From book covers to website navigation to halftime commercials to business card logos, graphic designers have a hand in virtually every visual medium we encounter. Graphic designers are the visual magicians responsible for the effectiveness of every concert poster and app interface.
If this interests you, you may be wondering what steps you need to take to enter the field of graphic design. So, off to class with you! What is a graphic design program? How did I compile this list? What are the best graphic design schools? How do you pick the right one? All of these questions and more will be answered in this article.
Best colleges with graphic design majors
The College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech offers a highly regarded Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic/Visual Communication Design program. Students interested in enrolling in the graphic design program must first complete the School of Visual Arts Foundation Program. There should also be a review of the portfolio. Typography, web and mobile design, user experience, and hand lettering are just some of the skills taught to accepted students of visual communication design. Virginia Tech has been a pioneer and a demanding institution in Southern technological education for over 150 years. Virginia Tech’s Graphic/Visual Communication Design program is highly regarded, in part because of its small enrollment. The program does more than just teach students how to draw and paint; it also teaches them how to think conceptually, how to read and interpret visual symbols, and how to solve problems creatively. The program has received approval from the respected NACAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design).
UCLA – Design Media Arts
UCLA’s School of Arts and Architecture offers a Bachelor of Arts in Design Media Arts that provides a solid grounding in fundamental design principles like typography and color theory. Visual communication, game design, interactivity, web design, and audio visual design are just some of the many design-related topics covered in the program’s many classes. Student relationships and a sense of camaraderie are encouraged by the school’s small class sizes in the graphic design program. The school encourages students to try new things, develop as individuals, and think critically and analytically over commercialism. In order to provide students with a strong foundation in both the arts and academic studies, the School of Arts and Architecture at UCLA combines performance and studio work with research studies. To encourage the development of innovative media and culturally significant objects and experiences, the institution takes a holistic approach to design by integrating art history, theory, and practice.
Cooper Union School of Art
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program at the Cooper Union School of Art is interdisciplinary and comprehensive. Graphic design students have their pick of seven subfields, including graphic arts, and gain an appreciation for the interconnectedness of the visual arts as a whole. By allowing students to retake the same high-level studio classes, the school is able to encourage long-term mentoring relationships between teachers and students. Due to the dynamic nature of the projects, each encounter will be unique. The mission of the Cooper Union’s School of Art is to inspire students to challenge convention and effect positive change in their local communities and beyond through the medium of art. In addition to general studies in the humanities and the visual arts, students are encouraged to experiment and participate in research as part of their coursework. The Graphic Design degree is recognized by NASAD.
Design Academy Eindhoven
The Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) is a prestigious institution that educates students in the fields of art, design, and architecture. Although the master’s programs are distinct, bachelor’s students are free to move between departments within DAE. The school assists students in locating stimulating internships and work placements through its network of faculty, graduates, advisors, and professionals in the field known as the DAE community. DAE graduates can set the stage for a successful career through this kind of hands-on experience and networking opportunities.
Texas State University
One of the largest BFA in Communication Design programs in the United States can be found at Texas State University’s School of Art and Design. Students interested in art direction, graphic design, and interactive media will find that it provides a stimulating learning environment. The four pillar courses that make up the Communication Design curriculum provide students with a solid grounding in their chosen field of study. Corporate identity, art direction, typography, sustainable packaging, design research, and environmental graphics are all a part of the curriculum. Students spend their time in the program building professional portfolios in preparation for the workforce. Communication Design students at Texas State are encouraged to participate in internships and design competitions; as a result, a number of Texas State alumni have been featured in design periodicals like Step Inside Design, CMYK, and PRINT. Students have also won awards at the American Advertising Federation Awards, The One Show, and the Creative Summit. Classes are held in a studio setting with a maximum enrollment of 16 students. You can use tools like a CNC router, die cutter, 3D printer, and laser cutter in the student lab.
North Carolina State University
Based on measures of educational quality, social mobility, alumni success, and value, Money magazine currently ranks North Carolina State University as the best public university in the state. The NC State University College of Design is a top-tier institution for visual arts education. They produce well-rounded, professional designers by giving them a solid design foundation and lots of practical experience through their bachelor’s program in graphic design.
The first year of study at NC State consists of foundational studio and design classes. Beginning in the second year, you will take both a six-credit studio course and a co-requisite typography studio course as part of a required core sequence. In your final year, you’ll have the chance to put what you’ve learned about clients and businesses into practice.
Students in this program have the opportunity to study abroad at the NC State Prague Institute for either a semester or summer.
Temple University, which has been around since 1884, has had a long and eventful journey to become what it is today: “an international powerhouse in higher education.” The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic and Interactive Design is one of more than 500 programs offered by Temple University, a top-tier research institution located in the heart of historic Philadelphia.
The emphasis on interactive design in Temple’s BFA program is revolutionary for the field of graphic design. The days when “graphic design” only meant “print design” are long gone. Learn to apply “research-driven concepts across all platforms, including illustration, typography, packaging, websites, social media, VR, and real-world spaces” with the help of this course.
If you want to learn graphic design in an environment rich in Philadelphia’s artistic culture, look no further than Temple University. While studying in Temple’s GAID program, you’ll be part of a close-knit community of students and faculty despite being part of a top-tier research university in a major city.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country, allows students to tailor their B.Des. in communications (graphic design) to their individual interests and career aspirations. The success of Carnegie Mellon’s Bachelor of Design in Design programs is evident in the work of its graduates, who have contributed to such iconic designs as the Starbucks logo, the Pinterest user interface, and the Spider-Man opening credits.
At Carnegie, you’ll dive right into the thick of things in your first year with group studio classes in graphic design. In the second year, you’ll focus on graphic design’s communication practices, and in the final two years, you’ll work in groups to put what you’ve learned to use in capstone projects that emphasize design for service and/or innovation.
The program was developed with an eye toward the big picture, taking into account both the historical development of the field of design and its impact on the environment.
The Pratt Institute is well-known for its commitment to “poetic pragmatism,” the view that artistic expression and pragmatic concerns can and should coexist. They not only recognize that creativity is crucial to the success of artists in the modern era, but they also advocate for it. Because of this, most Pratt undergraduate majors are interdisciplinary in nature. Students majoring in Communications Design, for instance, can narrow their focus to one of three subfields: advertising, illustration, or graphic design.
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Famous people who attended RISD include the creators of Airbnb, the animator and comedian Seth MacFarlane, the filmmaker Gus Van Sant, and the fashion designers Nicole Miller and Jill Stuart. Several graduates have also been honored with MacArthur “genius” grants. You can expect well-funded programs and faculty at the top of their fields if you choose to study at RISD.
It should come as no surprise that RISD is consistently ranked as the best university for graphic design. It has a well-respected graphic design program and is one of the most selective institutions on this list.
At RISD, students apply as a whole and don’t choose a concentration until about halfway through their first year. With around 165 students, Graphic Design is one of RISD’s largest undergraduate programs. The diploma awarded is a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
CalArts is the place to be if you want to study art at a university founded by Walt Disney. Disney envisioned CalArts as a place where creative minds from all walks of life could learn and grow together in a workshop setting.
There are only about 12–20 annual entrants into the BFA Graphic Design program. Quite a few grads find jobs in the entertainment industry or at prominent technology firms. You might want to consider CalArts if you hear the siren song of Hollywood.
School of Visual Arts
A Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design is available from the School of Visual Arts, with concentrations available in areas such as package design, web design, book jacket design, and more.
Former students have nothing but praise for SVA’s extensive internship program, professional-level student exhibitions, and Senior Library’s annual compilations of graduating students’ work sent to industry giants. If you want to be employable in the professional world and build connections, SVA is the place for you. However, if you are more interested in the artistic and/or theoretical aspects of design practice, you may want to look elsewhere.
University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning
The University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning offers a high-quality design program as well as the opportunity to take classes in a wide range of disciplines, making it a great choice for students who are interested in both.
The University of Cincinnati’s graphic design program provides a Bachelor of Science in Communication Design rather than the more common Bachelor of Fine Arts. Many graduates find employment in the medical field, government, or non-governmental organizations. This is a great option if you want to study design in one of those areas.
The New School
Parsons School of Design, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School for Social Research, College of Performing Arts, and Schools of Public Engagement make up The New School, a comprehensive university. The Parsons School of Design offers 126 different undergraduate degree and diploma programs, one of which is a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design. Information design, branding, motion graphics, type design, and web design are just some of the topics covered in the BFA program. Alexander Wang, Steven Meisel, and Thomas Ford are just a few of the illustrious names in the fashion and film industries that are among the school’s alums.
What Will I Learn in a Graphic Design Bachelor’s Program?
The educational prerequisites for becoming a graphic designer will always fluctuate from institution to institution. However, there are some constants among graphic design software. Many schools’ graphic design degree programs require students to take both general education and elective courses. The foundational courses for your graphic design degree should focus on art history and color theory. The course also covers related topics such as typography, advertisement creation, and digital design software.
Special projects are often a part of the curriculum for graphic designers. A graphic design internship, capstone project, or similar activity could fulfill this requirement. You can add to your resume and get some real-world experience with these projects. You will have valuable experience by the time you graduate that will serve you well in your professional life.
Degree programs in graphic design aim to teach students a variety of skills and perspectives. The courses you take for your graphic design degree will prepare you well for any professional path you choose as a designer.
Is Graphic Design a Dying Career?
There’s a common misconception that graphic design is a “dead end profession.” It’s not because graphic design is going extinct (selling products and ideas will never go extinct!) that this concept is being proposed. but the print media industry is being replaced by the digital media industry.
Print advertisements and billboards are two examples of graphic design from the pre-Internet era. Many people still read newspapers and magazines, but the vast majority of news and advertising is now consumed online. The best schools for graphic design typically offer courses in newer technologies like 3D and augmented reality. What this means is that not only is the work of graphic designers more important than ever, but it is also more complex.
Graphic designers are in high demand across many sectors, including healthcare, marketing, advertising, entertainment, and education, so the question “Is Graphic Design a Dying Career?” can be safely dismissed. Graphic designers will always be needed in the business world, so the field is not in decline but rather evolving as it moves online.
Publishing layouts, book jackets, album art, websites, app interfaces, advertisements, event posters, company logos, and pretty much every other form of information presentation are all the work of graphic designers. Being a graphic designer calls for originality, familiarity with modern technology, and business savvy.
Consider enrolling in a graphic design program if this line of work appeals to you. Art schools, large public universities, specialized technical universities, and even the Ivy League all offer excellent graphic design degree programs. This comprehensive directory will help you zero in on the ideal course of study.