What are the top graphic design school programs in Florida for 2020?

Top 5 Florida Graphic Design School Programs - 2020 College Rankings
1Ringling College of Art and DesignSarasota
2University of FloridaGainesville
3University of Central FloridaOrlando
4Full Sail UniversityWinter Park
5Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca Raton

Our 2020 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in Florida. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Ringling College of Art and Design

Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1931 by circus baron, art collector, and real estate developer John Ringling. A member of the only global association to serve art and design education research (Cumulus), RCAD opened with just 75 students and 111 course offerings. Today, the school serves more than 1,600 students enrolled in 13 BA and BFA degree programs and nine minors. Graphic Design, Computer Animation, Film, Game Art, Illustration, and Virtual Reality Development are just a few options.

RCAD programs offer a rigorous curriculum, which combines studio and liberal arts, with client projects, substantive internships, and national competitions. The school’s BFA in Graphic Design prepares students to design “show-stopping solutions for print and interactive media,” says RCAD. 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.” Course highlights include Design & Typography, New Media Design, Contemporary Design Culture, Interactive Design, Drawing & 2D Design, Drawing & 3D Design, and Visual Persuasion. For Course GDES 491, students have three options: Design Center, an Internship, or Graphic Design Elective.

RCAD internships have led to many full-time employment opportunities. Graduates 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.

2. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
University of Florida

Founded in 1858 as Gainesville Academy, University of Florida (UF) serves more than 56,000 students enrolled in 30 certificate programs, 100 undergraduate majors and 200 graduate programs across more than a dozen colleges and schools. The College of the Arts houses the School of Art + Art History, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design, an MFA in Design and Visual Communications (MXD), and an Undergraduate Certificate in Graphic Design.

BFA students enjoy a “rich and intensive studio experience,” says the school, that allows them to “take art and design to the maximum depth possible in preparation to be an artist or designer, or to continue further study in art and design via a graduate program, or to even begin a career path directly related to the arts.” Students can choose from emphases in Ceramics, Art + Technology, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture, and Creative Photography.

The MFA has two- and three-year options that consist of 60 credits total (terminal degree). This includes 24 credits in graduate design courses (research seminars, studio and fieldwork practice), 15 credits of open elective, six credits of practicum, and 15 credits for the MFA project, which is self-directed and designed, allowing students to focus in any area of Design and Visual Communications.

When comparing the two- and three-year MFA options, the three-year option is for students funded with an assistantship or fellowship. Along with funding, the University of Florida provides tuition remission for nine credit hours per semester. The two-year option is for students who are self-funded or have other sources of funding and desire an accelerated path. Students should be mindful of the time commitment that four to five courses per semester and any part-time work will require.

3. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

Established in 1963, University of Central Florida (UCF) serves more than 69,000 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in Florida and one of the largest universities in the nation. The school, which has four campuses across Orlando and in Daytona Beach, offers around 225 degree programs across 13 colleges.

The College of Arts and Humanities at UCF houses the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which offers an Emerging Media BFA with a Graphic Design Track, an Emerging Media MFA with a Studio Art and the Computer Track, and a Minor in Studio Art. Students in the two-year cohort Graphic Design Track will “integrate the multiple domains of art, storytelling, and technology,” says the school. The program is designed to “provide a solid foundation in techniques and theory in one focused area of competence, as well as a broad understanding of related disciplines including arts, humanities, and technology. The program also offers extended experience in working in multidisciplinary teams on realistic problems.”

Students will master the skills needed to produce typographic and publication designs, identity systems, packaging, film and broadcast graphics, posters, as well as interactive and web design. “Throughout the program, students work on developing their professional portfolio, which culminates in the two senior year advanced Graphic Design courses.”

The Studio Art program allows students to specialize in related areas such as book arts, drawing, drawing and printmaking, drawing and illustration, photography, and type and design. Studio Art majors may pursue a BA or BFA.

The MFA is a three-year, 60 credit hour program that focuses on “the development of a concept driven body of related works vis sustained studio practice.” Students will study contemporary studio practices, such as performance art, installation, experimental time-based media, and fine arts. Graduates of the program will be “prepared to pursue active careers in the professional and academic arts. They will have developed a refined studio practice that provides them with the skills to find recognition and acclaim through presentations, exhibitions, conferences and performances in the contemporary art world,” says the school.

4. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University

Established in 1979 as an audio recording workshop, Full Sail University serves 15,000 students enrolled in 78 degree programs in the areas of Entertainment, Media, and the Arts. Graduate Certificates are also available. Options for aspiring graphic designers include a BS in Graphic Design that takes 29 months to complete online. Students in the program will “sharpen” their eye for “aesthetics through projects, critiques, and the study of popular culture,” says the school. In addition to technical proficiency and creative development, the program will help students “hone real-world skills such as media integration, advertising, and branding.”

Sample courses include Psychology of Play, Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries, Graphic Principles, Digital Audio and Video, Digital Publishing, Typography and Page Layout, Interactive Media Design and Usability, Logos and Symbols, and Creating Brand Experience. The BS in Graphic Design also contains seven one-credit Career Modules that are woven throughout the curriculum.

Note that a Media Design MFA is also available. Also offered online, this program highlights areas such as Brand Development, Design Strategy, Design Integration, Effective Copywriting, Organizational Structures, and Defining Client Needs. The MFA takes just 12 months to complete.

5. Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida
Florida Atlantic University

Founded in 1961, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) serves nearly 30,000 students from 180 countries. The school, which has locations in Palm Beach, Broward and St. Lucie counties, consists of 10 colleges. The Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters houses the Department of Visual Arts and Art History, which offers BFA and MFA degrees in Visual Arts with a Specialization in Graphic Design and a Minor in Studio Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design.

Students interested in the BFA program will begin their studies in the BA in Studio or BA in Art History program. Upon completion of 5-6 core art courses, Studio Art students must submit to the Graphic Design or Studio Art portfolio review. Students who pass the portfolio review may choose to matriculate to the BFA in Graphic Design or BFA in Studio Art. Once in the program, students will immerse in projects including posters, brochures, corporate identity systems, trademarks, books, magazines, and advertisements of all kinds.

“Students are given assignments much like those they would encounter in professional settings,” says the school. “Through each course in the program, students are encouraged to develop an appreciation of the various philosophical and ideological positions that could affect their design perspectives.” Course highlights include Digital Art, Interactive Design Lab, Poster Design, Technology Intensive, Special Topics in Graphic Design, Typographic Design Lab, and Visual Communications. Students may also select several electives. Sample electives include Alternative Media, Handmade Books, and Narrative Drawing.

The MFA in Visual Art is “designed to further the conceptual development, aesthetic presentation, technical skill, and career goals” of MFA candidates. The 60 credit hour program consists of a combination of graduate design studios, seminars, art history courses, and directed independent study projects, culminating in a graduate thesis project, exhibition and document. Students may complete the program on a full- or part-time schedule.