Here Are Some of the Best Art Schools in the Philippines for Aspiring Creatives
The best art schools in the Philippines don’t just teach art—they tell you why art matters. The late Robin Williams once said in a little film called the Dead Poets Society, “Medicine, law, business, engineering—these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love—these are what we stay alive for.” The arts have long played a role in defining culture, and society isn’t complete without its artists.
Luckily for us, the Philippines is home to an extraordinary amount of talented visual artists, all of whom have inspired younger generations to take up the brush and easel to follow in their footsteps. But in order to do so, they must first be shaped by the art institutions in the Philippines to hone and understand their talent.
An art school is defined by more than its studios and outputs. The measure of a good art school is the sum of the quality of its faculty, the diversity of its student body, the accessible equipment and resources, and the work ethic of its community. Art is not a craft that can be taught from a textbook or a couple of PowerPoint slides. It’s a delicate balance of teaching the basic skills mixed with theory, context, and importance in the 21st century.
Here are some of the best visual art schools in the Philippines for artists looking to pursue their passions.
Philippine High School for the Arts
Most people know Philippine Science High School, but not everyone is aware of its underrated sister, the Philippine High School for the Arts. Undoubtedly one of the best art institutions in the country, PHSA deserves far more acclaim than it gets. Nestled in Mt. Makiling in Los Banos, Laguna, the students of PHSA have the privilege of exploring their art and style away from the noise of the city.
“Prestigious” is an understatement for this school. Its student population never goes beyond 200 and every student is given full scholarship and living assistance. Students spend their mornings in basic education classes and their afternoons practicing their craft in the major that they've chosen, which can be creative writing, dance, music, theater arts, or visual arts. It’s basically the art boarding school of every young creative’s dreams.
University of the Philippines Diliman - College of Fine Arts
Consider UPCFA the older sister of PHSA. Located in Quezon City, UPCFA is the house national artists built. Its halls are the very same ones the likes of Fernando Amorsolo walked through as a young artist. UPCFA offers both bachelors and certificates in the following fields: painting, sculpture, art history, art education, visual communication, and industrial design. The college also offers a Master of Fine Arts program for graduate students.
UPCFA is known for creating some of the best creatives in the industry, not just because of the quality of its faculty, but also because of the quality of its students. UPCFA accepts only the best, and you’ll learn just as much from your peers as your professors.
De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde - School of Design and Arts
SDA inarguably has the best campus on this list of art schools in the Philippines. Situated along Taft Avenue, the facilities and resources of this art school are unmatched. The 14-storey campus is an artist’s playground that promotes and encourages creativity. SDA offers the following undergraduate programs: arts management, dance, design foundation, music production, production design, theater arts, architecture, fashion design and merchandising, industrial design, interior design, animation, digital filmmaking, multimedia arts, and photography.
University of Santo Thomas - College of Fine Arts and Design
At UST’s CFAD, students can choose from the following degree programs: advertising arts, industrial design, interior design, and painting. Located in Manila’s University Belt, CFAD gives every student the most fundamental knowledge of the arts and their specializations. Its courses explore art’s relationship with technology, media, history, and culture to provide students with a holistic understanding of their purpose and chosen careers.
SoFa Design Institute
Focused primarily on the art of fashion, SoFa prides itself on being the country’s first specialized design school, and currently offers only two undergraduate courses: fashion design and marketing and interior design. But it’s the institute’s certificate courses and workshops that have the most appeal. Many artists and fashion designers have opted to enroll in the fashion/art school’s short courses, which include classes on clothing technology, fashion media, fashion styling, and more.
Far Eastern University - Institute of Architecture & Fine Art
Known more for creating businessmen and engineers, FEU has also produced a number of notable national artists. FEU’s art school branch offers three bachelor programs: advertising arts, painting, and architecture. IAFA is located in Manila City.
iAcademy - School of Design
iAcademy prides itself on creating “game-changers” as graduates. Located in the heart of Makati City, iAcademy’s courses include bachelor degrees in animation, multimedia arts and design, fashion design and technology, and film and visual effects. Similar to Benilde’s SDA, iAcademy focuses more on multimedia arts and art’s applications with technology. In truth, iAcademy is as much a tech school as it is an art school.
Ateneo de Manila University – Department of Fine Arts
One of the premier universities in the country, AdMU also offers some of the leading art programs in the country. Its Department of Fine Arts offers four programs: art management, creative writing, information design, and theater arts. Facilities and resources aside, this art school/department is known for making sure its students are well-equipped with the practical skills needed to make a living out of their passions.
These are among the best art schools in the Philippines that deserve more recognition for their efforts in promoting the arts.