|1||University of Arkansas||Fayetteville|
|2||Arkansas State University||Jonesboro|
|3||University of Arkansas||Fort Smith|
|4||Southern Arkansas University||Magnolia|
|5||University of Central Arkansas||Conway|
Our 2019 rankings of the top graphic design school programs in Arkansas. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Founded in 1871, University of Arkansas – Fayetteville (U of A) serves 27,000 students from all 50 states and more than 120 countries. The largest university in the state, U of A offers more than 200 academic programs through 10 colleges and schools. J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most diverse academic unit on the U of A campus with 19 departments, several schools, and more than 30 academic programs and research centers. The School of Art houses the undergraduate Graphic Design Program, which leads to a BFA, and the graduate program leading to an MFA.
Per the school, “students will be exposed to a rigorous curriculum covering research, theory, critical thinking, professional practices, conceptual idea-making, and formal experimentation.” In addition to core requirements, students will complete 30 hours of Arts Electives (including Foundations), 15 hours of Art History (including Graphic Design History), and 39 hours of Graphic Design studios. Graphic Design courses cover symbols and layout, as well as design principles and the application of design processes to posters, logos, stationery, and publication design.
Other Course highlights include Advanced Design, Bookmaking, Computer Applications in Art, Motion Design, and Web I & II. Students in the program will also gain practical experience through the Graphic Design Internship, worth three credits per semester.
MFA students will take advanced courses in all areas of Graphic Design as well as Fine Arts courses. Students will complete an internship and participate in the Graduate Critique, the Graduate Studio Seminar and the Master of Fine Arts Exhibit. The Exhibit component of the program allows students to produce and present a one-person exhibition of artwork.
2. Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, Arkansas
Arkansas State University was founded in 1909 as an agricultural school. Today, the school serves 14,085 students enrolled in 11 colleges representing all major academic disciplines. The College of Liberal Arts & Communication houses the Department of Art + Design, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design. Program highlights include field trips to Memphis Brooks Museum, The Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, or other regional art collections, an optional Emphasis in Digital Design, and course requirements such as Advertising Design, Branding, Design Technology, Ideation, and Identity Design.
Students in the BFA program will also complete several advanced studios, a Portfolio Capstone and a Graphic Design Internship. Graduates of the program will be prepared to seek professional careers as a graphic designer, studio artist, art teacher, and many others. The BFA in Graphic Design is also the requisite degree for the student who plans to pursue a studio-oriented post-baccalaureate degree.
3. University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, Fort Smith, Arkansas
Founded in 1928, University of Arkansas - Fort Smith (UAFS) serves more than 6,500 students enrolled in dozens of programs leading to bachelor's degrees, associate of arts degrees, associate of general studies, associate of applied science degrees, certificates of proficiency, technical certificates and more.
Programs are offered through seven colleges. The College of Communication, Languages, Arts, and Social Sciences, which houses the Department of Art and Graphic Design, offers a BS in Graphic Design that prepares students for immediate employment in a wide variety of jobs within the visual communication field.
Per the school, the degree plan for the BS in Graphic Design is “career/job oriented,” allowing students to gain valuable hands-on experience through a variety of internship opportunities including design studios, ad agencies, corporations, print shops, and web design firms. The program “emphasizes creative and technical solutions to design problems encountered in the workplace, including logo, brochure, package, advertising and identity design, copywriting, photography direction, digital media, and illustration. Production, pre-press, and printing issues are also stressed.”
Sample courses for the program include Advanced Drawing, 3D Design, Digital Illustration, Digital Imaging, Identity Design, Motion Design, Packaging Design, Print & Publication Design, and Production Management/Prepress. The program also includes business courses for students who would like to start their own companies. A Senior Thesis is also part of the program.
Upon completion of the program, students will have a completed portfolio and be prepared to work for advertising agencies, design studios, television stations, corporate design firms, and in other graphic related industries. Graduates are employed with Atlas Apparel, Baldor Electric Company, BLK Box Labs, Crabtree RV Center, Outdoor Cap, Pradco Outdoor Brands, and Southwest Times Record.
4. Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia, Arkansas
Southern Arkansas University (SAU) was established in 1909 as the Third District Agricultural School (TDAS). The school serves more than 3,500 students enrolled in more than 80 degrees in four distinct colleges and the School of Graduate Studies. The College of Liberal and Performing Arts houses the Department of Art & Design, which offers a BFA in Communication Design.
The 122 credit hour program provides hands-on experience in Graphic Design for print and other mediums. Per the school, “students enrolled in communication design will be able to experience new digital formats for print as well as web and mobile design for the corporate and advertising community. They also learn motion design for web, cable and broadband television.”
Course highlights include Basic Digital Photography, Graphic Software Applications, Introduction to Typography, Layout and Production, and Two-Dimensional Design. Other program highlights include “hands-on, skill- building projects using the latest technology to prepare the student for employment within the industry.” In addition, some internships are available for credit to upper-level design students by permission.
5. University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas
University of Central Arkansas (UCA) was established in 1907 as The Arkansas State Normal School. The school serves 11,350 students enrolled more than 100 programs through more than a dozen colleges, departments, and schools. The College of Fine Arts and Communication houses the UCA Art Department, which offers a BFA in Studio Art with an Emphasis in Graphic Design. The program consists of 120 semester credit hours, including at least 40 upper-division credit hours. The program requires 80 hours of art and art history, 35 hours of UCA Core courses, and three hours of foreign language at the 2000 level.
Per the school, the program “emphasizes the integration of a student’s fine art skills with digital technical skills and design thinking. Students in the program will explore "a range of design processes and methodologies as well as complete projects requiring design for various mediums such as print, web, video, app design and more." Projects will include “an exploration and synthesis of corporate, expressive and experimental aesthetics.”
Other program highlights include access to a fully equipped studio, a spacious critique and workspace for students to work side-by-side and collaborate, hands-on instruction, and opportunities to work with community and business clients. Students will have the opportunity to work with visiting artists such as Zhao Liu from China Central Academy of Fine Art (Beijing, China), Liz Seibert and Grace Robinson from ProjectProjects (New York), Erik Brandt from Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), and Allison Hale from IBM (Austin).
The opportunity to submit work to a variety of competitions each year is also part of the program. Print Magazine’s Design Competitive, Communication Arts Design Competitive, AIGA student competitions, and the regional AAF awards competition are just a few.