What are the top graphic design school programs in Kansas for 2021?

Top 5 Kansas Graphic Design Schools - 2021 College Rankings
1University of KansasLawrence
2Kansas State UniversityManhattan
3Fort Hays State UniversityHays
4Pittsburg State UniversityPittsburg
5Wichita State UniversityWichita

Our 2021 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in Kansas. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
University of Kansas

The University of Kansas (KU) opened in 1866 with just 55 students. Today, the school serves 28,500 students across five campuses in the Lawrence, Overland Park, Kansas City, Wichita, and Salina. More than 400 degree and certificate programs are offered in 13 schools, including the only schools of pharmacy and medicine in the state.

The School of Architecture and Design at KU houses the Department of Design, which offers a BFA in Visual Communication Design (Graphic Design). Students in the program “learn to combine communication and technology with design and business to create powerful visual solutions,” says the school. Course content “deals with a variety of visual communication design problems related to the community, society, industry, commerce, and advertising and attention is given to the development of a well-rounded, representative, and quality portfolio.”

Course highlights include Book Arts, Bookmaking, Designing for Change, Designing for Social Interactions, Digital Letterpress, Elements of Type, Environmental Graphics, Exhibition Design, Letterpress, Motion Graphics, Publication & Editorial, The Photobook, Typographic Systems, and Visual Communication. The program also offers internship and study abroad opportunities as well as the option to complete the Certificate in Book Arts.

The Certificate requires 12 credit hours, and students learn production across the “whole book—papermaking, typography, printing, and binding, informed by the history of the book.”

KU Visual Communication Design graduates work in a wide range of areas such as branding, corporate marketing communications, exhibition and environmental design, interface design, magazine and book design, motion graphic design, packaging design, traditional print media, and website design. Potential job titles include Advertising Art Director, Animator, and Art Director, Commercial/Industrial Designer, Exhibition Designer, Graphic Designer, Marketing Manager, Multimedia Specialist, Public Relations Manager, and many others.

2. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas
Kansas State University

Founded in 1863, Kansas State University (K-State) serves nearly 21,000 students enrolled in more than 250 undergraduate majors and options and 165-plus graduate degrees and certificates. Programs are offered in nine colleges and the graduate school.

The College of Arts and Sciences at K-State houses more than 20 departments and serves over 7,000 students. Around 115 degree programs, study abroad experiences, and pre-professional options are offered. Housed within the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Art, which has BFA and MFA Programs with a Concentration (undergraduate) or Emphasis (graduate) in Graphic Design. A Minor in Graphic Design consisting of 18 credit hours of study is also available.

The 120 credit hour BFA program takes place in a laboratory-like studio setting where “where an active community, informal peer-interaction, and opportunities for collaborative output help inform students' preparation for professional practice,” says the school. “Through a mixture of training and experience in visual communication design centered on typography, the program develops students' abilities to shape and solve problems, while expanding technical and visual skill sets across industry-relevant media, materials, and environments.”

Students in the BFA program will also have access to internship and study abroad opportunities and all K-State Graphic Design students will benefit from the local AIGA student group, which arranges studio tours, travels to national conferences and events, and attracts influential contemporary designers for speaking engagements.

The K-State MFA program includes 10-12 graduate students across disciplines. The Graphic Design Emphasis “develops students' abilities to shape and solve problems, while expanding technical and visual skill sets across industry-relevant media, materials, and environments.” This is accomplished “through a mixture of training and experience in visual communication design centered on typography.”

Highlights for this three-year program include independent study with departmental faculty and a cross-disciplinary graduate committee, dedicated studio space in Willard Hall, and access to the rest of the Art Department facilities. Graduate student work culminates in a third-year capstone design project and exhibition. The event usually takes place “in the beautiful Mark A. Chapman Gallery.”

3. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas
Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University (FHSU) began in an infirmary at Fort Hays—a former army post that had been abandoned since 1889. Fifty-seven students began taking classes in 1902. Today, FHSU encompasses a 200-acre campus and 3,825-acre University Farm that serve more than 15,000 students.

More than 200 degree programs are offered in five colleges including Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Business and Entrepreneurship; Education; Health and Behavioral Sciences, and Science, Technology, and Mathematics. The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences houses the Department of Art and Design, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design and a 60 credit hour MFA with a Concentration in Design (Graphic Design, Photography).

The largest program in the Department of Art and Design, the Graphic Design Program at FHSU requires 55 credit hours of General Education requirements and 65 credit hours in Art & Design. Course highlights include 3D Design/Crafts, Book Making, Computer Assisted Graphic Design, Creative Design, Digital Media, Graphic Design I-IV, and Professional Development in Graphic Design. BFA students will complete a Portfolio course (ART 648) and Graphic Design Exhibition (ART 475).

Students in both programs benefit from FHSU’s “long-standing relationship with Leo Burnett Company of Chicago,” says the school. “Students not only obtain personal portfolio reviews each spring with creative executives of Leo Burnett, but also the possibility of an internship or job opportunity. Since 1995, they have provided scholarship support to graphic design students through direct scholarships as well as monies to fund supplies and equipment.”

In addition to Leo Burnett, graduates of the FHSU BFA and MFA programs have landed positions at Yahoo! (California), Joe Duffy and Partners (Minneapolis), and CMT (Nashville), to name a few. Some students have gone on to open their own design studios, and others teach at top universities throughout the nation and abroad such as the Buffalo State University, University of Nebraska, University of Wyoming, Wichita State University, and Zayed University in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates.

4. Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas
Pittsburg State University

Pittsburg State University (Pitt State or PSU) was founded in 1903. Home to nearly 6,500 students, PSU offers more than 200 academic programs and emphasis areas in the Graduate School and Honors College, and four main colleges including Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and Technology.

The College of Technology houses the Department of Graphics and Imaging Technologies (GIT), which offers a Bachelor of Science in Technology (BST) in Graphic Communications. The Department of Technology and Workforce Learning offers an MS with a Major in Technology with a Graphic Design Emphasis.

This 120 credit hour program offers an Emphasis in Graphic Design covers Design, Digital Media, Graphics Management, Packaging, Print Output, and Web/Interactive Media. Program highlights include immersive classroom assignments, technology training, internship opportunities, and capstone class experiences.

The MS Program consists of 30-33 credit hours and it “provides advanced instruction in technical, scientific, managerial and supervisory areas for those working in technical and management positions in business and industry.” Students may choose the Thesis or Coursework Option. The Thesis Option prepares students for a doctoral program or advanced professional careers. It is also for students wanting to complete an in-depth research experience.

The Coursework Option requires advanced coursework in an area of concentration. Departments will require evidence of competency through activities such as comprehensive exams, internships, portfolios, practice, research papers, or other individual work.

Graduates of the MS and BST in Graphic Communications have gone on to leadership positions in the fields of Advertising, Customer Relations, Design, Marketing, Printing, Production, and Sales.

5. Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas
Wichita State University

Wichita State University (WSU) was founded in 1895. One of six state universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents, the school serves 15,500 students enrolled in more than 200 areas of study in six academic colleges. All WSU students have access to co-ops and internships at more than 450 employers. Students have the opportunity to work with a company in their area of interest, where they can build a resume, earn academic credit, and even a paycheck.

The College of Fine Arts at WSU offers a BFA in Graphic Design that begins with foundation and introductory graphic design courses. Upon successful completion of the programs, students are admitted to the program. Graphic Design Emphasis coursework will be completed over four semesters during the junior and senior years. Coursework covers Advertising, Book Design, Computer Graphics, Design Theory, Illustration, Package Design, Photography, and Typography.

Throughout the program, graphic design students will assemble a professional portfolio of work to present to potential employers. Career options include advertising agencies, art studios, corporate art departments and freelance work.