Our inaugural list of the Top 10 Graphic Design School Programs in the Southwest. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas (Top 5% of schools considered)
University of North Texas was founded in 1890 as Texas Normal College and Teachers’ Training Institute. It is home to more than 36,000 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Visual Arts & Design is home to the Design Department, which offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include a BFA in Communication Design (Graphic Design) and MA and MFA degrees in Design.
Housed in the Art Building, the Communication Design programs offer access to studio classrooms and design labs as well as resources such as 1,000-plus reference books and magazines and paper/print samples of photography, illustration, typography, graphic design and advertising.
2. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (Top 5% of schools considered)
Established in 1885, Arizona State University (ASU) is home to more than 80,000 students enrolled in 300-plus programs across more than a dozen colleges, schools and institutes.
The school consists of five campuses including Tempe, West (Glendale), Polytechnic (Mesa), Downtown Phoenix, and Thunderbird (Glendale). The Tempe campus is home to the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (ASU Herberger) which offers a variety of programs for aspiring graphic designers including a Bachelor of Science in Design (BSD) in Graphic (Visual Communication) Design and a Master of Science in Design (MSD) with a Concentration in Visual Communication Design (Graphic Design).
Also known as MVCD, the MSD program features two-year and three-plus-year options. The Two-year program is a studio-based program that consists of 60 hours of study and the three-plus-year program is a 102-hour studio-based program. The 102-hour program is designed for students that do not have an undergraduate degree in visual communication or graphic design.
3. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (Top 5% of schools considered)
Brigham Young University (BYU) was founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The school is home to 26,674 undergraduate students enrolled in 100-plus programs across more than a dozen colleges and departments. The Department of Design offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BA and BFA degrees in Design with a Graphic Design Emphasis. The BA requires completion of 45 credit hours in Graphic Design (GD) and the BFA requires 73 GD credit hours.
4. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona (Top 10% of schools considered)
Established in 1885, the University of Arizona (UA) is home to more than 40,000 students enrolled in more than 300 majors across 21 colleges, 20 schools, and dozens of departments. The College of Fine Arts is home to the School of Art, which offers two programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Studio Art with a Visual Communications Emphasis. All design students have access to a variety of internship opportunities and study abroad programs.
Please note that the name of this program will become “Illustration & Design” effective Fall 2016. The program will still provide the education and training needed to become a graphic designer.
5. Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas (Top 10% of schools considered)
Texas State University was established in 1903 as Southwest Texas State Normal School. It is home to more than 38,000 students enrolled in nearly 200 programs across nine colleges. The College of Fine Arts & Communication is home to the School of Art + Design, which offers two programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include a BFA in Communication Design (ComDes) with a Graphic Design Focus and an MFA in Communication Design (ComDes). Classes for both programs are taught in a studio environment, with class sizes limited to 20 students. The programs also highlight internship opportunities with a variety of Austin and San Antonio firms, as well as companies across the U.S. and in Europe.
6. Baylor University, Waco, Texas (Top 10% of schools considered)
Chartered by the Republic of Texas in 1845, Baylor University is home to more than 16,000 students enrolled in more than 250 degree programs across nine undergraduate colleges and schools, a seminary, a graduate school, and a nursing school. The College of Arts and Humanities houses the Department of Art, which offers seven degree programs. Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design. The program offers an optional internship.
7. University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas (Top 10% of schools considered)
The University of Texas at Arlington (UT Arlington or UTA) dates back to 1895 when it opened as Arlington College. The College became the University of Texas at Arlington in 1967, after six name changes beginning in 1902. Today, UTA is home to nearly 35,000 students from every state and more than 100 countries. The school offers more than 180 degree programs across 10 schools and colleges. The College of Liberal Arts is home to the Department of Art and Art History, which offers two programs for aspiring graphic designers.
Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Visual Communication (Graphic Design, Web Design, Illustration, APP Design, Packaging, Gaming). The program is home to 300 students, which is the largest in the Art and Art History Department. Graduates of the programs are employed by top design agencies/studios in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, and throughout the nation, according to the school. In addition, students in the program have won over 132 state, regional, and national awards since 2001.
8. University of Houston, Houston, Texas (Top 15% of schools considered)
Founded in 1927, the University of Houston (UH) is home to more than 40,750 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across 12 academic colleges and an interdisciplinary Honors College. The College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences is home to the School of Art, which offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Programs include BFA and MFA degrees in Graphic Design, and an MFA Studio Art with a Concentration Graphic Communications. Design students may participate in UH’s internship program and, for inspiration, all students have access to The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and the famed Blaffer Gallery.
9. Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Santa Fe, New Mexico (Top 15% of schools considered)
Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) dates back to 1859, when St. Michael’s College was founded. The College changed its name to the College of Sante Fe in 1966 and to Santa Fe University of Art and Design on August 30, 2010. Today, SFUAD is a subsidiary of Laureate International Universities—“a global network of more than 80 accredited campus-based and online universities offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 1 million students in over 28 countries.”
SFUAD is home to around 950 students and the School of Visual and Communication Arts (SVCA), which offers one program for aspiring graphic designers. The BFA in Graphic Design offers two specializations including Web Design and Motion Graphics. Students may enhance their degree by participating in the SFUAD’s internship program, which sends students to Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago each year for summer terms and semester stays.
10. Texas A&M University - Commerce, Commerce, Texas (Top 15% of schools considered)
Established in 1889, Texas A&M University – Commerce is home to around 10,000 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across four colleges including the College of Business and Technology, the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Humanities, Social Sciences & Arts, and the College of Sciences, Engineering & Agriculture. Programs for aspiring graphic designers are offered through the College of Humanities, Social Sciences & Arts, Department of Art. Offerings include a five-year BFA program with an Emphasis in Design Communications, and MA and MFA degrees with an Emphasis in Visual Communications.
All students have access to internship opportunities that offer real-world work experience in nearby Dallas and surrounding communities. Study abroad programs in Australia, China, England, Peru, Russia, and South Africa are also on the menu.