Did You Know.....Full Sail’s Graphic Design degree program, offered both on campus and online, teaches students skills that are highly sought-after in the creative industry. Students will learn how to meet deadlines and work within specific creative demands while producing high-end design work in a variety of format. Learn more about Full Sail University's graphic design program.
What are the top West Coast graphic design schools for 2023?
|1||ArtCenter College of Design||California||2%|
|2||California Institute of the Arts||California||4%|
|3||California College of the Arts||California||6%|
|4||Otis College of Art and Design||California||8%|
|5||University of California, Los Angeles||California||10%|
|6||University of Washington||Washington||15%|
|7||Portland State University||Oregon||15%|
|8||University of Southern California||California||20%|
|9||San Diego State University||California||20%|
|10||Academy of Art University||California||20%|
|11||California State University, Los Angeles||California||25%|
|12||Oregon State University||Oregon||25%|
|13||San Jose State University||California||30%|
|14||California State University, Fullerton||California||30%|
|15||Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising||California||30%|
|16||University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa||Hawaii||35%|
|17||Laguna College of Art and Design||California||35%|
|18||San Francisco State University||California||40%|
|19||California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo||California||40%|
|20||California State Polytechnic University, Pomona||California||40%|
|22||University of San Francisco||California||45%|
|23||California State University, Sacramento||California||50%|
|24||Cornish College of the Arts||Washington||50%|
|25||California State University, Long Beach||California||50%|
Our 2023 ranking of the Top 25 Graphic Design School Programs on the West Coast. We considered over 50 West Coast colleges with graphic design programs for this year's rankings. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here. For our rankings purposes we define the west coast as California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska.
1. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California (Top 2% of schools considered)
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 available through the Designmatters program, which combines studio courses, immersive, real-world studios, and Humanities & Sciences courses.
The 132-unit ArtCenter Gx BFA explores both traditional and emerging media such as coding, apps, packaging, 3D motion graphics, film, books, and press kits. Students in the program will complete 87 studio units and the remainder in Humanities & Sciences. The curriculum is hands-on and courses are taught by professors with expertise in packaging, transmedia design, motion, visual interaction, and print. Course examples include Visual Interaction Design, Transmedia, Communication Design: Information and Context, Identity Systems, Graphic Design History, Narrative Sketching, and Business. During the final term of the Gx BFA, students will complete the Portfolio and Career Preparation course.
Throughout the program, ArtCenter Gx BFA students will have opportunities to complete projects in state-of-the-art facilities at ArtCenter such as Archetype Press and Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography. Students will work on real-world digital campaigns, collaborate with subject experts, and create and distribute materials for ArtCenter partners such as Adobe, Nike, Cedars-Sinai Research Centers, and Homeboy Industries. Students will also have the opportunity to develop their own entrepreneurial branding.
The ArtCenter College of MGx Program has both two-year and three-year options. 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 Design Research/Strategy, Graduate Visual Interaction Design, Typography 3, LinkedIn Learning, 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 Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Warner Bros., Meta, Apple, Ford, Mattel, Nike, Netflix, BMW, DreamWorks, Blizzard Entertainment, Walt Disney Imagineering, Riot Games, and Honda.
ArtCenter Graphic Design alumni go on to establish careers in areas such as 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, visual interaction design, art direction, production management, information architecture, app design, and broadcast graphics.
Many ArtCenter graduates have been hired at Google, Meta, IDEO, and Local Projects—an exhibition and media design firm for museums and public spaces.
ArtCenter College of Design serves approximately 2,320 students from more than 50 countries. Founded in 1930, ArtCenter has campuses in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California, and satellite studios in Petersen Automotive Museum (Miracle Mile, Los Angeles) and Berlin, Germany. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate programs, seven graduate degree programs leading to an MFA or MS, a joint MS/MBA program, and undergraduate minors for Business, Creative Writing, and Social Innovation students.
ArtCenter College of Design is fully accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
2. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California (Top 4% of schools considered)
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) houses the School of Art, home to the Graphic Design Program, which provides small critique-based classes taught by industry professionals with years of experience. Leading to a BFA or MFA, the program also provides 24 hour access to communal studios, access to state-of-the-art facilities and labs, and the opportunity to work with faculty mentors throughout the program. Mentoring is a major component of all programs at CalArts.
At the undergraduate level, course examples include Digital Skills for Artists, Design Issues, VR Workshop, Digital Design Lab, Graphic Design I-IV, Skills for Visualization, Image Making, Motion, Web Design, Typography I-III, Sand Professional Practice for Graphic Design. Students will also complete several workshops during 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 explore sound production and programming, filmmaking, animation, and games creation for the web.
The Graphic Design MFA at California Institute of the Arts 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 CalArts students have the opportunity to enroll in the internship program, study abroad, and complete a portfolio of their best work.
CalArts Graphic Design alumni work in a variety of positions at major companies, studios and academic institutions such as Google, Walt Disney Imagineering, Meta, Whitney Museum of Art, Evernote, M+ Works, North Carolina State University College of Design, Art Center College of Design, and Otis College of Design.
In 1961, Walt and Roy Disney formed California Institute of the Arts through a merger of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute. Today, CalArts serves more than 1,400 students enrolled in over 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. California Institute of the Arts also encompasses the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), located in downtown LA, and the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) with community organizations and public schools across LA County.
California Institute of the Arts is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The school is also an accredited institution member of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).
3. California College of the Arts, San Francisco, California (Top 6% of schools considered)
The Graphic Design Program at California College of the Arts (CCA) provides access to a dedicated studio space, a Prototyping Studio, and the Hybrid Lab, where students can explore virtual reality and other emerging technologies. Students also have access to the Book Arts and Letterpress studio, which houses bookbinding equipment and lithography presses. Leading to a BFA, the Graphic Design Program begins with the First Year Experience, where students have the opportunity to explore a range of techniques, tools, and materials, and participate in studio projects and critiques.
Course examples for this 120 credit hour program include Graphic Design 1-3, Advanced Interactive, 2D, 3D, and 4D, Professional Practice Workshop, Typography 1-3, Graphic Design Tools, and Writing 1-2. To graduate, Graphic Design BFA students will complete an internship and a Thesis Project.
Upon completion of the program, students are prepared for careers such as Graphic Designer, UX Designer, Product Designer, Book Designer, Motion Graphics Designer, Type Designer, Interaction Designer, Visual Designer, Web Designer, Identity Designer, Editorial Designer, and Service Designer.
Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA Program at California College of the Arts are successful freelancers, entrepreneurs, and salaried professionals. They work for companies and studios such as Google, IDEO, MacFadden & Thorpe, frog design, California Academy of Sciences, Snap Inc., Wolff Olins, Bonfire Labs, and Atlassian.
For students seeking an advanced degree, California College of the Arts has a Design MFA with three Concentrations: Graphic Design, Interaction Design, and Industrial Design. In addition, students have two options: the two-year program and three-year program. 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.
The Design MFA provides a variety of courses including titles such as Digital Electronics, Mechatronics, Interactive Media, Typography, The Studio 2: IxD, Contemporary Design, Hybrid Business Models, and Professional Practice. Other program benefits include 24/7 access to the Hybrid Lab and Rapid Prototyping Studio; a yearly retreat at Headlands Center for the Arts; intensive workshops with visiting designers; access to an extensive Materials Library; a lecture series that explores all disciplines; and exhibitions for studio and end-of-year work.
Graduates of the Design MFA Program 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. Companies and organizations that have hired CCA MFA alumni include Google, Apple, Meta, The New York Times, Adobe, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, IDEO, Headlands Center for the Arts, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Graduates have also launched their own design firms and companies including Gold Collective, Backer Kit, Sensoree, and Anxy Magazine.
California College of the Arts began in 1907 as the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts. When it opened, the school had just three teachers and 43 students. Today, 420 faculty members serve more approximately 1,620 students enrolled in over 40 undergraduate, graduate, minor, and dual degree programs. California College of the Arts is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).
4. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California (Top 8% of schools considered)
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) provides several paths to study Graphic Design. For students seeking a degree, Otis has both BFA and MFA Programs. For students seeking a shorter program, a Graphic Design Certificate consisting of 14 courses taken over 1-2 years is available through OTIS College Extension. Course examples for the program include 2D Design, Digital Tools: Print, Typography I-II, Design for Branding and Marketing, and Advanced Graphic Design.
The Graphic Design BFA Program emphasizes collaboration, cross-disciplinary studies, craft, and presentation skills. Formats covered include branding and logo development, interactive design, books, package design, apps, websites, and posters. Students will learn about UX/UI design, storyboarding, typography and type design, printmaking and traditional letterpress, and motion sequences design.
Course examples for the OTIS Graphic Design BFA Program include Creative Action Studio, Advertising Design Type and Alternative Media, Systems and Identity Design, Illustration, Advanced Image Making Projects, Creative Practices, and History of Graphic Design. To enhance the degree and develop skills in advertising or book arts, students may select electives from course clusters in these areas. Examples include Advertising Workshop, Copywriting, Bookmaking Projects, Ideation Bootcamp, On Screen Production & Concepts, Introduction to Letterpress, Bookstructures, and Advertising Design Studio.
During the final year of the Graphic Design BFA Program, students will complete the Senior Thesis/Research Paper course, Senior Project/Seminar, and a Capstone Project.
The Graphic Design MFA at Otis College of Art and Design features an accelerated curriculum spanning four consecutive semesters completed over 14 months. The program, which typically begins in the summer semester, consists of studio projects, workshops led by visiting artists and designers, round table discussions, and courses in history and design theory. Course examples for the program include Contemporary Graphic Design Issues, Models of Practice, Seminar Studio I-IV, and Entrepreneurship.
Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at Otis College of Art and Design have been hired at places such as Amazon, Google, Apple, Ogilvy Worldwide, Conde Nast Publications, Young & Rubicam, Disney Consumer Products, Capitol Records, L.A., Hallmark, GUESS, Anthropologie, WB Network, Deutsch Inc., Los Angeles County Interscope Records, Metro, Gehry Partners, Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SciArc).
Established in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design is Los Angeles’ oldest professional school of the arts. This private, non-profit college serves more than 1,200 students enrolled in 11 BFA and MFA degree programs in the Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. A variety of minors and certificate programs are also available. Programs and courses at OTIS are led by more than 430 professors—all active professionals in their respective fields.
Otis College of Art and Design is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).OTIS is also a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) and the Partnership for Academic Leadership on Sustainability (PALS).
5. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, California (Top 10% of schools considered)
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) houses the School of the Arts and Architecture, home to the Department of Design Media Arts (DMA). Within the Department are two paths to study Graphic Design: the DMA BA and the Media Arts MFA. Students in both programs will explore visual communication, narrative, game design, video, and network media through required coursework and/or electives.
Foundation courses for the undergraduate program cover typography; color, space and form; and interactivity and motion. Graduate Media Arts students will complete a number of seminars, group critiques, and programming media courses along with research projects and a final thesis project. The thesis will be part of the UCLA MFA Exhibition. Course examples for this program include Programming Media, Contemporary Topics in Media Arts, Virtuality, Creating Context & Collaborative Practice, and TA Training.
Courses for the UCLA DMA and Media Arts Programs are taught as studios, typically with no more than 22 students. Course examples for the undergraduate program include Design Culture, Topics in Visual Communication and Image, Typography, Network Media, Narrative, Word + Image, Special Topics in Design Media Arts, Form, Topics in Interactivity And Games, and Tangible Media. DMA BFA students will complete course 159, Capstone Senior Project in Design Media Arts, to graduate.
All UCLA DMA and Media Arts students have access to numerous 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 and Media Arts 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.
Some of the top companies that hire UCLA graduates include Google, Deloitte, Amazon, Apple, KPMG, Getty, Microsoft, NBCUniversal, Walt Disney Company, Mattel, Oracle, Kaiser Permanente, PricewaterhouseCoopers, SpaceX, Cisco Systems, Target Corporation, Accenture, Teach for America, Bloomberg, and the County of Los Angeles.
University of California Los Angeles has played a pivotal role in the formation of nearly 200 startup companies to date. Established in 1919, the school serves 45,900 students enrolled in more than 250 programs across 12 professional schools and UCLA College. UCLA students hail from more than 118 countries around the world. University of California Los Angeles is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
6. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts & Sciences (ArtSci) at University of Washington (UW) houses the School of Art + Art History + Design (SoA+AH+D), home to the Division of Design, which has two paths to study Graphic Design: the Bachelor of Design (BDes) and the Master of Design (MDes). The BDes has Visual Communication, Interaction Design, and Industrial Design Majors.
One of the largest and most decorated undergraduate programs at UW, Visual Communication Design is a professional program that explores all areas of design systems, new media, typography, publication design, visual methods/processes, information design, and exhibition design. Consisting of 180 credit hours, the Visual Communication BDes is intensive and collaborative, with opportunities to take electives in other areas of interest.
Courses for the program are five credit hours and include titles such as Marks + Symbols, Interface Design I-II, Exhibition Design, Visual Systems, Information Design, Publication Design, Advanced Typography, Corporate Identity, and Motion Design.
In the Junior and Senior years of the UW BDes program, students will complete an internship, a Design Capstone, and Design Exhibition worth 1-3 credit hours. Students will also have the opportunity to complete a Study Abroad experience in places such as Paris, London, or Amsterdam.
The MDes Program at University of Washington emphasizes individualized and interdisciplinary studies, which provides plenty of opportunities to study Visual Communication. This two-year, terminal degree is suited to students who already have a degree in a design-related field and several years of work experience in the field. The program is research-based and allows students to choose courses from and complete research projects with the College of Engineering; the Departments of Communication, Psychology, and Biomedical Informatics; and the Schools of Business and Nursing. Past thesis topics include Information visualization, Urban Planning, Aviation, and Healthcare.
Throughout the MDes Program, students will have opportunities to complete several special projects led by design faculty and sponsored by major corporations. Other program benefits include project-based studios, seminars, and independent study. During the final year of the UW MDes Program, students will work with their Chair and committee to complete a thesis document and exhibition to be displayed at UW’s Henry Art Gallery.
Established in 1861, the University of Washington serves approximately 60,080 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. UW houses more than 300 programs and 570+ degree options across 18 colleges and schools. The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Engineering at the University is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
7. Portland State University, Portland, Oregon (Top 15% of schools considered)
The College of Arts at Portland State University (PSU) houses the School of Art + Design (A +D), which has a Graphic Design BFA, a Graphic Design Minor, and an Advertising Management (AM) Minor for Graphic Design Majors. The 24 credit hour AM Minor consists of the following courses: Advertising, Creative Strategy, Consumer Behavior and Customer Satisfaction, Advertising Campaigns, and Marketing Management. Students will select one 400-level Marketing elective to complete the program.
The Graphic Design BFA Program at Portland State University provides the opportunity to gain experience through A + D Projects (the School of Art + Design’s in-house studio) where they have the chance to work on projects for real clients. Other program features include the peer mentorship program, the weekly graphic design lecture series, field trips, professional portfolio development, demos, and professional off-campus internships.
More than 200 study abroad programs are also open to BFA students. Examples include Summer Abroad experiences such as Art History in Rome, Mixed Media and Printmaking in Guanajuato, Mexico, and Berlin: The Fall and Rise of an Art City.
Each spring, PSU Graphic Design students will participate in the annual student showcase Be Honest. This allows them to present their work to design professionals. In the final year of the program, graduating Seniors will participate in Fresh—the A + D Graphic Design Senior Showcase. The event allows students to network, display their work, and get feedback from industry professionals.
Consisting of 32 credit hours of study, the PSU Graphic Design Minor is a flexible program that includes courses such as Digital Page Design, Communication Design Systems, Narrative and Communication Design Typography, Digital Imaging and Illustration, and Communication Design Systems.
Graduates of the Portland State University Design Programs are prepared to pursue positions such as Graphic Designer, Branding and Identity Designer, Interactive Designer, Web and Mobile Designer, Product Designer, Art Director, User Interface Designer, Environmental Designer, Illustrator, Design Manager, App Designer, Publication Designer, and Motion Graphics Designer.
Program alumni have been hired at major agencies and corporations such Apple, IBM, Nordstrom, Adidas, Snapchat, Spotify, Dropbox, Wieden+Kennedy, Buzzfeed, R/GA, Nike, and IDEO. Others have found success at design studios such as OMFCO, Jolby, Sandstrom, and Instrument. Some PSU Design alumni have gone on to launch their own start-ups, product lines, or freelance carers.
Portland State University opened in the summer of 1946 with 220 students. Today, PSU serves approximately 22,015 students, with more than 2,700 students enrolled in the College of Arts, making it the largest art school in the Pacific Northwest. PSU College of Arts houses the Schools of Art + Design, Architecture, Film, and Music & Theater. Portland State University offers more than 200 degree programs housed across nine colleges and schools. Portland State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
8. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The Gayle Garner Roski School of Art and Design at University of Southern California (USC) was first organized in 1883, and founded in 1895. One of Southern California’s oldest art and design schools, USC Roski provides several paths to study Graphic Design. Options include the BFA, MFA, and Dual BFA/MFA Degrees in Design. An interdisciplinary Communication Design Minor is also available.
As part of USC Roski School of Art and Design, all students benefit from an experimental and collaborative approach to learning, cross-disciplinary curriculums, hands-on studio courses, internship opportunities at DreamWorks, MTV, Lego, and National Geographic, and study abroad experiences in places such as South Africa, London, Australia, and Italy.
The USC Roski Design BFA is a 128-unit, intensive, four-year pre-professional degree that requires a complementary Minor such as Advertising, Digital Experiences, Communication, Designing Products, Marketing, Multimedia Experiences, Business, or Entrepreneurship. Students may also choose 26 units of electives to customize a specialization in practically 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 Publication Design, Art and Design Studio I-II, Advanced Design Projects, 3D Design: Materials and Tools, Web Design, 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 Design MFA at University of Southern California is a studio-based program that 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. Suggested Roski electives include Design Studio Co-Lab, Design Pedagogy, Directed Research, International Design Study Tour, and Field Internship Experience. Examples of required courses for the program include Design Theory, Contemporary Issues in Design, Designers in Residence Forum, Individual Studies, and Advancement. MFA students will also complete a Master’s Thesis spanning three courses worth a total four units.
In addition to all USC Roski has to offer, Design 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 USC Roski 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 Design Fundamentals, Advertising Media and Analysis, Video Installation and Moving Image Environments, The Cultures of New Media, Communication Technology and Culture, Ideas in Intermedia, Marketing Communication and Promotion Strategy, Typography, and Special Projects in Design.
All USC Roski Communication Design Minors have the opportunity to participate in the New York Design and International Study Tours, or the Practicum in Marketing Communication and Promotion Design.
Graduates of USC Roski School of Art and Design have been hired at hundreds of major companies, studios, and other organizations. Examples include Vogue, Conde Nast, Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, Walt Disney Company, Marvel Studios, Cisco, Pinterest, American Apparel, PETA, NBCUniversal, DreamWorks Animation, J. Crew, Disney Interactive, MTV Networks, BCBGMAXAZRIA, DirectTV, 20th Century Fox, Fandango, Macy’s, E! Entertainment, Oliver Peoples, American Express, Beats, Skechers, Mattel, L’Oreal, and Paramount Pictures.
Established in 1880, University of Southern California is the oldest private research university in California. The school employs approximately 28,120 faculty and staff that serve 49,000 students, making USC the largest private sector employer in the City of Los Angeles. University of Southern California provides 600 graduate and professional programs across 23 schools, academic divisions, and research institutes. Programs are offered in the areas of business, law, engineering, film, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine. University of Southern California is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
9. San Diego State University, San Diego, California (Top 20% of schools considered)
The College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts (PSFA) at San Diego State University (San Diego State or SDSU) 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 students who would like to pursue a career in Graphic Design, the PFSA School of Art + Design has BA, MA, MFA degrees in Applied Arts and Sciences with a Graphic Design Emphasis. Students in all programs have access to state-of-the art facilities such as the Computing Labs for Digital Imaging, Interactive Media, and Video; Printmaking, Letterpress, and Book Arts Studios; Intaglio and Relief Printmaking Studios; the Screen Printing Studio; and seven Mac Computer Labs. SDSU Graphic Design students also benefit from the Art + Design School’s visiting lecture series; access to local galleries and museums; interaction with visual and performing arts organizations; and AIGA membership.
Course examples across programs include Graphic Design I-IV, Experiential Graphic Design, Expressive Typography I-IV, Screen Printing Studio, Design for the Internet, Artists and Designers in Real Time, Packaging Design, 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, Brand Designer, Ad Designer, Graphic Illustrator, Print Production Artist, Technical Illustrator, Layout/Production Artist, Book Artist, Packing Designer, Logo Designer, Art Director, and Multimedia Artist, among others.
Established in 1897 and serving approximately 35,725 students, San Diego State University is the oldest and largest higher education institution in San Diego. The school offers more than 200 degree programs across seven colleges and hundreds of departments. San Diego State University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
10. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (Top 20% of schools considered)
The School of Graphic Design at Academy of Art University has five paths to study Graphic Design. Options include the AA, BFA, MA, MFA or Certificate in Graphic Design. All programs explore problem-solving, 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 undergraduate programs Introduction to Interactive Design, The Creative Process, Design Technology: Digital Publishing Tools, Strategies for Branding, Typography 1: Hierarchy and Form, Social Media Content Development, Typography 2: Formalizing Structure, Package Design 1: 3D Thinking/Making, History of Graphic Design, Visual Storytelling: Editing Fundamentals for Short-Form Video Content, Branding Principles, Visual Systems, Package Design 2: Executing 3D Design, Programming and Culture, English Composition: Creative Persuasion & Argument, and Designing Careers.
Course examples for the graduate programs include Making Ideas Visible, Type Forms, Visual Thinking, Integrated Communications - Message Synthesis, Visual Communications Lab, Digital Design Studio 1, The Nature of Identity, Directed Study, Professional Practices for Designers & Advertisers, and User Experience Design.
Certificate students will complete a final portfolio. AA students will have the foundation needed to transition into the Graphic Design BFA Program at Academy of Art University. BFA students will complete an internship and the Senior Portfolio to graduate, while MA students will complete the 700-level MA Portfolio. MFA students will complete Directed Studies, and Internship, three Thesis courses, and Design Seminar/Portfolio to graduate.
Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at Academy of Art University have been recruited by a variety of major studios, companies, and organizations. Examples include Apple, Google, IDEO, Nike, R/GA, Square, and The Clorox Company. Job titles include Art Director, Creative Director, Graphic Designer, Product Designer, Service Designer, and User Experience Designer, among others.
Academy of Art University is a family-owned private university located in San Francisco—one of the world’s top cities for animation careers. Established in 1929 and serving more than 7,000 students, Academy of Art is 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.
The art and design programs at Academy of Art University are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The Academy is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
11. California State University-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California (Top 25% of schools considered)
The College of Arts and Letters at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) houses the Department of Art, which has Art BA, MA, and MFA degrees with a Graphic Design/Visual Communication Option. As part of the Cal State LA Department of Art, all degree-seeking students have the opportunity to present their work through weekly rotating exhibitions in the student-run exhibition space COMA Gallery.
Each semester, the Fine Arts Gallery of the Department of Art also 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. 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.
The Art BA/Graphic Design/Visual Communication Program requires 120 units, with 57 units in the major. Course examples for the program include Graphic Design, Advertising Art Direction, Problems in Advanced Design, Interactive Design, Directed Field Work in Art, Typography, Digital Image Processing and Illustration, Art and Motion, Color and Digital Photography, and Video for Artists.
The Art MA/Graphic Design/Visual Communication Program is a 30-unit program that consists of courses such as Seminar: Visual Arts, Graduate Problems in Design, Graduate Animation, and Graduate Animation. The Art MFA/Graphic Design/Visual Communication Program is a highly selective program that requires 60 units of study to graduate. Course examples include Perspectives on Visual Art, Aesthetics, and Culture, MA/MFA Practice in Studio Art, Research Methodologies in Art, Seminar: Visual Arts, Art History Seminar: Art of Changing Eras, and MFA Professional Field Work in Art.
Students in both graduate programs will complete MA/MFA Project Development in Design.
Graduates of the Graphic Design/Visual Communication Programs at Cal State LA are prepared to pursue positions in advertising and marketing, packaging and branding, book design, publication design, exhibit design, and many other areas.
Department of Art alumni have been hired at places such as Young & Rubicam, Marvel Studios, Catalina Communications, 20th Century Fox Japan, Harding Marketing Communications, Graphic Ink, Prologue Films, Dynamic Dezign, Column Five Media, Strategic Materials, and Consolidated Design West.
Established in 1947, California State University, Los Angeles serves approximately 26,025 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. California State University, Los Angeles is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Department of Art Programs at Cal State LA are accredited by National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
12. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon (Top 25% of schools considered)
The College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University (OSU or Oregon State) houses the School of Visual, Performing, and Design Arts. Students here can earn a BFA or Honors BFA (HBFA) in Graphic Design (GD). Consisting of 180 credit hours, this professional program includes a nine-month, seven credit hour Senior Capstone Project that will be presented at the Year-End Capstone Showcase.
Course examples for the program include 2D Core Studio, Graphic Design Pro Application, Typography 1-3, Process: Making and Meaning, Interactive Design, Graphic Design Technology and Production, Graphic Design: Collaborative Process, and Graphic Design: Professional Development. Students may focus in other areas of art and design through the required 32 elective credit hours for the program.
Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA at Oregon State University are prepared to seek careers in branding and visual design, exhibition design, interactive design (web and video), package design, publication design (newspapers, magazines, catalogs), and information design.
Founded in 1856 as Corvallis Academy, Oregon State University is one of just three land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant universities in the U.S. Serving approximately 35,240 students, OSU has campuses in Corvallis, Bend, Portland, Newport, and LaGrande, Oregon. The school also houses 12 experiment stations.
Students at Oregon State have access to more than 200 academic programs across 11 colleges, 36+ Extension Programs across all 36 Oregon counties, and hundreds of online degrees through the Ecampus Program. Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
13. San Jose State University, San Jose, California (Top 30% of colleges considered)
Established in 1969, the Graphic Design Program at San Jose State University (SJSU) is the only program of its kind in a public university in Silicon Valley. Housed in the College of Humanities and the Arts’ Department of Design, the program features a mandatory internship, opportunities to collaborate with students in other disciplines, classes and workshops led by studio professionals, funded research, and community engagement projects.
Degree pathways include a Design Studies BA with a Graphic Design Specialization, and a Graphic Design BFA. The Design Studies BA is a 120 credit hour Liberal Arts Degree that encourages students to select electives in arts and other areas. The program also encourages students to add a Minor from any of the following departments: Art and Art History, Global Studies, Journalism and Mass Communications, Psychology, Environmental Studies, Computer Science, Business, English and Comparative Literature, Urban and Regional Planning, Anthropology, General Engineering, and Philosophy.
Course examples for the Design BA Program include Graphic Design History and Theory, Visual Communication & Process, Typography, Design Values and Professional Practices, Fundamental Graphic Visualization, Digital Applications, and Visual Principles.
Graphic Design History and Theory, Fundamental Graphic Visualization, 2D Animation, Visual Communication & Process, Advanced Typography, Exhibition Design & Info Graphics, Visual Literacy: Image Making, Design Practicum, Advanced Graphic Design, Motion Graphics, User Interface & Interaction Design, 3D Branding & Promotion Design, Special Topics in Graphic Design. The BA Program culminates with the Senior Project, worth three credit hours.
The 120 credit hour Graphic Design BFA at San Jose State University 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 work in all industries. Top employers of SJSU graduates include Google, Apple, Intel Corporation, Amazon, KPMG LLP, Starbucks, LinkedIn, Genentech, Microsoft, Cisco, Target Corporation, PayPal, NBC Universal, IBM, Oracle, Nordstrom, Western Digital, Wells Fargo, The City of San Jose, Samsara Networks, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and State Farm.
Established in 1857, San Jose State University is Silicon Valley’s Public University. Serving approximately 36,000 students, the school offers more than 250 areas of study at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Programs at SJSU are housed across nine colleges and dozens of departments and schools. San Jose State University is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
14. California State University-Fullerton, Fullerton, California (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The College of the Arts at California State University Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton) 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 with a Graphic & Interactive Design Concentration.
Course examples across pathways include Lettering and Typography, Perspective Drawing, Printmaking Etching, Digital Narrative Illustration, Typography into Graphic Design, Exhibition Design, The Digital Studio, Design for Interactive Art, 2D and 3D Design, Entertainment Graphics, Lettering and Typography, Computer Assisted Graphics, Creative Photography, and Graphic Design Practicum. Graphic Design Graduate Seminar and Graphic Design Thesis are part of the MA and MFA Programs.
All programs provide access the Visual Arts Complex, which house state-of-the-art facilities, labs, and equipment; workshops; internship and study abroad opportunities; and seminars. In addition, at the end of each semester, art directors, artists, and illustrators from graphic design firms, animation studios, advertising agencies, and game studios are invited to review student portfolios.
Graduates of the Cal State Fullerton Department of Visual Arts go on to enroll in graduate or doctoral programs at institutions such as Rutgers University, New York University (NYU), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Parsons School of Design, and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
Program alumni have established careers at Jim Henson Company, Creative Domain, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Electronic Arts (EA), Oakley, Apple, Disney Entertainment and Disney Interactive, Ocean Pacific Apparel Company, BLT and Associates, Earthlink., TOKYOPOP, LucasFilm, Billabong USA, Landor Associates, and Paul Frank.
Founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton is part of the 23 campus California State University (CSU) system. Serving 40,000 students, the school offers 55 undergraduate and 55 graduate degree programs in eight academic colleges. California State University, Fullerton is Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
15. Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, California (Top 30% of colleges considered)
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) has two paths to study Graphic Design: the Associate of Arts (AA) or the BA in Graphic Design. Students in both programs benefit from project-based curriculums, the study abroad program, access FIDM’s Career Center, internships, and industry partnerships with major companies and studios such as Disney, Nike, Pixar, and Converse. FIDM students have worked part-time work or interned with companies such as NBC Universal, L’Oréal, Nordstrom, and Anthropologie.
The Graphic Design AA is a 90-unit degree program that consists of courses such as History of Design, Beginning Adobe, Digital Imaging, Computer Illustration, Typography, Publication Design, UX Design, Brand X, Motion Graphic Design, Logo/Symbol Design, Packaging & Prepress Production, Data Visualization, and Writing for New Media.
The Graphic Design BA at FIDM is a 91-unit degree program that’s open to students with an AA or AA Professional Designation degree in Graphic Design, Digital Media, or Visual Communications from FIDM. The program also accepts students with an Associate’s degree in Graphic Design from another accredited college or university.
The FIDM Graphic Design BA explores design, typography, motion graphics, and concept with an emphasis on the entertainment industries and lifestyle brands. Course examples include Advanced Practices In Color, Design & 3D Form, Ethics in Business, Title Design, Photo Direction, Advanced Typography, Lifestyle Brand Strategies, Motion Graphics I-II, Entertainment Licensing, Activated Marketing, and Mobile Application Marketing.
Both the AA and BA Programs provide opportunities to work with the partners listed earlier, and other industry partners such as Warner Bros, Signal Snowboards, and Yes To. FIDM Graphic Design students will graduate with a professional portfolio of their best work.
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising was founded in 1969. This private design school serves more than 1,800 students enrolled in over 20 creative majors leading to an Associate of Arts, Professional Designation, Advanced Study Associate of Arts, Bachelor's, or Master's Degree. Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the art and design programs are accredited by National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD).
16. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaii (Top 35% of colleges considered)
The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UH Mānoa) houses the College of Arts, Languages, and Letters, home to the Department of Art and Art History, which has BFA and MFA Programs that allow students to select a concentration in an area such as Graphic Design, Print Media (Digital Imaging, Photography, Printmaking), or Drawing and Painting. All options provide access to multimedia workstations, shooting studios, digital imaging equipment, darkrooms, presses, and papermaking studios.
The BFA Program requires 12 credits of upper level Art History courses, 21 credits of studio courses in a chosen media-specific program, 15 credits of art electives, 12 credits of Studio and Art History core courses, and a 21 credit hour Art Studio Minor. Course examples for the BFA Program include Electronic Arts Studio, Printmaking, Design: Studio I Lab, and Design: Production Techniques.
In the final year of the program, students will complete the BFA Capstone Seminar, where they will produce works and help organize the annual BFA Exhibition. To graduate from the UH Mānoa BFA Program, students will also complete the BFA Graduation Portfolio including 10-12 digital images of artwork, a paper, resume, and image inventory.
The MFA Program at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is the only program of its kind in Hawaiʻi. Consisting of 60 credit hours completed over three years, the MFA requires 24 Graduate Studio Seminar credits, 15 elective credits, 12 Thesis credits, six Art History credits, and a three-credit Interdisciplinary Seminar. In addition to the areas mentioned earlier, students in this program may also specialize in an area such as Electronic Arts.
The UH Mānoa MFA Program culminates with a Thesis Exhibition, Thesis Paper, and Oral Defense.
Established in 1907 and serving approximately 19,075 students, UH Mānoa is the oldest and largest of the 10 University of Hawaiʻi campuses. Nearly 250 academic programs and areas are available at the bachelor’s, master’s, professional, and doctoral levels. Academic programs at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa are housed in 15 colleges and schools. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
17. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) has a multidisciplinary Graphic Design + Digital Media (GD+DM) program that explores traditional and emerging areas such as motion, video, action sport design, packaging, 3D, web design, iPad development, and advertising. Leading to a BFA, the program has three options: Graphic Design, Graphic Design with an Illustration Emphasis, and Graphic Design with an Action Sport Design Emphasis.
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 Nike and Sony Music. Course examples include Fundamentals of Digital Imaging – Illustrator, Graphic Design 1-2, Computer Imaging, Animation for Motion Graphics, Typography, Communication Design 1-2, Motion Graphics + Visual Effects, and History of Graphic Design.
For students interested in a shorter program or a supplement to a current program, Laguna College of Art and Design has a GD+DM Minor that can be taken alone or with 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 Programs have gone on to establish successful careers with major companies, agencies, studios, and organizations such as United Nations, Warner Bros., Apple, Sony Pictures, Saatchi & Saatchi, Vans, Razorfish, IKEA, Nike, Amazon, Capitol Records, Pixar, Sony Music, Lexus, AT&T Entertainment, Maserati, Hurley, Billabong, R/GA, Taco Bell, Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Meta, Disney Interactive, Live Nation, and Fox Entertainment.
Founded in 1961, Laguna College of Art and Design began as Laguna Beach School of Art (LBSA). The school has a main campus in Laguna Beach and educational affiliates locally and around the world including Florence Academy of Arts in Florence, Italy, Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences (NHTV), Netherlands.
Laguna College of Art and Design serves around 770 students enrolled in dozens of degree and minor programs. The school is regionally and nationally accredited by the WASC Senior College & University Commission (WSCUC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
18. San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California (Top 40% of colleges considered)
San Francisco State University (SFSU) houses the College of Liberal Arts, home to the School of Design, which has several paths to study Graphic Design. At the undergraduate level, students can enroll in the Visual Communications BS or the Minor with a Visual Communication Design Pathway. At the graduate level, the School of Design has a Design MA with a Specialization in Graphic Design/Visual Communication Design.
The Visual Communications BA requires 120 units, with 58 units in the major, and the Design Minor requires 19-20 units. The Design MA consists of 30 units. Across undergraduate programs, students will take courses such as Computer Graphic Imaging, Research and Writing for Design, Interactive Design, Graphic Design, Modern Letterpress Printing, Design and Society, Rethinking Digital Visual Media, Information Design, Projects in the Teaching of Design, and Design Gallery: Exhibitions and Communications.
Students in the BS Program will have the option to complete an internship. Worth six credits, the culminating requirement for the program consists of Professional Practices for Design and the Senior Design Project.
The Design MA at San Francisco State University is an interdisciplinary program that allows students to specialize in a specific area, while studying product design, digital media, and more. The program also explores user-centered design, inclusive design, and community design, with a focus on socially motivated projects. Course examples for the program include Digital Media, Technical Drawing, Product Design, Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing Systems, Design Process, Seminar in Design Management, Independent Study, and Directed Experience. Graduate students will also complete a number of workshops, labs, and studios.
The culminating experience for the Design MA consists of a Creative Work Project (Master’s Thesis), worth three credits.
As part of the School of Design, students in all programs have the opportunity to collaborate with external industry partners and/or community organizations; they have access to DESIGNSPACE—the on-campus teaching and learning workspace for students, faculty, and partners; and students may participate in design activities in the Fine Arts Building including interactive media (AR and VR), bookbinding, 3D printing, large format printing, rapid prototyping, and letterpress printing.
All School of Design students have access to the SFSU Study Abroad Program, which includes experiences in more than 20 countries with partner institutions such as Chung Yuan Christian University, Taiwan; University of Technology Sydney, Australia; Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland; Nuova Accademia Di Belle Arti (NABA), Italy; Brunel University London, UK; and Swinburne University, Australia.
Graduates of the Design and other programs at San Francisco State University are routinely hired at companies such as Google, Wells Fargo, Apple, Kaiser Permanente, and Oracle. Design alumni are also in high demand at companies and studios in Silicon Valley. Graduates are Brand Managers, Packaging Designers, User Experience Designers, Exhibit Designers, Creative Directors, Layout Artists, Book Designers, Publication Designers, Art Directors, and Web Designers. Program graduates have also gone on to launch their own studios and freelance businesses.
Founded in 1899 as San Francisco State Normal School, San Francisco State University serves approximately 25,045 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across six colleges that house more than 75 schools and academic departments. San Francisco State University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
19. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The College of Liberal Arts at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) houses several paths to study Graphic Design including the Graphic Communication BS (GrC BS), the Art and Design BFA, and the GrC Minor. Students in all programs have access to more than 25 centers and institutes; internships and co-op positions with companies such as Apple, Amazon, Disney, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, and the National Park Service; and more than 500 study abroad programs in 75 countries.
Part of the Graphic Communication Department, the BS is a unique option that consists of core GrC courses and four distinct Concentrations including Graphics for Packaging, UX/UI, Design Reproduction Technology, and Graphic Communication Management. BS students can also create their own individualized Course of Study.
Consisting of 180 units of study, with 29 units in the Concentration, the Cal Poly GrC BS requires 60 units of upper-division courses and support courses such as Statistical Concepts and Methods, Physics, and World of Chemistry. Course examples for the major include Consumer Packaging, Digital Printing and Emerging Technologies in Graphic Communication, Applied Graphic Communication Practices, Digital Photography and Motion Graphics, Contemporary Print Management and Manufacturing, and Digital Typography. BS students will complete Senior Project (students’ selection, individual), Senior Project – Independent Study (collaborative) OR Senior Project – Applied Practices (individual or group).
The GrC Minor requires eight courses (27-30 units), completed over 6-8 quarters. Course examples include Digital Publishing Systems, User Experience for Digital Innovation, Digital and Offset Printing Methods, Graphic Communication in Integrated Marketing Communications, and Digital Typography.
Part of the Department of Art and Design, the Art and Design BFA requires 120 units of study, with 52 units in the Graphic Design Concentration. Students in this program will explore 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 Book Arts, Graphic Design I-II, Advertising Design, Interaction Design (I-III), Digital Video, Typography (I-III), Animation, Video, and Interactive Design, Illustration (I-II), Advanced Interactive Media Art, and Type in Motion.
The Cal Poly Art and Design/Graphic Design BFA Program culminates with the Senior Portfolio Project course. Graduates will enter the job market with a portfolio of their best work.
Graduates of all programs at Cal Poly enjoy a high employment rate (or graduate school). Around 95% of the school’s alumni are either employed or enrolled in a graduate program within nine months of graduation.
Graduates of the Graphic Communication and Graphic Design Programs at California Polytechnic State University work at creative agencies, design studios, for in-house creative departments, and in the tech and entertainment industries. Some program alumni have gone on to graduate school, while others have launched their own studios or freelance careers.
California Polytechnic State University was established in 1901. Part of the 23-campus California State University System, the school’s campuses and ranches cover close to 10,000 acres, making Cal Poly the second largest land-holding university in California and one of the largest land-holding universities in the U.S. Serving approximately 22,285 students, Cal Poly offers more than 180 undergraduate, graduate, minor, and certificate programs across six colleges. California Polytechnic State University is fully accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
20. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Pomona, California (Top 40% of colleges considered)
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, the VCD Program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Other program features include hands-on projects and studios, design workshops, opportunities to exhibit work throughout the program, internships, and the option to enhance the degree through 26 units of electives.
Course examples for the program include Visual Thinking, Typography Activity, Visual Communication Design 1-2, Foundations in 2D, 3D, 4D, and 5D Design, and Digital Photography. Elective examples include Contemporary Art, Workshop: Illustration, Promotional Strategies, Brand Impression and Management, Studio Arts: Print Process, Consumer Behavior, and Workshop: Typography.
All students will complete Professional Practices in Visual Communication Design—culminating experience (Capstone) for the program. The Final Portfolio Review for the Cal Poly Pomona VCD Program will be conducted by alumni who are design professionals and leaders in the industry.
Graduates of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona enjoy a 95% job placement or graduate school rate. Alumni have been accepted into graduate programs at UCLA, Boston University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Southern California (USC), and National Taiwan University. Examples of companies that have hired Cal Poly Pomona graduates include Amazon, Disneyland Resorts, NASA, Netflix, Sony Pictures, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, 20th Century Fox Television, Communicus, and Think Now Research.
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona opened in 1938 as the Voorhis Unit of California State Polytechnic College. The school began with an all-male population of 110 students. Today, Cal Poly Pomona serves approximately 29,100 students from all backgrounds. 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. Programs are housed across eight academic colleges. California State Polytechnic University-Pomona is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
21. Chapman University, Orange, California (Top 45% of colleges considered)
Chapman University (Chapman) houses Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences , home to the Department of Art and the Graphic Design Program. Two options are available: the Graphic Design BFA and the 24 credit hour Graphic Design Minor. Both programs explore all areas of Graphic Design from 2D, 3D and 4D to 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 120-hour design internship and a number of graphic design projects with direction and advice from real clients.
An additional component of the Graphic Design BFA Program at Chapman University is the option to integrate coursework from other programs such as Advertising and Public Relations, Creative Industries, Business, Marketing, and Sociology.
Graduates of the program will enter the job market with solid design skills from internships and other experiential learning experiences, overseas travel experience, and a professional portfolio of their best work. Chapman Graphic Design alumni are prepared to pursue positions in all industries that require a background in Graphic Design.
Founded in 1861 as Hesperian College, Chapman University is a business, entertainment, and technology college that serves approximately 10,000 students from just 49 states, two territories, and 82 countries. Chapman offers 200 programs across 11 different schools and colleges. Chapman University is accredited by the WASC Senior College & University Commission (WSCUC).
22. University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California (Top 45% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts & Sciences at University of San Francisco (USF) houses the Department of Art + Architecture, home to the Design BA Program. Consisting of 49 units in the major, this interdisciplinary program explores Graphic Design, Environmental Design, and Digital Media Design. Course examples include Visual Communication I-II, Fabrication Lab, Design Fundamentals, Typography, History of Western Design, and Digital Media Design. Design Studio elective examples include Interaction Design, Exhibition Design, Critical Brand/Package Design, Copy Culture, and Information Visualization.
Design BA students will complete a Design Internship, Professional Practice in Design, and the Senior Design Project. In addition to the Design Internship, BA 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 Google, Harper Collins, Oracle, The Discovery Science Center in Orange County, Apple, Twitter, San Francisco Magazine, Disney, Etsy, Pandora, and the Harvey Milk Center for the Arts.
Established in 1855 as the St. Ignatius Academy, USF is San Francisco’s first university. When it opened, this private, Jesuit university had just three students. Today, University of San Francisco serves approximately 9,690 students enrolled in more than 100 program in five colleges and schools. University of San Francisco is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
23. California State University-Sacramento, Sacramento, California (Top 50% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts and Letters at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) houses the Department of Design, home to the Graphic Design Program. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the program leads to a BFA.
Other program features include internship opportunities, workshops, career services, study abroad experiences, and participation in the Graphic Resources and Information Design Students (G.R.I.D.S.) organization. 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 Typography, Graphic Design Systems, User Interface (UI) Design, Digital Imaging, Design and Thinking, User Experience (UX) Design, Visual Basics, The Photographic Self, and Design Fundamentals.
Elective options are plentiful and include course titles such as Ethnographic Analysis, World Design and Visual Culture, Digital Photography, Public Relations and Ethics in Business, Field Work in Graphic Design, Marketing Research and Information, Advertising, Media Communication and Society, Buyer Behavior, Public Relations and Ethics in Business, Advanced Electronic Art, Special Problems, Principles of Marketing, Digital Printmaking, and Programming Logic.
In the final year of the program, BFA students will take the Graphic Design Digital Portfolio and Professional Practice course.
Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA Program at California State University, Sacramento have been hired at major corporations, design firms, and advertising agencies, among 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.
Established in 1947 as Sacramento State College, California State University, Sacramento opened with 235 students. Today, Sacramento State serves more than 31,000 students making it the sixth largest of the 23-campus California State University System. With more than 115 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs, Sacramento State 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. California State University, Sacramento is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
24. Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Washington (Top 50% of colleges considered)
Cornish College of the Arts (Cornish) has Design BFA Program that begins with the Visual Arts Foundation Program. This project-based, immersive, and interdisciplinary experience allows students to collaborate with peers and faculty from across Visual Arts Departments at Cornish. Upon completion of the Foundation Program, students will begin the Design BFA Program, where they will learn to create logos, brand identities, and publications. Students will also develop apps and websites, work with augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), design user interfaces, and build worlds.
Product design, typography, bookbinding, packaging, drawing, letterpress, and printmaking are just a few skills students will master. To enhance the degree, students have the opportunity to select a minor in an area such as Experience Design or Game Art.
Other program features include access to Print, Photo, Painting and Drawing Studios, the Film Studio, and the Galleries at Cornish, which provide professional space for classroom critiques, documenting artwork, filming performances, and full exhibitions.
Graduates of the Design BFA Program at Cornish College of the Arts are prepared for graduate study or to pursue a variety of positions in Fine Art, Design, Illustration, and more. Examples of possible job titles include Graphic Designer, Brand Designer, Packaging Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interactive Designer, Logo Designer, AR/VR , Storyboard Artist, and Concept Artist.
Cornish College of the Arts dates back to 1914 when pianist and music educator Nellie Cornish founded The Cornish School for Drama, Music, Dance. Today, Cornish serves 635 students enrolled in Visual and Performing Arts Programs leading to a BFA or Bachelor of Music. Situated near theaters, museums, galleries, and music venues, and the Space Needle, Cornish College of the Arts has been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) since 1977.
25. California State University-Long Beach, Long Beach, California (Top 50% of colleges considered)
The College of the Arts at California State University-Long Beach (CSULB) houses the School of Art (SoA), which employs over 130 full-time and part-time faculty that serve nearly 2,000 students. This makes SoA the largest academic unit on the CSLUB campus.
Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1970, SoA features a guest artist series, and access to state-of-the-art production facilities, work studios, and seven configurable galleries. Internships at local and national companies, and international travel opportunities are also available to all SoA students.
Programs for Graphic Designers include the Art/Studio Art BA and MFA, and the Graphic Design BFA and Minor. 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.
BA students have the option to take nine units in upper division courses from the Graphic Design Program and additional graphic design courses at any level. MFA students may add a Graphic Design Track, consisting of 39+ units. BFA students will complete 132 units of study, with more than 50 units in the major and related courses. Course examples across programs include Studio: Graphic Design – Typography, Media Design: Motion Graphics, Advanced Typography, Core Studio: Graphic Design: Exploration and Experimental, Advertising: Introduction to Concept Development, History of Graphic Design, Core Studio: Graphic Design: Packaging, Media Design: User-Centered Design, Graphic Design Workshop, Advanced Studio: Graphic Design – 5D, Special Studies in Graphic Design, and Studio: Printmaking.
All undergraduate Art and Design students at California State University, Long Beach will complete a final project and a portfolio of their best work. Graduate students will complete the Graduate Studies: MFA Project worth six credits.
CSULB Art and Graphic Design graduates are prepared for careers in advertising, packaging design, brand management, digital design (UX/UI), corporate design, user experience design, web design, publishing, public relations, consulting, industrial design, exhibit design, freelance consulting, and for graphic design positions with interior and industrial design firms.
California State University, Long Beach was established in 1949 as Los Angeles-Orange County State College. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB serves more than 38,000 students enrolled in over 300 programs across eight colleges. California State University, Long Beach is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).