to their student account.
- Employer Tuition Assistance Programs
- Many working students qualify to receive educational funding through employer tuition assistance programs. To get started, degree-seekers should ask their employer whether programs must be job-related. They should also ask about fund disbursement and whether the company requires specific employment length before or after college enrollment.
Financial Aid Resources for Art Students
With time and effort, motivated degree-seekers uncover numerous ways to fund their education, such as the ones we discuss below. Through exploring these resources, students learn more about the financial aid process. They investigate a wealth of college funding opportunities, including art scholarships for college students at all levels.
Art Educators provides a list of scholarships available to prospective art students. Degree-seekers can find specialized art scholarships pertaining to their specific interests.
The federal government provides the largest cumulative amount of money for college. All students should fill out an application to see what they qualify for, especially those with little funding.
National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards
Winners of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award receive generous funding for tuition, an internship abroad, or art supplies.
Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
The organization behind these awards recognizes, exhibits, and publishes youth talent. It focuses on providing higher education funding for youth with unique art talent.
This site provides resources for aspiring women artists looking to further their studies in their prospective fields. Users can find scholarships categorized by state, college, and enrollment level.
This site provides resources for minority or economically disadvantaged students interested in art. It shares information on scholarships and encourages recipients to give back to the community through their pursuits.
For more information, visit our College Learning and Resource Center. It features expert insight and resources to succeed in college.