Studying art or art history abroad presents the unique opportunity to take your learning beyond the classroom and understand both the technical and historical aspects of great works, where they were produced.
There isn’t one “best” place to learn art or art history, however, there are certainly locations that will cater to your artistic niche more than others. Here are the top countries, cities, and universities to study art and art history abroad!
Benefits of studying art abroad
As an art student, the opportunity to study renowned works of art up close is an important supplement to your classroom learning and studio experience. Here are some of the most significant benefits of studying art and art history abroad.
- Cultural immersion: Studying art abroad will allow the artist to expand on their practice by observing significant artistic pieces in person. This also allows artists to gain insight into the cultural contexts in which these art pieces were crafted.
- Hands-on experience: By studying art abroad, you’ll be able to visit famous galleries and gain hands-on experience in a foreign environment. This is a significant resume booster not only for the artist to hone their craft but also for the art historian to reinforce their knowledge.
- Exposes you to new methods: Many students will need to travel to see specific and concentrated pieces that directly relate to a given medium or art specialty. Studying art abroad will widen your perspective and introduce you to unique forms of art.
🎨 Best for: Renaissance, Impressionism, Romanesque
📍 Popular cities: Paris, Marseille, Grenoble, Aix-en-Provence
📚 Top universities: Paris College of Art, Parsons Paris, Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Aix-Marseille University art
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $6,495 - $20,000 USD
When it comes to studying art and art history abroad, perhaps there’s no more obvious choice than France. There’s no shortage of notable artworks in France, particularly Paris, which is home to over 100 museums. There are 35,000 objects in the Louvre alone - including the Mona Lisa.
Studying art in France will provide students with an abundance of insight into Renaissance, sculpture, impressionism, and Romanesque art. Although Spanish, Picasso spent most of his artistic life in France, attesting to its artistic significance.
Popular art & art history programs in France:
🎨 Best for: Romanesque, Baroque, Neoclassicism
📍 Popular cities: Florence, Milan, Bologne
📚 Top universities: University of Florence, University of Turin, University of Bologna, University of Padua
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $4,000 - $17,500
From Michaelangelo’s David to da Vinci’s The Last Supper, is it any wonder that Italy is a dream destination for art or art history students? Whether sculpture, Renaissance paintings, or marvelous Romanesque architecture allures you, there’s no shortage to soak up studying art and art history in Italy.
Florence - the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance - is a popular destination for those studying art and art history abroad. Art thrived during this period of history and many new techniques and styles emerged. Famous names such as da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto, and more hail from Florence and have many works on display within the city limits.
Popular art & art history programs in Italy:
🎨 Best for: Cubism, Art Nouveau, Gothic
📍 Popular cities: Prague, Brno
📚 Top universities: Prague City University, Charles University, Czech technical university, Masaryk University
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $5,000 - $12,500
While much of the world’s best-known classical art lies in Western Europe, some of its most moving and poignant contemporary art lies in the Czech Republic. As a country with a recent turbulent past of dictatorship and revolution, examples of art and symbols of democratization - such as the John Lennon Wall - shine through.
Prague is a gateway to studying artistic styles in conjunction with the history of the Soviet Union’s many influences in the region. Prague’s National Museum places history and art in context with side-by-side exhibits.
Popular art & art history programs in Czech Republic:
🎨 Best for: Calligraphy, pottery, Tang dynasty art
📍 Popular cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan, Guangzhou
📚 Top universities: Tsinghua University, Peking University, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Central Academy of Fine Art Beijing,
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $8,000 - $15,000
Studying art in China grants you exposure to a way of understanding ancient and contemporary art which is different from what you may be familiar with in the West. Chinese art is a varied genre that spans centuries and mediums, ranging from painting and calligraphy to pottery and sculptures.
In addition to paintings, art forms such as textiles, porcelain, and ceramics are quite popular, incorporating dragons and other aspects of Chinese mythology. The capital and cultural heart, Beijing, is home to many historical gems such as the Forbidden City and Summer Palace which now house a wealth of ancient art treasures.
Popular art & art history programs in China:
🎨 Best for: Classical Greek, pottery
📍 Popular cities: Athens, Paros, Thessaloniki
📚 Top universities: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, National Technical University of Athens, University of Patras, University of Crete
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $4,000 - $15,000
One cannot praise art without indirectly praising ancient Greek influence on culture in general. Whether you admire Roman architecture, sculptures, Spanish Renaissance, or the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, each heavily draws inspiration from classical and ancient Greek art.
Art and art history students will be able to embrace the expansive and predominating influence of Greek art which has served as a catalyst for art across the globe, whether in the form of paintings, sculpture, architecture, poetry, or theater.
Popular art & art history programs in Greece:
🎨 Best for: Aboriginal art, Modern Art, street art
📍 Popular cities: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane
📚 Top universities: Melbourne University, RMIT Melbourne, Sydney University,
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $10,000 - $17,000
Australia has an art scene that is as long storied and varied as its history. Aboriginal Australian art, in particular, is known for rock painting and engraving, desert landscapes, earthy tones, and the use of natural tools, canvases, and paints.
Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane may not be the political capital of Australia, but they certainly lead the pack when it comes to art. Melbourne’s extensive street art - including a whole graffiti subculture - juxtaposes with notable museums such as the Melbourne Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria.
With hundreds of art galleries between them, there’s something for every art lover, from large national museums to independent artist-run cooperatives in these fashionable coastal cities.
Popular art & art history programs in Australia:
🎨 Best for: Sculpture, painting, fine art
📍 Popular cities: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria,
📚 Top universities: University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $7,500 - $15,000
The art of South Africa is known for vibrant colors and political ties, often dealing with the subject matters of race, inequality, animal conservation, and other aspects prevalent in daily life. Indeed, South Africa is a unique art study abroad destination due to this culmination of local culture and colonialism often reflected in pieces.
The South African National Art Gallery has a diverse collection of both African and European pieces for you to inspect. The country is a modern art hub; with the newly opened Museum of Contemporary African Art glistening along Cape Town's waterfront. Not to mention, the city’s natural wonders, from mountains to beaches, are sure to inspire artists as well.
Popular art & art history programs in South Africa:
🎨 Best for: Bauhaus, Abstract Expressionism, Gothic
📍 Popular cities: Berlin, Munich, Bremen
📚 Top universities: Berlin University of the Arts, Weimar Bauhaus University, Bremen University of the Arts
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $7,000 - $22,000
While it may not gather the same level of renown as Italy, Greece, or France when it comes to influencing art in the West, German art has influenced movements on an international scale. Germany is the perfect place for art students who want to specialize in genres such as Gothic, Romanesque, Expressionism, Modern, among others.
Berlin in particular is known for being a fashionable and stylish location as well as a hub for rebellious art due to its history of conflict. The Berlin Wall - once a symbol of segregation and oppression - became a canvas for defiant artists to exercise their contempt and autonomy.
Popular art & art history programs in Germany:
The United Kingdom
🎨 Best for: Pop art, English Renaissance, street art, modern art
📍 Popular cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, Leeds, London, Loughborough, Newcastle
📚 Top universities: University of Arts London, Royal College of Art, UCL, Glasgow School of Art, Edinburgh University
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $10,000 to $25,000
While maybe not as definitive as art in other countries and cultures, the UK embraces the huge influence of a myriad of artistic movements stemming from Europe for centuries.
The English Renaissance was a period of cultural and artistic revival, following suit with Italy’s Renaissance albeit a century later. Anglo-Saxon, among Celtic art, and many more, are a testament to how much inspiration Britain has drawn from other cultures - both domestic and internationally.
Popular art & art history programs in the UK:
🎨 Best for: Realism, architecture, landscape art, cityscape
📍 Popular cities: Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Arnhem, Hague, Maastricht
📚 Top universities: Amsterdam University of the Arts, Design Academy Eindhoven, ArtEZ University of the Arts, the Hague, Maastricht University
💰 Typical third-party program cost: $6,000 - $22,000
Home to notable artists such as Johannes Vermeer who painted Girl with a Pearl Earring and Van Gogh who painted Starry Night among many more, the Netherlands' prominent artistic influence is indisputable. This makes the Netherlands - and Amsterdam in particular - an ideal destination for international art students.
Popular art & art history programs in the Netherlands:
How to study art & art history internationally
It can be overwhelming deciding which university you’re going to study art or art history in, let alone which country! With each country comes a new artistic landscape, and this will change the dynamic of your study abroad experience.
Optimize your study abroad experience by considering the following steps:
- Choose your niche: Art is an expansive topic that encompasses a wide range of cultural characteristics and styles. Because of this, it might be worth specializing in a specific type of art. If you’re flexible and open-minded, that’s great! However, it won’t narrow down your university and location options.
- Research locations and universities: Once you’ve selected a niche or art style, this can help you narrow down your options. Certain locations and universities will excel at a certain style of art, making it easier for you to decide.
- Choose a third-party provider or go it alone: You can study abroad through direct enrollment or third-party programs. Direct enrollment is the cheaper option but requires more time and effort for your application. However, third-party programs are more expensive but take care of all of the hard work such as the admission process, accommodation, visas, and more.
- Prepare your application: Gather copies of your grades, extracurricular achievements, references or letters of recommendation, cover letters, and more which reinforces why you’re a good addition to this university!
- Apply for a visa: If you’re applying directly, you will need to apply for the student visa yourself. You’ll likely have guidance from your university, however, it’s still up to you to complete it. A third-party program will take care of most of the details for you and ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Continue your artistic journey abroad
With art across the world, there's really no shortage of great options to develop your craft or delve into a deeper understanding of art histories with study abroad. Pick the place that speaks most to your heart, and get ready for an incredible adventure that will be sure to have a profound impact on your artistic style. Whether you study abroad in art, art history, or choose a program that combines both, you'll come back with a greater appreciation for the variety and impact of art on the world and its cultures.