What are the top Ohio graphic design schools for 2023?

Top 10 Ohio Graphic Design School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1University of CincinnatiCincinnati
2The Ohio State UniversityColumbus
3Kent State UniversityKent
4Cleveland Institute of ArtCleveland
5Bowling Green State UniversityBowling Green
6Miami UniversityOxford
7Columbus College of Art and DesignColumbus
8University of AkronAkron
9Ohio UniversityAthens
10University of DaytonDayton

Our 2023 ranking of the top 10 graphic design school programs in Ohio. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
University of Cincinnati

The College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) at the University of Cincinnati (UC) houses the Myron E. Ullman Jr. School of Design, which has a Bachelor of Science in Design – Communication Design Program and a Master of Design (MDes). All programs in the School of Design are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The five-year Communication Design Program has three areas of interest including Graphic Design, Interaction Design, and Motion Design. Students in all areas have opportunities to gain real-world experience through several required co-op experiences with top Fortune 500 companies such as Nike, 3M, IBM, Meta, Guess, Macy’s, Southwest Airlines, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Consisting of 120 credit hours, the UC DAAP Communication Design Program requires courses such as Advanced Typography, Interaction Design, Collaborative Studio, Graphic Design 1-2, Welcome to Design, Applied Professional Practice – DAAP, Design Aesthetics, Interaction Design, Photo Design, Design & Meaning, and Motion Design.

The MDes Program at University of Cincinnati is a 60 credit-hour multidisciplinary program that encompasses Communication Design, Fashion Design, and Industrial Design. The program focuses on strategy, systems thinking, evidence, methods, and designing for social impact. Course examples include Design Communication, Translational Research, Design Strategy, and Professional Development Seminar. A co-op experience is required as well as independent study and a thesis, which will be exhibited at the Annual UC DAAPworks Show.

Graduates of the DAAP Programs at University of Cincinnati have established successful freelance careers, they have been hired at design firms, or they work on internal design teams. Career opportunities include advertising design, exhibition design, publishing, corporate communications, packaging, posters, webs design, branding, game applications, environmental design, film effects, 3D animation, virtual reality applications, and more.

University of Cincinnati is an urban research university that has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1919. Accreditation includes all regional campuses. In addition, as an Ohio Public Institution, every program at UC is approved by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). Founded in 1819, University of Cincinnati serves nearly 48,000 students enrolled in more than 400 academic programs across 14 colleges and a graduate school.

2. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the Department of Design and the Department of Art. Both provide paths to study Graphic Design. The Department of Design has a Visual Communication Design Program that leads to a Bachelor of Science in Design (BSD), and a Design Thinking Minor. For students seeking a graduate degree, the Department of Art has an interdisciplinary Visual Arts MFA Program.

Students in the Visual Communication Design Program will have access to undergraduate research opportunities beginning on day one. Students also have opportunities to study with students from Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo, Brazil, or participate in Design Week in Milan, Italy. Other program benefits include participation in student organizations such as Design for 90, D3: Design Develop Deploy, and NOMA: Designers for Diversity; the opportunity to pursue the Arts Honor Program; and portfolio development throughout the program.

Course examples for the BSD Program include Intermediate Visual Communication Design, Design Media, Materials and Processes, Advanced Visual Communication Design, Typographic Design, Collaborative Design, Design Research, Professional Practice, and Design History.  

Graduates of the Visual Communication Design BSD at OSU have been hired at places such as McGraw-Hill Education, Microsoft, Walt Disney Company, IBM iX, The Digest, JP Morgan Chase, Binance, Walt Disney Imagineering, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ring, Interbrand, and SafeAuto Insurance.

The Design Thinking Minor is a 15 credit hour program that covers the basics of design. Courses include Introduction to Design Practice, Design History, Exploring Design Thinking, Visualization as Thinking, and Presentation as Thinking. Students in all departments may add the Design Thinking Minor to their degree program.

The Ohio State University Visual Arts MFA is a three-year, 66 credit hour program that explores Art and Technology, Painting and Drawing, Printmaking, Photography, Film/Video, Glass, and Sculpture. Students in this full-time program may specialize in a variety of design disciplines through electives and other coursework. Additional program benefits include visiting artists, critics, and curators, 24/7 access to private and semi-private studio spaces, internship opportunities, and access to state-of-the-art facilities, exhibition spaces, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Fine Arts and Cartoon Libraries.

The OSU Visual Arts MFA Program culminates with the MFA Thesis Exhibition, which demonstrates the student’s expertise in their area of specialization. Exhibitions are displayed at the OSU-run, Urban Arts Space, located in downtown Columbus.

The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves close to 65,795 students across six regional campuses including Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are offered in 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

3. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Kent State University

The College of Communication and Information at Kent State University (KSU) houses the School of Visual Communication Design (VCD), home to the BA, BFA, MA, and MFA Programs in VCD. A key part of all degree programs at KSU is the mandatory internship. Many are paid and they provide the opportunity to work at companies and design studios in Cleveland, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.

Students in all undergraduate programs will complete the Kent State University Core. Consisting of 36-37 credit hours, the Core covers six areas: Composition, Mathematics and Critical Reasoning, Humanities and Fine Arts, Social Sciences, Basic Sciences, and Additional Options. All undergraduate options explore illustration and design, 2D and 3D forms, print, interactive design, motion, exhibition design, package design, video, and environmental design.

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the BA and BFA Programs also require a minor or secondary area of study. Examples include Advertising, Marketing, Health Communication, Visual Journalism, Public Relations, and Management or Entrepreneurship for Non-Business Majors. International study experiences, portfolio development, and an exhibition are also part of the programs.

The Graduate VCD Program at Kent State is one of only three programs in Ohio to offer an MA in Visual Communication Design. The Graduate Program was also the first to offer the terminal degree in the field, the MFA. The MA is a 32 credit hour program that consists of just three semesters of study. Course examples include Graphic Design Advanced, Concept Development and Implementation, Typographic Structures and Systems, User Experience Design Principles and Concepts, and Design Research Methods. Master of Arts students will complete the MA Project in Graphic Design and Illustration and a portfolio.

The Kent State VCD MFA is a 60 credit hour, five semester program that combines design, research, and theory coursework with hands-on teaching experiences at the freshman and sophomore level. MFA graduates are prepared for leadership roles in design and design education. MA graduates can pursue careers in Branding, User Experience Design, Social Media, and Digital Media, among others.

Established in 1910 as a teacher training school, Kent State University comprises an eight-campus system that serves approximately 30,590 students from across the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Kent State University provides access to more than 300 programs across 40+ colleges, departments, and schools. Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

4. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) has a Graphic Design BFA Program that explores traditional, emerging, and experimental design methods. A major component of the program is the opportunity to work on real-world projects with CIA partners, clients, and in the public sphere before graduation. Students also have opportunities to collaborate with Interior Architecture and Industrial Design students in the classroom and on a variety of projects.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at Cleveland Institute of Art explores traditional, emerging, and experimental design methods. Study for the program includes Interactive and Motion Graphics, Production, Advertising Design, Print, Editorial Design, Marketing, Exhibition Design, Publication Design, and Event Design. Course examples include Contemporary Marketing + Art Direction, Design for Communication, and Graphic Design: Advanced Studio.

The CIA Graphic Design Program culminates with the Graphic Design BFA Thesis and Graphic Design: BFA Statement + Exhibition. Graduates are prepared to pursue titles such as Brand Manager, Packaging Designer, Book Designer, Advertising Designer, Magazine Designer, and Creative Director. Graduates of the program have also gone on to launch their own design studios and freelance businesses.

Chartered in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women, Cleveland Institute of Art is an independent, not-for-profit college that serves around 600 students enrolled in 13 majors in Fine Arts, Entertainment Arts, Design, and Crafts. Programs at CIA are managed and taught by approximately 50 full-time and 70 adjunct faculty, who are all professional artists and designers. Cleveland Institute of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Bowling Green State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) was founded at the College of Liberal Arts in 1929. Housing 21 departments and four schools with more than 100 areas of study, 25 master’s degree programs, and 12 doctoral options, the College of Arts and sciences is the largest college at BGSU. Among the College’s four schools is one of the largest and oldest state art schools in Ohio.

Established more than 75 years ago, the School of Art at BGSU houses five Divisions: Graphic Design, Digital Arts, Studio, Art History, and Art Education. Students across Divisions have access to the BGSU Graphic Design facilities. Housed in the Fine Arts Center and Wolfe Center for the Arts, facilities include: the CAVE (Center for Advanced Visualization and Education) Lab, 20 state-of-the-art workstations, and an additional lab with access to the Digital Arts classroom.

Other School of Art features include the opportunity to intern with Pixar, American Greetings, Procter + Gamble, Disney, and PBS TV, and study abroad experiences in Austria, China, Cuba, France, Italy, Japan, and Spain are also open to School of Art students.

The Graphic Design Division within the BGSU School of Art has two degree programs: the Graphic Design BFA and the Integrative Design MDes. Course examples for the Graphic Design BFA include Graphic Design Thinking, User Experience and Interface Design (UX/UI), Graphic Design Theory & Methods, Design for Social Impact, System-Based Graphic Design, History of Graphic Design and Integrative Models, Graphic Design Theory and Methods, and Special Topics in Graphic Design.

Students in this professional program will also complete the Collaborative & Community Engagement Practicum, Senior Studio in Graphic Design, and the Graphic Design Senior Thesis.

The BGSU Design MDes is a low-residency, hybrid program with just three campus visits each semester and a one-week visit during the summer. Consisting of 60 credit hours, the MDes has two-year, three-year, and four-year options that provide opportunities to collaborate with and engage in interdisciplinary activities with corporate and non-profit partners.

Students in this terminal degree program will complete courses, seminars, and studios such as Collaborative Design Studio I and II: Social Innovation, Design Research and Methods, Seminar in American Culture Studies, Critical Issues in Art and Technologies, and Design Studio III & IV: Int. Strategies and Theory & Implementation. Thanks to a variety of electives (with 12 credits required), MDes students have opportunities to focus in an area or interest. Elective examples include Special Topics in Digital Arts, Collaborative Multimedia Development, Perspectives in Visual Arts Education, Audience Research, and Techniques in Demographic Analysis.

The Integrative Design MDes at BGSU culminates with the Design Thesis Exhibition Project and Oral Defense.

Graduates of the Design Programs at Bowling Green State University are prepared for creative roles in just about every industry. Alumni have been hired at Cooper-Smith Advertising, Nike, F+W, Abercrombie & Fitch, JP Morgan Chase, Landor Associates, Progressive, Cleveland Institute of Art, FormATECH Exhibits, Root Inc., J. Crew, University of Findlay, Toledo Museum of Art, The X-Factor, and University of Miami.

Bowling Green State University was established in 1910. The school serves around 19,600 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across six colleges and BGSU Firelands (Huron, Ohio). Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The BGSU School of Art has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1984.

6. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Miami University

Miami University (Miami U or Miami) houses the College of Creative Arts (CCA), home to the Department of Art, which has a Communication Design Program with BFA and Minor pathways. Program features include small class sizes; opportunities to work on real world projects for local companies and non-profit organizations through the Miami U interdisciplinary program—Highwire Brand Studio; visiting artist lectures and workshops; 24/7 access to studios and production facilities; and the opportunity to co-major, minor, or double-major in Interactive Media Studies. BFA students may also choose between Miami’s other minor and double-major options.  

The Communication Design Program at Miami U explores letterpress printing, hand media, bookbinding, and experimental digital approaches. To enhance the degree, the program allows students to choose 16 elective credit hours from the following areas: Experience Design, Studio Art, Environmental Design,  Human-Centered Design, Business, Interactive Design, Art and Architectural History, Language, Perception & Cognition, Communication, Craft, and Cultural Studies.

Communication Design BFA students have access to paid internship opportunities with local and national design firms. Students may also complete an internship through Miami University’s John E. Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg. and/or participate in the Miami U Study Abroad Program, which highlights study and work experiences overseas for a full semester.

Miami University Communication Design graduates will leave the program with a portfolio of their best work. Potential careers include advertising, web design, book publishing, magazine and newspaper publishing, public relations, user-experience design, exhibit design, branding, packaging design, entertainment, multimedia design, and environmental design, among others.

Established in 1809, Miami University Ohio is an original Public Ivy that serves more than 23,000 students across campuses in Oxford (main), Hamilton, Middletown and West Chester, Ohio, and Luxembourg (Western Europe). More than 200 majors and minors in over 120 areas of study and 70+ master’s and doctoral degree programs are offered across seven colleges and schools. Miami Oh’s regional campuses provide a variety of associate degree programs. Miami University Ohio is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7. Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio
Columbus College of Art and Design

Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) has an Advertising & Graphic Design Program that features opportunities to work on projects with local companies such as Airstream and Red, White & BOOM!; co-op and internship opportunities; visiting artists, workshops, and seminars; and participation in the American Advertising Federation sponsored event The Pitch and the CCAD-based AdGraph Collective. All CCAD Design students also have access to state-of-the-art equipment, labs, and studios such as computer workstations with dual monitors equipped with industry-standard software, the Video and Photography Studio, Image scanners and Wi-Fi enabled printers, the Tad Jeffrey FabLab, CCAD Print Lab, and open-access computer labs.

The Advertising & Graphic Design Program at Columbus College of Art and Design has two pathways including the BFA and a Minor. The Advertising & Graphic Design Minor consists of 15 credit hours and the BFA consists of 120 credit hours, with 60 hours in the Major. Course examples across programs include Advanced Branding Concepts, Digital Design Lab, Content Marketing Strategy, Typographic Communication, UX Strategy & Interaction, Conceptual Copywriting and AD, Motion Graphics, Web Strategy & Design, and Applied Design.

Graduates of the Advertising & Graphic Design Program at Columbus College of Art & Design are prepared to pursue positions such as Interactive Media Director, Graphic Designer, Digital Designer, Web Designer/Developer, Brand Manager, Environmental Designer, Creative Director, Copywriter, Marketing Strategist, Production Designer, Design Consultant, and Social Media Manager.

CCAD BFA graduates have been hired at BBDO Worldwide, Arc Worldwide/Leo Burnett, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, Apple, Saatchi & Saatchi, IBM iX, A&E Networks, Interbrand, JPMorgan Chase, American Greetings, E. & J. Gallo Winery, and Wondersauce.

Columbus College of Art & Design was established in 1879 by five women. The school serves approximately 1,010 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states and 14 countries. CCAD provides 11 undergraduate majors, 18 minors, and three graduate programs across 10+ departments. Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). CCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

8. University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
University of Akron

University of Akron (UA) houses Butchel College of Arts and Science, home to the Mary Schiller Myers School of Art, and the Graphic Design Program—which is the largest program within the School. Consisting of 120 credit hours of study and leading to a BFA, the UA Graphic Design Program requires 54 credit hours in the Major. Course examples include Motion Design, Typography I-IV, Advanced Graphic Design, Corporate Identity & Graphic Systems, Photography I-III, Packaging Design, Advanced Illustration, Digital Media, UI/UX Design, Web and Devices I-II, Professional Design Practices, and Production I-II.

The Graphic Design BFA also has a Photography requirement, as well as a minimum of five credits of electives. Course examples in these areas include Digital Photography, Advanced Photography, Product Photography, Intaglio/Lithography, Installation Art, and Printmaking.

All UA Graphic Design students have access to state-of-the art graphic design studios, 70,000 square feet of learning space, and the Emily Davis Art Gallery. Students in this program have opportunities to participate in juried student and scholarship exhibitions, an active visiting artist and lecture series, and student organizations such as Design x Nine and the Student Art League.

Students also benefit from frequent travel experiences to New York, Chicago, Miami, and Europe, as well as access to co-op programs, internship opportunities, and in-class opportunities to work with companies such as Microsoft, NASA, and Bridgestone. Students have interned or participated in co-op opportunities with the New York Stock Exchange, Disney World, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and local advertising agencies and design studios. In addition, Graphic Design students may work at the in-house student design studio known as Design X Nine.

In the third year of the Design Program at University of Akron, students will complete Graphic Design Junior Review and Professional Design Practices. In the last year of the program, students will complete the Final Project and Exhibition.

Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA Program at University of Akron BFA are prepared to pursue positions such as Brand Identity Designer, Photo Editing Artist, Logo Designer, Advertising Designer, User Interface (UI) Designer, Packaging Designer, Motion Designer, Creative Director, Layout Artist, User Experience (UX) Designer, Exhibit Designer, Interactive Designer, Book Designer, Web Designer, Publications Designer, and Graphic Designer.

Founded in 1870 as Buchtel College, University of Akron comprises five campuses and centers across the region, and a Distance Learning Division. The school serves approximately 14,990 students enrolled in 300+ programs and tracks across eight colleges and schools. University of Akron is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University

Ohio University (OU) houses the College of Fine Arts, home to the School of Art and Design, which has a Graphic Design Program that leads to a BFA. Students who would like to complete the BFA will enter the School of Art and Design as a BA Major. Upon acceptance, they will begin the Foundations Program, which includes several 2000-level studio graphic design courses, two studios outside of graphic design, and a portfolio of studio work for review at the end of the sophomore year.

Once admitted to the BFA Program, students will begin advanced coursework in Design, Typography, Visual Systems, Photography, Interaction Design, Printmaking, Motion, Painting, Sculpture, and Ceramics. In the final year of the program, students will complete the Graphic Design Practicum and Graphic Design BFA Exhibition. Completion of an internship is recommended, but not required.

Graduates of the Ohio University Graphic Design BFA Program are prepared for positions at companies, agencies, and organizations that require Design skills and experience. Program alumni have been hired at advertising agencies, design firms, newspapers, magazines, publishing companies, and museums. They work in Corporate Branding and Identity Design, Publication and Book Design, Information and Interactive Design, Type Design, Signage and Environmental Design, and Package and Collateral Design, among other areas. 

Some Graphic Design BFA graduates goon to pursue graduate study at a top college or university. Ohio University is often a top choice for program alumni. The School of Art and Design here has a Graphic Design MFA that emphasizes studio research. Students in this program will also attend seminars, take Art History and elective courses, and complete a professional Design experience. Course examples for the program include Graphic Design I-III, Letterpress and Bookmaking, and Typography and Image.

Consisting of 90 semester hours, the Graphic Design MFA requires a Thesis to graduate. Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication-School of Visual Communication (VisCom) has several additional programs for students interested in a BS or MA. Scripps College of Communication has a Visual Communication BS (BSVC) with Majors in Information Graphics: Publication Design, and Multimedia. A major component of this program is the advisor-approved internship, which consists of 400 hours of paid and supervised work in the student’s area of interest.

The MA is an interdisciplinary program that has Information Graphics & Interactive Design (IG & ID) and Visual Communication Management Tracks. The IG & ID Specialization explores user experience design (UX), infographics design, and web design. Because the MA is interdisciplinary, students in both Tracks have ample opportunities to customize coursework to suit their interests. Potential areas of exploration include Publication Design, Interactive Design, Picture Editing, Commercial Photography, Audio/Video Storytelling, Management, and Photography.

Graduates of the VisCom programs at Ohio University are Graphic Designers, Multimedia Artists,  Designers, Creative Directors, Designers, Photo Editors, Creative Directors, Production Managers, and Photojournalists. Program alumni have been hired at NPR, The New York Times, The Food Network Magazine, Vox Media, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, The Los Angeles Times, Getty Images, Wondersauce, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Urban Institute, and a variety of colleges and universities around the world.

Established in 1804, Ohio University is the oldest college in the state. The school opened in with one building, three students and one professor. Today Ohio University’s more than 1,700 faculty members serve 28,000+ students across more than 10 campuses and centers across the state, and OHIO Online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Ohio University offers more than 250 academic programs across 11 colleges that house 16 schools and dozens of departments.

10. University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio
University of Dayton

The Art and Design Department at University of Dayton (UD) is part of the College of Arts and Sciences. Within the Department is a Graphic Design (GDN) BFA Program that has an 86% employment rate within one year after graduation. Other program features include National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accreditation; career workshops and seminars; internships and co-ops with local companies and clients throughout the program; and access to The Hub Powered by PNC Bank—a newly renovated innovation space.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at University of Dayton is a professional program that requires a minimum 131 credit hours of study. This includes 87 credit hours in the GDN Major. Course examples for the program include Graphic Design I-III, Design Processes I-II, Typography I-II, History of Graphic Design, Form & Concept, Web Design, Foundation Photography, and Design & Color. The program culminates with the Senior Capstone Project and Portfolio.

Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA Program at University of Dayton are prepared to pursue a range of professional careers in areas such as Branding, User Experience (UX) Design, Advertising, Marketing, Web Design, Magazine and Book Publishing, Packaging Design, Environmental Design, Social Media Design, Interaction Desig, Digital Design,  Production Design, and Exhibit Design.

University of Dayton was established in 1850 by the Society of Mary (Marianists). This Catholic research university serves approximately 11,770 students enrolled in more than 130 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. The academic programs at UD are housed across the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Schools of Education and Health Sciences; Law; Business Administration; and Engineering. University of Dayton has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1928.