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What are the top California graphic design school programs for 2022?
|1||California Institute of the Arts||Valencia|
|2||ArtCenter College of Design||Pasadena|
|3||California College of the Arts||Multiple|
|4||University of California Los Angeles||Los Angeles|
|5||Otis College of Art and Design||Los Angeles|
|6||University of Southern California||Los Angeles|
|7||San Diego State University||San Diego|
|8||Academy of Art University||San Francisco|
|9||California State University Los Angeles||Los Angeles|
|10||University of San Francisco||San Francisco|
|12||San Jose State University||San Jose|
|13||Laguna College of Art and Design||Laguna Beach|
|14||California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo||San Luis Obispo|
|15||San Francisco State University||San Francisco|
|16||California State University Long Beach||Long Beach|
|17||California State University Fullerton||Fullerton|
|18||Azusa Pacific University||Azusa|
|19||California State University Northridge||Northridge|
|20||California State Polytechnic University-Pomona||Pomona|
|21||California State University Fresno||Fresno|
|22||California State University Sacramento||Sacramento|
|23||California State University Chico||Chico|
|24||Loyola Marymount University||Los Angeles|
Our 2022 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in California. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California
The School of Art at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has a Graphic Design Program with BFA and MFA options. Program features for both pathways include small, critique-based classes, communal studios with 24 hour access, mentoring, and access to School of Art facilities and labs. Courses for the programs are taught by industry professionals with years of experience.
Course examples at the undergraduate level include Design Issues, Digital Design Lab, Graphic Design I-IV, Motion, Web Design, Typography I-III, and Professional Practice for Graphic Design. Students will also complete several workshops throughout this four-year program. To enhance the degree, BFA students may add the Digital Arts Minor, which consists of 18 units of study. Students in the minor can learn about sound production and programming, and how make films, animate, and create games for the web.
The CalArts Graphic Design MFA has an Integrated Media (IM) Concentration, which combines IM seminars and critiques with specialized coursework and access to elective courses offered across the institute. Visual Literacy, Typographics IA-IB, and Graphic Design Theory are just a few required courses for the program. Students will also participate in two MFA Graphic Design Practicum workshops and Graduate Seminar I-II (Lecture) and Graduate Seminar I-II (Studio).
All California Institute of the Arts students have the opportunity to complete an internship, study abroad experience, and a portfolio of their best work.
CalArts Graphic Design alumni work in a variety of positions at Meta (formerly Facebook), Google, Walt Disney Imagineering, Art Center College of Design, Evernote, M+ Works, North Carolina State University College of Design, the Whitney Museum of Art, and Otis College of Design, among others.
California Institute of the Arts is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The school is also an accredited institution member of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).
California Institute of the Arts traces its roots back to 1961, when Walt and Roy Disney formed the school through a merger of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute. Today, CalArts serves nearly 1,200 students enrolled in more than 70 degree programs across six schools including the School of Critical Studies, The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, the School of Art, the School of Film/Video, The Herb Alpert School of Music, and the School of Theater.
2. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California
ArtCenter College of Design (ArtCenter) has a Graphic Design (Gx) Program with BFA and MFA (MGx) options. Minors in Graphic Design, Product Design, and Interaction Design are also offered through the Designmatters program, which combines studio courses, immersive, real-world studios, and Humanities & Sciences courses.
The 132-unit ArtCenter BFA in Gx explores both traditional and emerging media. Students in the program will complete 87 studio units and the remainder in Humanities & Sciences. Courses are taught by professors with expertise in packaging, transmedia design, motion, visual interaction, and print. Course examples include Narrative Sketching, Communication Design: Information and Context, Visual Interaction Design, Transmedia, Identity Systems, Graphic Design History, and Business. During the final term, BFA students will complete Portfolio and Career Preparation.
The ArtCenter College of Design MGx Program has two options: two-year and three-year. The two-year option consists of 75 units completed across four full terms, plus one ArtCenter Lite (ACL) summer term. Consisting of 86 units, the three-year option is for students who need to develop additional design skills in order to complete the graduate degree. This program consists of two additional terms. Upon successful completion of both terms, the student can enter the traditional graduate track.
Course examples across options include LinkedIn Learning, Typography 3, Design Research/Strategy, Graduate Visual Interaction Design, and Professional Leadership. MGx students will complete a number of labs, including the Portfolio Lab, and a thesis is required to graduate.
Students in all ArtCenter College of Design programs have the opportunity to intern, network, and interview with the school’s industry partners including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Warner Bros., Meta (formerly Facebook), Apple, Ford, Mattel, Nike, Netflix, BMW, DreamWorks, Blizzard Entertainment, Walt Disney Imagineering, Riot Games, and Honda.
ArtCenter Graphic Design alumni work in branding and corporate identity, printing and poster design, package design, motion graphics, film title design, publication design, environmental graphic design, transmedia design, exhibition design, web design and development, interface ceding, visual interaction design, art direction, production management, information architecture, app design, and broadcast graphics.
Many ArtCenter graduates have been hired at Google, Meta, design and consulting firm IDEO, and Local Projects—a exhibition and media design firm for museums and public spaces.
ArtCenter College of Design is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Founded in 1930, ArtCenter serves more than 2,000 students across campuses in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California. The school also has satellite studios in Petersen Automotive Museum (Miracle Mile, Los Angeles) and Berlin, Germany.
ArtCenter College of Design offers 11 undergraduate programs, seven graduate degree program leading to an MFA or MS, a joint MS/MBA program, and undergraduate minors in Business, Creative Writing, Material Science, Research, and Social Innovation.
3. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California
California College of the Arts (CCA) has several options for designers seeking a degree at the undergraduate or graduate level. The BFA in Graphic Design provides access to a dedicated studio space, a Prototyping Studio, the Hybrid Lab, where students can explore virtual reality and other emerging technologies, and the Book Arts and Letterpress studio, which houses bookbinding equipment and lithography presses.
The CCA Graphic Design BFA begins with the First Year Experience where students explore a range of techniques, tools, and materials, and participate in studio projects and critiques. Course examples for this 120 credit hour program include Advanced Interactive, Typography 1-3, Graphic Design Tools, 2D, 3D, and, and Professional Practice Workshop. Students will complete an internship, and a Thesis is required to graduate.
At the graduate level, California College of the Arts offers an MFA in Design with a focus on Graphic, Interaction, and Industrial Design. Students have two options. The two-year option is designed for students with experience in one or more areas of design. The three-year option is for students with an undergraduate degree in an unrelated area. The first year of this program allows students to develop design skills in preparation for the traditional two-year curriculum.
While the CCA MFA in Design provides the opportunity to explore Graphic, Interaction, and Industrial Design, students may concentrate in either area. Course examples for the program include Contemporary Design practice, Expanded Tools, Business of Design, Scripting Graphics, The Studio 1 and 2, and Thesis Studio 1 and 2. Examples of electives include Digital type Design, Sound, Music & Technology, and Interaction Theory.
Students in all CCA Design Programs benefit from the lecture series, workshops, visiting designers, the annual Headlands Center for the Arts Retreat, exhibitions for studio and year-end work, and access to the Materials Library.
Graduates of the Design Programs at California College of the Arts go on to become Graphic Designers, Project Managers, Product Designers, UI/UX Designers, Curators, Research and Development Technologists, Entrepreneurs, and Educators, among others.
Companies and organizations that have hired CCA graduates include Google, Apple, Meta (formerly Facebook), The New York Times, and Adobe, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, IDEO, and Headlands Center for the Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
California College of the Arts is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The school opened in 1907 as the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts. On the first day of class, CCA had just three teachers and 43 students. Today, California College of the Arts employs 420 faculty members that serve just over 1,600 students enrolled in more than 40 undergraduate, graduate, minors, and dual degree options.
4. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, California
The School of Arts and Architecture at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) houses the Department of Design Media Arts (DMA), which has multidisciplinary pathways leading a BA or MA in DMA. Students in both pathways will explore visual communication, narrative, game design, video, and network media. Foundation courses for the undergraduate program cover color, space and form, interactivity and motion, and typography. Graduate DMA students will complete a number of seminars, group critiques, and programming media courses along with research projects and a thesis project.
Courses for the UCLA DMA Programs are taught as studios, with no more than 22 students. Course examples for the undergraduate program include Design Futures, 3D Modeling and Motion, Word + Image, Tangible Media, Network Media, Special Topics in Design Media Arts, and Topics in Interactivity And Games. For the Senior Project, undergraduate DMA students may complete one of three courses including Interactivity and Games, Video and Animation, or Visual Communication and Image.
All UCLA DMA students have access to an endless number of labs, spaces, and other facilities. Examples include the Broad Art Center, DMA Labs, Video Labs, Experimental Digital Arts (EDA) Space, Media Arts Research Space (MARS), the Audio and Video Labs, Fabrication & Electronics Labs, the Shoot Room, Print Lab, Art | Sci Center, New Wight Gallery, the UCLA Game Lab, DMA Graduate Student Gallery, and the Arts Library.
Graduates of the DMA Programs at University of California Los Angeles are prepared to pursue careers in areas such as graphic design, multimedia design, advertising, UI/UX design, art or design direction, media art, web design, content strategy, branding and packaging, book art and publishing, exhibition design, presentation design, graphic art, motion art and design, and marketing.
The University of California Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Established in 1919, UCLA is the second campus in the University of California System. Serving 45,900 students, UCLA offers more than 250 programs across 12 professional schools and UCLA College. To date, the school has helped launch more than 200 start-ups nationwide.
5. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California
The Communication Department at Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) offers a BFA in Communication Arts with an Emphasis in Graphic Design and an MFA in Graphic Design. A 16 credit hour Minor in Advertising Design is available, as well as a 16-course Graphic Design Certificate through OTIS College Extension.
The BFA Program emphasizes collaboration, cross-disciplinary studies, craft, and presentation skills. Formats covered include package design, apps, branding and logo development, websites, interactive design, books, and posters. Students will learn about UX/UI design, printmaking and traditional letterpress, storyboarding, typography and type design, and motion sequences design.
Course examples for the OTIS Graphic Design BFA Program include History of Graphic Design, Illustration, and Advertising Design Type and Alternative Media, Systems and Identity Design, Advanced Image Making Projects, Creative Action Studio, and Creative Practices. Students may add the Advertising Minor to enhance the degree.
During the final year of the Graphic Design Program, students will complete the Senior Thesis/Research Paper course, Senior Project/Seminar, and a Capstone Project.
The OTIS Graphic Design MFA features an accelerated curriculum running four consecutive semesters over 14 months. The program, which typically begins in the summer semester, consists of courses in history and design theory, studio projects, round table discussions, and workshops led by visiting artists and designers. Course examples for the program include Models of Practice, Seminar Studio I-IV, Contemporary Graphic Design Issues, and Entrepreneurship.
Graduates of the BFA and MFA Programs at OTIS College of Art and Design have been hired at Amazon, Capitol Records, Apple, Ogilvy Worldwide, Google, GUESS, Anthropologie, Disney Consumer Products, Young & Rubicam, Deutsch Inc., L.A., Hallmark, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Interscope Records, Metro, Conde Nast Publications, Gehry Partners, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SciArc), and WB Network, among others.
Otis College of Art and Design is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The school is also a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). Founded in 1918, OTIS is Los Angeles’ oldest professional school of the arts. Serving more than 1,200 students, the school offers 11 BFA degree programs and MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. A variety of minors and certificate programs are also available. Programs and courses at Otis College of Art and Design are led by more than 430 professors—all active professionals in their respective fields.
6. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California (USC) is home to the USC Gayle Garner Roski School of Art and Design. First organized in 1883 and founded in 1895, USC Roski is one of Southern California’s oldest art and design schools. Besides a long history in the arts and design, Roski students benefit from an experimental and collaborative approach to learning, cross-disciplinary curriculums, hands-on studio courses, internship opportunities at places such as DreamWorks, National Geographic, MTV and Lego, and study abroad experiences Italy, London, Australia, and South Africa.
Degree options for designers include the BFA, MFA, and the Dual BFA/MFA Progressive Degree in Design. A Minor in Communication Design is also available. The Design BFA is a 128-unit, intensive, four-year pre-professional degree that requires a complementary Minor such as Advertising, Communication, Designing Products, Marketing, Digital Experiences, Business, Multimedia Experiences, or Entrepreneurship. Students may also choose 26 units of electives to customize a specialization in any area of design or other discipline. Selections may be from Roski or non-Roski courses from across USC.
Course examples for the Design BFA Program include Art and Design Studio I-II, 3D Design: Materials and Tools, Publication Design, Web Design, Advanced Design Projects, and Professional Practice in Design. Professional Internship in the Arts is a required component of the program, as well as the Senior Thesis completed over two courses.
The USC Roski Design MFA requires at least 56 units of study, including 26 elective units. Eighteen elective units must be from Roski School of Art and Design, and eight can be from departments and schools outside Roski. Suggest electives include Design Studio Co-Lab, Design Pedagogy, Directed Research, Design Study Tour, and Field Internship Experience. Examples of required courses for the program include Design Theory, Contemporary Issues in Design, Designers in Residence Forums, Individual Studies, and Advancement. MFA students will also complete a Master’s Thesis.
In addition to all USC Roski has to offer, MFA students benefit from the school’s partnership with organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the opportunity to participate in discussions, seminars, and visits from leaders in the design industry.
The Communication Design Minor consists of 24 units and includes coursework in digital imaging, business, communication, visual literacy, marketing, and public relations. Specific course examples include Ideas in Intermedia, Marketing of Creative Disruption and Innovation, Advertising Media and Analysis, Video Installation and Moving Image Environments, Business and Professional Communication, and The Cultures of New Media. Communication Design Minors also have the opportunity to participate in the New York Design and International Study Tours, or the Practicum in Advertising and Promotion.
Graduates of USC Roski School of Art and Design have been hired by hundreds of top companies, studios and other organizations. Examples include Conde Nast, Cisco, Pinterest, American Apparel, PETA, NBCUniversal, DreamWorks Animation, J. Crew, Disney Interactive, MTV Networks, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Skechers, Vogue, L’Oreal, Paramount Pictures, DirectTV, 20th Century Fox, Fandango, Macy’s, E! Entertainment, Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, The Walt Disney Company, Marvel Studios, Mattel, Oliver Peoples, American Express, and Beats.
University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Established in 1880 and serving 49,500 students across several campuses and centers, and 23 schools and divisions, USC is the oldest private research university in California and it is the largest private sector employer in the City of Los Angeles. University of Southern California offers 600 graduate and professional programs in the areas of business, law, engineering, film, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine.
7. San Diego State University, San Diego, California
The School of Art + Design at San Diego State University serves nearly 800 students. The School is part of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts (PSFA), which houses seven schools, three departments, and 15 interdisciplinary centers and institutes. Serving more than 5,000 students, PFSA provides internship opportunities, international experiences, and public performances and presentations to students in all of its departments and schools.
For artists interested in graphic design, the PFSA School of Art + Design offers a Graphic Design Emphasis for BA in Applied Arts and Sciences, MA, and MFA students. Students in all programs have access to state-of-the art facilities such as the Mac Computer Lab, Printmaking, Letterpress, and Book Arts Studios, Intaglio and Relief Printmaking Studios, the Screen Printing Studio, and the Computing Labs for Digital Imaging, Interactive Media, and Video. SDSU Graphic Design students at all levels also benefit from the visiting lecture series, access to local galleries, museums, and visual and performing arts organizations, and AIGA membership.
Course examples across programs include Artists and Designers in Real Time, Graphic Design I-IV, Packaging Design, Experiential Graphic Design, Expressive Typography, Screen Printing Studio, Design for the Internet, Art and Design Theory and Criticism, and Seminar in Professional Practice of Art and Design. BA students will complete the Senior Portfolio/Exhibition to graduate, while MA and MFA students will complete a Thesis or Final Project to graduate.
Graduates of the San Diego State University Graphic Design Programs are prepared to pursue positions such as Lead Graphic Designer, Technical Illustrator, Layout/Production Artist, Book Artist, Packing Designer, Logo Designer, Art Director, Multimedia Artist, Brand Designer, Graphic Illustrator, Print Production Artist, and Ad Designer, among others.
San Diego State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Established in 1897 and serving just over 34,500 students, SDSU is the largest and oldest higher education institution in San Diego. San Diego State University offers more than 200 degree programs across seven colleges and hundreds of departments.
8. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
The Academy of Art University has graphic design programs at all degree levels. Housed in the School of Graphic Design and leading to an AA, BFA, MA, MFA or Certificate, the programs explore branding, experience design, print, packaging, communication design, innovation, editorial design, typography, user experience, environmental design, and motion graphics. Students work with all forms of media including traditional, digital, emerging, and interactive.
Course examples across programs include Branding Principles, Design Technology: Visual Design Tools, Human-Centered Design, Information Design, Package Design 3: Advanced 3D Branding, Social Media Strategy, The Power of Signs: Semiotics & The Visual Arts, Type Systems, Typography: Hierarchy and Form, User Experience Design, Visual Literacy, and Web Design.
Depending on the program, students will complete a final project or thesis. All students have the option to complete an internship. Graduates will leave the Graphic Design Programs with a professional portfolio.
Academy of Art University graduates have been recruited by Apple, Google, IDEO, Nike, R/GA, Square, and The Clorox Company, among others. Job titles include Art Director, Creative Director, Graphic Designer, Product Designer, Service Designer, and User Experience Designer.
Academy of Art University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Founded in 1929, Academy of Art University is a family-owned private university that serves more than 7,000 students. Academy of Art is also one of the nation’s largest private art and design schools. Divided into 22 schools, Academy of Art University offers more than 129 degree programs in 40+ areas of study. Programs lead to the AA, BA, BFA, BS, B. Arch, MAT, MA, MFA and M. Arch degrees.
9. California State University, Los Angeles, California
California State university, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) houses the College of Arts and Letters, home to the Department of Art, which offers programs leading to a BA, MA or MFA, minor or certificate. Each semester, the Fine Arts Gallery of the Department of Art hosts several events that allow students to present their work to professional artists and faculty. MFA students present at the Graduate Thesis Exhibition and undergraduates present at the BA Capstone Show in the campus-based Ronald H. Silverman Fine Arts Gallery.
All Cal State LA Department of Art students may present their work through weekly rotating exhibitions in the student-run exhibition space COMA Gallery. Additional opportunities to present to the public are also available. Other Department of Art benefits include access to state-of-the-art labs and studio spaces, internship opportunities, and study abroad experiences.
Program options for designers include BA, MA, and MFA degrees with a Graphic Design/Visual Communication Option. Course examples and elective options across programs include Graphic Design, Typography, 3D Design, Photographic Processes, Illustration, Advertising Art Direction, Interactive Design, Visual Arts in Urban Contexts, Digital Design Tools, Graduate Interactive Design, Research in Art Education, Seminar: Visual Arts, and MA/MFA Practice in Studio Art.
Graduates of the Graphic Design/Visual Communication Program at Cal State LA are prepared to pursue positions in advertising and marketing, packaging and branding, public relations, film, game design, exhibit design, book design, publication design, and many other areas. Department of Art alumni have been hired at Young & Rubicam, Twentieth Century Fox Japan, Marvel Studios, Catalina Communications, Harding Marketing Communications, Graphic Ink, Column Five Media, Strategic Materials, Graphic Design Services, Prologue Films, Consolidated Design West, and Dynamic Dezign, among others.
California State University, Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Programs in the Cal State LA Department of Art are accredited by National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Established in 1947, California State University, Los Angeles serves more than 27,800 students enrolled in more than 150 degree, certificate, and minor programs. Part of the 23 campus, California State University System, Cal State LA is comprised of nine colleges and the University Library.
10. University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California
The College of Arts & Sciences at University of San Francisco (USF) houses the Department of Art + Architecture. The Design BA Program here is interdisciplinary and explores Graphic Design, Environmental Design, and Digital Media Design. The program consists of 49 units in the major, nine units of studio and design seminar electives, the Design Internship, Professional Practice in Design, and the Senior Design Project.
Examples of course requirements include Visual Communication I-II, Digital Media Design, Fabrication Lab, Typography, and Design Fundamentals. Elective examples include Sustainable Systems In Design, Copy Culture, Advanced Typography, Interaction Design and Critical Brand/Package Design. In addition to the Design Internship, BFA students can obtain experience through the Exhibition Design Practicum, which encompasses the curation, design, organizing, and launch of an exhibition in the University of San Francisco Thacher Gallery.
The USF Design BA Program culminates with the Senior Thesis Exhibition. Graduates will leave the program with an industry-ready, professional portfolio.
USF Design alumni work in design studios, for start-ups, museums and other non-profit entities, and in-house for companies in just about every industry. Some go on to enroll in graduate programs at New York University (NYU), Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Art and Design (RISD), Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and University of the Arts London, among others.
Companies and organizations that have hired USF Design graduates include Apple, Disney, Etsy, Google, Harper Collins, Oracle, Pandora, San Francisco Magazine, The Discovery Science Center in Orange County, The Harvey Milk Center for the Arts, and Twitter.
University of San Francisco is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Established in 1855 as the St. Ignatius Academy, USF San Francisco’s first university. When it opened, this private, Jesuit university had just three students. Today, University of San Francisco serves more than 10,000 students enrolled in more than 100 program in five colleges and schools.
11. Chapman University, Orange, California
The Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University (Chapman) houses the Department of Art. Design students here have two options: the BFA in Graphic Design or the 24 credit hour Graphic Design Minor. Both programs explore areas such as 2D, 3D and 4D, print, interactive design, web design, and UX/UI Design. Course examples across programs include Branding & Advertising Design, Web and Interaction Design, Book Design, Advanced Typography, Visualization - Perspective and Rendering, 4D Design, Advanced Interaction UX/UI and Web Design, Advanced Graphic Design, Illustration, and Motion Design.
Other program features include two portfolio workshops, training in Adobe Creative Suite, laser cutting, and 3D printing, access to design-related jobs on campus and off-campus internship opportunities, and the London Sustainable Design course, which allows students to work on projects with industry clients overseas. Students will also complete a number of graphic design projects with direction and advice from real clients.
An additional component of the Chapman Graphic Design BFA is the option to integrate coursework from other programs at Chapman such as Advertising and Public Relations, Marketing, Creative Industries, Business, and Sociology.
Graduates of the Chapman University Graphic Design BFA Program are prepared to pursue positions in all areas of Graphic Design.
Chapman University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WSCUC). Founded in 1861 as Hesperian College, Chapman University is a business, entertainment, and technology college that serves 10,000 students from just about every state and 82 countries. Chapman offers 200 programs in 11 colleges and schools at the main campus in Orange, California.
12. San Jose State University, San Jose, California
The Graphic Design Program at San Jose State University (SJSU) was established in 1969. It is the only program of its kind in a public university in Silicon Valley. Housed in the Department of Design within the College of Humanities and the Arts, the program features a mandatory internship component, community engagement projects, funded research, classes and workshops led by studio professionals, and opportunities to collaborate with students in other disciplines.
Degree pathways include the BA in Design Studies, specializing in Graphic Design, and the BFA in Graphic Design. The Design Studies BA is a 120 credit hour Liberal Arts Degree that encourages students to choose electives in arts and other areas. The program also encourages students to add a Minor from any of the following departments: Journalism and Mass Communications, Art and Art History, Psychology, Environmental Studies, Computer Science, Global Studies, English and Comparative Literature, Anthropology, Philosophy, General Engineering, Urban and Regional Planning or Business.
Course examples for the BA Program include Visual Communication & Process, Fundamental Graphic Visualization, Design Process, Visual Communication, Graphic Design Theory & History, Design Values Digital Applications, and Professional Practices. Recommended electives include Ergonomics for Design, Acting, and Architectural Project Materials. The BA Program culminates with the BA Senior Project, worth three credit hours.
The 120 credit hour Graphic Design BFA can be completed online or on-campus. Students in this program must complete 48 units in the major. Course examples include Digital Applications: Methodology, Advanced Typography, 3D Branding & Promotion Design, User Interface & Interaction Design, Special Topics in Experience Design, Visual Literacy: Image Making, Exhibition Design & Info Graphics, and Special Topics in Graphic Design. SJSU BFA students will complete Degree Project: Senior Studio, worth three credits, and present their work at the BFA Senior Show, held in the Spring.
Graduates of the San Jose State University Graphic Design Programs have found jobs in industries such as Advertising, PR and Marketing, Design, K-12 Education, Government, Internet & Software, Retail, Movies, TV and Music, and Human Resources.
Examples of top employers of SJSU graduates include Apple, Intel Corporation, Google, Starbucks, LinkedIn, Genentech, Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, Target Corporation, PayPal, NBC Universal, IBM, Oracle, Nordstrom, Wells Fargo, The City of San Jose, Samsara Networks, JP Morgan Chase & Co., KPMG LLP, State Farm, and Western Digital.
San Jose State University is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Established in 1857, SJSU is Silicon Valley’s Public University. Serving around 36,000 regular and special session students, the school offers more than 250 areas of study at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Programs at San Jose State University are housed in nine colleges and dozens of departments and schools.
13. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California
The BFA in Graphic Design + Digital Media (GD+DM) at Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) is a multidisciplinary program that explores traditional and emerging areas such as 3D, iPad development, motion, advertising, print, packaging, action sport design, video, and web design. Students in the program have the option to choose an emphasis such Illustration or Action Sport Design.
Other program features include small class sizes, courses taught by industry professionals, hands-on design projects, access to advanced software applications, equipment, and facilities, mentorships, internships, and partnerships with companies such as Sony Music.
LCAD also offers a GD-DM Minor that can be taken alone or added to a related program. Consisting of six entry-level courses, the Minor provides a foundation in Graphic Design and Digital Media and related software applications. Course examples include Graphic Design 1, Typography 1, Fundamentals of Digital Imaging 1: Photoshop and Fundamentals of Digital Imaging 2: Illustrator.
Graduates of the LCAD GD+DM Program work with top companies and organizations such as Saatchi & Saatchi, Vans, Razorfish, United Nations, Warner Bros., Apple, Sony Pictures, IKEA, Taco Bell, Red Bull, Nike, Amazon, Capitol Records, Pixar, Sony Music, Lexus, Fox Entertainment, Maserati, Billabong, R/GA, Meta (formerly Facebook), Disney Interactive, Live Nation, Coca-Cola, Hurley, and AT&T Entertainment.
Laguna College of Art and Design is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Founded in 1961, LCAD serves close to 750 students enrolled in dozens of degree and minor programs. In addition to the Laguna Beach campus, Laguna College of Art and Design has educational affiliates locally and around the world including NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences (NHTV), The Netherlands; Florence Academy of Arts, Italy; and Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, California.
14. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California
The College of Liberal Arts at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) is home to the Art and Design Department. As part of Cal Poly, Art and Design students have access to 500 study abroad programs in 75 countries, more than 25 centers and institutes, and internships and co-op positions with companies such as Apple, Amazon, Disney, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, and the National Park Service. Graduates of all programs at Cal Poly also enjoy a high employment rate (or graduate school). Around 95% of the school’s alumni are either employed or in grad school within nine months of graduation.
The Art and Design Department has a 120 credit hour BFA Program with a Graphic Design Concentration that explores design history, animation, book arts, human-centered design, typography, identity design, UI/UX design, and illustration. Specific course and elective examples for the program include Interaction Design (I-III), Graphic Design I-II, Advertising Design, Digital Video, Typography (I-III), and Animation, Video, and Interactive Design, Type in Motion, Illustration (I-II), Book Arts, and Advanced Interactive Media Art. BFA students will complete 52 credit hours in the Graphic Design Concentration.
The Cal Poly Graphic Design (Art and Design) BFA Program culminates with the Senior Portfolio Project course. Graduates have obtained positions in creative agencies, design studios, in-house creative departments, and in the tech and entertainment industries. Some program alumni have gone on to graduate school, while others have launched successful start-ups or freelance careers.
California Polytechnic State University is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Founded in 1901, Cal Poly is part of the 23-campus California State University System. The school’s campuses and ranches cover 9,718 acres, making Cal Poly the second largest land-holding university in California (UC Berkeley is the largest), and one of the largest land-holding universities in the U.S. Serving close to 22,300 students, California Polytechnic State University offers more than 100 degree programs in six colleges.
15. San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California
The College of Liberal Arts at San Francisco State University (SFSU) houses the School of Design, which has a Visual Communications Program leading to a BS degree that requires 58 units in the major. A 30-unit Design MA is available, as well as a 19-unit Minor in Design with two pathways: Visual Communication Design and Product Design. A 15-month Graphic Design Certificate is available through the SFSU College of Extended Learning.
Across programs, students can expect to take courses such as Visual Design Literacy, Drawing for Designers, Modern Letterpress Printing: Traditional Digital Techniques, Photoshop, Information Design, Technical Drawing, In Design, Graphic Design, Typography, Interactive Design, Illustrator, Product Design, Rapid Visualization, Computer Graphic Imaging, and How to Develop, Patent, and Market an Idea. Undergraduate. students will complete a final project and portfolio. Graduate students will also complete a Thesis. All students will complete a number of workshops, seminars, and studios.
Other School of Design benefits include the opportunity to collaborate with external industry partners and/or community organizations, access to DESIGNSPACE—the on-campus teaching and learning workspace for students, faculty, and partners, and design experiences in the Fine Arts Building, including design experiences for students including interactive media (AR and VR), bookbinding, 3D printing, large format printing, rapid prototyping, and letterpress printing.
All SFSU School of Design students also have access to internship opportunities and the Study Abroad Program, which offers experiences in more than 20 countries. Examples of partner institutions include University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia; Dublin Institute of Technology Dublin, Ireland; Nuova Accademia Di Belle Arti (NABA) Milan, Italy; Brunel University London, United Kingdom; Swinburne University Melbourne, Australia; and Chung Yuan Christian University Taipei, Taiwan.
San Francisco State University graduates are routinely hired at companies such as Apple, Google, Oracle, Wells Fargo, and Kaiser Permanente. Design alumni are also in high demand at companies and studios throughout Silicon Valley. Graduates are Art Directors, Web Designers, User Experience Designers, Brand Managers, Packaging Designers Creative Directors, Layout Artists, Publication Designers, Book Designers, Exhibit Designers, Freelance Designers, and Entrepreneurs.
San Francisco State University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Founded in 1899 as San Francisco State Normal School, SFSU serves 26,620 students enrolled in more than 200 programs in six colleges that house more than 75 schools and academic departments.
16. California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, California
The College of the Arts at California State University-Long Beach (CSULB) houses the School of Art (SoA), which is the largest academic unit on campus. SoA students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, work studios, seven configurable galleries, international travel opportunities, and guest artists. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1970, SoA employs over 130 full-time and part-time faculty that serve nearly 2,000 students.
Programs for Graphic Designers include the BA, BFA, and MFA. All provide the opportunity to study Graphic Design through a concentration or elective coursework. A 21-unit Graphic Design Minor that includes courses such as Graphic Design I, Perspective and Rendering Systems, and Media Design: User-Centered Design, is also available.
Across degree pathways, students will study graphic design, concept development, typography, motion graphics, packaging design, user-centered design, visual art writing, art direction, color theory, photography, printmaking, and advertising. Students will also have the opportunity to complete an internship at a local or national company.
Graduates of the CSULB SoA are prepared for careers in advertising, corporate design, user experience design, web design, publishing, public relations, consulting, industrial design, exhibit design, packaging design, and brand management, among others.
California State University-Long Beach (CSULB) is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The school opened on September 28, 1949 as Los Angeles-Orange County State College in a small converted apartment building. On the first day of classes, State College had just 160 students and 13 full-time faculty. Today California State University-Long Beach employs more than 4,000 professionals that serve nearly 39,300 students. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB offers more than 300 programs in eight colleges.
17. California State University Fullerton, Fullerton, California
California State University Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton) is home the College of the Arts, which houses the Department of Visual Arts. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department has BA, BFA, MA, and MFA pathways that offer the opportunity to study Graphic Design through the Graphic & Interactive Design Concentration.
Course examples across pathways include 2D and 3D Design, Lettering and Typography, Computer Assisted Graphics, Typography into Graphic Design, Design for Interactive Art, Illustration, and Creative Photography. Graphic Design Graduate Seminar and Graphic Design Thesis are part of the MA and MFA Programs.
All programs provide internship and study abroad opportunities, access state-of-the-art facilities, labs, and equipment in the Visual Arts Complex, workshops, and seminars. In addition, at the end of each semester, art directors from advertising agencies and graphic design, artists and illustrators from animation and game studios are invited to review the portfolios of student interns.
Graduates of the Cal State Fullerton Design Department of Visual Arts go on to enroll in graduate or doctoral programs at institutions such as UCLA, Parsons, NYU, RISD, and Rutgers. Program alumni have also gone on to establish careers at studios and companies such as Apple, Disney Entertainment, Disney Interactive, BLT and Associates, Earthlink., TOKYOPOP, LucasFilm, Creative Domain, Oakley, Billabong USA, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, Landor Associates, Jim Henson Company, and Paul Frank.
California State University, Fullerton is Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Founded in 1957, Cal State Fullerton is part of the 23 campus California State University (CSU) system. Serving more than 41,000 students, the school offers 55 undergraduate and 55 graduate degree programs in eight academic colleges.
18. Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California
Azusa Pacific University (APU) is home to the School of Visual and Performing Arts, which houses the Departments of Art, Cinematic Arts, Design, and Theater Arts. The Design Department has an 18 credit hour Design Studies Minor and a Design BA Program that explores Visual Communication Design, User Interface and Experience Design, Editorial Design, Branding and Identity, and Vector and Digital Illustration.
Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Design BA features networking opportunities with industry leaders in design, individual mentorship, and the opportunity to gain work experience through the APU Internship Program.
Course examples for the program include Design Fundamentals I-III, Using Digital Media in a Visual World, Introduction to Digital Interface and Print Interface, Graphic Design I-IV, Graphic Design Process, Multimedia, Printmaking: Serigraph, Advanced Photography Studio, and Illustration. A Design Internship is part of the program as well as a final portfolio of the student’s best work.
Graduates of the Azusa Pacific University Design BA Program are prepared to pursue positions in a variety of areas in Design, Visual Arts, and Graphic Design.
Azusa Pacific University is an Evangelical Christian university that opened in 1899 as The Training School for Christian Workers. The first graduating class consisted of just 12 people. Today, APU serves around 8,110 students enrolled in more than 150 programs in the Azusa Pacific Seminary, the Honors College, and the Schools of Nursing; Behavioral and Applied Sciences; Education; Theology; and Visual and Performing Arts.
19. California State University Northridge, Northridge, California
The Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication at California State University Northridge (CSUN) houses the Department of Art and Design, which has a Visual Arts Program with a Communication Design Concentration. Leading to a BFA, the program explores typography, user experience, the latest industry-standard technology, design history, motion, illustration, design management tools, communication design theory, photography, visual design, and interaction.
Mike Curb students have access to state-of-the-art labs and studios, student organizations, career services, workshops, seminars, internship opportunities, and the study abroad program.
Graduates of the CSUN Communication Design Program work in the Design, Publishing, Entertainment, Technology, Advertising and Marketing, and Public Relations industries.
California State University Northridge is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Enrolling more than 38,800 students, California State University Northridge is one of the largest universities in the nation. Founded in 1958, CSUN is also one of the youngest universities in the 23 campus California State University System and the U.S. This liberal arts school comprises eight academic colleges, The Tseng College, and the University Library. Programs include bachelor’s degrees in 65 disciplines, master’s degrees in 74 fields, three doctorates, and 17 teaching credential programs.
20. California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, Pomona, California
The College of Environmental Design at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) houses the Department of Art, home to the Visual Communication Design (VCD) Program. Leading to a BFA and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the program features hands-on projects and studios, the option to enhance the degree through electives, design workshops, opportunities to exhibit work throughout the program, and the internship program.
Course examples for the program include 2D Design, 4D Design, Typography, Illustration, Visual Thinking, VCD Workshop: Typography, VCD Workshop: Illustration, and Visual Communication Design. Professional Practices in Visual Communication Design is the Capstone course for the VCD BFA Program. The culminating portfolio review will be conducted by program alumni who are design professionals and leaders in the field.
Upon completion of the Visual Communications BFA Program at Cal Poly Pomona graduates will have a professional portfolio of their best work.
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The school opened in 1938 as the Voorhis Unit of California State Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo with an all-male population of 110 students. Today, Cal Poly Pomona serves a co-ed population of nearly 28,000 students.
Sitting on nearly 1,450 acres, Cal Poly Pomona is the second largest in area of all California State University campuses. One of the two polytechnics in the California State University System, Cal Poly Pomona offers undergraduate degrees in nearly 100 majors, close to 40 master’s degrees, 13 teaching credentials, and one doctorate houses in eight academic colleges.
21. California State University, Fresno, Fresno, California
The Graphic Design BFA at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) is housed in the College of Arts and Humanities’ Department of Art, Design, and Art History. This professional program requires 72 units in the major and explores user experience, typography, motion graphics, visual thinking, illustration, history of graphic design, computer graphics, and web design.
Specific course examples for the major include Visual Communication Fundamentals, Graphic Design: Computer Imaging, Typographic Design, Advanced Web Design, Illustration Techniques, User Experience and Interface Design, Data and Design, Designing for Interactions, Immersive Design, Motion Graphics, Digital Illustration Techniques, Graphic Systems, Packaging Design, Graphic Concept Development, and Professional Advertising Design.
In the Senior year of the Fresno State Graphic Design BFA Program students will complete Professional Practices in Graphic Design, Graphic Portfolio Development, Independent Study in Graphic Design and the Internship in Graphic Design. The internship provides the opportunity to work for a publication, advertising agency or design studio under the supervision of Graphic Design faculty. Graduates are prepared for immediate employment in the industry or graduate study.
California State University, Fresno is fully accredited by the California State Board of Education and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The school is one of the 23 campuses in the California State University System. Founded as the Fresno State Normal School in 1911, Fresno State serves nearly 24,140 students enrolled in more than 100 degree programs housed in eight colleges and schools.
22. California State University, Sacramento, Sacramento, California
The College of Arts and Letters at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) houses the Department of Design, home to the Graphic Design Program. Leading to a BFA, Graphic Design at Sacramento State consists of 121 credit hours of study (minimum), including 78 in the major. Students interested in obtaining skills in additional areas may do so though electives.
Other program features internship opportunities, workshops, career services, study abroad experiences, and participation in the Graphic Resources and Information Design Students (G.R.I.D.S.) organization. Also a student chapter of the AIGA, G.R.I.D.S. meets frequently and organizes additional workshops, field trips, and lectures.
Course examples for the Graphic Design BFA Program at Sacramento State include Graphic Design Systems, The Photographic Self, Typography I-II, Design and Thinking, Digital Imaging, User Experience Design, Design Fundamentals, User Interface Design, and Visual Basics II. Students will also take the Graphic Design Digital Portfolio and Professional Practice course in the final year of the program.
Elective options include (but are not limited to) Ethnographic Analysis, World Design and Visual Culture, Digital Photography, Field Work in Graphic Design, Advertising, Buyer Behavior, Public Relations and Ethics in Business, Advanced Electronic Art, Special Problems, Principles of Marketing, Buyer Behavior, Digital Printmaking, Introduction to Programming Logic, Public Relations and Ethics in Business, Marketing Research and Information, and Media Communication and Society.
Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA Program at California State University, Sacramento have been hired at major corporations, design firms advertising agencies, multimedia companies, and many others. Program alumni are Graphic Designers, Multimedia Designers, Brand Managers or Designers, Type Designers, Web Designers, Project Managers, Signage Designers, Prepress Technicians, Exhibition Designers, Print Designers, Production Artists, Exhibit Designers, Packaging Designers, and Publication Designers.
California State University, Sacramento is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Established in 1947 as Sacramento State College, the school opened with 235 students. Today, Sacramento State serves more than 31,500 students making it the sixth largest of the 23-campus California State University System. With more than 115 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs, California State University, houses seven colleges including Arts and Letters; Business; Education; Engineering and Computer Science; Health and Human Services; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies.
23. California State University, Chico, Chico, California
The College of Communication & Education (CME) at California State University Chico (Chico State or SCU Chico) houses the Department of Media Arts, Design, and Technology (MADT), which has a Communication Design Program leading to a BFA. Consisting of 120 units of study, the program has an optional Emphasis in Strategic Design.
Accredited by the National Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Communication Design BFA explores digital communication technologies, print and screen media, and traditional studio methods. The program provides the opportunity to participate in the AIGA-affiliated student graphic design group, as well as workshops, seminars, portfolio reviews, and the internship program.
Graduates of the Communication Design BFA Program at California State University, Chico are prepared to pursue an advanced degree or seek employment in the industry immediately upon graduation. Common careers for program alumni include Packaging Designer, Graphic Designer, UI/UX Designer, Service Designer, Web Designer, Brand Manager or Designer, Information Designer, Publication Designer, and Mobile App Designer.
California State University, Chico is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Founded in 1887, Chico State serves around 14,230 students from 43 nations, 30 states, and one U.S. territory. California State University, Chico offers more than 340 programs across seven colleges, five schools, and 22 centers and institutes.
24. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
The College of Communications & Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) houses the Department of Art and Art History, which has a Graphic Design (GRPH) Emphasis within the Studio Arts Program. Serving more than 1,000 students, the Studio Arts Program features include assigned faculty advisors for every student, small class sizes, Professional and Interdisciplinary Track options, and the opportunity to exhibit student work throughout the year at juried and student-run shows at the Thomas P. Kelly, Jr. Student Art Gallery.
Course options for the Professional Track include Design Entrepreneurship, Advanced Studio Studies, Creative Direction, Motion Graphics, and Design Praxis: Professional Practices in Graphic Design. Interdisciplinary Track course options include Screen Printing, Color Photography, Multimedia Narratives, Drawing III: Formal Issues, Experiencing Art and Social Justice, and Digital Photography.
Other course examples for the program include Social Design, Experimental Typography, Portfolio Workshop in Studio Arts, Graphic Design I-II, and Three-Dimensional Design.
Leading to a BA in Studio Arts, the Graphic Design Program at Loyola Marymount University culminates with the Senior Design Thesis. Graduates are prepared to seek positions in all areas of Graphic Design.
Loyola Marymount University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Established in 1911, the school serves more than 10,000 students enrolled in 55 major and 59 minor undergraduate degrees and programs, 47 master's degree programs, 13 credential programs, one education doctorate, one doctorate in juridical science, and one juris doctorate.
Programs at Loyola Marymount University are housed in seven colleges and schools and across three campuses LMU Westchester (Los Angeles), LMU Downtown (Law School), and LMU Playa Vista (Silicon Beach).
25. Woodbury University, Burbank, California
Woodbury University’s School of Media, Culture & Design has an interdisciplinary Graphic Design Program that leads to a BFA. Students in the program have the option to focus their final portfolios in Publications, Entertainment, Motion Design, Advertising or Environmental Design. Another beneficial component of the Graphic Design BFA Program is the Internship opportunity. Students may intern at major companies and studios such as MTV Networks, Saatchi & Saatchi, Mattel, Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios, The Getty Center, LA Chamber of Commerce, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Disney Consumer Products, and The Screen Actors Guild Foundation.
Other program features include small classes taught by recognized professionals in the field, the opportunity to create projects in areas such as branding, apps, web design, and packaging, and access to a designated senior studio outfitted with individual work spaces for digital and production work.
Graduates of the Woodbury Graphic Design BFA Program have been recruited by top design firms, advertising agencies, studios, book publishing companies, museums, printing companies, entertainment companies, magazines and newspapers, and major corporations, among others. They work in Signage and Wayfinding Design, Branding and Identity Design, Interactive Media, App Design, Web Design, UX Design, Publication Design, Book Design, Exhibition Design, Environmental Design, Print Production, Collateral Design, and Art Direction.
Woodbury University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts and Design (NASAD) and the Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Founded in 1884 as Woodbury College, Woodbury University is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast. Serving close to 1,200 students, the school offers 20 undergraduate and six graduate programs in four schools and across campuses in Burbank (main), Hollywood, and San Diego, California.