The graphic design field teaches prospective students the art of communications design. The best schools for graphic design give hands-on experience in influencing others with art. The graphic design industry creates interactive design strategies to communicate ideas and messages.
The best graphic design universities provide interdisciplinary programs covering electronic or print media art, like creating logos or designing a website. In this article, we discuss the best graphic design schools and colleges for undergraduate and graduate degrees. These in-person and online colleges provide real-world experience. We will also discuss the top jobs, their salaries, and degree requirements.
Best Graphic Design College and University Rankings: Top 10 Graphic Design Schools at a Glance
|School||State||Formats Available||US News Ranking|
|Arizona State University||AZ||Hybrid||117|
|California College of the Arts||CA||In-person||10 (Best Fine Arts Programs)|
|Maryland Institute College of Art||MD||Online||8 (Best Fine Arts Programs)|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||MA||In-person||2|
|Pratt Institute||NY||In-person||15 (Best Fine Arts Programs)|
|Rhode Island School of Design||RI||In-person||1 (Graphic Design)|
|School of the Art Institute of Chicago||IL||In-person||2 (Best Fine Arts Programs)|
|School of Visual Arts||NY||In-person||23 (Best Fine Arts Programs)|
|University of Arizona||AZ||Hybrid||103|
Graphic Design School Rankings: Best Graphic Design Colleges and Universities
We have listed the best graphic design universities and colleges in the table above. However, these schools have various programs in graphic design education and art. We discuss the benefits of studying in these schools, their tuition fees, and how to gain admission.
Best Bachelor’s Degree Programs
The Best Schools for Graphic Design: Types of College Degrees and University Programs Offered
Talented visual design enthusiasts have the liberty to choose from multiple programs to learn visual design techniques. You can start your education with certificate courses or an associate degree. Later you may want to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s in design. If you want to do further research, you could study for a PhD.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Comparing Popular Degree Options
Best Graphic Design Schools: Other Graphic Design University Rankings
We found the best graphic design colleges and universities for various digital design programs. The list is based on the visual design university rankings on different platforms to offer you the best learning environment.
Best Online Graphic Design Schools
- Maryville University. The university offers a comprehensive degree on a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Media. You can learn typography, digital media, design theory, basic art and design theory in this degree program.
- Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) Online. The Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts at SNHU online is a full-time four-year degree. SNHU is known for its reliability and has some of the best online bachelor’s degree programs.
- University of Florida. The 120-credit Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences, focusing on graphic design, teaches digital design basics, studio labs, 3D modeling, and traditional and advanced designing concepts.
Best Community Colleges for Graphic Design
- Anne Arundel Community College (AACC). The AACC is a leading community college. Its program is an associate degree that will open up entry-level jobs as a graphic designer or visual artist.
- Salt Lake Community College. The Associate in Graphic Design and Communications is one of the best graphic design college degree programs for design. You have access to the school’s studio labs and design studios. If you decide to study for a bachelor’s degree later, you can transfer credits from an associate degree.
- San Diego City College. This college is also a top community college of design for digital design enthusiasts. The associate program is affordable, and the school claims that 70 percent of their students find a job within three months of finishing the course.
Best Undergraduate Schools for Graphic Design
- Boston University. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Visual Arts at Boston University has a creative and dynamic environment that will help you develop designing skills for professional life.
- California College of the Arts. This college of design offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. It is among the best visual design colleges and ranked within the top ten on most platforms. The school boasts advanced design and studio labs, design layout facilities, and alumni support.
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The school offers a multidisciplinary bachelor’s program for future graphic designers. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design degree shares multidisciplinary courses. You can combine visual design methods and communication skills for a diverse career.
Best Graduate Schools for Graphic Design
- North Carolina State University. This graduate program ranks among the top one percent of university programs in the USA. The public-owned university has over 40,000 students and boasts one of the best design labs.
- Rhode Island School of Design. RISD is the best art school worldwide. Naturally, its visual design program offers high-quality graduate programs. Depending on your undergraduate background and courses, you can choose a two or three-year program.
- Yale University. The Master of Fine Arts degree in graphic design is one of the most prestigious and futuristic graduate programs. It takes only 12 students per semester, creating a competitive admissions process for prospective graduate students.
Best Graphic Design Schools With Dual Degree Programs
- Cornell University | Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts. Cornell University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree allowing you to combine it with another undergraduate degree from Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees in urban design and regional studies.
- University of Denver | Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Arts. You may choose from multiple degrees to combine with visual design programs. It includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts, or a Bachelor of Science in various subjects.
- The New School Parsons | Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts. The school offers a five-year dual-degree program for undergraduates. Students can study for a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Art and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music, art, or design.
Best Schools With Accelerated Graphic Design Programs
- Bellevue University | Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design. Bellevue University has produced many award-winning graphic designers. This self-paced program allows undergraduate students to customize courses to finish faster.
- California Baptist University | Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media. You can complete this accelerated degree in just 16 months. It is affordable, and the course is for professionals and students alike.
- Maryville University | Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Media. The 120-credit-hour program is fully online and allows you to complete the degree at an accelerated pace. The faculty will customize the course path for you, depending on the requirements.
Easy Colleges to Get Into
Is Graduate School for Graphic Design Worth It?
Yes, graduate school for graphic design is worth it. The return on investment for associate, undergraduate, or postgraduate degrees is almost twice that of normal subjects. Graphic designers earn around $47,000 annually, which is higher than the annual income of the average American.
What Jobs Can You Do With a Graphic Design Degree?
Jobs you can do with a graphic design degree include a graphic designer, animator, art director, and special effect artists. You can also be a freelancer or work as a trainer in various organizations.
How Much Can I Earn With a Degree in Graphic Design?
You can earn an average salary of $50,710 per year with a degree in graphic design, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As you become skilled and gain experience, you may work as an art director who earns an average of $100,890 per year. VFX artists and animators earn an average salary of $78,790 per year with a design media arts degree.
Highest-Paying Graphic Design Careers
|Profession||Minimum Education||Average Salary|
|Art Directors||Bachelor’s Degree||$100,890|
|Special Effects Artists and Animators||Bachelor’s Degree||$78,790|
|Web Developers and Digital Designers||Bachelor’s Degree||$77,200|
|Industrial Designers||Bachelor’s Degree||$77,030|
|User Experience Designers||Bachelor’s Degree||$75,895|
|Video Game Designers||Associate Degree||$67,604|
|Graphic Designers||Bachelor’s Degree||$50,710|
|Craft and Fine Artists||Not required||$49,960|
|Desktop Publishers||Associate’s degree||$46,910|
Best Jobs With a Graphic Design Degree
The best jobs with a graphic design degree are art director, SFX and VFX artists, web developer, and digital designer. Internship opportunities may give you a foot in the door of your dream job.
Advanced degrees in visual communication design, professional experience, and a strong portfolio will open up higher-paying jobs in the field of design. Industrial design is another lucrative job you can get with a bachelor’s degree.
How Can I Pay for Graphic Design School?
There are various ways to pay for graphic design school. You can pay for schools through government-funded tuition fee assistance, scholarships, and student loans. Get a savings plan going as soon as possible and look for online schools as they are less expensive. Part-time programs make it possible to work at the same time.
- Government Funded: There are multiple government-funded financial assistance programs for graphic design students. You can apply for government financial aid from FAFSA, the Federal Work-Study Program, and Federal Pell Grants.
- Grants and Scholarships: You can also look for private grants and scholarships. Your university may have multiple associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees scholarships. Many organizations also offer semester or annual grants.
- Bank Loans: Almost every bank will provide educational loans. You could also apply for a Federal Government subsidy. However, a loan requires paying off and there are things you can do to afford college and avoid a loan.
- Deferred Payment: Your graphic design school may allow you to pay the tuition fee after graduation once you have a job. Deferred payment options are available for some online programs and bootcamps. Contact admissions to find out if they offer this option.
How to Pay for Your Chosen School Education Path
Choosing the Best Graphic Design School for You
When choosing the best graphic design school for you, look at its ranking, accreditation, reputation, and format. The US News and World Report rank the best visual design programs every year, this will help you make the best decision.
First of all, look at the accreditation of the school and its offered program. The proper authority must accredit the school and program. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has all this information, including acceptance and graduation rates.
Flexibility and format
If you need flexibility, it is best to follow an online program. Some community colleges and universities are well-known for offering high-quality online education. These schools include Arizona State University and Southern New Hampshire University.
Choose a school and program that you know has a good reputation. Look for the university or program ranking on the US News and World Report and Times Higher Education websites. Often, it is quite challenging to gain admission into the schools with the best reputations.
Not all universities or colleges will offer a direct degree in graphic design, so look at the course, concentration options, and the program’s curriculum. The degree could be a Bachelor’s in Graphic Information Technology, a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Studies, or a Bachelor of Science in Art and Design with a Graphic Design concentration.
Barriers to admission
Check all the admission requirements and barriers before finalizing your school selection. Education requirements include a minimum GPA and standardized tests. Other admission barriers could consist of tuition fees, courses, or location.
How to Get Into the Right School for Your Profession
Does It Matter What College I Go to for Graphic Design?
Yes, it does matter which college you go to for graphic design. It is best to have a college with a good reputation on your resume. Some schools have a better reputation than others for the visual design program they offer. You can also check the student-to-faculty ratio, as smaller classes mean more attention and support. Check the individual universities’ design centers and lab facilities.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Graphic Design University Ranking Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Schools for Graphic Design
We ranked the best graphic design schools by consulting the university rankings conducted by US News & World Report and Times Higher Education. To further refine our graphic design university ranking methodology, we gave special consideration to things like reputation, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and breadth and depth of graphic design degree program offerings.
Additional Reading About Graphic Design
[query_class_embed] https://careerkarma.com/blog/how-to-become-a-graphic-designer/ https://careerkarma.com/blog/graphic-design-bachelors-degrees/ https://careerkarma.com/blog/best-graphic-design-masters-degrees/
Best Graphic Design Schools FAQ
Yes, graphic design is a good career. If you are a creative thinker and want to invest in a creative earning source, graphic designing-related jobs will be an ideal choice. With the rapid growth of multimedia, jobs for graphic designers are on the increase. One of the fastest-growing jobs for those with a bachelor’s degree in visual design is special effects artists and animators, according to BLS.
No, graphic design is not a hard major if you have a creative mind and complete your assignments, presentations, and projects on time. However, some schools can be very competitive.
Yes, most graphic design undergraduate programs require math. You will need three to four credits of basic math. It is also useful to better understand perspective and visualization. The math course may include basic calculus, geometry, and algebra.
Yes, it matters which art school you go to because potential employers often look for accredited and well-reputed institutions during the hiring process. Studying at one of the best graphic design universities and an accredited institution is very important, especially if you’d like to study further. You will be able to transfer credits to another degree or institution.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.