What are the top Pennsylvania graphic design schools for 2023?
|Carnegie Mellon University
|University of the Arts
|Pennsylvania State University
|Pennsylvania College of Art and Design
|University of Pennsylvania
|Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
|Moore College of Art and Design
Our 2023 ranking of the top 10 graphic design school programs in Pennsylvania. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The College of Fine Arts (CFA) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) houses the School of Design, home to the four-year Bachelor of Design (BDes) Program. 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.
All BDes students benefit from access to collaborative dedicated studio spaces; participation in Confluence—a career event that attracts more than 70 major companies; the opportunity to work in multi-disciplinary teams in the areas of Design for Service (Sv) and/or Design for Social Innovation (Si); and study abroad opportunities in places such as Korea, Milan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, London, Paris, and The Netherlands.
Graduates of the CMU BDes Program have worked on a number of major projects including the title sequence of the Spiderman movie, the Starbucks logo, the Pinterest interface design, and typefaces for The Guardian.
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 for this program 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 Media Design, Animation & Special Effects, Sonic Arts, Immersive Technologies in Arts & Culture, Game Design, Design for Learning, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
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.
Across programs, graduate students 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 a 60,000- to 80,000-word dissertation or a body of written and practical work consisting of 40,000 to 60,000 words, across two courses.
Graduates of the Design Programs at Carnegie Mellon University have been hired at major companies, firms, and organizations such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Meta, Skype, Whirlpool, Volkswagen/Audi, Motorola, Mayo Clinic, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Pinterest, IDEO, R/GA, and Isobar.
Founded in 1900 by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Mellon University began as Carnegie Technical Schools. Today, the school serves around 15,800 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across seven colleges and schools. CMU also has more than a dozen degree-granting locations, and over 20 research partnerships in Silicon Valley, Australia, Africa, and Qatar. A private, global research university, Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
2. Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Temple University (Temple) houses Tyler School of Art and Architecture, home to the Graphic & Interactive Design (GAID) Department, which has both BFA and MFA GAID programs. In partnership with Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Tyler also offers a Graphic & Interactive Design with Entrepreneurial Studies BFA.
Provided in partnership with Temple’s Fox School of Business, this innovative program explores innovation, how to start a business, and entrepreneurship. In addition to course requirements for the traditional GAID BFA Program, Entrepreneurial Studies will complete courses such as Launch a New Venture in 100 Days, Entrepreneurial and Innovative Thinking, Special Topics: Strategic Management, The Business of Design, and Doing Well by Doing Good: Where Innovation and Entrepreneurship Meet Social Impact. Students may also participate in the Rome Internship or Field Internship.
The traditional GAID BFA Program at Temple University requires 126 credit hours of study. Course examples include Graphic Design, Computers for Design, Typography, Interactive Design, Digital Narratives, Senior Graphic Design: Packaging; Brand Identity; Hybrid Design; and Publishing, Advanced Typography, and Senior Graphic Design: Design for the Public Good.
BFA Program benefits 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.
Both GAID BFA Programs culminate with the Senior Portfolio Capstone and Senior Graphic Design: Projects in Authorship.
The Graphic & Interactive Design MFA at Temple University is an interdisciplinary, research-driven program consisting of electives and Art History, project, and seminar 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, advertising agencies, publishing companies, web design firms, design and packaging companies, and film and television studios. Program alumni also work in design education, in their own design studios, and in their own freelance businesses.
Some of the top employers of Temple University graduates include Amazon, Lockheed Martin, Vanguard, and SEI.
Founded in 1884 as a night school, Temple University Serves 37,365 students, making it the largest university in Philadelphia. Temple offers more than 500 academic programs across 17 colleges and schools, including five professional schools. Temple University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA-CESS).
3. University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The College of Art, Media & Design at the University of the Arts (UArts) houses the School of Design, home to the Graphic Design Program. Leading to a BFA, this 120 credit hour cross-disciplinary program provides collaboration and networking opportunities with arts organizations, local non-profits, and social agencies. In addition, all BFA students have the opportunity to complete a paid or unpaid Design Internship with major companies and studios such as Cartoon Network, Urban Outfitters, and Sterling Publishing.
The Graphic Design BFA Program at University of the Arts explores digital technologies, brand identity, user experience (UX), print, motion graphics, and typography. Students in the program will master design software such as InDesign, Premiere, XD, Illustrator, After Effects, and Photoshop. Access to more than 23 minors allow students to develop skills in other areas. Minor examples that complement the Graphic Design BFA include Print Media, Advertising Practices, Figurative Illustration, Creative Writing, and Business.
Course examples for the program include Design Process, Theory & Communication, Interaction Design, Editorial Systems, Typography, School of Design Workshop, Image & Narrative, Design History, Business & Preparation for Creative Practice, Real World Design, Design for Persuasive Visual Communication, and Critical Studies. During the final year of the BFA Program, students will complete the Portfolio & Brand Development course, and Senior Thesis I-II.
For students interested in a shorter program, the UArts Continuing Education Division has a Graphic Design Certificate Program with two Tracks: Graphic Design Level I and Graphic Design Level II. Both Tracks are designed to be completed in three sequential semesters. Level One consists of 12 credit hours, with courses such as Adobe Illustrator, Typography, and Adobe After Effects. Level Two consists of nine credit hours, including the following courses: Logo + Brand Design, Motion Graphics, and Capstone Project – Graphic Design. Across Tracks, students will participate in special topic presentations, field trips, and hands-on experiences.
Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA and Certificate Programs at University of the Arts are prepared to pursue positions in fields ranging from branding and motion graphics to publication design. Students and program alumni have worked Blizzard Entertainment, NASA, 20th Century Fox, Disney, National Geographic, MTV, Facebook, DreamWorks, Newsweek, Simon & Schuster, Nickelodeon, PBS, Time Magazine, NPR, Hallmark, Harper-Collins, ESPN, The Wall Street Journal, Penguin Group Publishing, Hasbro, Warner Bros., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), Knopf, and Marvel Comics.
Founded in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of the Arts serves approximately 1,500 students enrolled in over 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. University of the Arts is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
4. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
The College of Arts and Architecture at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is home to The Stuckeman School, which houses the Department of Graphic Design. Programs here lead to a BDes, which is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and a Minor. In partnership with the School of Visual Arts (SOVA), the Graphic Design Department offers an Art MFA Program with an optional Graphic Design Concentration.
Across programs, students benefit from small class sizes, an interdisciplinary and collaborative learning environment, courses taught by industry professionals, and 24/7 access to state-of-the-art studios and labs. Students also have access to workshops and opportunities to show their work in the campus-based exhibit gallery.
The Penn State Graphic Design BDes Program consists of 120 credit hours, including 45 general education credits, 3-9 elective credits, and 73 credits in the major. Course examples include Applied Experience Design, Visualizing Information, Programming for the Web, Graphic Design Studio, Time and Sequence, Experience Design Process + Methods, Package Design, Practical Communications, and Typography.
BDes students have the option to add a minor such as Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Information Sciences and Technology, or Photography. In addition, students may complete field experiences, practica, or internships up to a maximum of 18 credit hours. The Department of Graphic Design places 100% of students in an internship with leading firms and brands between their third and fourth years of study. Examples include TIME Magazine, Michael Kors, Penguin Random House, DKNY, Billboard Magazine, and Victoria’s Secret. Many internship placements lead to full-time jobs upon graduation.
The 21 credit hour Graphic Design Minor explores visual communications, typography, image making, digital production, and design methodologies. Course examples include Introduction to Graphic Design, Graphic Design Studio, Design Foundation 1-2, Typography, and Minor Advanced Studio. Students in this program will complete a Minor Capstone Studio to complete the program.
The Art MFA at Pennsylvania State University consists of 60 credit hours, including 30 credit hours in the major. The program expands on the undergraduate program, with additional coursework in advanced design, research, and teaching. Course examples include Graphic Design, Supervised Experience and College Teaching, New Media Art, Issues in Contemporary Art, Printmaking, Graduate Seminar, and Individual Studies. The MFA Program culminates with the MFA Thesis Exhibition.
Nearly 100% of Graphic Design graduates at Pennsylvania State University are employed in the field within three months of graduation. Program alumni work in branding, typography, UI/UX design, art direction, packaging, information visualization, and storytelling, among others.
Pennsylvania State University is the state’s only land-grant university. Chartered in 1855 as one of the nation’s first colleges of agricultural science, the school serves approximately to 88,115 students enrolled in more than 275 undergraduate majors and 300+ graduate and professional programs, including medical and legal studies. Programs at Penn State are offered across 24 campuses, sixteen academic colleges, and several schools. Penn State is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1921.
5. Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania College of Art (PCA&D) has a Graphic Design BFA Program that features on-on-one instruction, portfolio review and critique with faculty who are professional designers, and the opportunity to customize the curriculum. In addition, students can add a Minor or Certificate to enhance the program. Minor examples include Live Experience Design, Animation & Game Art, and Business in Creative Industry. Certificate examples include Packaging Design, Data Visualization, UX/UI Design, Animation, and Digital Photography.
A major component of the Graphic Design BFA Program at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design is the required Senior Internship, which provides the opportunity for all students to gain valuable work experience at a local or national design studio, advertising agency, or marketing firm. Also required in the Senior year is the Professional Practices/Portfolio Preparation course. This includes the production of the student’s final portfolio, which will be presented at the Senior Exhibition.
Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA Program at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design are prepared for positions in the Graphic and Interactive Design industries.
Founded in 1982 by working artists, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design 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. 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).
6. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University (Drexel) houses the Graphic Design BS Program and a Graphic Design Minor. Consisting of 24 credit hours, the Graphic Design Minor consists of courses such as Visual Communication, Design for Media, Typography, Computer Imaging, and Graphic Design: 20th Century and Beyond.
All degree-seeking students at will participate in Drexel’s cooperative education program (co-op), which is the oldest, largest, and most well-known co-op program in the U.S. This university requirement allows students to gain hands-on experience prior to graduation. Past co-op experiences have taken students to places such as Ghana, Greece, London, Hong Kong, and Spain. Graduates of the Drexel University Graphic Design BS Program are often hired for full-time positions with a co-op employer.
Other program features include access to state-of-the-art studios and labs such as the Hybrid Making Lab, the Computer Lab, and wood and metal shops; frequent field trips that include studio tours and Design Philadelphia events; and the annual field excursion to New York City. Recent trips have included Soviet avant-garde design at the Jewish Museum, Bard Center for Graduate Studies (tour and curator talk on Jan Tschichold); and the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial.
Electives and minor options allow student designers to pursue advanced study in areas such as experimental publication design, product design, nonprofit communication, environmental graphic design, technology information management, human-computer interaction (HCI), computing technology, virtual reality and immersive media, motion graphic design, writing, photography, web design, marketing, business, and project management.
Course examples for the Drexel Graphic Design BS 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 Design BS Program at Drexel University are prepared for positions in areas such as package design, marketing, exhibition design, illustration, publication design, content development, UX/UI design, and web design. Program alumni have been hired at Penguin Random House, Marvel Entertainment, Saatchi & Saatchi, Philadelphia Museum of Art, ESPN, Siemens, Bloomberg, Facebook, Sesame Workshop, Comcast, Urban Outfitters, QVC, SAP, Digitas, The Franklin Institute, and Under Armour, Time Inc., Brooks Brothers, and Philadelphia Magazine.
Drexel University was established in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science, & Industry. The school serves approximately 23,215 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The Digital Media and Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) Programs at Drexel are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts & Design (NASAD).
7. Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Insalaco College of Arts and Sciences at Marywood University houses the Department of Art—home to the Graphic Design BFA Program. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the program begins with the core curriculum in the Liberal Arts. Upon completion of these requirements, students will advance to the 54 credit Graphic Design Program. Areas explored include advertising design, package design, corporate identity, interactive design, publication design, typography, web design, and self-promotion.
During the junior and senior years, students will gave opportunities to complete an internship and a number of projects for real clients. Undergraduates also have access to independent study programs, practicums, and study abroad opportunities. The program culminates with the Senior Exhibition.
Also housed in Insalaco College of Arts and Sciences is a low-residency MFA Program designed for working Artists and Designers. Program features include Concentrations in Graphic Design, Studio Arts, and Illustration; hands on training from major artists and designers; six study tours in places such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia where students will visit ad agencies, museums, and major design studios; and opportunities to produce independent works.
MFA students also have the opportunity to enhance the degree with a Certificate in Sequential Art and Storytelling. At the end of this 26 credit hour program, students will have a publishable full-length story. The Certificate is also a low-residency program.
Graduate of the Graphic Design Programs at Marywood University are prepared for careers with Advertising and Marketing Agencies, Film, Media, and News Companies, Publishers, App Developers, and Game Design Studios, among others. Top careers include Graphic Design, Multimedia Design, Creative Direction, UI/UX Design, and Web Design.
Founded in 1915, Marywood University was the first college for women in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the first Catholic college for women in the state. Today, Marywood serves a co-ed population of approximately 2,675 students. More than 80 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees are offered in the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Health and Human Services; and Reap College of Professional Studies.
Marywood University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
8. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) houses the College of Arts & Sciences, home to Stuart Weitzman School of Design, which has a Design BA Program open to students in both the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering. This provides ample 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; access to the Silverstein Photography Studio Abroad Program and Lecture Series; and participation in the Spiegel Wilks Artist Residency Program, which hosts visiting artists, lectures, workshops, and studio tours.
The Design BA Program at UPenn explores emerging technologies, prototyping, fabrication skills, and more. Course examples include Graphic Design I: Creative Technologies, Graphic Design II, Pixel to Print, Language of Design, Art of the Web: Interactive Concepts for Art & Design, Functions for Form and Materials, Information Design and Visualization, Design Tools and Technologies, UX/UI Design, Interfacing Cultures: Designing for Mobile, Web and Public Media, and Cultures of Making.
The UPenn Design BA Program culminates with a year-long design project, design brief, public exhibition, and panel review with experts in the field.
Most University of Pennsylvania students graduate with offers for full-time employment in their fields. UPenn alumni have been hired at companies such as HBO, The Walt Disney Company, MSNBC, Riot Games, AMC Networks, Pitchfork Media, Target, Hearst Magazines, Ann Taylor Loft, Unity Technology, Adidas, West Elm, Nestle, Williams-Sonoma, Alvarez & Marsal, 565 Media, JK Premier Marketing, Digitas Health, Xivic Digital Agency, Modern Luxury, and Jun Group Productions
Established in 1740, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. The school, which houses 189 research centers and institutes, provides more than 400 programs to approximately 28,040 students from across the U.S. and just about every continent. Programs at UPenn are housed across 16 colleges and schools. The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
9. Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
The College of Visual and Performing Arts at Kutztown University (KU) houses the Department of Art and Design, which houses shops and labs such as an experimental media lab, printmaking shop, and animation and rendering lab. The Department also houses state-of-the-art production equipment; The IDEA Studio, which hosts a wide range of tools from vintage letterpresses to 3-D scanners and printers; and four programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
The Department’s Communication Design (CD) Program leads to a BFA or MFA. The CD MFA at Kutztown University is the first and only Communication Design Program within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The program is also customizable and delivered 100% online.
Across programs, KUCD students will explore areas such as emerging media, branding, print media production, advertising design, interactive design, coding, design history, graphic design, photography, and communications. The BFA consists of 120 credit hours and includes courses such as Integrated Branding, Advanced Typography, Coding, Digital Illustration, Print Media Production, and Interactive Design. During the final year of the program, BFA students will complete Professional Practices and the Portfolio Development course. The program culminates with the Senior Exhibition.
The KUCD MFA requires 60 credit hours taken over three years, including summers. course examples include Emerging Media, Contemporary Topics, Unconventional Type, Design Pioneers, and Professional Exploration. In the second year of the program, MFA students will complete the 12 Credit Hour Capstone Sequence to include Graduate Studies Research Project I: Research Studies, Graduate Studies Research Project II: Creative Studies, and Graduate Studies Research Project III: Production/Presentation/Exhibitions.
Students in both Communication Design Programs benefit from field trips to major museums, access to on-campus galleries, visiting speakers, and film screenings. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Kutztown University Internship Program, which allows students to gain valuable work experience at one of more than 35 participating advertising agencies, design studios, and media firms.
Graduates of the Communication Design Program at KU are Graphic Designers, Web Designers, Art Directors, Advertising Designers, App Designers, Interactive Designers, Design Directors, and Hybrid Designers, among others.
Founded in 1866 as Keystone State Normal School, Kutztown University serves 7,675 students enrolled in more than 130 academic areas of study. Programs at KU are housed across the Colleges of Visual and Performing Arts; Business; Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Education. Kutztown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
10. Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Moore College of Art and Design (Moore) has a Graphic Design BFA Program that consist of 120 credit hours completed over four years. Program features include the opportunity to add a Minor; mentorship experiences with design professionals; studio tours, critiques, and workshops; courses taught by design professionals who are active in the industry; and access to state-of-the-art equipment, studios, and labs with the latest versions of InDesign, After Effects, Photoshop, Spark, and Adobe Illustrator.
The Moore Graphic Design BFA explores areas such as branding, print and web design, advertorial composition, motion graphics, packaging, and print. The program begins with courses such as The Printed Word, Visual Thinking, and Writing Workshop I and II. Second year students will take courses such as Introduction to Graphic Design, Design Thinking and Application, Type and Image, and Digital Image Making.
Upper division course examples include Advanced Typography, 3D Applications in Graphic Design, Design for Screen, Strategies and Applications, Time-Based Design, Web Design, Professional Development I, and Professional Development II: Internship.
Moore College of Art and Design is the only art and design school to provide $1,000 paid internships for students in every major. Consisting of 240 work hours in the field, internship positions are available through small businesses, galleries and museums, artist studios, and in a variety of industries.
Graduates of Moore College of Art and Design enjoy a 100% job placement rate. Students have interned with or been hired after graduation at companies such as Apple, Urban Outfitters, Comcast, Brownstein Group, Princeton University Press, Campbell’s, Philadelphia Horticultural Society, Lenox Inc., Exit, MERJE Design, Philadelphia Brewing Company, and independent book publisher Quirk Books.
Founded in 1848 as the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, Moore College of Art and Design is a private institution that serves a co-ed population of approximately 380 students enrolled 20+ programs leading to a BFA, Minor, MA, or MFA. Moore also offers nine 4+1 programs (BFA+MA), six certificate programs, and several youth education options. Moore College of Art and Design is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).