What are the top Colorado graphic design schools for 2023?

Top 5 Colorado Graphic Design School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1Colorado State UniversityFort Collins
2University of Colorado DenverDenver
3Rocky Mountain College of Art and DesignDenver
4Fort Lewis CollegeDurango
5Colorado Mesa UniversityGrand Junction

Our 2023 ranking of the top 5 graphic design school programs in Colorado. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
Colorado State University

The College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University (CSU) houses the Department of Art and Art History—one of the largest academic departments at CSU. The Department has programs leading to a Studio BFA or MFA. The undergraduate Studio Program has a Graphic Design Concentration that begins with the CSU Foundations Program, which consists of projects and coursework that allow students to develop ideas, and gain skills and techniques in different mediums. Students will also explore experimentation, research, and emerging practices in art and design.

The Studio BFA/Graphic Design Program explores design systems, typography, electronic art, printmaking, and illustration. Course examples include Global Art History I-III, Typography and Design Systems, Advanced Illustration, Photo Image Making, Electronic Art, Materials and Space, and Graphic Design.

Consisting of 120 credit hours, the CSU BFA Program provides access to labs and state-of-the-art facilities in the Visual Arts Building (VAB). This includes 4,000 square feet of studio space, a dedicated computer lab, the Digital Fabrication Lab, and Mac workstations equipped with Adobe Creative Suite & other interactive media software. Near the VAB is the Nancy Richardson Design Center. CSU’s  only interdisciplinary space focused on Design Thinking, the Center is open to students from all disciplines.

Other CSU BFA Program benefits include internship opportunities, study abroad experiences, and the biennial Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition (CIIPE), where students will help organize and participate in the event.

Graduates of the Colorado State University Studio BFA/Graphic Design Program will enter the job market with a portfolio of their best work. Program alumni are prepared to pursue positions such as Graphic Designer, Creative Director, Brand Designer, Production Artist, Creative Director, Storyboard Artist, UX/UI Designer, Publication Designer, Marketing Designer, and Environmental Designer.

The MFA/Graphic Design Program at Colorado State University has a Graphic Design Specialization. Consisting of 60 credit hours, this terminal degree program highlights research and experimentation in studio media. Throughout the program, students have opportunities to exhibit work and give presentations at venues in the southwest region and across the U.S.

Students in this program also benefit from a wide variety of elective options, group critiques, open-studio tours, faculty mentorship, and the Masters of Visual Arts Association (MoVAA), which provides access to workshops and artist talks.

During the final year of the CSU MFA Program, students will complete a Thesis for inclusion in the Spring Graduate Exhibition at the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art.

Graduates of the CSU MFA (Graphic Design) Program are designers at arts organizations and they contribute to publications and conferences, curate exhibitions, teach at colleges and universities, and exhibit their work at venues in Colorado, across the U.S. and around the world.

Founded in 1870 as the Colorado Agricultural College, Colorado State University is a land-grant university consisting of three campuses including CSU Fort Collins (the system’s flagship campus), CSU Pueblo, and CSU Global. The CSU System serves approximately 38,120 students enrolled in more than 300 academic programs, including more than 70 majors with 140 concentrations and 80 minors. Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado
University of Colorado Denver

The College of Arts & Media (CAM) at University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) houses the Digital Media Program. Within the program are two paths to study Graphic Design: the Digital Design BFA and the Minor. The BFA has an Accelerated Option that allows students to combine their junior and senior years into one. This means, Accelerated BFA students can complete the program a year earlier.

Both Digital Design pathways are hands-on and interdisciplinary. Students can expect to explore areas such as branding design, interactive media, motion graphics, user experience design, and graphic design. The Digital Design Minor consists of 21 total credit hours. Course examples include 3D Motion Design, Interactive Media, Typography Studio, and History of Modern Design: Industrial Revolution-Present.

The Digital Media BFA is a screen-based Graphic Design Program the provides hands-on learning in branding design, interactive media, user experience design, and user experience design. This interdisciplinary program consists of courses such as Fostering Creativity, Typography, 3D Motion Design, Interactive Media, Art History, and 3D Design. The CU Denver Digital Design BFA culminates with the Design Thesis Project.

Graduates of the University of Colorado Denver Digital Design Programs work as Graphic Designers, Creative Directors, UI/UX Designers, Video Editors, Motion Graphic Artists, and Game Designers. Program alumni have been hired at Unity, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Mozilla, Craftsy, JILA, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Fruition, Mercedes-Benz, Dire Wolf, and JILA.

University of Colorado Denver opened in 1912 as an extension of University of Colorado Boulder. The school  became CU Denver in 1973, making it an independent campus. Organized into eight colleges and schools, University of Colorado Denver serves 15,000 students enrolled in more than 110 degree programs. University of Colorado Denver is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

3. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver, Colorado
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

The Graphic Design Program at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) has two delivery options: on campus and online. Leading to a BFA, the program requires 123 credit hours including 48 credits in Graphic Design, 45 in Liberal Arts, 18 in Foundations, and 12 in Studio Electives. Course examples include Experimental Typography, Vector Illustration, Sign + Symbol, 3D Packaging, Raster Image Processing, Layout Design, Visual Sequencing, User Prototyping, Interaction Design, Web Design I-II, and Information Visualization. 

In the Junior year of the RMCAD Graphic Design Program, students will participate in the Graphic Design Junior Portfolio Review. In the final year of the program, students will complete Senior Graphic Design Seminar, Graphic Design Senior Portfolio Review, and the Graphic Design Graduation Portfolio.

Other program features include workshops conducted by design professionals, presentations, teaching engagements, international instructors, visiting faculty, and annual award shows used as class assignments. Design students also have the opportunity to gain work experience through the RMCAD Graphic Design Internship Program.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at RMCAD are prepared to pursue positions such as Brand Designer, Communications Manager, Motion Graphics Artist, Interactive Media Designer, Package Designer, User Experience/User Interface (UX/UI) Designer, Creative Director, Digital Project Manager, Production Art Manager, and Web Designer.

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design began in 1963 as Rocky Mountain School of Art. Serving more than 1,000 students, RMCAD offers 16 degree and certificate programs offered in campus/hybrid and online formats. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and it is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

4. Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado
Fort Lewis College

The School of Culture & Environment at Fort Lewis College (FLC) has a Communication Design (Graphic Design) Program with BA and Minor options. Both options feature small class sizes; access to computers equipped with industry-standard software such as InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop; professors who are experienced in the Design industry; and experiential learning opportunities on campus and off.

The Communication Design BA requires 120 credit hours of study, with 48 credits in the major. Courses are studio- and project-based, and explore typography, branding, publication design, and web design. Course examples include 2D Design, Branding Systems, Interactive Design, Advanced Typography, Communication and Design Practice, Advertising Design, Print Design, and History of Visual Communications.

Students in the Communication Design BA Program at FLC will complete an internship and the Portfolio/Campaign Design course to graduate. In this course, students will immerse in campaign design and the completion of a professional portfolio.

The Communication Design Minor at Fort Lewis University is open to all majors. Students in this program will complete 21 credit hours, including courses such as 2D Design, History of Visual Communication, and Advertising Design.

Graduates of the Communication Design Programs at FLC are prepared to pursue careers in Design and other creative industries. Sample job titles include Graphic Designer, Brand Manager, Packaging Designer, Advertising Designer, Web Developer, Storyboard Artist, Desktop Publisher, User Experience (UX) Designer, Set and Exhibit Designer, Commercial Designer, Editor, User Interface (UI ) Designer, Media Collections Specialist, and Industrial Designer.

Founded in 1911, Fort Lewis College is a small, four-year, public college that serves approximately 3,550 students from all 50 states, 12 countries, and 185 Tribes and Alaska Native Villages. Students at FLC have access to 59 undergraduate majors and a number of graduate options. Programs are housed in the Schools of Business Administration; Culture & Environment; Education; and Science & Health. Fort Lewis College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colorado
Colorado Mesa University

The Graphic Design-Visual Design Program at Colorado Mesa University (CMU) is part of the Art and Design Department. Leading to a BFA, this professional program provides access to the Graphic Design Mac Lab, which features Apple computers equipped with the latest industry-standard software. In addition, students will work and learn in a bustling environment that mirrors today’s design studios.

Students in CMU Graphic Design-Visual Design Program will focus on general studies combined with visual art, design, typography, and web design. Course examples for the program include Sketchbook, Brand Design, Illustration, Design It, Advanced Typography, Identity Design, History of Graphic Design, UX Design, Digital Painting, Letterforms and Typography, and Graphic Design.

Other program benefits include internship opportunities and access to study abroad opportunities in more than 50 countries.

Graduates of the Graphic Design-Visual Design degree program are prepared to pursue positions in areas such as Corporate Design, Package Design, Advertising Design, Illustration, and Web Design.

Colorado Mesa University was established in 1925. More than 320 full-time academic and technical faculty members at Colorado Mesa serve 11,000 students from across the U.S. The school provides 120 undergraduate majors and more than a dozen graduate programs across 13 academic departments. Colorado Mesa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).