|1||University of North Texas||Top 1%|
|2||Arizona State University||Top 3%|
|3||University of Texas at Austin||Top 4%|
|4||Utah State University||Top 5%|
|5||University of Arizona||Top 10%|
|6||Texas State University, San Marcos||Top 10%|
|7||Brigham Young University||Top 10%|
|8||University of Houston||Top 10%|
|9||Baylor University||Top 15%|
|10||University of Texas at Arlington||Top 15%|
Our 2018 list of the Top 10 Graphic Design School Programs in the Southwest. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
University of North Texas (UNT) was founded in 1890 as Texas Normal College and Teachers’ Training Institute. With more than 26,500 students enrolled, UNT is the fourth-largest university in Texas. The school offers 93 bachelor's, 125 master's and 47 doctoral degree programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Visual Arts & Design is home to the Design Department, which houses the Communication Design Program. Program options for aspiring graphic designers include BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Communication Design.
The BFA program covers the basic principles of design, image making, color theory and typography. It is also designed to “help students learn to be effective conceptual thinkers and, most importantly, creative problem solvers in the disciplines of Advertising and of Graphic Design.” The 36 credit hour MA in Communication Design and the 60 credit hour MFA in Communication Design are both taught as concentrations in Design Research.
Students in all Graphic Design programs have the opportunity to complete an internship, study abroad, and access “valuable resources” consisting of over 1,000 reference books, magazines and paper/print samples of photography, illustration, typography, graphic design and advertising.
Founded in 1885, Arizona State University (ASU) is home to more than 98,000 students (2016) enrolled in over 290 academic undergraduate programs and hundreds of graduate programs across 17 colleges and schools. The Tempe campus is home to nearly 52,000 students, making it the largest campus in the ASU system.
The ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts houses the Design School, which offers programs in the areas of Architecture, Environmental Design, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Visual Communication Design/VCD (Graphic Design). Visual Communication Design (VCD) options include a BSD in Graphic Design, an MSD with a Concentration in Visual Communication Design (VCD MSD), and a Master of Visual Communication Design (MVCD).
The BSD allows students to work on projects in the areas of Information Design, Interaction Design, Exhibition Design, Animation, Motion Graphics, Branding, Publication Design, Web Design, Interface Design and multiple contemporary facets of sensorial design. The MSD for individuals interested in “advanced studies in visual language, history, theory, criticism and methodology, design processes and technology.” The degree “develops an understanding of contemporary graphic design issues through specialized research and design skills. It also prepares the graduate student for a career in graphic design education.”
The MVCD has two options—a two-year studio-based program and a 3+ program. The two-year studio program is designed for students with a degree in VCD or Graphic Design and a 3+ program is designed to be a first professional degree for those students who do not have an undergraduate degree in VCD or Graphic Design.
The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) was founded in 1881. The school opened its doors in 1883 with one building, eight professors, one proctor, and 221 students. Today, UT Austin is home to more than 51,000 students enrolled in over 500 degree programs and fields of study across 18 colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts, Department of Art and Art History has several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BA, BFA and MFA degrees in Design, and a BFA in Visual Studies.
Students in all programs have the opportunity to complete an internship, which may include working at major companies with offices in the Austin area. Just a few include Google, Dell, IBM, Apple, Samsung, Frog, Pentagram, and EA Games.
Utah State University (USU) was founded on March 8, 1888. This land grant, public research university has regional campuses in Brigham City, Tooele, and Uintah Basin, a regional college with campuses in Price and Blanding, and extension offices in 28 of 29 Utah counties and at the Ogden Botanical Center, Thanksgiving Point, and Utah Botanical Center. Not surprisingly, with more than 28,000 students, USU is the fifth largest post-secondary institution in Utah.
Utah State University offers 168 undergraduate degrees and 143 graduate degrees through nine colleges and schools. Programs for aspiring graphic designers are offered through Cain College of the Arts, Department of Art + Design. Options include a BFA in Graphic Design. Per the school, the four-year program “delivers a comprehensive professional education in the study and practice of visual communication design. Education in design theory and practice prepares students to become leaders in the various disciplines that constitute today's design profession.”
Students receive training in theory, innovation, collaboration, professional practice, creative processes, sustainability, technical competence, and history, This “competitive” 120 credit hour program “culminates in the creation of a professional portfolio” that helps graduates land jobs with “prestigious national and international design studios and advertising agencies.”
The University of Arizona (UA) was established in 1885. The school is home to more than 42,200 students enrolled in over 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across 20 colleges, 11 schools, and three campuses. The College of Fine Arts, School of Art offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers including a BFA in Studio Art with an emphasis in 2-D, 3-D & Extended Media, Illustration + Design, or Photography and MFA degrees in Studio Art-Visual Communications or Illustration + Design. The most popular options for aspiring graphic designers are the BFA and MFA in Studio Art with an Emphasis in Illustration + Design (I+D).
Per the school, the I+D BFA program “encompasses a diverse faculty with expertise in graphic design, illustration, letterpress, book arts, visual narratives, animation, motion graphics, information design, and interdisciplinary collaborations with the environmental sciences. These specializations are reflected in a broad array of curricular offerings including: field trips, team projects with community clients, internships, and study abroad programs. Through an exploration of the relationship between authorship, personal expression, visual problem solving, and communication, students develop a body of self-authored work consistent with the breadth of the expanding profession. With a high quality portfolio and web presence, students are prepared to go directly into the field and/or apply to graduate programs.”
Students in the MFA program “participate in interdisciplinary, graphic design and illustration courses; seminars, and independent studies developing a body of self-authored work that contributes to the broad and expanding field of illustration, design and art. Focused studio and course structures explore the theory, philosophy, and making of contemporary illustration, design and art. The program provides a range of opportunities for focus in visual narratives, community engagement, social practice, environmental projects, and technology, with a firm grounding in contemporary and historical contexts.”
The School of Art and I+D regularly host internationally known artists, designers, illustrators and alumni to participate with the graduate students in workshops and studio critiques.
Texas State University was authorized by the Texas legislature in 1899 under the name “Southwest Texas State Normal School.” The school opened its doors in 1903 with just 303 students. Today, the school is home to around 38,700 students enrolled in 98 bachelor’s, 90 master’s and 12 doctoral degree programs through nine academic colleges. The College of Fine Arts & Communication houses the School of Art and Design, which offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Communication Design.
Considered one of the largest public programs in the country, the Communication Design Program (undergraduate) allows students to pursue interests within four areas of professional study: Graphic Design, Art Direction, Interactive Media, and Illustration. Courses for the program are taught in a studio environment, with class sizes limited to 20.
The graduate program is designed to provide advanced study in the areas of Corporate Advertising, Art Direction, Graphic Design, and Digital Media Design. Per the school, students and graduates of the Communication Design programs at Texas State have received recognition in design journals by having their work published in CMYK, Step Inside Design, Graphis New Talent Annual, and PRINT. Students have also received recognition in competitions such as The One Show, American Advertising Federation Awards, National DSVC Student Show, Creative Summit, Art Director's Club of Houston, Austin Addy Awards, and San Antonio Addy Awards.
Brigham Young University (BYU) was founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Home to around 33,360 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, BYU offers more than 380 undergraduate majors and minors, master’s programs and doctorate programs. The school houses dozens of colleges, schools, and departments that offer everything from Accounting to Visual Communications.
The College of Fine Arts and Communications is home to 3,655 students enrolled in programs in the Department of Art, the School of Communications, the Department of Dance, the Department of Design, the School of Music, and the Department of Theater and Media Arts. Communications is one of the College’s top six majors by graduation.
Programs for aspiring graphic designers can be found in several departments and schools. Options include BA and BFA degrees in Graphic Design, a BFA in Art with a Focus in New Genres or Printmaking in the Department of Art, and Minors in Design or Advertising Design in the Department of Design. Other areas of study include Interaction Design, Motion Design, Visual Development, and Branding. Note that because the Graphic Design Program is so competitive, enrollment is limited to just 40 students.
Founded in 1927, the University of Houston (UH) is home to more than 45,300 students enrolled in 300+ academic programs across 12 colleges and the UH Law Center. The Kathrine G. McGovern College of Arts offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers through the School of Art. Options include and a BFA in Graphic Design, an MFA in Studio Arts with a Concentration in Graphic Design, and a Minor in Studio Arts.
All design students have access to the school’s large internship program, which highlights jobs with both national and international companies. Students may also study abroad in dozens of countries around the world.
Baylor University was chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas. It has a total enrollment of 17,059 students enrolled in 142 undergraduate degree programs, 75 master's programs, and 42 doctoral programs across 12 colleges and schools. Students come from 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 89 countries.
The College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Art offers a Graphic Design Emphasis within the Studio Art Major. Per the Department, the program, which leads to a BFA in Studio Art – Graphic Design, “offers students the opportunity to develop their hand and aesthetic skills, and conceptual development.” Students in the program will take liberal arts courses, visual arts courses, and marketing courses, and an optional internship is available.
Graduates of the program have gone on to “work in design studios and major advertising agencies.” Others have “started design studios and advertising agencies of their own.”
The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) was established in 1895 as Arlington College. The school is home to nearly 42,000 students from every state and 100 countries, and it offers more than 180 degree programs across 10 colleges and schools. Programs for aspiring graphic designers are offered in the College of Liberal Arts, Department of Art & Art History.
Options include a BFA in Visual Communication Design (Graphic Design, Web and App Design, Illustration, Packaging, Gaming) and an MFA in Visual Communications. With more than 300 students enrolled, the Visual Communication Program is the largest in the Art and Art History Department.