The Top 30 Graphic Design Schools in the U.S.

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Graphic design is a field that fuses creativity and modern technology to build truly innovative designs. If you think pursuing a career in graphic design may be right for you, check out CollegeVine’s Top 30 schools for Graphic Design.

 

Tips for Selecting the Right Program for You

 

Each of these programs has something great to offer. But depending on what you are seeking, our #1 choice may not be the same as yours. Take these steps to narrow down which schools are the best fit for you.

 

Research the careers of recent graduates. Have recent grads created work you like? Are they getting jobs in a part of the industry that interests you? If so, prioritize this school as you choose where to apply.

 

Read the list of courses offered this term. Are there classes to give you the technical foundation you need, as well as a few that really excite you? Not all programs are structured in the same way, so finding a curriculum that speaks to you will help narrow down your school list.

 

Visit campus to see if you like the facilities, school culture, and overall atmosphere. Four years is a lot of time! Be sure you like the environment before committing to a school, even if it looks perfect on paper.

 

The Top 30 Graphic Design Schools in the U.S.

 

1. Rhode Island School of Design

Providence, RI

 

RISD is one of the most prestigious visual arts schools in the country, with all programs geared toward sharpening your eye and unleashing your creativity. This school offers a BFA in Graphic Design.

 

2. Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Graphic Design

Pittsburgh, PA

 

Carnegie Mellon ranks high on our list for the interdisciplinary programs that unite design principles with the arts and sciences. Consider pursuing any of the following tracks offered by this university: BDes in Graphic Design (focusing on Products, Communications, or Environments), BHA in Design and Humanities, BSA in Design and Sciences, BCSA with Computer Science, a minor in Design, and IDeATe (integrative design, arts, and technology).

 

3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

 

This Ivy League offers a Fine Arts curriculum that allows students to specialize in the modern field of Graphic Design. Students have the opportunity to earn a BA in Fine Arts with a focus in Graphic Design. Alternatively, students can minor in Fine Arts.

 

4. UCLA

Los Angeles, CA

 

The BA in Design Media Arts offered at UCLA puts students at the hub of LA’s design scene. In addition to the world class faculty and curriculum, students are a short drive from some of the best Graphic Design employers in the world.

 

5. California Institute of the Arts, The School of Art

Valencia, CA

 

You may not have heard of CalArts because students specialize in artistic fields only, but among graphic designers this school is the ticket to some of the best opportunities in a variety of arts fields. Students at CalArts can earn a BFA in Graphic Design.

 

6. Parsons School of Design at the New School

New York, NY

 

Every year, Parsons School of Design produces another cohort of industry leaders, ready to begin a career in any number of competitive design fields. Students may earn a BFA in Communications Design or an AAS in Graphic Design.

 

7. Boston University’s College of Fine Arts

Boston, MA

 

As the largest university in one of the best resourced cities in the country, BU gives Graphic Design students a launchpad to begin a career locally or on the global stage. Students at BU can earn a BFA in Graphic Design.

 

8. American University

Washington, D.C.

 

This program unites the theory and practice of graphic communications design to create a robust curriculum for all students. At American, students have the choice to Major or minor in Graphic Design.

 

9. Northeastern University, College of Arts, Media and Design

Boston, MA

 

Another Boston gem, Northeastern offers a BS or BA in Graphic and Info Design. Because all students are required to take a co-op semester where they work full-time, graduates leave the program with a remarkable edge over the competition.

 

10. University of Miami

Miami, FL

 

At the University of Miami, students can pursue Graphic Design/Multimedia exclusively (BFA) or as part of a traditional liberal arts education (BA). Whether students focus on Graphic Design or a range of interests, they receive an excellent education in sunny Florida.

 

11. Maryland Institute College of Art

Baltimore, MD

 

If you want an undergraduate experience with art at the center of everything, MICA might be the perfect fit for you. MICA has spent decades earning its reputation for one of the preeminent Graphic Design programs in the country, where students can earn their BFA.

 

12. Pratt Institute’s School of Design and School of Art

Brooklyn, NY

 

Pratt Institute gives Graphic Design students a solid foundation and offers a range of ways to specialize within the field. Students may pursue a BFA in Communications Design, an AAS in Graphic Design/Illustration, or an AOS in Graphic Design.

 

13. North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Raleigh, NC

 

For years, NC State has sent talented designers to IDEO, IBM, Pentagram, and other pioneers of visual communications. Students at NC State may earn a BA in Graphic Design.

 

14. Chapman University

Orange, CA

 

Chapman University offers the best of city and country. The Graphic Design program has strong ties to the Los Angeles design scene, but the campus is set apart in the idyllic city of Orange. Undergraduates can earn a BFA in Graphic Design.

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15. University of Florida’s School of Art + Art History

Gainesville, FL

 

UF’s curriculum for Graphic Design students covers each aspect of this ever-expanding field. From public sector marketing to environmental graphics, from app design to improving user experience, the BFA program in Graphic Design prepares graduates for the myriad challenges of a design career.

 

16. Pennsylvania State University, Stuckeman School, College of Arts and Architecture

University Park, PA

 

The Bachelor of Design program at Penn State is a course of study offered nowhere else. Students must first successfully complete the pre-design track to gain acceptance, but once admitted, they are prepared for a career at the nexus of arts and business.

 

17. Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences

Rochester, NY

 

RIT offers the technical foundation that allows students’ creativity to flourish in this demanding industry. Students at RIT can earn a BFA in Graphic Design.

 

18. Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Boston, MA

 

MassArt has been sending highly skilled artists into the job market for over over a century. At MassArt, students can earn a BA in Graphic Design and gain exposure to the professional world of design.

 

19. School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago, IL

 

The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the largest art collections in the world, and students of SAIC benefit from its extensive resources. Those interested in Graphic Design can earn a BA in Visual Communications Design.

 

20. Savannah College of Art and Design, School of Digital Media

Savannah, GA

 

A beautiful campus in historic Savannah, SCAD offers a holistic education that prepares students to be aware of both the craft and market of design. Students can earn a BFA, BA, or minor in Graphic Design, all while having access to dozens of industry leaders.

 

21. University of Minnesota’s College of Design

Minneapolis, MN

 

Midwestern universities often are overlooked when it comes to choosing nationally-competitive programs, but the University of Minnesota’s College of Design is a strong choice. Students in this well-crafted program can major or minor in Graphic Design, depending on how central they want Graphic Design to be in their undergraduate coursework.

 

22. University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts

Chicago, IL

 

This popular major is highly-competitive at UIC, but students hoping to build careers in Graphic Design know it is worth pursuing. Students at UIC can pursue a BDes in Graphic Design after passing their portfolio review.

 

23. Appalachian State University

Boone, NC

 

The BFA in Graphic Design at Appalachian State University offers students ample practice in scenarios that mimic professional working conditions for designers.

 

24. Drake University

Des Moines, Iowa

 

At Drake University, students master formal, conceptual, and artistic foundations to prepare for competitive careers as designers. Depending on their goals, students may choose to earn a BA or BFA in Graphic Design.

 

25. Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

 

This highly interactive and collaborative program places an emphasis on creating content and building a strong artistic portfolio. Students earn their Bachelors in Studio Art and concentrate in Graphic Design.

 

26. Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis, MN

 

MCAD empowers students to create designs that captivate, whether students choose to focus on the technical track with a BS or on artistic exploration with a BFA in Graphic Design.

 

27. Art Center College of Design

Pasadena, CA

 

Set in the heart of historic California, the Art Center College of Design connects graduates with leading retailers, public interest campaigns, and small businesses, giving students hands-on experience creating art that has impact. Students can earn a BA in Graphic Design.

 

28. School of Visual Arts

New York, NY

 

Located in the heart of New York City, the School of Visual Arts connects young talent with a diverse array of coding, branding, and communications skills to prepare them for a career in Graphic Design. All students are eligible to earn a BFA in Graphic Design.

 

29. University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH

 

At the University of Cincinnati, students receive a strong foundation in design while simultaneously specializing in their interest area, be that Graphic Design, Interaction Design, or Motion Design. Degree candidates earn a BA in Graphic Arts.

 

30. Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA

 

Graphic Arts students in Virginia Commonwealth University’s BFA program combine creativity, formal elements, and service to create unique designs that improve the world around them. This art-focused degree is perfect for students looking to become masters of their craft.

 

Good luck in your search! If you liked this article, consider reading these other articles from CollegeVine:

 

How to Create a Portfolio for Art School

What Is an Art Portfolio?

Prestigious Visual Arts Competitions for High School Students

How College Applications Are Evaluated

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Veronica Wickline
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Veronica is an alumna of Harvard College, where she earned her A.B. in History and Classics. After graduating, she joined CollegeVine serving as the Curriculum Development Manager. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA and is writing her debut novel.