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A Guide for Families of Prospective Students

If you’ve come to this section of MIAD’s site, you’re probably either:
The family of a talented child, committed to visual arts education, who wants to know everything about MIAD.


The family of a talented child, who wants what’s best for that child, but is uncertain of the value of a visual arts education.

MIAD at Night

Your concerns are important and your commitment to your child’s education is admirable. We will spend this time trying to address the most common concerns that families may have, dispel myths about visual arts education, and help you learn more about MIAD’s unique learning environment.

Q. Is MIAD a college?
A. Yes.
This may seem like a silly question, but when someone asks about accreditation, this is what they’re really asking. MIAD offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA), is fully accredited by the North Central Association, which accredits colleges, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), which accredits visual art programs. MIAD is also affiliated with some of the nation’s strongest organizations for visual arts education: National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA), Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), and the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA). MIAD is a member of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU), and the Wisconsin Federation of Independent Colleges (WFIC). We also have a cross-registration program with Marquette University, one of the nation’s most well-known and respected universities. Many of MIAD’s programs rank among the best in the nation in visual arts.

Q. My child has a gift in art or design, but I’m concerned about how they will make a living as an artist. Do your graduates find employement?
A. Yes. Take a look around your living room, and you’ll see the mark of artists and designers everywhere. The space you are sitting in was designed by an interior architect or designer. The computer you’re using and chair you’re sitting on works and looks like it does because of a product designer. Millions of websites, including this one, are in part the work of communication designers, illustrators, animators, videographers, and photographers. And your home may have examples of fine art – paintings, prints, sculptures and so on. Extend that to every house, business, gallery, theater and museum and you’ll have some idea of how many people are involved in the visual arts.

The business world also sees the value of a creative degree. There are many who believe that the Bachelor of Fine Arts/Master of Fine Art is becoming the new Master of Business Administration. The skills that all businesses seek — creative problem-solving, independent thinking, self-reliance — are exactly the skills that a BFA embraces. As a result, industries that you may not traditionally think of as needing artists or designers are seeking more and more creative people.

While many colleges have art or design departments, in order to survive in competitive environments, a focused program is important to a student’s success. MIAD’s highly recognized BFA degree requires 124 credits in 70% rigorous studio coursework and 30% intense liberal studies coursework. Most colleges with an art major offer a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, which requires much less studio coursework. MIAD students focus on, at all times and in multiple ways, communicating one’s own visual ideas through critiques and presentations. Companies consistently seek MIAD students over students coming from other programs because of their serious dedication and technical sophistication.

MIAD graduates are employed in every facet of visual art and design. And nearly 30% of MIAD graduates own their own businesses; many begin freelancing even before graduating. MIAD graduates are successful fine artists, key designers of Harley-Davidson’s electric motorcycles, creator of Real Simple magazine, art director of Lexus commercials, and designers at Rivian. They teach at every level, create internationally recognized conceptual art, grace the cover of New Art Examiner, design Trek bikes, and so much more.

Q. How collegiate is it?
A. Very. MIAD studio classes in art and design are rigorous. The classes have the intensity of a “lab class”, lecture, final exam and brainstorming session all rolled into one. The average freshman student at MIAD spends 28 hours a week in class, more than the average college student. Most courses have projects that are due every few weeks, with specific expectations for each project. Much of the work to meet these expectations is done outside of class. Making art or design work takes mental, and often physical, energy. Critiques focus on the successes and failures of each project, with the understanding that each student will be engaged, offer opinion and analysis, and learn from this collective process.

Q. What will my student learn?
A. While our main goal is to educate visual artists and designers, MIAD has a strong focus on academics.
MIAD’s Liberal Studies program is an integral part of MIAD’s curriculum. The goal of the program is to excite and engage students to become lifelong learners. Artists and designers are influenced by the world just as much as they influence it. And through liberal studies, that influence is brought into focus and magnified.

MIAD’s Liberal Studies program has a strong writing component with an emphasis on creativity and problem-solving. All students learn to write both personally and professionally. They learn to harness their creativity within multiple disciplines, not just within the visual arts. MIAD is the only private, visual arts college to offer Service Learning to help students broaden their view of the world.

Q. Is MIAD’s campus safe?
A. Yes. MIAD is located in the Historic Third Ward, just south of downtown Milwaukee. It is a safe area, which has undergone a major transition into a high-end, contemporary residential and commercial neighborhood. The Third Ward is the fastest growing district in the state of Wisconsin, despite its small footprint. As an urban campus, students are encouraged to utilize the college’s safety services as needed.

Q. How can we pay for this?
A. There are more options than you realize.
All MIAD students receive a scholarship and the vast majority of students receive financial aid. MIAD’s demographic population is financially similar to the norms of state and national trends. Any family from any tax bracket should consider a MIAD education. At MIAD, we are committed to making an outstanding art and design education accessible for all students. 

During a college search, it’s important for your student to determine which colleges they wish to attend, and apply for admission, financial aid, and scholarship to those schools. Once you receive a complete financial aid package, you can then consider your final cost of attendance. MIAD financial aid packages are often a combination of grants, scholarships and loans, making MIAD more affordable than most families anticipate. We invite you to learn more about Cost & Aid at MIAD. 

Q. Is MIAD worth the cost?
A. We believe so. We invite you to explore everything MIAD has to offer. Look at the quality of our student work, the rigor and successes of each academic program, and the dedication of the MIAD faculty and staff. Then, contact MIAD Admissions to set up a visit, and repeatedly ask yourself that question. We think you’ll agree that MIAD is one of the nation’s best educational values.


Metalwork and molds: MIAD alum on Kohler Residency

Eye-opening and awe-inspiring: this is how Nirmal Raja ’08 (Painting) describes learning to work with liquid metal. The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) alum recently completed the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Arts/Industry Residency in Kohler, Wisconsin.

MIAD Values Recognition Award: Dale Shidler

Dale Shidler, Professor of Communication Design, received the January 2024 MIAD Values Recognition Award at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). Dale’s nominations highlighted his embodiment of MIAD’s Core Values, especially Integrity, Kindness and Community.

MIAD students, alumni, faculty create work for ThriveOn King

Four Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) community members will contribute to the first floor of the new ThriveOn King community hub on North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. They make up part of the 20 Milwaukee artists who will convey the history and heritage of Bronzeville in this collaborative space.

MIAD Board of Trustees welcomes new members

The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) Board of Trustees welcomed two new members at their January 2024 meeting. Dr. Daniel A. Schroeder, co-founder and president/CEO of Organization Development Consultants, Inc. (ODC), and Noah Stone, reference librarian and circulation assistant at North Shore Public Library, joined MIAD’s Board.

Lubar Innovation Center students design for Kohler

When Kohler needed t-shirt designs created for their Sustainability Champions program and I-Prize competition, the company turned to the Lubar Innovation Center at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). From there, staff at the Innovation Center connected Kohler with two MIAD Illustration students.