What are the top Pennsylvania graphic design schools for 2022?

Top 10 Graphic Design School Programs in Pennsylvania - 2022 College Rankings
1Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh
2The University of the ArtsPhiladelphia
3Temple UniversityPhiladelphia
4Kutztown University of PennsylvaniaKutztown
5Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park
6Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia
7Pennsylvania College of Art and DesignLancaster
8Moore College of Art & DesignPhiladelphia
9University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia
10Millersville University of PennsylvaniaMillersville

Our 2022 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in Pennsylvania. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Mellon University

The College of Fine Arts (CFA) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) houses the School of Design, which offers a Bachelor of Design (BDes). Equivalent to the BFA degree, the BDes has three tracks: Communications (Graphic Design), Products (Industrial Design), and Environments (Physical and Digital). BDes students have the option to focus in one or all three areas or pursue a focus that combines two of the three tracks. CMU BDes alumni have worked on a number of major projects including the Pinterest interface design, typefaces for The Guardian, the title sequence of the Spiderman movie, and the Starbucks logo.

The School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University has several other options for undergraduate students seeking a degree or program that combines liberal arts and design with interdisciplinary studies across pathways. The most notable option is the interdisciplinary BXA. The curriculum combines components of the CMU Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA), Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA), and the Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA). BXA students may add a Design Concentration, which consists of 98 units of required courses and 10 units of Design electives. Course examples include Design Lab, Collaborative Visualizing, Design Studies: Systems, Prototyping Lab, and Studio I: Form and Context. Graduates of this program go on to work in user research, strategic planning, and information systems analysis, among other areas.

Another option is the Design Minor. Consisting of 54 units (including 27 units of design electives), the Design Minor is open to students who wish to add design to their current major. So, a Computer Science student who would like to add a design component to their program may enroll in the Minor. Course examples for the program include Design for Interactions for Communications, Design for Interactions for Products, and Human Experience in Design.

Finally, Carnegie Mellon University offers a unique program—Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe)—that allows students to add a concentration in areas such as animation and special effects, intelligent environments, media design, entrepreneurship for creative industries, physical computing, game design, sound design, learning media, and media design.

Graduate programs for designers include a one-year Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Design, a two-year MDes in Design, and a PhD in Transition Design. The CMU Design graduate programs are interdisciplinary and offer seminar and studio courses, with hands-on exposure to design processes, skills, and thinking.

Graduate students across programs will take courses such as Studio + Lab: Designing for Interactions, Studio: Research Based Design for Interactions, Seminar: Advanced Interaction & Service Design Concepts, Communication Design Studio: Theory & Practice, Design Research Methods, Seminar: Interaction & Service Design Concepts, Transition Design, Experiential Futures, Framing Proposals for change, and Design Writing Workshop.

MDes students will complete a Thesis across four courses, while MPS students may complete an optional Colloquium. During years two and three, PhD students will complete Research I, II, III & IV. During the final year of the program, students will assemble their dissertations (40-80K words) across Coda I & II.

Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Founded in 1900, CMU serves more than 14,500 students enrolled in 200+ programs in seven colleges and schools. With more than 400 start-ups to the school’s credit, Carnegie Mellon University also has over a dozen locations that provide degree programs, as well as 20+ research partnerships in Silicon Valley, Australia, Africa, and Qatar.

2. The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The University of the Arts

The College of Art, Media & Design at the University of the Arts (UArts) houses the School of Design, which offers BFA degrees in Graphic Design and Illustration. The Illustration BFA is cross-disciplinary, so students will work with other students in majors such as Graphic Design, Product Design, Interaction Design, Fine Arts, and Animation. In addition to training students in industry software such as After Effects, Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and InDesign, the Illustration BFA curriculum explores typography, traditional and experimental painting methods, anatomy, and developing narratives. Specialized graphic design courses are also part of the program.

Graduates of the UArts Illustration BFA Program have worked with The New Yorker, Random House, ESPN, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Fortune, and Ralph Lauren, among others.

The UArts Graphic Design BFA is a 120 credit hour cross-disciplinary program that provides collaboration and networking opportunities with local non-profits, social agencies, and arts organizations. Course examples include Drawing as Seeing and Meaning, Typography I-III, Design History, Digital Design Lab, Design for Persuasive Visual Communication, Real World Design, Image and Narrative, Design for Interaction, School of Design Workshop, and Editorial Systems.

BFA students have the opportunity to complete unpaid and paid internships with major companies and studios such as Cartoon Network, Urban Outfitters, and Sterling Publishing. The program culminates with the Senior Thesis.

Graduates of the UArts Graphic Design Program are prepared for employment in fields ranging from branding and motion graphics to publication design. Students and alumni have worked for NASA, Disney, National Geographic, MTV, ESPN, Meta (formerly Facebook), DreamWorks, ESPN, The Wall Street Journal, Penguin Group Publishing, Hallmark, Harper-Collins, Hasbro, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Knopf, Marvel Comics, NASA, 20th Century Fox, Oprah, Warner Bros., Blizzard Entertainment, Newsweek, Simon & Schuster, Nickelodeon, PBS, Time Magazine, and NPR, among others.

University of the Arts is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Founded in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of the Arts serves nearly 1,500 students enrolled in more than 40 degree programs in fine arts, design, media arts, dance, music, theater, and crafts. More than 20 minors are available and open to all students. UArts programs are offered in the Schools of Art, Dance, Design, Film, Music, Theater Arts, and Graduate and Professional Studies.

3. Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Temple University

The Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University (Temple) houses the Graphic & Interactive Design (GAID) Department. Two options are available for designers: the GAID BFA and MFA. The Tyler School GAID BFA has an option with Entrepreneurial Studies. The BFA explores emerging and traditional media, illustration, virtual reality, iteration, typography, packaging, Imagemaking, craft and technology, social media, prototyping, and web design.

Program benefits for this 126 credit hour program include small class sizes, mentorship, and access to state-of-the-art labs, studios, and equipment. GAID BFA students also have the opportunity to complete the Collaborative Design Workshop in Rome, which last six weeks. Course examples for the program include Advanced Typography, Interactive Design, The Business of Design, Advertising Design, Illustration, Advanced Graphic Design, Computers for Design, Digital Narratives, and the Senior Graphic Design: Brand Identity, Packaging, Art Direction, Hybrid Design and Publishing.

The Entrepreneurial Studies option is offered in partnership with Temple University’s Fox School of Business. In addition to GAID requirements, this program explores innovation, how to start a business, and entrepreneurship. Course examples for this program include Ready, Fire, Aim: Launching a Profitable Micro-venture in 100 Days, Be Your Own Boss: Planning to Start Your Own Business, and Entrepreneurial and Innovative Thinking. Entrepreneurial Studies students have at least five different internship options. Examples include the Field Internship, New Venture Internship: Learning to be a High-Value Employee, Manager, or Founder, and the Rome Internship.

Both GAID BFA Programs culminate with the Senior Portfolio Capstone and Senior Graphic Design: Projects in Authorship.

The Temple University Graphic & Interactive Design MFA requires 60 credit hours to graduate. This interdisciplinary, research-driven program consists of electives, seminars, project courses, and art history courses. Project and seminar courses include Graduate Professional Practices (three credits), Visual Design Graduate Seminar (12 credits/four terms), Graphic Design Graduate Projects (nine credits/three terms), and Visual Design Thesis (12 credits/four terms).

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the GAID MFA culminates with the Thesis Exhibition with Slide Show.

Graduates of the Temple University GAID Programs work at design studios, in film and television, the music industry, in design education, at advertising agencies, for publishing companies, web design firms, and in their own start-ups or freelance businesses.

Temple University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA-CESS). Founded in 1884 as a night school, Temple serves 37,365 students, making it the largest university in Philadelphia. Temple University offers more than 500 academic programs in 17 colleges and schools, including five professional schools.

4. Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

The College of Visual and Performing Arts at Kutztown University (KU) houses the Communication Design (CD) Program. Leading to a BFA or MFA, the program covers graphic design, creativity, typography, digital illustration, advertising design, emerging media, branding, interactive design, coding, design history, photography, print media production, and communications.

All KUCD students have opportunities to add a minor or fine arts studio to enhance the degree, and obtain work experience through an internship at one of 35 participating advertising agencies, design studios or media firms. BFA students will complete the Professional Practices and Portfolio Development courses during the final year of the program and participate in the Senior Exhibition. In the second year of the program, MFA students will complete the Graduate Research Project Capstone worth 12 credits.

Graduates of the Kutztown University Communication Design Programs are Graphic Designers Web Designers, Art Directors, Advertising Designers, App Designers, Interactive Designers, Design Directors, and Hybrid Designers, among others.

Kutztown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and a dozen other accrediting agencies. Founded in 1866 as Keystone State Normal School, KU serves 7,675 students enrolled in more than 130 academic areas of study in the Colleges of Visual and Performing Arts; Liberal Arts and Sciences; Education; and Business. 

5. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) houses the College of Arts an Architecture, home to the Stuckeman School Department of Graphic Design, which offers a BDes and a Minor in Graphic Design. The BDes is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). In partnership with the School of Visual Arts (SOVA), the Stuckeman School Graphic Design Department has an Art MFA Program with a Graphic Design Concentration.

All Department of Graphic Design students benefit from an interdisciplinary and collaborative learning environment, courses taught by industry professionals, small class sizes, and access to state-of-the-art labs, libraries, and studios. Students also have access to workshops and they have the opportunity to show their work in the campus-based exhibit gallery. 

The Penn State BDes Program consists of 120 credit hours, including 45 general education credits, 3-9 elective credits, and 73 credits in the major. BDes students have the opportunity to complete an Internship or Studio Apprenticeship as well as a final project and professional portfolio. Course examples for the program include Experience Design Process + Methods, Design Foundation 1-2, Programming for the Web, Time and Sequence, Typography 1-2, Applied Experience Design, Visualizing Information, and Design Thinking and Creativity.

The 60 credit hour Art MFA requires 30 credit hours in the major. The program expands on the undergraduate program, with additional coursework in advanced design, research, and teaching. Specific course examples include Art Research, Individual Studies, New Media Art, Graduate Seminar, and Supervised Experience and College Teaching. The MFA Program culminates with the MFA Thesis Exhibition.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at Pennsylvania State University are prepared for careers that require art and design skills such as branding, typography, UI/UX design, art direction, packaging, information visualization, and storytelling, among others.

Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1921. Pennsylvania’s only land-grant university, Penn State was chartered in 1855 as one of the nation’s first colleges of agricultural science. Today, the school serves close to 89,000 students enrolled in more than 275 undergraduate majors and 300+ graduate and professional programs, including medical and legal studies. Programs at Pennsylvania State University are offered across 24 campuses, sixteen academic colleges, and several schools.  

6. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University

The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University (Drexel) houses the Graphic Design Program, which leads to a BS degree. A 24 credit hour Minor is also available. All Westphal students will participate in Drexel’s cooperative education program (co-op)—the largest, oldest, and most well-known co-op program in the U.S. This university requirement allows students to gain hands-on experience prior to graduation. Experiences have taken place in London, Ghana, Spain, Hong Kong, and Greece, among others.

The Graphic Design BS consists of 183 credit hours. In this project-based, collaborative program, students will master software applications such as InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop. Electives and minor options allow student designers to pursue advanced study in areas such as environmental graphic design, virtual reality and immersive media, experimental publication design, technology information management, web design, business, motion graphic design, photography, project management, product design, nonprofit communication, marketing, human-computer interaction (HCI), computing technology, and writing.

Course examples for the program include Publication Design, Book Design, Motion Graphics: Storyboarding and Development for Time-Based Media, Computer Imaging I: Introduction to Adobe Illustrator, Corporate Identity, Information Graphics: Mapping, Wayfinding, Data Visualization, Computer Imaging II: Intro to Adobe Photoshop, Physics: Light and Sound, Production: Introducing the Tools and Methods of Production Management for Print and Screen Media, and Web Graphics/Web Design.

Graduates of the Drexel University Graphic Design BS Program often go on to full-time positions with a Co-op employer. Program alumni work at Apple, Penguin Random House, ESPN, Siemens, Bloomberg, Meta (formerly Facebook), Sesame Workshop, Marvel Entertainment, Comcast, Urban Outfitters, Saatchi & Saatchi, Philadelphia Museum of Art, QVC, SAP, Digitas, The Franklin Institute, QVC, and Under Armour, among others.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Established in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry, the school serves close to 23,600 students, enrolled in more than 200 degree programs in 15 colleges and schools.

7. Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania College of Art and Design

Pennsylvania College of Art (PCA&D) has a Graphic Design Program with BFA and Minor options. Related Certificate Programs are available in Communication Design, Entrepreneur: Design and Digital Marketing, Design Professional: Print, UX/UI Design, Business in Creative Industry, and Web Design. Many of these options are also available as minors.

A major component of the Graphic Design BFA Program is the required Senior Internship. Students will have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience at a local or national design studio, advertising agency, marketing firm, and others. To enhance the program, students may add a minor or certificate in any available area.

Course examples for the PCA&D Graphic Design BFA Program include Visual Communication, Typography, Interactive Design, Digital Design Production, Motion Graphics, History of Graphic Design & Emerging Trends, Social Media Marketing & Communications, Advanced Web Design, Packaging, Web Studio I-II, and Senior Design Studio I-II.

In the Senior Year of the Graphic Design BFA Program at PCA&D, students will take the Professional Practices/Portfolio Preparation course and complete Senior Internship. The student’s final portfolio will be presented at the Senior Exhibition.

Graduated of the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design Graphic Design Program are prepared for entry-level positions in the Graphic and Interactive Design industries.

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Founded in 1982, PCA&D is a private, non-profit, professional art college that serves more than 200 students enrolled in six major programs leading to a BFA, 12 minor programs, and 11 certificate programs.

8. Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Moore College of Art & Design

Moore College of Art and Design (Moore) has a Graphic Design Program that leads to a BFA. Program features include courses taught by active industry professionals, workshops, the opportunity to add a degree-enhancing Minor, studio tours, critiques, and mentorship experiences with design professionals.

BFA students also have access to state-of-the-art equipment, studios, and labs with the latest versions of After Effects, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Spark.

Course examples for the program include 3D Applications in Graphic Design, Expressive Typography, Design for Screen, Strategies and Applications, Advanced Typography, Cultural Collisions and Transformations, Time-Based Design, Design Systems, Type and Image, Digital Image Making, and Design Thinking and Application.

All More College BFA students will complete a Graphic Design Thesis as well as a paid internship that requires 240 hours in the field. Moore College of Art & Design is the only art and design school to provide $1,000 paid internships for students in every major. Internship positions are available through small businesses, galleries and museums, artist studios, and in a variety of industries.

Moore College of Art & Design has a 100% job placement rate. Students have interned or worked after graduation for companies such as Urban Outfitters, Comcast, Apple, Campbell’s, Princeton University Press, MERJE, Philadelphia Horticultural Society, Lenox Inc., Exit, Brownstein Group, Philadelphia Brewing Company, Quirk Books, and Philadelphia Brewing Company.

Moore College of Art & Design is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Founded in 1848 as the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, Moore College is the nation’s first and only Visual Arts college for women. Today, Moore serves a co-ed population of around 350 students enrolled in 20+ programs leading to a BFA, Minor, MA, or MFA. The school also offers nine 4+1 programs (BFA+MA), six certificate programs, and several youth education options.

9. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania

The College of Arts & Sciences at University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) houses the Weitzman School of Design, home to the Design BA Program. Design is open to students in the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering, which provides opportunities for multidisciplinary study and collaboration.

Other program features include opportunities to experience and study contemporary art from around the world through UPenn’s relationship with the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Silverstein Photography Studio Abroad Program and Lecture Series, and the Spiegel Wilks Artist Residency Program, hosts visiting artists, lectures, workshops, and studio tours.

The Design BA Program explores emerging technologies, prototyping, fabrication skills, and more. Course examples include Environmental Design, Geometry in Design, Biological Design, Graphic Design I: Creative Technologies, Art, Design & Digital Culture, Information Design and Visualization, Pixel to Print, Art of the Web: Interactive Concepts for Art & Design, UX/UI Design, Design 21: Design After the Digital, Interfacing Cultures: Designing for Mobile, Web and Public Media, and Functions for Form and Materials.

The UPenn Design BA Program culminates with Students the Senior Seminar Project, completed over the course of two semesters. Most University of Pennsylvania students graduate with offers for full-time employment in their fields. University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Established in 1740, UPenn is one of the nation’s oldest universities. With nearly 200 research centers, the school serves more than 28,000 students enrolled in over 400 programs housed in 16 colleges and schools.

10. Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Millersville, Pennsylvania
Millersville University of Pennsylvania

The Department of Art & Design at Millersville University of Pennsylvania (Millersville University or MU) has an Interactive & Graphic Design Program that leads to a Bachelor of Design (BDes). An accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the MU Department of Art & Design hosts the Senior Spring Show, which gives students the opportunity to present their portfolios to the general public, family, and friends.

The Department also hosts other similar events throughout the year as well as service learning experiences that can take students to places such as area high schools to give presentations and demos, and provide information to students.

Course examples for the BDes program include 2D and 3D Design, Typography I-II, Visual Communication & Graphic Design, Intro Web, Experience/Interaction Design, Information Design, Packaging Design, Kinetic Design and Animation, Advanced Web Design, Experience Design, Advanced Computers in Art, Material Design, and Visual Storytelling and Comics. Co-Op/Internship experiences are also part of the program.

Before the Senior Spring Show, Interactive & Graphic Design BDes students will complete the Portfolio Review and Portfolio Capstone courses.

Graduates of the Millersville University Interactive & Graphic Design Program are prepared for jobs within the design industry in User Experience Design, Illustration, Interactive Design, Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Web Design, and Digital Publication Design.

Millersville University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Founded in 1855 as a teacher training school, Millersville University serves thousands of students enrolled in more than 100 programs.