Our inaugural list of the Top 10 Graphic Design School Programs on the East Coast. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
1. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island (Top 1% of schools considered)
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a private, not-for-profit, four-year art school. It is home to 2,014 undergraduate students and 435 graduate students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries. This co-educational art school offers 32 degree programs, including graphic design—one of the RISD’s top five most popular majors. Offerings include a BFA in Graphic Design and a two- or three-year MFA in Graphic Design.
2. Parsons School of Design at the New School, New York, New York (Top 2% of schools considered)
Founded in 1896, Parsons School of Design at the New School houses five schools including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, the School of Art, Media, and Technology, the School of Constructed Environments, the School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion. Nearly 5,000 students attend Parsons and they have access to 27 undergraduate, graduate, and associate degree programs.
The School of Art, Media, and Technology, offers several degree programs for aspiring graphic designers. Offerings include a BFA in Communication Design, an AAS in Graphic Design, and a Certificate in Graphic & Digital Design.
3. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland (Top 2% of schools considered)
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest degree-granting college of art in the U.S. Founded in 1826, MICA is home to 1,863 students enrolled in 80 BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degree programs. Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design (54 credits in the major), a BFA Studio Concentration - Graphic Design (18 credits in the concentration), and a BFA in Graphic Design + Humanistic Studies (54 + 48 credits in the major).
4. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (Top 3% of schools considered)
Founded in 1701, Yale University is home to nearly 12,500 students from the U.S. and 117 other countries. The third oldest university in the United States, Yale houses more than a dozen schools that offer all programs from A-Z. The School of Art is home to Yale’s Graphic Design MFA program. Each year, the program admits up to ten students into the two-year graphic design program, and up to seven students are admitted into the preliminary-year program.
5. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York (Top 3% of schools considered)
School of Visual Arts (SVA) was founded in 1947 as “Cartoonists and Illustrators School.” The school is home to more than 4,300 students enrolled in 30-plus programs. Aspiring designers can earn a BFA in Graphic Design, which includes 72 credits in studio art courses and access to SVA’s popular Digital Imaging Center (DIC).
6. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (Top 4% of schools considered)
Pratt institute was founded in 1887. It is home to 4,556 students enrolled in more than 45 degree programs across five schools and The Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. The School of Art and the School of Design offer several programs for aspiring graphic designers. School of Art students can earn an AAS in Graphic Design/Illustration or an AOS in Graphic Design. School of Design students can earn a BFA in Communications Design (ComD), which integrates Graphic Design, Advertising, and Illustration.
7. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia (Top 4% of schools considered)
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was established in 1838. It is home to more than 31,000 students enrolled in around 226 certificate and degree programs across 13 schools and one college. The School of the Arts is home to the Department of Graphic Design. The Department offers two programs for aspiring graphic designers. Students may choose between the BFA in Graphic Design or the MFA with a Concentration in Visual Communications (Graphic Design).
8. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts (Top 5% of schools considered)
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) was founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring drawing teachers, architects, artists, and designers. Today, MassArt is home to around 2,000 students and it offers more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and several certificate programs. The Graphic Design Department offers two programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include a BFA in Graphic Design and a Graphic Design Certificate.
9. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Top 5% of schools considered)
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) was founded in 1900. It is home nearly 13,000 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across seven colleges. The School of Design offers a Bachelor of Design degree (BDes) with a Specialization in Communication (Graphic) Design. The degree is equivalent in rank to a BFA. BDes students have the opportunity to pursue a more interdisciplinary focus that combines two of the following three areas: Product (Industrial) Design, Communication (Graphic) Design, and Design of Physical and Digital Environments.
10. Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Top 6% of schools considered)
Founded in 1884, Temple University is home to nearly 38,000 students enrolled in 421 academic programs across 17 schools and colleges. The Tyler School of Art offers several unique programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Graphic & Interactive Design. Students in both programs have the opportunity to participate in Temple University’s Rome Program. The Program manages the Graphic Design Collaborative Workshop, which takes place during a six-week summer session in Rome.