Best Study Abroad Art Programs

Grab your paint palette and ballet shoes and invest in your unique, creative genius by joining an art program in 2020. These acclaimed international schools and U.S. art programs offer you the opportunity to learn from the best as you gain an introduction to the world you hope to join, whether its dance, performance art, fine art, or writing.

No matter what your interest, you can develop your skills under the mentorship of experienced, working artists or among the feedback of your peers and hone your creativity as a growing artist.

Although we couldn’t include all the best art programs, we compiled this list to include a range of art mediums. So, without further ado, here are some of the top art programs to attend in 2020.

Top Art Programs in the World

Art History Abroad

For more than thirty years, this family-run company has been bringing art to life and pursuing excellence by providing students thoughtful engagement with art and the tools they need to advance their technique.

Through discussion and practical training, you’ll learn history firsthand as you study art and architecture in cities globally known for both. You’ll engage Italy, France, and London with all five senses during immersive small group interactions on-site, and in the process, you’ll learn more about yourself.

With a firm belief that travel broadens experience, Art History Abroad prides itself on not simply teaching art but also culture and an appreciation of beauty. Every academic background is welcome in this art program.

Take a 6-week Gap Year Course in Italy with Art History Abroad.

Good for History Buffs, Students

Outside San Marco, Venice

Cow House Studios

Photo by Haven, Cow House Studios Alum
This progressive, artist-run school in beautiful Wexford, Ireland, provides art students with a solid foundation in contemporary arts. Nestled at the foot of the Blackstairs Mountains, Cow House Studios is based in a charming converted stone barn that provides the inspiration for its name.

Though drawing is the foundation of the school, you’ll be urged to explore any area of your choice during this twelve-week gap year. The study of color theory, life drawing, or even the history of photography is all open to you. No matter what your focus, the school encourages independent thought through the exploration of new materials, processes, or media.

Organized trips to Dublin and other cities are complemented by studio visits and presentations by Irish artists and curators.

Attend Art on the Farm Program with Cow House Studios

Good for Photographers, Students, Adventure travelers

life drawing sessions

multidisciplinary approaches

painting in the studio

the grass doesn’t get any greener

Academie de la Grande Chaumiere

Since 1945, Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, has trained and prepared students for the realities and challenges of working life as art directors, graphic designers, illustrators, and architects.

Whether you’re interested in drawing, calligraphy, interior design, or another field, this top art program seeks to help you develop the techniques and critical thinking necessary for success.

Recognized by the French Ministry of Labor, this Parisian art school ensures that every teacher is an expert in his or her discipline, and the program provides students with opportunities for professional development through partnerships and conferences. The Academie prides itself on its interdisciplinary approach, allowing students to benefit from the best of its two main branches— interior architecture & design and art direction—regardless of which area of emphasis they choose.

Up with People

Photo by Dylan, Up With People Alum
If you’ve ever had an interest in the performing arts, Up with People offers a once in a lifetime chance to explore every aspect of producing a professional, high energy show. No experience is necessary!

All participants take part in roles onstage and offstage. After in-depth training, you’ll take the show on the road to at least two continents, performing in a new city every week. Because of the rich diversity in program participants, you’ll make friends from all over the world as you travel the world.

In addition to the show, you’ll continue to spread messages of love and hope by connecting with local communities and engaging in volunteer service to help schools, the elderly, and populations in need. Through seminars and discussions, you’ll gain a firsthand understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

Go On Tour with an Up With People Art Program.

Good for Adventure travelers, Building your resume, Students

UWP Peaple and host families

New York Times Student Journeys

Dive into the history of the American South with the expert guidance and unique perspective of a New York Times narrative photographer.

Through this professional lens, the New York Times Student Journey program will explore the birthplace of the civil rights movement by traveling for sixteen days through its key cities in Louisiana, Alabama, the Mississippi Delta, and Tennessee. After visiting the Southern Poverty Law Center and Equal Justice Initiative, you’ll have the chance to meet the people who have lived civil rights history and the key people who are carrying on the work of justice for all.

Using what you’ve learned from your travels and conversations, you’ll also have the opportunity to join the dialogue and help brainstorm solutions to the problems they face today.

Explore the American South with a NY Times Narrative Photographer

kayaking in the american south

NYT Student Journeys American South

girl with long red hair wearing pink shirt and jeans in a city

Irish Gap Year

If you’re looking for a community-based, small group experience, Irish Gap Year is one of the top art programs to attend this year. This program is proud of its four cornerstones: cultural immersion, experiential learning, artistic expression, and portfolio development.

Explore your own areas of interest as you work side by side with local Irish artists, photographers, writers, performers, and musicians, learning about Ireland’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. Your hands-on experience goes hand in hand with day trips to galleries, museums, castles, and theaters, and at the end, you’ll have the opportunity to exhibit your photography, found art, or poetry at the La Cheile Art Expo.

In addition to this art program’s fantastic support and guidance, the location can’t be beat: Donegal won National Geographic’s “Coolest Place in the World” in 2017.

Attend the Irish Arts and Culture Program with Irish Gap Year

Good for Students, Photographers, Adventure travelers

Gap Year students immersed in Irish life.

Students exploring Irish culture.

Dance Gap Year

Discover the rich world of dance with this incredible art program. If you’re interested in becoming a professional dancer, choreographer, or educator, Dance Gap Year allows you to engage in cross-cultural exchange and gain a global perspective by joining an international network of dancers and other creatives. By learning, creating, and sharing your talents with the public, you’ll promote community engagement with dance.

In addition to this performance experience, one-on-one mentorship encourages participants to develop an entrepreneurial spirit that will help them find sustainability as art professionals in this career. From ballet to jazz, from folk to flamenco, dancers can explore their passions and meet likeminded performance artists.

Spend a Semeter in Argentina with Dance Gap Year:

Dance performance for children in Argentina.

Male dancer in the studio.

Group of dancers jumping for a photo.

Dance practice for mixed-gender dancers.

Performing Arts Abroad

Find inspiration for your art by immersing yourself in the stories and culture of another country. Performing Arts Abroad provides high quality cross-cultural artistic exchanges by offering customized experiences that align with your identity and interests as an artist.

Read also; major reasons to study abroad as an international student

Each program is run by artists actively pursuing their artistic discipline and who can offer a wealth of experience when it comes to living and working abroad. Whether you wish to pursue filmmaking in Florence, acting at the Globe in London, or music education in Costa Rica, you will be trained to become a well-rounded performer who stands out from the crowd in auditions. There are opportunities for every budget and schedule, making it a top art program for anyone looking to study art overseas.

And in the end, most creatives will tell you that the best art programs–whether in the U.S and overseas–are the ones that give you the opportunity to show up fully, to widen your horizons, and to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Whatever you decide to pursue, let 2020 be the year you take your next steps as an artist.

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