|1||Rhode Island School of Design||Rhode Island||Top 1%|
|2||Maryland Institute College of Art||Maryland||1%|
|3||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania||1%|
|5||Parsons The New School for Design||New York||2%|
|6||Pratt Institute||New York||2%|
|7||Cooper Union||New York||2%|
|8||ArtCenter College of Design||California||2%|
|9||School of Visual Arts||New York||3%|
|10||California Institute of the Arts||California||3%|
|11||California College of the Arts||California||3%|
|12||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois||3%|
|13||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia||3%|
|14||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois||4%|
|15||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York||4%|
|16||The University of the Arts||Pennsylvania||4%|
|17||Ringling College of Art and Design||Florida||4%|
|18||College for Creative Studies||Michigan||5%|
|19||Otis College of Art and Design||California||5%|
|20||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minnesota||5%|
|21||Kansas City Art Institute||Missouri||5%|
|22||Brigham Young University||Utah||6%|
|23||Cornish College of the Arts||Washington||6%|
|24||Cleveland Institute of Art||Ohio||6%|
|25||Washington University in St. Louis||Missouri||6%|
Our 2019 rankings of the Top 25 Private Graphic Design School Programs in the US. We considered 433 colleges with graphic design programs for this year's rankings. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island (top 1% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the first art and design schools in the U.S. This private art and design school serves approximately 2,480 students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries, enrolled in 32 graduate and undergraduate art and design programs leading to a BFA, MFA, five-year Professional Baccalaureate, or a Bachelor of Architecture. Aspiring graphic designers have two options—a BFA or MFA.
One of the largest departments at RISD, Graphic Design offers “countless opportunities to collaborate within and beyond the discipline,” thanks to access to approximately 165 undergraduate majors. The MFA program offers the same opportunity, as well as two tracks: a two-year option designed for students entering with undergraduate degrees in graphic design or other visual communication, and a three-year option designed for students with degrees in liberal arts, the sciences or fine arts.
An impressive 96% of all RISD graphic design graduates are employed one year after graduation. 70% are employed in positions directly related to their major.
2. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland (top 1% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest degree-granting college of art in the nation. The school serves nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate, and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. MICA’s more than 80 art and design programs lead to either a BFA, MA, MFA, MPS or Certificate.
Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design with three Concentrations including Graphic Design Studio, Book Arts Studio, and Graphic Design + Humanistic Studies, an MA in Graphic Design (GDMA) and an MFA in Graphic Design (GD MFA).
The undergraduate graphic design curriculum at MICA features a three-year sequence of core design courses, while the 60-credit MFA program features two years of full-time study that combines “critical seminars, guided studio courses, and independent work.” Per the school, students in the MFA program may choose a concentration in Critical Studies or Curatorial Practices or “take advantage of electives in many MICA departments, including video, printmaking, and digital media.”
The MA program prepares students for advancing their careers and/or for applying to the competitive MFA. Program highlights include an “intensive introduction to design,” provided by the GDMA Studio, “taught with a strong emphasis on design fundamentals, process, visual research, and working across media,” a Design Theory and Practice Seminar, and the GDMA Workshop. Through the workshop, GDMA students will have the opportunity to create and exhibit a self-directed design project and a professional portfolio.
3. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (top 1% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university that serves approximately 14,625 students from more than 100 countries. The school offers more than 100 programs across seven colleges and schools. The College of Fine Art, School of Design, offers a Bachelor of Design (BDes), formerly BFA, with three tracks: Products, Communication and Environments. Students may focus in one or all three areas or pursue a more interdisciplinary focus that combines two of the three.
Other undergraduate options include the Minor in Design Application and the Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Degree known as “BXA,” which provides students with the ability to evenly balance their study of humanities or sciences with design. While BXA majors may take 26 design courses and 15 outside courses, most BXA students take 12 design courses, with the balance of their courses taken outside of the School of Design.
The Minor is for students admitted to other programs on campus who are interested in gaining “fundamental design skills and/or exposure to design.” Graduate options include a one-year Master of Arts (MA) in Design program, a one-year Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Design for Interactions, a two-year Master of Design (MDes) in Design for Interactions program, and a PhD in Design Studies.
4. Yale University School of the Arts, New Haven, Connecticut (top 1% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1701, Yale University is home to more than 12,300 students enrolled in dozens of programs in the areas of art, architecture, divinity, drama, forestry and environmental studies, law, management, music, public health, and more. The school, which houses more than 145 departments and schools, is home to one of the most prestigious fine arts schools in the U.S. Established in 1869, the Yale School Art was the nation’s first art school connected with an institution of higher learning.
With an enrollment of more than 100 students, the Yale School of Art offers MFA degrees in Graphic Design, Painting and Printmaking, Photography, and Sculpture. An interdisciplinary Film & Video program is also available.
The Yale Graphic Design MFA (Yale GDMFA) is a competitive, 60 credit hour program that accepts just 10 students each year and up to seven students into the preliminary-year program. Per the School, MFA applicants are expected to have “substantial and distinguished experience in visual studies and related professional experience.” Students can expect support for their graphic design collections in several ways including, “studio work led by faculty meeting weekly, small five- or six-person thesis groups meeting biweekly and individual sessions with writing and editing tutors.”
Lectures, presentations, and workshops are also part of the program as well as access to “extraordinary” resources including Yale University courses, conferences, films, lectures, museums, and the “extensive” research and rare book collections of Sterling and Beinecke libraries. The Yale Graphic Design MFA takes two years to complete, full-time.
5. Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York (top 2% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1896, Parsons The New School for Design is home to nearly 5,500 students enrolled in 27 undergraduate, graduate, and associate degree programs. Parsons houses five schools, including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT), the School of Constructed Environments, the School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion. The School of Art, Media, and Technology offers several degree programs for aspiring graphic designers. Offerings include an AAS in Graphic Design, a BFA in Communication Design, and an MPS in Communication Design.
The AAS program provides a “solid foundation in the traditional practices and concepts of graphic design,” while the BFA covers typography and interaction. Sponsored projects are in the areas of publication, interaction design, branding, advertising, type design, information design, motion graphics, and environmental design.
The one-year, 30 credit hour MPS program offers a concentration in Digital Product Design. Per the school, the program “combines instruction in advanced interaction design with coursework that develops your user-experience, design-thinking, and collaboration abilities.” Students will graduate with “industry-ready conceptual and front-end development skills and a network of design professionals to help” them “advance in or enter a rapidly growing field.” Career opportunities include Interaction Design, User Experience (UX) Design, Digital Product Design, and Product Management, to name a few.
Note that Parsons also offers a Graphic and Digital Design Certificate through its continuing education department. The program, which consists of six courses, can be completed online or through a combination of online and on-campus courses.
6. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (top 2% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1887, Pratt institute is home to more than 4,800 students enrolled in more than 20 undergraduate degree programs, 25+ graduate degree programs, and a variety of Certificate and Minor programs across five schools and The Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. Founded in 2014, The School of Design offers “up to four of Pratt’s oldest and most esteemed disciplines,” including Communications Design, Fashion Design, Industrial Design, and Interior Design.
Per the School of Design, the Communications Design program is the “the only program in the country that recognizes and embodies the convergence and integration of Illustration, Advertising, and Graphic Design as the primary forces for the visual expression of ideas.” Students may Concentrate in any of three areas (Illustration, Advertising Art Direction, Graphic Design). The undergraduate program for aspiring graphic designers leads to a BFA in Communications Design with a Graphic Design Emphasis.
The School of Design also houses the Graduate Communications Design Department, which also offers an MFA in Communications Design and an MS in Package Design.
For students who are not yet ready to commit to a degree program, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) offers Certificate Programs in Digital Design including Graphic Design, Computer Graphics, Motion Graphics and others. These programs may be taken individually or “stacked,” producing an “accelerated path to completion.” Like the undergraduate and graduate Communication Design programs, Certificate programs offer the opportunity to complete an internship.
Students in all programs will have the opportunity to enroll on one of more than 20 study abroad programs and international exchange programs in over a dozen locations such as Florence, Milan, Copenhagen, London, and Tokyo.
7. Cooper Union, New York, New York (top 2% of colleges considered)
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (CU) was founded in 1859 by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper. The school offers programs in the areas of Art, Architecture and Engineering, and courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences. With nearly 1,000 students enrolled (2017-2018), CU’s art students account for 32% of the student body.
The School of Art at Cooper Union offers a flexible BFA in Art with a Specialization in Graphic Design. Students in the program may take elective studio classes and seminars, offered on a rotating basis, they may choose to focus their work in one or more areas of specialization, and they may enroll in advanced studio classes with the same course number multiple times. Students are also “encouraged to follow an integrated approach by selecting from various areas while observing a prerequisite system designed to allow in-depth study in specific disciplines.” Other program highlights include Internship opportunities and study abroad opportunities.
8. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California (top 2% of colleges considered)
Established in 1930, ArtCenter College of Design spans two campuses and four structures in the U.S. and Berlin. Home to approximately 2,100 students from the U.S. and more than 40 other countries, ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in the areas of Industrial Design and Visual and Applied Arts. ArtCenter also offers a joint MS/MBA program with Drucker School of Management—the business school of Claremont Graduate University.
Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design and an MFA Graduate Graphic Design (MGx) degree. Students might also consider interdisciplinary programs such as the Desginmatters Concentration, which leads to a Certificate in Art and Design for Social Impact or the Integrated Studies Program, which covers essential skills and competencies, critical thinking and the creative process, cultural literacy and contextual reference, interdisciplinary experience, and quality of execution and professional practices.
Offered through the Graphic Design Department (GX), all programs offer internships and study abroad opportunities.
9. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York (top 3% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1947 as “Cartoonists and Illustrators School,” School of Visual Arts (SVA) serves nearly 4,300 students from across the U.S. and abroad. The school offers 11 undergraduate and 21 graduate degree programs in areas ranging from fine arts and graphic design to filmmaking and photography. The programs at SVA lead to a BFA, MFA, MA, MAT or MPS degree.
Offerings for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design that consists of 72 credits of studio art courses, 30 credits in humanities & sciences, 12 in art history, and six elective credits. An internship is part of the program, as well as the opportunity to focus in Package Design, Editorial Design, Information Graphics, Corporate Identity, Publication Design, CD Packaging, Book Jacket Design, Environmental Design, or Website Design.
Students who would like to earn an advanced degree have several options including an MFA in Design and an MFA Design/Designer as Author + Entrepreneur. Per the school, the MFA in Design “emphasizes entrepreneurship as an alternative to conventional practice, and as a means to raise the level of design expertise and achievement. It teaches “a broad set of visual, verbal and textual approaches as foundation for design, and focuses on “creation to optimize the designer’s abilities to rise to the next professional level.”
The MFA Design/Designer as Author + Entrepreneur Program “was the first in the country to emphasize an entrepreneurial course of study that raises the level of design expertise and achievement.” The program is “suited for students and professionals with backgrounds in graphic design.” The school also encourages “those with environmental, product, Web, interaction design, film and photography backgrounds who are interested in further developing their ability to create content of value.”
All graduate students have access to SVA MFA studios, which are open 24 hours a day and “designed to simulate an operational design/media firm with spacious work-stations that allow for individual and collaborative work.”
10. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California (top 3% of colleges considered)
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the Visual and Performing Arts. Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, the school is home to around 1,500 students enrolled in more than 70 programs across six schools including the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Theater, and Film/Video, the Herb Alpert School of Music, and the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance. The School of Art is home to the Graphic Design program, which leads to a BFA or MFA.
The BFA program is a full-time, four-year program that prepares students for a career in print and publication design, web and interface design, motion graphics for broadcast and film, branding, identity and type design, and design history and education. The MFA program offers two- and three-year options, including a Specialization in Motion Graphics. The Specialization prepares students to enter the commercial field of motion graphics.
11. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California (top 3% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is home to more than 1,900 students from 52 countries and 45 states. The school offers 22 undergraduate and 12 graduate degree programs, plus two minors. Undergraduate programs for aspiring graphic designers include BFA degrees in Graphic Design and Interaction Design and a BA in Visual Studies. Graduate options include an MFA in Design that focuses on Graphic Design, Industrial Design, and Interaction Design.
Highlights for all programs include the opportunity to immerse in the areas of Brand Identity, Print, Motion Graphics, and Screen-Based and Interactive Design, elective offerings that will “strengthen” students “design toolkit,” and the opportunity to gain real-world experience through CCA’s extensive internship program. Graduates have landed positions at innovative design firms, museums, publishing houses, technology companies, nonprofits, and more.
12. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (top 3% of colleges considered)
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) was founded in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design. It is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Home to 3,650 students enrolled in more than 25 programs, SAIC offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers through its Visual Communication Design Department. Options include a BFA, MFA or Certificate in Graphic Design.
The BFA program has two major areas of focus including Physical Media (print, objects, and environments) and Virtual Media (interactive and time-based media). The MFA program offers the opportunity to explore other related departments at SAIC such as Printmedia, Writing, Photography, Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects, and Film, Video, New Media, and Animation (FVNMA). The purpose of this opportunity is to “extend students’ design work into new territories.” The Graphic Design Certificate is designed for “students with an interest in exploring graphic design with an emphasis on print media,” says the Department.
Other Graphic Design Program highlights include an active AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) student chapter, Exploratory Languages (a lecture series featuring leading designers and design educators from across the country), and CIPB (Chicago International Poster Biennial), which is an international competition representing leading designers from throughout the world. Internship opportunities and the option to study abroad are other highlights.
13. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (top 3% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to more than 14,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 75 minors, as well as certificate and online programs. With campuses in Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, SCAD has plenty of opportunities to study at domestic and international locations and it offers more graphic design programs than just about any other school on our list. Options include BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Graphic Design and a Design Management MA. A Minor and a Certificate are also available.
All programs highlight Product Packaging, Entrepreneurship, Mobile Technology, Interface Design and User Experience. Students have the opportunity to declare a double major in the areas of Advertising, Branded Entertainment, Illustration, Motion Media Design, Sequential Art and more, and access to Minors such as Mobile and Interactive Design and Advertising Copywriting. Students may complement their degree with Certificates in Digital Publishing or Interactive Design as well.
The BA degree is offered in Atlanta, Savannah and online and the BFA, MA, MFA, and Minor programs are offered in Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah, and online. The Certificate program is offered in Atlanta, Savannah and online.
14. Columbia College Chicago, Illinois (top 4% of colleges considered)
Columbia College Chicago was founded in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory. The school offers a distinctive curriculum that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts, and business to nearly 7,000 students in more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a BA and a BFA in Graphic Design. Per the school, BA students take fewer credit hours in the major and are encouraged to choose a minor or double major in another program such as Fine Arts, Photography, Advertising, or Motion Graphics.
BA students choose a concentration in one discipline such as Web Design, Publication Design, or a general concentration. The BFA requires more advanced courses in graphic design than the BA. Students in this degree track do not choose a concentration and take courses across disciplines including Web Design, Publication Design, and Visual Identity. A second BA in Graphic Design is available if a student has already earned a bachelor’s degree.
Students in both programs will have the opportunity to intern at firms such as Leo Burnett, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, with clients like Procter & Gamble, Foote, Cone & Belding, a global advertising agency with clients around the world, Pivot Design, an award-winning branding, marketing, and advertising agency, Pressley Johnson Design, one of the premiere design communications firms in the Midwest, and 50000feet Creative Agency, a firm that has worked with some of the top brands in the U.S.
15. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York (top 4% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1829, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) serves more than 19,000 across nine colleges emphasizing career education and experiential learning. The school, which has global locations in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo, offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Programs include a BFA in Graphic Design and an MFA in Visual Communication Design.
Offered through the College of Art and Design, School of Design, the BFA integrates major courses, studio and free electives, and liberal arts, as well as aspects of business, professional practices, computer-based skills, collaborative projects, and workflow. Students can expect to take courses such as 2D and 3D Design, Time-Based Design, Interactive Media Design, Web and User Interface Design, Branding and Identity Design, Design Systems and Methodology, and Experiential Graphic Design. All students in the BFA program will complete a portfolio and Senior Capstone Project.
The MFA in Visual Communication Design (VCD) is a 60 credit hour program composed of courses in Communication Design, Interactive Design, and Motion and 3D Digital Design. In addition, students are required to take Design History Seminar, Design Theory and Methods Seminar, and Professional Practices. Per the school, “seminars explore cross-disciplinary principles, theories and methods that can be used by designers. Through selected readings from current periodicals, critical writing, hands-on involvement, presentations and guest lectures, students will broaden their awareness of topics such as systems thinking, human factors, semiotic theory, and visual rhetoric.”
The MFA in VCD, which enrolls around 100 students, allows all eligible students to participate in an optional co-op program the summer between their first & second years. Some students may have the opportunity to participate during the fall and spring terms.
16. The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 4% of colleges considered)
The University of the Arts (UArts) is the nation’s only comprehensive arts university. The school, which traces its roots back to 1868, is home to around 1,800 students enrolled in 47 undergraduate and graduate programs through the College of Art, Media and Design, the College of Performing Arts, and the Division of Liberal Arts. The College of Art, Media and Design houses the School of Design, which offers BFA degrees in Graphic Design and Design, Art + Technology, an MFA in Printmaking + Book Arts, and Minors in Book Arts, Typography, and Multimedia.
Students in the Graphic Design Program have the opportunity to choose courses from the Schools of Art, Film and Illustration or any cross-college program. All students have access to international opportunities such as study abroad, festivals, and workshops in countries such as Canada, France, and South Korea.
17. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (top 4% of colleges considered)
Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1931 by circus baron, art collector, and real estate developer John Ringling. The school opened with 111 courses and just 75 students. Today, RCAD sits on a 35-acre campus and it is home to approximately 1,561 degree-seeking students from 43 states, DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Military Bases, and 58 countries.
RCAD offers a BFA in Graphic Design that prepares students to design “show-stopping solutions for print and interactive media.” Launched in 1980, the program allows students to collaborate with other artists such as copywriters, printers, photographers, illustrators, and developers to “make their ideas a reality.”
Graduates of the RCAD Graphic Design program have been hired by companies such as Google, Facebook, Adult Swim, CBS Interactive, ESPN, Apple iTunes, Leo Burnett, Microsoft, Yahoo!, American Greetings, IGN Entertainment, Wieden + Kennedy, Walt Disney Company, Birchbox, Inc. and many others.
18. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan (top 5% of colleges considered)
The College for Creative Studies (CCS) was established in 1906 as The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. The school serves 1,425 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. With an enrollment of more than 100 students, the Graphic Design Department is the fifth largest department at CCS. Degree options for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic/Communication Design, Interaction Design or Motion Graphics and MFA degrees in Interaction Design and Integrated Design. Degrees that complement Graphic Design include BFAs in Advertising: Copywriting, Advertising: Design and Fine Arts.
All students have the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or a year in places such as Italy, Austria, Germany, Mexico, Paris, Australia, and more. Graduates of the Design programs at CCS are prepared to work in Graphic Design, Editorial Design, Environmental Design, Information Design, Interactive Design, Package Design, Publication Design, Web Design, and many others.
19. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California (top 5% of colleges considered)
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) was established in 1918 by General Harrison Gray Otis-- founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times. Home to 1,100 BFA and MFA students, OTIS offers more than a dozen interdisciplinary art and design programs from Animation and Motion Design to Illustration and Graphic Design. Specific programs for aspiring graphic designers are offered through the Communication Arts Department. Options include BFA degrees in Graphic Design and Communication Arts with an Emphasis in Graphic Design or Illustration or a Minor in Advertising Design, an MFA in Graphic Design and a Graphic Design Certificate.
Graduates of the Graphic Design programs at OTIS have landed positions at major companies such as Apple, Anthropologie, LACMA, Guess, Metro, Capitol Records, and others.
20. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota (top 5% of colleges considered)
Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) was established in 1886. The school serves 800 students enrolled in Design (50% of the student body), Media Arts (38%), 10% in Fine Arts, and the remaining 2% in MCAD’s new Arts Entrepreneurship Department. More than 20 programs are available across several departments, including a BFA in Graphic Design, Post-Baccalaureate Certificates in Graphic Design and Interactive Design and Marketing, and an MFA in Visual Studies. A 30 credit hour MA in Graphic and Web Design (online) is also available.
Per the school, students in the 120 credit hour BFA program will develop their own voice and produce original work, they will Research, engage with, and create innovative concepts, content, and form, and learn to communicate ideas visually. Students will also refine their technical and conceptual design skills in preparation for a professional career in graphic design.
The 60 credit hour MFA program allow students to pursue creative work in Graphic Design, Illustration, Interactive Media, Paper and Book Arts, Printmaking, and many others. Students in all graphic design programs have the opportunity to gain practical, real-world experience through a required internship. The option to study abroad or elsewhere in the U.S. is also highlighted.
21. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri (top 5% of colleges considered)
Established in 1885, Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) has a 130+ year history that includes notable name such as Walt Disney, who took classes there as a child, multimedia artist Robert Rauschenberg, who studied fashion design, writer Robert Morris, and performance artist and fabric sculptor Nick Cave, to name a few. Besides a long list of notable alumni and students, KCAI offers 14 academic disciplines in Art, Design and Media to a population of nearly 700 students.
Offerings for aspiring graphic designers include BFA degrees in Graphic Design, Interactive Arts and Printmaking. Per the school, the Graphic Design Program “goes beyond the traditional division between Web and print design to give students a cross-media skill set that adapts to context, audience and participant input.” The programs “rigorous approach to audience research, theory and conceptual problem-solving” helps position students as thought leaders in their chosen fields. KCAI design students “are exposed to professional practices, concepts and skills required to build rewarding careers.”
The Interactive Art BFA uses emerging technology as the “backbone of creation,” so students become “versed in software coding, physical computing and sensors, performance, games and play mechanics, rapid prototyping, user testing and experiential design.”
The Printmaking BFA covers the traditional printmaking processes and concepts including etching, lithography, drawing, collage, silkscreen, letterpress and book arts, as well as post-modern processes, including mass media, collaboration, simulation, appropriation and dissemination.
All programs offer access to KCAI’s internship program, three to five week long faculty-led travel programs, and full semester programs that can take them to one of several participating art and design colleges in the U.S. or overseas.
22. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (top 6% of colleges considered)
Brigham Young University (BYU) was founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Home to approximately 33,633 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, BYU offers more than 370 undergraduate majors and minors, master’s programs and doctorate programs. The school houses dozens of colleges, schools, and departments that offer everything from Accounting to Visual Communications.
The College of Fine Arts and Communications serves nearly 5,700 students enrolled in programs in the Department of Art, the School of Communications, the Department of Dance, the Department of Design, the School of Music, and the Department of Theater and Media Arts. Communications is one of the College’s top six majors by graduation.
Programs for aspiring graphic designers can be found in several departments and schools. Options include BA and BFA degrees in Graphic Design, a BFA in Art with a Focus in New Genres or Printmaking in the Department of Art, and Minors in Design or Advertising Design in the Department of Design. Other areas of study include Interaction Design, Motion Design, Visual Development, and Branding. Note that because the Graphic Design Program is so competitive, enrollment is limited to just 40 students.
23. Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Washington (top 6% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in the performing and visual arts and a Bachelor of Music degree, multiple public programs, and extension courses. The school, which serves more than 700 students, offers a BFA in Design. This interdisciplinary program provides the training needed to create experiences, explore or draw comics, illustrate, make posters and products and packaging, work in motion design and design for social activism.
The program covers Type + Image, which includes Branding, Graphic Design, Illustration, Poster Design, Printmaking/Bookarts, Product Packaging, Publishing, and Typography. The Narrative Systems portion of the program covers 2D Animation, 3D Modeling, Brand Storytelling, Game Design, Graphic Novels, Motion Graphics and Video. The User Experience component covers Brand Experience, HoloLens, Information Architecture, Information Visualization, Prototyping, User Research, VR, Wearables, and Web Design.
During the senior year, students will complete a capstone project (the Degree Project), in which all of the student’s skills in honing design process, systems thinking, creative planning, and hand and digital skills come together in an exhibition at the end of the year.
24. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio (top 6% of colleges considered)
Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) dates back to 1882. The school offers 15 majors in Art, Design, Craft, and Interactive Media to a population of 670 students. The school has a BFA in Graphic Design that explores “both innovative and traditional methods of graphic design including typography, print and web design, package design, and signage,” says the school. Students will be “introduced to forms, methods, conventional and experimental types of media, and concepts crucial to creative development, self-expression, and effective visual communication and production.”
Study for the program will include Editorial and Publication Design, Event and Exhibition Design, Interactive and Motion Graphics, Print, Marketing, and Advertising Design, and Production. As part of the design environment, students will also “collaborate with Industrial Design and Interior Design students on projects and in the classroom.” These opportunities as well as the integrated curriculum help students “build valuable communication skills and develop techniques” for presenting their ideas and final projects.
Graduates of the program will be prepared to seek positions such as Graphic Designer, Associate Partner, Film Director + Writer, Fashion Designer, Entrepreneur, Art Director, Web Designer, Book Designer, and many others.
25. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri (top 6% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1853, Washington University in St. Louis serves around 15,400 students from 90 countries and all 50 states + the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The university houses seven schools including Arts & Sciences, the Brown School, Olin Business School, the School of Law, the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering & Applied Science and Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts consists of three units—the College of Art (est. 1879), the College of Architecture (est. 1910) and Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (est. 1881). The College of Art houses the Communication Design major, which leads to a BFA. This collaborative, 128 credit hour program explores disciplines across art and design, selecting from introductory courses in graphic design, typography, illustration, fashion design, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. Students will also take drawing, two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, digital design, and a weekly lecture course (first year).
In their junior year, students choose their own major courses. Sample courses include Art Practice, Design for Social Impact, Content to Cover: The Design of Books, Interaction Design: User-Centered Applications, and Illustration Concepts & Media/Visual Journalism. Seniors pursue a capstone project that “culminates in an illustrated book, zine, screen-based presentation, graphic novel/mini-comic, or digital experience.” The final project is displayed in a public exhibition and reviewed by external design professionals.