What are the top graphic design schools in the Midwest for 2023?

Top 25 Graphic Design Schools in the Midwest – 2023 College Rankings
RankingSchoolStateTop %
1University of CincinnatiOhio 1%
2School of the Art Institute of ChicagoIllinois 1%
3Minneapolis College of Art and DesignMinnesota 2%
4Washington University in St. LouisMissouri 2%
5University of Illinois at ChicagoIllinois2%
6The Ohio State UniversityOhio 3%
7University of KansasKansas3%
8University of Illinois at Urbana – ChampaignIllinois 4%
9University of Minnesota - Twin CitiesMinnesota 4%
10Kansas City Art InstituteMissouri 5%
11Michigan State UniversityMichigan 5%
12Kent State UniversityOhio 5%
13Columbia College ChicagoIllinois 6%
14College for Creative StudiesMichigan 6%
15Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design Wisconsin 7%
16University of Wisconsin – MadisonWisconsin 7%
17Purdue UniversityIndiana 7%
18Indiana UniversityIndiana 8%
19Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis Indiana 8%
20Cleveland Institute of ArtOhio 9%
21Bowling Green State UniversityOhio 9%
22University of Wisconsin – StoutWisconsin9%
23Ball State UniversityIndiana 10%
24Kansas State UniversityKansas 10%
25University of Notre DameIndiana 10%

Our 2023 rankings of the top graphic design schools in the Midwest. We considered over 250 colleges in the Midwest with graphic design programs for this year's rankings. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

We define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. 

1. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio (Top 1% of colleges considered)
University of Cincinnati

The College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) at the University of Cincinnati (UC) houses the Myron E. Ullman Jr. School of Design, which has a Bachelor of Science in Design – Communication Design Program and a Master of Design (MDes). All programs in the School of Design are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The five-year Communication Design Program has three areas of interest including Graphic Design, Interaction Design, and Motion Design. Students in all areas have opportunities to gain real-world experience through several required co-op experiences with top Fortune 500 companies such as Nike, 3M, IBM, Meta, Guess, Macy’s, Southwest Airlines, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Consisting of 120 credit hours, the UC DAAP Communication Design Program requires courses such as Advanced Typography, Interaction Design, Collaborative Studio, Graphic Design 1-2, Welcome to Design, Applied Professional Practice – DAAP, Design Aesthetics, Interaction Design, Photo Design, Design & Meaning, and Motion Design.

The MDes Program at University of Cincinnati is a 60 credit-hour multidisciplinary program that encompasses Communication Design, Fashion Design, and Industrial Design. The program focuses on strategy, systems thinking, evidence, methods, and designing for social impact. Course examples include Design Communication, Translational Research, Design Strategy, and Professional Development Seminar. A co-op experience is required as well as independent study and a thesis, which will be exhibited at the Annual UC DAAPworks Show.

Graduates of the DAAP Programs at University of Cincinnati have established successful freelance careers, they have been hired at design firms, or they work on internal design teams. Career opportunities include advertising design, exhibition design, publishing, corporate communications, packaging, posters, webs design, branding, game applications, environmental design, film effects, 3D animation, virtual reality applications, and more.

University of Cincinnati is an urban research university that has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1919. Accreditation includes all regional campuses. In addition, as an Ohio Public Institution, every program at UC is approved by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). Founded in 1819, University of Cincinnati serves nearly 48,000 students enrolled in more than 400 academic programs across 14 colleges and a graduate school.

2. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 1% of schools considered)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) houses the Visual Communication Design (VCD) Department, which has two pathways to study Graphic Design. At the undergraduate level, students can earn a BFA in Studio with a VCD Focus. At the graduate level the Department has a flexible Studio MFA that allows students to design their own plan of study.

The Continuing Studies Department at SAIC has an additional option for students seeking a shorter program. The Graphic Design Certificate consists of six courses including Introduction to Graphic Design, four studio courses to be selected by the student, and one elective course. Course examples include Digital Design: Adobe InDesign, Color Theory, and Digital Design: Adobe Illustrator.

The Studio BFA with a VCD focus explores physical media (environments, objects and print) and virtual media (interactive and time-based media). Course examples for the program include Symbol Design, Interaction design/Interface Design, Publication Design, Font/Typography Design, Website Design/Cross-Platform Design, Letterpress Printing and Book Binding, Exhibition Design, Environmental Graphics, Poster Design, and Motion Graphics Design.

VCD BFA students are encouraged to complete a Career and Professional Experience (CAPX) internship, and participate in the Fall or Spring Exhibition, and the year-end Visual Communication Design Show. Graduates of the SAIC VCD Program will enter the workforce with a professional portfolio of their best work.

The 60 credit hour Studio MFA is an interdisciplinary program that allows students to explore other SAIC departments such as Film, Video, New Media, and Animation (FVNMA), Designed Objects, Intermedia, Writing, Architecture, Photography, and Interior Architecture. Course examples for the program include Image Studio, Envisioning Information, Package Design, Letterpress Bookworks, Type and Image in Motion, Advanced Typography, 4D Design: Manipulating Media, and Electronic Publications.

A major component of the SAIC Studio MFA is the opportunity to complete a graduate project every semester. MFA students will work one-on-one with a faculty member and they may sign up with artists, writers, and other academics from different SAIC departments. Graduate seminars, such as Form-Configuration-Content and Narrative Architectures, are also part of the program. Successful completion of a Thesis is required to graduate.

Students in all SAIC Design Programs have access to the VCD AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Chapter, which hosts local visiting designers, tours of Chicago studios, the annual Town Hall AIGA event, and a biannual portfolio preparation seminar. The VCD Department also offers the opportunity for students to participate in Exploratory Languages—the visiting designer lecture series; juror-led student workshops; and jurors’ lectures through the Chicago International Poster Biennial (CIPB).

Graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago are employed at museums, advertising agencies, marketing firms, non-profit organizations, and major companies and studios across the U.S.

Founded in 1866 by a group of 35 artists, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the nation’s oldest accredited independent schools of art and design. Serving approximately 3,570 students, SAIC offers over 50 areas of study in 24 academic departments. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Since 1948, the school has been accredited as a charter member by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

3. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Top 2% of schools considered)
Minneapolis College of Art and Design

The Graphic Design Program at Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) consists of both undergraduate and graduate pathways. Options include a Graphic Design BFA, Graphic and Web Design MA, an interdisciplinary MFA, and a User Experience (UX) Design Certificate that can be completed entirely online.

Students in all MCAD Design programs have access to hands-on training opportunities through internships and other experiential learning activities; critiques and collaborative projects; and study abroad experiences in places such England, Italy, Japan, Germany, Ireland, or anywhere in the U.S.

The 120 credit hour Graphic Design BFA combines core courses, foundation studies, and studio electives with humanities and sciences coursework. Course examples for the program include Print Culture, Art, and Communication in the Age of Mass Reproduction, Coding Concepts, Graphic Design 1-2, Digital Production, Applied Art and Design Objects, Publication Design, Type Plus, Web and Screen, Advanced Graphic Design Seminar, Art and Globalization in the Atlantic World, and Liberal Arts Advanced Seminar. MCAD BFA students will also complete the Senior Project: Graphic Design course, worth six credit hours.

The Graphic and Web Design MA at Minneapolis College of Art and Design is a 30 credit hour program that explores typography, web design and programming, design principles, ideation, workflow management, and research. Students in this program can expect to work in teams with peers and professionals in the industry to complete projects and solve problems. Course examples for the program include Typography, User Experience Design, Experimental Interaction, Design in Context, and Motion Design.

The 60 credit hour Interdisciplinary MFA focuses on independent and collaborative studios, one-on-one work with a mentor, and opportunities to pursue creative work in multiple areas. Examples include graphic design, paper and book arts, printmaking, illustration, experimental video/film, web and multimedia, comic arts, drawing/painting, public arts, animation, photography, and installation.

Graduates of the Design Programs at Minneapolis College of Art and Design go on to land positions such as Graphic Designer, Brand and Logo Designer, Production Artist, Editorial Illustrator, User-Experience (UX) Designer, Art Director, Front-End Developer, Creative Director and Web Designer, among others. MCAD alumni work for design firms, start-ups, publishing houses, large corporations, museums, government agencies, small businesses, and production studios. Some graduates have launched their own design studios or other creative firms.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design was established in 1886 by the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts. The school serves roughly 800 students from 40 states and 13 countries. Programs include 14 undergraduate majors leading to a BFA or BS, three MA degrees, one MFA degree, and seven professional development certificate options.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

4. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri (Top 2% of colleges considered)
Washington University in St. Louis

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) has both BA and BFA options for students who would like to study Graphic Design. Consisting of 120 credit hours, the BA is designed for students seeking a combined liberal arts and studio experience. Students can major in Art or Design. The Design Major has a Communication Concentration, as well as Fashion Design. The Sam Fox BA Program does not require a capstone or final exhibition of work.

Designed for students seeking careers in design, art, and illustration, the BFA is an immersive studio program that requires 121 credits hours of study. Students can major in Communication, Art, Design, or Fashion Design. In the senior year, students will complete a capstone, which may be a digital experience, screen-based presentation, graphic novel/mini-comic, illustrated book, or other work. The Senior Capstone will be presented in a public exhibition and reviewed by local design professionals.

Students in both programs will begin by working with an academic advisor to customize initial coursework and create a schedule. Students will then move on to core studios in 2D and 3D Design, Drawing, and Digital Studio. All studio courses at WashU have low student-to-faculty ratios, so students will have plenty of opportunities to work one on one with instructors. 

As students enter the second semester of the junior year, they will customize their own major courses. Course examples include Semiotics Studio: Designing Signs and Symbols, Letterpress Printing, Design for Social Impact, Animated Worlds, Printing Propaganda: The Letterpress Poster, Global Topics in Visual Communications, Programming Design, Content to Cover: The Design of Books, Type as Image: Experiments on Press, The Illustrators Sketchbook, Image and Meaning, UX Research Methods for Design, and Multimedia Design: Time/Sound/Space.

Courses for the Studio Art & Design Programs at Washington University in St. Louis are supplemented by seminars and readings. In Professional Practice Seminars, students will develop skills such as portfolio development, CV creation, interviewing, searching for jobs and internships, and public speaking.  

Founded in 1853, Washington University in St. Louis serves approximately 17,050 students enrolled in more than 300 academic programs across seven schools. The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts was founded in 2006 after the merging of the academic units of Architecture and Art, and the Washington University in St. Louis Museum. Washington University in St. Louis has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913.

5. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 2% of schools considered)
University of Illinois at Chicago

The College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts (CADA) at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) houses the School of Design, home to the Bachelor of Design (BDes) and Master of Design (MDes) Programs. The School of Design also houses a studio-based, interdisciplinary Design Studies BA for students who are interested in studying multiple areas of design. With a focus on collaboration and the human experience in design, the Design Studies BA explores Graphic and Industrial Design, Humanities, and the Sciences. 

The BDes and MDes Programs provide the opportunity to study Graphic Design or Industrial Design. The Graphic Design BDes consists of a Foundation Year, followed by Form + Systems (year two), Expressions + Interactions (year three), and Options (final year). The Foundations Year consists of courses such as Design Drawing, Form Studio, and Color Theory. Year two course examples include Digital Media Design II: Interactivity and III: Motion, Type I: Form and Type II: Systems, and Form + Image Studio. During the third year of the BDES Program, students will take a number of design history courses and advanced courses such as Type III: Dimension, Type IV: Experimentation, Digital Media Design IV: Advanced Interactivity, and Social Media Design.

In the final year of the Graphic Design BDes Program at UIC, students will complete two Senior Design Colloquium courses, Mobile App Design (MAD) I-II, and two Capstones including the Personal Capstone: Graphic Design Thesis I-II and Professional Capstone: Interdisciplinary Product Development.

The Graphic Design MDes at UIC is an intensive, collaborative program that takes two years to complete. Course examples include Advanced Graphic Design I-II, Combined Studio, Graduate Seminar, Documentation Studio, and Research Seminar I-II.

A major component of the Graphic MDes at University of Illinois at Chicago is the study abroad experience. All Chicago-based students will participate in the Basel School of Design summer workshops, which take place at the FHNW HGK Basel Visual Communication Institute in Münchenstein, Switzerland.

Serving nearly 34,000 students, University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest university in the Chicago area and one of the top five largest universities in the state. With roots dating back to 1859, when the Chicago College of Pharmacy was founded, UIC offers more than 250 degree programs and 85 minors across 16 colleges and schools. The University of Illinois at Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

6. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (Top 3% of colleges considered)
The Ohio State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the Department of Design and the Department of Art. Both provide paths to study Graphic Design. The Department of Design has a Visual Communication Design Program that leads to a Bachelor of Science in Design (BSD), and a Design Thinking Minor. For students seeking a graduate degree, the Department of Art has an interdisciplinary Visual Arts MFA Program.

Students in the Visual Communication Design Program will have access to undergraduate research opportunities beginning on day one. Students also have opportunities to study with students from Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo, Brazil, or participate in Design Week in Milan, Italy. Other program benefits include participation in student organizations such as Design for 90, D3: Design Develop Deploy, and NOMA: Designers for Diversity; the opportunity to pursue the Arts Honor Program; and portfolio development throughout the program.

Course examples for the BSD Program include Intermediate Visual Communication Design, Design Media, Materials and Processes, Advanced Visual Communication Design, Typographic Design, Collaborative Design, Design Research, Professional Practice, and Design History.  

Graduates of the Visual Communication Design BSD at OSU have been hired at places such as McGraw-Hill Education, Microsoft, Walt Disney Company, IBM iX, The Digest, JP Morgan Chase, Binance, Walt Disney Imagineering, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ring, Interbrand, and SafeAuto Insurance.

The Design Thinking Minor is a 15 credit hour program that covers the basics of design. Courses include Introduction to Design Practice, Design History, Exploring Design Thinking, Visualization as Thinking, and Presentation as Thinking. Students in all departments may add the Design Thinking Minor to their degree program.

The Ohio State University Visual Arts MFA is a three-year, 66 credit hour program that explores Art and Technology, Painting and Drawing, Printmaking, Photography, Film/Video, Glass, and Sculpture. Students in this full-time program may specialize in a variety of design disciplines through electives and other coursework. Additional program benefits include visiting artists, critics, and curators, 24/7 access to private and semi-private studio spaces, internship opportunities, and access to state-of-the-art facilities, exhibition spaces, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Fine Arts and Cartoon Libraries.

The OSU Visual Arts MFA Program culminates with the MFA Thesis Exhibition, which demonstrates the student’s expertise in their area of specialization. Exhibitions are displayed at the OSU-run, Urban Arts Space, located in downtown Columbus.

The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves close to 65,795 students across six regional campuses including Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are offered in 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas (Top 3% of colleges considered)
University of Kansas

The School of Architecture and Design at the University of Kansas (KU) houses the Department of Design. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department features access to state-of-the-art facilities; collaborations, lectures, and workshops led by industry professionals; study abroad programs; and local and international internships. 

For students seeking a Graphic Design program, the Design Department has a Visual Communication (Graphic Design) BFA and a Book Arts Certificate with both undergraduate and graduate pathways. The undergraduate certificate consists of 12-13 credit hours. The graduate program requires 12 credit hours. Examples of available courses across programs include Publication and Editorial, Bookmaking, Papermaking or Japanese Woodblock, Publication Design, Letterpress, Writer’s Workshop, The Artists Book, Typography & Printing in Italy, and Medieval Manuscripts & Early Printed Books. Both programs offer the opportunity to complete Study Abroad: Typography & Printmaking in Italy.

The University of Kansas Visual Communication Design Program consists of 120 credit hours. Courses for this professional BFA are hands-on, studio-based, and research intensive. Course examples include Principles in Visual Communication. Branding, Designing Understanding, Typographic Systems, Think and Make, Design Thinking and Research, Fundamentals in UX Design, Designing Social Interactions, and Elements of Type. In the Junior year of the program, students will begin working on their final portfolio. In the final year of the program, students will complete the Professional Studies requirement (two courses), Senior Problems, and the Final Capstone Project.

Graduates of the Visual Communication Design and Book Arts Programs at KU work in advertising, branding and package design, UI/UX design, publishing, book design marketing, public relations, industrial design, exhibition design, motion graphic design, environmental design, web design, and multimedia. Possible careers include Graphic Designer, Communications Manager, Advertising Commercial/Industrial Designer, Advertising Art Director, Visual Designer, Multimedia Artist, Public Relations Manager, Exhibition Designer, Art Director, and Marketing Manager.

Founded in 1865, University of Kansas opened on September 12, 1866 with one building and 55 students. Today, the school serves 28,500 students across five Kansas campuses including Lawrence, Overland Park, Kansas City, Wichita, and Salina. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), University of Kansas houses more than 400 degree and certificate programs across 13 academic schools.

8. University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, Champaign, Urbana (Top 4% of colleges considered)
University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign

The College of Fine & Applied Arts at University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign (UIUC) houses the School of Art & Design, home to Graphic Design BFA Program. Students in this 122 credit hour program have the option to explore other areas through an interdisciplinary selection of electives such as Advanced Interaction Design, Traditional Printmaking, and Video. Course examples for the program include Design Methods, Graphic Design Toolbox, Interaction Design, Typographic Systems, Graphic Design Inquiry, and Ethics of a Designer in a Global Economy.

Other BFA Program features include dedicated studio spaces, 24/7 access to computer labs, participation in the Annual BFA Exhibition held at UIUC’s Krannert Art Museum, the lecture series, and the Senior Portfolio Review held in Chicago. Graphic Design BFA students also have the opportunity to join the AIGA Student Chapter, which provides networking opportunities, workshops, and trips Chicago-based design studios. All Graphic Design BFA students have the opportunity to take advantage of enrichment programming such as minors, internships, and more than 300 study abroad programs in 50+ countries.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at UIUC ends with a Graphic Design Practicum and a Graphic Design Capstone.

For students seeking an advanced degree, the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign has an Art and Design MFA with a Concentration in Design for Responsible Innovation (formerly Graphic Design). Consisting of 64 credit hours, this interdisciplinary program explores responsible practices in traditional print media and emerging technologies such as digital interaction, visual narrative, systems thinking, data visualization, and information design.

The UIUC Art and Design MFA has specialized tracks of study in Sustainable and Regenerative Design, Visual Cultural Studies, and Urban Sociology and Critical Race Design. Students may also focus on applied research in responsible innovation, engagement, and social impact. MFA students will complete a written thesis and participate in the graduation exhibition to complete the program.  

Graduates of the Design Programs at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign work in areas such as publication design, advertising, interaction design, consulting, photography, type design, art direction, and environmental design. Program alumni work for advertising agencies, design studios, start-ups, and on in-house design teams in a variety of settings. 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was established in 1867 as Illinois Industrial University. The second oldest public school in the state, UIUC serves 55,000 students from 50 U.S. states and 126 countries. More than 150 undergraduate programs and more than 100 graduate and professional programs are offered across 16 colleges and instructional units. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Top 4% of colleges considered)
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (UMN) is home to the College of Design, which houses the Graphic Design Program. Available paths include a BFA degree along with MA, MFA, MS, and PhD degrees with an optional Graphic Design Track. Students in all programs participate in advanced studios, individual and collaborative design projects, workshops, seminars, internships, and the study abroad program.

The UMN Graphic Design BFA requires 120 total credits, with 80-89 in the major. The program explores areas such as typography, data visualization, digital drawing, color theory, hand-drawing, and web design. Course and elective examples include Interaction Design, Text and Image, Packaging and Display, Identity and Symbols, Product Innovation Lab, Design and Visual Presentation, Travels in Typography, Storytelling and Design, Data Visualization Studio, Digital Illustration and Animation, and Concept Sketching.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities culminates with the Senior Thesis and Exhibition, which allows students to present their work to the faculty, peers, and the design community. Students will graduate with a portfolio of their best work.

In addition to the Graphic Design Track, the MA, MFA, MS, and PhD Programs at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities allow students to specialize in Human Interaction with Designed Objects, Color Systems and Perception, Design History, Social and Cultural Implications of Design, Visual Representation of Information, Design Education, or Multicultural Communication.

The MA and MS Programs offer two plans: A and B. Plan A is thesis-focused and prepares students for the PhD Program. This pathway can be completed in 2-3 years full-time. Plan B is a project-based, two-year program designed for students seeking career advancement. Both plans are 34 credit hours and a both require a final oral examination.

The UMN MFA with a Graphic Design Track consists of 60 credit hours completed over three years, full-time. Students will complete 40 credit hours in the major and 12 capstone project credits. A final oral examination is required to graduate. Consisting of 64 credit hours completed over four years, full-time, the PhD is for students interested in research or teaching. Students in this program will take 28 credits in the major and 24 dissertation credits.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities are prepared to pursue positions at places such as graphic design studios, public relations firms, advertising agencies, publishing companies, web design companies, marketing firms, entertainment production studios, government agencies, and museums. Program alumni hold titles such as Graphic Designer, Art Director, User Experience Designer, Data Visualization Strategist, Web Designer, Interactive Designer, and Creative Director, and among others. 

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota System and the state’s only land-grant university. Founded in 1851, UMN is one of largest research universities in the nation and one of just five universities in the U.S. with agricultural, engineering, law, medical, and veterinary medicine schools—all on one campus. Around 20,000 UMN faculty and staff serve more than 50,000 students enrolled in over 150 undergraduate majors, 150+ minors, and more than 200 master’s and doctoral programs. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913.

10. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri (Top 5% of colleges considered)

Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) has a Graphic Design Program with three pathways: the traditional Graphic Design BFA, an Art History and Graphic Design Studio Double Major, and a Creative Writing and Graphic Design Studio Double Major. Across pathways, students benefit from the internship program, interactions with visiting artists, and faculty-led travel to places such as Thailand, France, Vietnam, Argentina, and Peru.

In all pathways, students will take courses such as Type Image I-II, Visual Inquiry, Information & Data Visualization, Social Inquiry, Branding & Identity, Graphic Design History, and Interaction Inquiry. For Art History/Graphic Design Studio, courses may include Contemporary Art, Global/Comparative Art, Modern Art, Baroque Art, and Art History Seminar. Students in the Creative Writing/Graphic Design Program will complete 15 credit hours of literature courses and 12 credits in Creative Writing Workshop. Writing Seminar and Critical Studies I-II are also part of this program.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at Kansas City Art Institute have been hired in a variety of roles at companies, studies, and organizations such as Nickelodeon, The Getty Museum, Hallmark, Airbnb, Radius, Fossil, Salesforce, Pentagram, Hyperakt, R/GA, Populous, Barkley, Design Army, and VML.

Kansas City Art Institute was established in 1885 as a Sketch Club. Situated within Kansas City’s arts corridor—just steps from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art—this four-year art and design college serves more than 700 students enrolled in 13 majors in 15 program areas. Kansas City Art Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

11. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan (Top 5% of schools considered)
Michigan State University

The College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University (MSU) houses the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD), which offers a BFA and a Minor in Graphic Design. The Graphic Design Minor consists of 15 credit hours. BFA students have the opportunity to gain real-world experience in the AAHD Design Center, which provides creative services to local businesses. Students in all AAHD programs are eligible for AIGA membership, and they have access to the Annual Visiting Artist & Scholar Lecture Series, and opportunities to complete an internship at a local or national company.

In addition to completing required courses, students in the Graphic Design BFA will select courses from the Two-Dimensional, Three-Dimensional, and Electronic Art and Intermediate and Photography Areas. Course examples for the BFA and the Minor include Graphic Design I: Graphic Form, Motion Design, Digital Graphic Design: Tools and Methods, History of Graphic Design, Graphic Design II: Visual Communication, Interaction Design, Experimental Design Practices, Concepts of Graphic Design, Design Thinking for Entrepreneurs, Design Center, Cartographic Design and Production, and Senior Seminar and Professional Practice.

Graduates of the MSU Graphic Design BFA Program work at advertising agencies, marketing firms, design studios, publishing companies, and more. They hold titles such as Graphic Designer, Art Director, Creative Producer, Media Manager, Communications Coordinator, Web Designer, and User Experience Designer. Program alumni have been hired at Leo Burnett, General Motors, Quicken Loans, TechSmith Corporation, Campbell Ewald, Domino’s, and Shift Digital.

For students seeking a graduate degree, Michigan State University has a Create Your Own Pathway MFA Program that includes seminars, dedicated studio practice, opportunities for external study, and formal critique. Students may select courses from any area of interest to build a focus area. This includes Graphic Design. In addition to selected courses, and seminars such as History of Art and Professional Practices, MFA students will take studios such as Integration in Studio Art and Exploration and Research in Studio Art.

The Michigan State University MFA Program requires a Final Research Project, completed over several courses, to graduate. Program alumni are prepared to pursue positions at major companies, design studios, advertising agencies, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions.

Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). This land-grant, public research university serves 49,695 students enrolled in more than 200 academic programs across 17 colleges. One of the largest and greenest campuses in the U.S., MSU houses more than 100 institutes and centers including the Institute of Global Health and the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. 

12. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio (Top 5% of colleges considered)
Kent State University

The College of Communication and Information at Kent State University (KSU) houses the School of Visual Communication Design (VCD), home to the BA, BFA, MA, and MFA Programs in VCD. A key part of all degree programs at KSU is the mandatory internship. Many are paid and they provide the opportunity to work at companies and design studios in Cleveland, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.

Students in all undergraduate programs will complete the Kent State University Core. Consisting of 36-37 credit hours, the Core covers six areas: Composition, Mathematics and Critical Reasoning, Humanities and Fine Arts, Social Sciences, Basic Sciences, and Additional Options. All undergraduate options explore illustration and design, 2D and 3D forms, print, interactive design, motion, exhibition design, package design, video, and environmental design.

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the BA and BFA Programs also require a minor or secondary area of study. Examples include Advertising, Marketing, Health Communication, Visual Journalism, Public Relations, and Management or Entrepreneurship for Non-Business Majors. International study experiences, portfolio development, and an exhibition are also part of the programs.

The Graduate VCD Program at Kent State is one of only three programs in Ohio to offer an MA in Visual Communication Design. The Graduate Program was also the first to offer the terminal degree in the field, the MFA. The MA is a 32 credit hour program that consists of just three semesters of study. Course examples include Graphic Design Advanced, Concept Development and Implementation, Typographic Structures and Systems, User Experience Design Principles and Concepts, and Design Research Methods. Master of Arts students will complete the MA Project in Graphic Design and Illustration and a portfolio.

The Kent State VCD MFA is a 60 credit hour, five semester program that combines design, research, and theory coursework with hands-on teaching experiences at the freshman and sophomore level. MFA graduates are prepared for leadership roles in design and design education. MA graduates can pursue careers in Branding, User Experience Design, Social Media, and Digital Media, among others.

Established in 1910 as a teacher training school, Kent State University comprises an eight-campus system that serves approximately 30,590 students from across the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Kent State University provides access to more than 300 programs across 40+ colleges, departments, and schools. Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

13. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 6% of colleges considered)
Columbia College Chicago

The School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago has three Graphic Design Degree Programs leading to a BA, second BA, and a BFA. A 21 credit our Graphic Design Minor is also available. This program explores graphic design, typography, visual culture, and website design.

The second BA Degree Program is designed for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in another area. Students in the traditional BA Program may choose a concentration and a minor or double major. Concentration options include Web Design and Publication Design. Minors that complement the BA Program include Creative Advertising, User Experience, Design Management, Motion Graphics, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Photography.

Majors that complement the BA Program include Advertising, Arts Management, Communication, Computer Animation, Illustration, Immersive Media, Interaction Design, Marketing, Public Relations, and Social Media and Digital Strategy.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at Columbia College Chicago allows students to study in multiple areas of art and design. Course examples for the program include Graphic Design I-V (including topics such as Semiotics and Form, Branded Environments, and Visual Identity and Narrative), Experimental Typography for Graphic Design, Design Thinking, History of Communication Design, Business of Design, Letterpress Studio, Motion Graphics, Publication Design, Photo Communication, Website Design, and Design Lab.

Both the BA and BFA programs begin with foundations courses and cover design programs such as Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. All Graphic Design students have opportunities to complete an internship. Past placements include firms and companies such as Leo Burnett, Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB), 50000feet Creative Agency, Cards Against Humanity, Pressley Johnson Design, and Pivot Design. The Graphic Design BA and BFA Programs culminate with the production of a professional portfolio of the student’s best work.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at Columbia College Chicago work as Brand Designers, Creative Directors, Graphic Designers, and more at startups, design firms, ad agencies, nonprofits, and major corporations. Examples include Google, Leo Burnett, Fjord (part of Accenture Interactive), Modern Luxury, One Design Company, Cards Against Humanity, and Time Zone One.

Columbia College Chicago was established in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory. The school serves nearly 6,700 students enrolled in more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In addition to programs in creative areas such as communication and writing, media and digital, and music and sound, Columbia offers business management programs. Columbia College Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

14. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan (Top 6% of colleges considered)
College for Creative Studies

The College for Creative Studies (CCS) has a STEM-designated Communication Design (CD) Program that allows students to add a 15 credit hour Minor or Business Concentration. Minor examples include Advertising Design: Digital, Creative Entrepreneurship, Entertainment Arts, Illustration, Photography, and Product Design.

Leading to a BFA and consisting of 42 to 43 credits in liberal arts and 84 credits in studio, the CD Program features research projects; opportunities to study abroad for a year or a semester in places such Paris, Australia, Germany, Mexico, and Austria; and internship opportunities at major agencies and companies such as Foote Cone & Belding, Microsoft, Urban Outfitters, Reebok, FUSE, Whirlpool, Quicksilver, and Chrysler.

Course examples for the program include Motion Essentials, User Interface Design (UI), Performative Spaces, Typography I-III, 2D & 3D Integrated Design Studio, User Experience (UX) Design, Advanced Communication Design, Concepts & Methods/Visual Culture, Professional Studio Practice I-II, and Business Practices.

With one of the highest employment rates in the country, CCS Communication Design graduates are working in industries such as advertising, book publishing, public relations, marketing, magazine and newspaper publishing, retail, manufacturing, industrial design, and entertainment. They hold titles such as Graphic Designer, User Experience and User Interface Designer (UX/UI), Brand Manager, Visual Digital Designer, Creative Director, Branding/Identity Designer, Design Strategist, Digital Content Manager, and App Designer.

College for Creative Studies alumni have been hired at major companies such as Apple, Google, Adidas, General Motors, Wieden + Kennedy, Adobe, Razorfish, Buzzfeed, eBay, Carhartt, Ford Motor Co., Microsoft, Mercedes Benz, Converse, Nokia, Facebook, IDEO, Lego, Moosejaw, Nike, Herman Miller, Rivian, and Whirlpool. Some program graduates have launched their own design studios in places such as Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and The Netherlands.

Founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, College for Creative Studies is a private, nonprofit institution that serves more than 1,400 students enrolled in 23 art and design programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. CCS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and it is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

15. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD), Milwaukee Wisconsin (Top 7% of colleges considered)
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) has several paths to study Graphic Design or different areas of design. For degree-seeking students, MIAD has a 120 credit hour Communication Design (CD) Program that leads to a BFA. For students seeking a degree in a related area plus a Minor, MIAD has Minors in Book Arts, Digital Media Production, Advertising, and Copywriting. Minors are 15 credit hours, and the Copywriting option is provided in conjunction with nearby Marquette University.

Required credits for the CD BFA Program include 78 studio credits and 42 liberal studies credits (English & Writing, 12; Art History, 12; and Humanities & Sciences, 18. Studio courses for the program explore advertising, 2D, 3D and 4D design, typography, web design, and packaging. Students will take courses such as Communication Design I-IV, Research, Process & Connection, Visual Language, Advertising Design, Fabrication, Computer Studio I-III, Packaging Design, Critical and Creative forms, Advanced Computer Studio, Digital 4D, Patterns in Nature, and Information Graphics.

A Communication Design Thesis totaling six credit hours is required as well as, the Professional Portfolio/Practice course, worth three credits. This course is a culmination of study in the MIAD Communication Design Program.

MIAD Communication Design graduates are Graphic Designers, Book Designers, Art Directors, User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) Designers, Advertising Designers, Publication Designers, Illustrators, Web Designers, and Package Designers. Some MIAD alumni go on to pursue graduate study or launch their own creative agencies and design studios.

MIAD interns and alumni work for companies such as Google, Harley-Davidson, Nike, High Sierra, General Motors, Trek, Kohler Company, Milwaukee Tool, Ford Motor Company, Land’s End, GE Healthcare, Hanson Dodge Creative, Fiskars, Delta Faucet, Generac, and PIVOT Cycles.

Founded in 1974, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design is the only four-year, nonprofit, private college of visual art and design in the State of Wisconsin. Serving 1,750 degree-seeking, pre-college, and outreach/special programs students, MIAD offers 21 degree and minor programs in everything from Animation to Sustainability. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD)—a consortium of 39 leading art schools in the United States and Canada. The school is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

16. University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, Wisconsin (Top 7% of colleges considered)
University of Wisconsin – Madison

The School of Education at University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW Madison) houses the Department of Art, which offers an BFA and BS degrees in Art with a Graphic Design Option. An 18 credit hour Graphic Design Certificate is also available. Course examples for this program include Basic Graphic Design, History of Graphic Design and Typography, Introduction to Digital Forms, 2D Design, and Information Graphics.

The  UW Madison BFA requires 72 credits hours of studio courses and 18 in aesthetics, while the BS requires 45 studio credits and 13 in aesthetics courses. Students in both programs must complete the first year program before entering the major, which consists of six courses that may be completed by participating in the Contemporary Art & Artists First-Year Interest Group (FIG). Course examples include Foundations of Contemporary Art, Current Directions in Art, History of Graphic Design and Typography, and Global Arts.

Course examples for the Graphic Design Option include 3D Digital Studio, Typeface Design, Information Graphics, Graphic Design for Branding and Identity, Motion Typography, Colloquium in Art,  Graphic Design for Publications, Product Development for Graphic Design, Digital Art and Code, Graphic Design for Posters, Installation and Environments, Graphic Design for Games, User Experience and Graphic Design, and Graphic Design for Packaging. In addition, the BFA and BS programs require the Graphic Design Practicum, and the Design Portfolio and Professional Practice course.

All Department of Art Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Graduates of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Programs work in graphic and multimedia design, advertising and marketing, book design, community arts, user experience design, publication design, animation and film, exhibit design, interactive design, public relations, and photography.

Founded in 1848, University of Wisconsin–Madison serves approximately 49,885 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate majors and certificates, and over 250 masters, doctoral, and professional programs in 13 colleges and schools. University of Wisconsin–Madison has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913.

17. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (Top 7% of schools considered)
Purdue University

Purdue University houses the College of Liberal Arts, home to Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Dance, Art, and Performance. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Patti School is home to the Department of Design, which has a Visual Communications Design (VCD) Program with both undergraduate and graduate options.

The VCD BFA is a 126 credit hour program with 78 credits in the major. The program focuses on projects that explore Packaging Design, Typography, Information Design, Poster Design, Multimedia Design, Web Design, and Professional Practice. Course examples include Visual Communication Computing I-II, Interactive Design Studies, Visual Communication Design I-IV, Advanced Typography, Professional Practice for Visual Communication Design, Studio in Visual Communication Design, Physical Computing, Advertising Media Strategy, and New Product Development.

VCD BFA students have the opportunity to complete the Internship in Art and Design. This experiential opportunity is worth 1-8 credit hours and it provides intensive exposure to professional experience through supervised internship at an art-and-design-related firm, department, or studio.

Graduates of the VCD BFA Program at Purdue University are prepared to pursue positions such as Graphic Designer, Package Designer, Advertising Artist, Design Consultant, UX Designer, Brand Manager, Creative Director, and Web Designer.

The VCD MFA at Purdue University is an interdisciplinary program that consists of a 60 and 66 credit hour programs completed over three years. Students in both programs will complete the first-year curriculum, consisting to 18-21 credit hours and a qualifying review, before advancing to the upper-level curriculum.

The Purdue VCD MFA Program explores information design, typography, critical theory, poster design, web communications, advanced color design, design methodology, research methods, and design history. The program also consists of immersive studios, elective coursework, and interdisciplinary seminars. During the final year of the VCD MFA, students will work on their MFA Thesis and Exhibition, where they will present a public gallery talk about their final projects.

Graduates of the Purdue University VCD MFA Program are prepared for advanced roles in art and design such as Brand Manager, Design Educator, Graphic Artist, Senior Graphic Design, Graphic Design Consultant, Senior Packaging Designer, Web Designer, Multimedia Designer, and Creative Director.

Established in 1869, Purdue University is a public research university that opened with six instructors and 39 students on September 16, 1874. Today, Purdue employs more than 10,000 full-time faculty members and employees that serve approximately 50,885 students from all 50 states and 130 countries. Purdue University offers more than 400 programs in 11 colleges and schools. Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

18. Indiana University, Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana (Top 8% of colleges considered)
Indiana University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) is home to Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design (SOAAD), which houses a Studio Art Program with three degree paths including the BA, BFA, and MFA. All pathways allow students to concentrate in Graphic Design. Program benefits include access to state-of-the-art facilities such as The Letterpress Studio, Student Technology Centers (STCs), and Digital Printing Labs.

Part of SOAAD since the 1960s and housed in the Fine Arts Building, The Letterpress Studio is equipped with Vandercook presses, a bookbinding press, foil stamper, guillotine paper cutter, and wood and metal fonts. Both BFA and MFA students also have access to individual workspaces, with separate shared studio spaces.

Across programs, Graphic Design students will explore imagery, typography, systems, and grids while creating logos, packaging, posters, apps, and other digital media. Course examples across programs include Graphic Design, Graphic Design Problem Solving, Interactive Multimedia, Computer Graphical Environments, Printmaking Advanced Studio, Typography, Graphic Design Seminar, Digital Art Survey and Practice, 3D Computer Graphics, Video Art, Graduate Graphic Design, Visual Studies, and Relief Printmaking Media.

Students in all SOAAD programs benefit from interdisciplinary collaborations and cross-disciplinary workshops; internship opportunities at places such as Amazon, PwC, Universal Studios, BlueLine Creative Agency, Macy’s, Interbrand, Mediaworks Advertising, Urban Outfitters, and Morningstar, Inc.; the McKinney Visiting Artist Series, where artists lead workshops, critiques, lectures and gallery talks; and access to overseas study programs in Barcelona, Florence, Japan, Italy and Guatemala. Students also have opportunities to work with independent artists through the apprenticeship program, with departments on campus, or at local businesses.

Studio Art BA students will complete a final portfolio of their best work, and the BFA Program culminates with a BFA Thesis Exhibition in Grunwald Gallery of Art at IU Bloomington. During the final semester of the SOADD MFA Program, students will complete a Thesis to be displayed in the Grunwald Gallery. This graduate event opens with a reception that allows students to present a summary of their work to the public.

Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship campus of Indiana University’s seven campus system. Serving 47,005 students, IU Bloomington is also one of the largest universities in the Midwest.  Established in 1820, the school offers more than 550 academic programs across 16 degree-granting colleges and schools. Indiana University Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

19. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Indianapolis, Indiana (Top 8% of colleges considered)
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI) is home to Herron School of Art and Design (Herron), which houses the Visual Communication Design (VCD) Program. As part of the Herron School, students in this program have access to eight visual communication design studios, the Think It Make It Lab, and research and studio spaces such as the book arts studio, woodshops, photo lighting studios, and the Herron Art Library. BFA students have access to dedicated individual spaces within larger studios. MFA students are assigned private studios, with access to a separate conference room for seminars.

The IUPUI VCD BFA requires 125 credit hours of study to graduate. Course examples include Design Methodology, Book Arts, Production for Print Design Outcomes, Emerging Technologies, Typography, Making Meaning, Type & Image, Designing People Centered Experiences, Photography, Design in Context, Introduction to Illustration, and Production for Digital Design Outcomes. Students in this professional degree program will complete six design labs, including two advanced labs, and a Professional Practice Internship. To enhance the VCD BFA degree, students can add a Book Arts, Studio Art & Technology or Art History Minor.

The graduate VCD Program at IUPUI was established in 2007 and is being redesigned. Currently, this intensive MFA Program consists of collaborative external projects with the City of Indianapolis and other entities, and on-campus research projects in collaboration with professors and peers. During the course of the program, which takes two years to complete, students will take Collaborative Action Research in Design 1-6 (two courses each semester).

Other course examples include Design Methods for Prototyping, Design Methods for Framing Problems, Design Thinking for Tackling Wicked Problems and Sensemaking, Design for Ideating, Leadership in Design Practice, Human Factors in Design, and Collaborative Action Research Design. In addition, VCD MFA students have the opportunity to complete several interdisciplinary electives.

In the final year of the IUPUI VCD MFA Program, students will complete four courses leading to a final project/thesis. These include Thesis Writing 1-2 and Thesis Studio 1-2.

Graduates of the Visual Communication Design Programs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis are Graphic Designers, Brand Managers, Interactive Designers, Exhibit Designers, Package Designers, Creative Directors, User Experience Designers, and Mobile App Designers, among others. Program alumni have launched careers at companies such as Amazon Web Services, ExxonMobil, Google, Facebook, Chase Bank, Humana, Mayo Clinic, Salesforce, Airbnb, Callabo Creative, Texas Tech University, Riverview Health, and Meituan-Dianping.

Indiana University (est. 1820) and Purdue University (est. 1869) merged in 1969 to create what is known today as Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The school houses the only School of Dentistry in Indiana, the First School of Philanthropy in the world, and the nation’s only bachelor’s degree in Motorsports Engineering. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), IUPUI serves 27,690 students enrolled in more than 550 degree programs and majors across 17 degree-granting schools.

20. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio (Top 9% of colleges considered)
Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) has a Graphic Design BFA Program that explores traditional, emerging, and experimental design methods. A major component of the program is the opportunity to work on real-world projects with CIA partners, clients, and in the public sphere before graduation. Students also have opportunities to collaborate with Interior Architecture and Industrial Design students in the classroom and on a variety of projects.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at Cleveland Institute of Art explores traditional, emerging, and experimental design methods. Study for the program includes Interactive and Motion Graphics, Production, Advertising Design, Print, Editorial Design, Marketing, Exhibition Design, Publication Design, and Event Design. Course examples include Contemporary Marketing + Art Direction, Design for Communication, and Graphic Design: Advanced Studio.

The CIA Graphic Design Program culminates with the Graphic Design BFA Thesis and Graphic Design: BFA Statement + Exhibition. Graduates are prepared to pursue titles such as Brand Manager, Packaging Designer, Book Designer, Advertising Designer, Magazine Designer, and Creative Director. Graduates of the program have also gone on to launch their own design studios and freelance businesses.

Chartered in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women, Cleveland Institute of Art is an independent, not-for-profit college that serves around 600 students enrolled in 13 majors in Fine Arts, Entertainment Arts, Design, and Crafts. Programs at CIA are managed and taught by approximately 50 full-time and 70 adjunct faculty, who are all professional artists and designers. Cleveland Institute of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

21. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio (Top 9% of colleges considered)
Bowling Green State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) was founded at the College of Liberal Arts in 1929. Housing 21 departments and four schools with more than 100 areas of study, 25 master’s degree programs, and 12 doctoral options, the College of Arts and sciences is the largest college at BGSU. Among the College’s four schools is one of the largest and oldest state art schools in Ohio.

Established more than 75 years ago, the School of Art at BGSU houses five Divisions: Graphic Design, Digital Arts, Studio, Art History, and Art Education. Students across Divisions have access to the BGSU Graphic Design facilities. Housed in the Fine Arts Center and Wolfe Center for the Arts, facilities include: the CAVE (Center for Advanced Visualization and Education) Lab, 20 state-of-the-art workstations, and an additional lab with access to the Digital Arts classroom.

Other School of Art features include the opportunity to intern with Pixar, American Greetings, Procter + Gamble, Disney, and PBS TV, and study abroad experiences in Austria, China, Cuba, France, Italy, Japan, and Spain are also open to School of Art students.

The Graphic Design Division within the BGSU School of Art has two degree programs: the Graphic Design BFA and the Integrative Design MDes. Course examples for the Graphic Design BFA include Graphic Design Thinking, User Experience and Interface Design (UX/UI), Graphic Design Theory & Methods, Design for Social Impact, System-Based Graphic Design, History of Graphic Design and Integrative Models, Graphic Design Theory and Methods, and Special Topics in Graphic Design.

Students in this professional program will also complete the Collaborative & Community Engagement Practicum, Senior Studio in Graphic Design, and the Graphic Design Senior Thesis.

The BGSU Design MDes is a low-residency, hybrid program with just three campus visits each semester and a one-week visit during the summer. Consisting of 60 credit hours, the MDes has two-year, three-year, and four-year options that provide opportunities to collaborate with and engage in interdisciplinary activities with corporate and non-profit partners.

Students in this terminal degree program will complete courses, seminars, and studios such as Collaborative Design Studio I and II: Social Innovation, Design Research and Methods, Seminar in American Culture Studies, Critical Issues in Art and Technologies, and Design Studio III & IV: Int. Strategies and Theory & Implementation. Thanks to a variety of electives (with 12 credits required), MDes students have opportunities to focus in an area or interest. Elective examples include Special Topics in Digital Arts, Collaborative Multimedia Development, Perspectives in Visual Arts Education, Audience Research, and Techniques in Demographic Analysis.

The Integrative Design MDes at BGSU culminates with the Design Thesis Exhibition Project and Oral Defense.

Graduates of the Design Programs at Bowling Green State University are prepared for creative roles in just about every industry. Alumni have been hired at Cooper-Smith Advertising, Nike, F+W, Abercrombie & Fitch, JP Morgan Chase, Landor Associates, Progressive, Cleveland Institute of Art, FormATECH Exhibits, Root Inc., J. Crew, University of Findlay, Toledo Museum of Art, The X-Factor, and University of Miami.

Bowling Green State University was established in 1910. The school serves around 19,600 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across six colleges and BGSU Firelands (Huron, Ohio). Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The BGSU School of Art has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1984.

22. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin (Top 9% of colleges considered)
University of Wisconsin – Stout

The School of Art and Design at University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) has a Graphic Design and Interactive Media Program that leads to a BFA. Accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD, this career-focused program has two Concentrations: Communication Design (CD) and Interaction Design (ID). Learning for both options takes place in studio classrooms and design labs where students have opportunities to work on real-world projects.

Other program benefits include internships and study abroad experiences, and the opportunity to exhibit student work at two galleries housed in the School of Art and Design, and off-campus spaces throughout the year.

The UW-Stout Graphic Design and Interactive Media BFA requires 120 credit hours, with 80 credits in the concentration. Course examples across concentrations include Serigraphy Printmaking, Typography: Letterform, Graphic Design I-II, User Experience Design, and Web Design. Advertising Design, Typographic Design, Publication Design, Sign and Exhibition Design, Information Design, Interactive Media Design, Typography in Motion, Product and Packaging Graphics, and Advanced Interactive Design. Both concentrations provide the option to complete a Field Experience or Cooperative Education Experience. The Senior Project – Graphic Design course is the culminating experience for the BFA Program. 

Graduates of this program enjoy a near perfect employment rate. Alumni are Graphic Designers, Brand Strategists, Packaging Designers, Creative Directors, Logo and Identity Systems Designers, Interface Designers, Motion Graphics Designers, Advertising/Marketing Designers, Communications Strategists, Application Designers, Web Designers, and Interactive Designers.

Examples of companies that have hired graduates of UW-Stout’s Graphic Design and Interactive Media BFA Program include FCB, Hatch Design, Target, Innopark (India), National Public Radio (NPR), Ponzi Vineyards, WorkSimple - The Social Goal Management Company, Volume One, Madison Companies, Ziba, and Strapped to a Meteor.

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management at UW-Stout has an additional undergraduate option for students seeking a shorter program or an add-on to a degree program such as the Packaging BS, the Graphic Design and Interactive Media BFA, or the Business Administration BS. The Graphic Media and Print Management Minor consists of 18 credit hours. Course examples include Cross-Media Campaigns, Digital Marketing Strategy and Practice, Advertising Design, Usability and Design Testing, and Web Production and Distribution.

At the graduate level, the School of Art and Design at University of Wisconsin – Stout has a Hybrid Design MFA Program that consists of 60 credit hours. This interdisciplinary program explores Graphic Design, Animation and Digital Media, Industrial Design, Digital Cinema, Photography & Video, Sustainable Design, Interactive Media & UX, and Game Design.

Course examples include Ethics in Design, Sustainable Design Practice, Design Seminar I-II, Critical Issues in Design Education and Practice, and Research Strategies in Design. The Design MFA takes three years to complete, full-time. With a near perfect employment rate, program alumni have been hired at Apple, DreamWorks Animation, Edward Jones, Shutterfly, Ramsey EnglerLTD, UW-River Falls, Wold Architects and Engineers, Vancouver College of Art and Design, and UW-Stout.

Established in 1891, University of Wisconsin-Stout is one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the U.S. and the only one in the State of Wisconsin. Serving approximately 7,225 students, the school offers more than 65 undergraduate and graduate programs, many of which are unique to UW-Stout or are not available anywhere else in the Midwest. University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

23. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana (Top 10% of schools considered)
Ball State University

The College of Fine Arts at Ball State University (BSU) is home to the School of Art, which houses the Art BFA Program. Consisting of 145 total credit hours, the program has a Visual Communication (Graphic Design) Concentration, which requires 60 credits. Program features include courses taught in a studio environment by instructors who are professionals in the field, portfolio development, and the opportunity to gain experience through the student design firm Studio 165+, which attracts regional, national, and international clients.

The Ball State Art BFA/Visual Communication Program explores branding, motion graphics, wayfinding systems, digital design, typography, publication design, illustration, packaging design, user interface (UI) design, user experience (UX) design, app design, and web design. Course examples include 2D, 3D and 4D Foundations Studio, Design: Advanced Practices, History of Visual Communication, Printmaking, Intermedia: Experimental Video, Motion Graphics for Visual Communication, and Web Design: Coding for Designers.

During the final year of the Ball State Art BFA Program, students have the option to complete the Design: Practicum course, the School of Art Internship or Seminar in Design. The Practicum provides the opportunity to work on group or individual projects for clients within and/or outside the university community. The internship provides paid professional work experiences that takes place during the summer for ten or more weeks. The Seminar in Design consists of group or individual investigation and experiences in the Fine Arts.

Ball State University graduates enjoy a 90% career placement rate. Examples of potential careers for VC graduates include Graphic Designer, Web Designer, User Experience Designer, Video Editor, Book Designer, Advertising Designer, Art Director, Visual Designer, and Communications Manager. 

Program alumni have worked with or been hired by Google, Walt Disney World, NASA, the Seattle Seahawks, UPS, Bradley and Montgomery, LPK, Hirons Advertising, Hook Studios, The Ohio State University, Optum, the Star Tribune, High Alpha Studio, VMware, and Herron School of Art + Design, among others.

Founded in 1918 as the Indiana State Normal School Eastern Division, Ball State University serves approximately 20,320 students enrolled in 110 majors and 12 preprofessional options across seven academic colleges. Ball State University also houses 357 student organizations and more than 150 study abroad programs. Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

24. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas (Top 10% of colleges considered)
Kansas State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University (K-State) houses more than 20 departments, 5,700+ students, and more than 80 degree programs, study abroad options, and pre-professional pathways. Among the Departments of the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Art. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department has both Art BFA and MFA Programs with a Graphic Design Concentration.

An 18 credit hour Graphic Design Minor is also available. Consisting of 18 credit hours, the Minor features courses such as Graphic Design Techniques, Advanced Printmaking Workshop: Illustration and Experimentation, and Digital Techniques in Visual Art. With a variety of art and design electives, students have the opportunity to gain additional skills in areas such as illustration, digital photography, environmental design, and digital video. The K-State Graphic Design Minor can be added to any art or design major.

The Art BFA with a Graphic Design Concentration at Kansas State University is a professional degree program that requires 120 credit hours of study. All BFA majors will take 42 credit hours of basic requirements, 15 credit hours of Art History, and 13 credit hours in foundations. The Graphic Design Concentration consists of 48 credit hours. Course examples include Design for Digital Media, Visual Communication Design I: Typography and Design Principles, Graphic Design Techniques, Visual Communication II: Methods and Processes, Advanced Independent Study Design, Visual Communication III: Storytelling in Design, Design for Digital Media I-II, and Visual Communication Design IV: Design and Context. Upon completion of Capstone I: Research and Capstone II: Project, Graphic Design students will participate in the BFA Exhibition or Portfolio Presentation. 

The Kansas State University Art MFA is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Consisting of 60 credit hours (with 35-40 credits in the Graphic Design Concentration), the program features small classes of just 10-12 students across disciplines, assigned studio spaces in K-State’s collaborative design space—Willard Hall, the visiting artist series, and participation in the AIGA student group, which hosts field trips, workshops, and other activities.

The Art MFA at K-State culminates with a solo exhibition held in Mark A. Chapman Gallery, located on the first floor of Willard Hall.

Kansas State University alumni have been hired by a variety of companies across the state and the U.S. Examples include Amazon, Google, Walt Disney Company, Koch Industries, Cargill, IBM, Whole Foods, Manhattan-Ogden USD 383, Banner Health, Shamrock Trading Corporation, Design West, Lockheed Martin, Hormel Foods, Little Bird Marketing, Target, and Land O’Lakes.

Founded in 1863, Kansas State University serves approximately 19,720 students enrolled in more than 250 undergraduate majors and options and 165+ graduate degrees and certificates. Programs at K-State are housed across nine colleges and a graduate school. Kansas State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

25. University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana (Top 10% of colleges considered)
University of Notre Dame

The College of Arts and Letters at University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame) houses the Department of Art, Art History and Design. Within the Department is the Division of Design, which has BA, BFA, and MFA pathways. Undergraduate Design students may concentrate in Visual Communication Design (VCD). MFA students may concentrate in VCD or choose any area of interest offered at Notre Dame.

University of Notre Dame encourages multidisciplinary learning, so students in all Design Programs have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and students in other departments and colleges. Examples include Keough School for Global Affairs, IDEA Center at Innovation Park, Mendoza Business School, the Colleges of Engineering or Science, and the School of Architecture. Other program features include local and campus-based projects, summer internships, and study abroad opportunities in places such as South Africa, Nepal, Haiti, and India.

Across programs and concentrations, Design students will explore packaging, UX/UI, data visualization, digital modeling and visualization, user-centered design, product automation, health care, scale-graphics, social design and social innovations, and cultural divergence. Course examples include 2D and 3D Foundations, Advanced Visualization, Design Matters, Product Development, Interaction Design, Digital Solid Modeling, Social Design: Initiatives, Challenges & Innovation, Advanced Product Design, VCOM and ID Seminar, and Professional Practices.

Undergraduates will complete a Capstone Project. MFA students will complete a Thesis and professional exhibition of visual work in studio art or design. All students will graduate with a professional portfolio of their best work.

Within six months of graduating, 93% of Notre Dame Design majors are employed full-time, participating in service programs, enrolled in graduate school, or working on independent projects. Neary 75% of students are working full-time. Companies that have hired Notre Dame Design graduates include Ogilvy & Mather, Booz Allen Hamilton, Walt Disney Imagineering, HarperCollins, IBM, JP Morgan, Southwest Airlines, The Denver Broncos, Giorgio Armani, Deloitte, Bain & Company, 2K Games, and Morningstar.

Founded in 1842 and chartered by the State of Indiana in 1844, University of Notre Dame is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Formerly a men’s university, the school became coeducational in 1972. Notre Dame serves approximately 12,810 students enrolled in 75 undergraduate majors and more than 20 graduate programs across eight colleges and schools. University of Notre Dame is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).