What are the top Kansas graphic design schools for 2023?

Top 5 Kansas Graphic Design School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1University of KansasLawrence
2Kansas State UniversityManhattan
3Wichita State UniversityWichita
4Pittsburg State UniversityPittsburg
5Fort Hays State UniversityHays

Our 2023 ranking of the top 5 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 School of Architecture and Design at the University of Kansas (KU) houses the Department of Design. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department features access to state-of-the-art facilities; collaborations, lectures, and workshops led by industry professionals; study abroad programs; and local and international internships. 

For students seeking a Graphic Design program, the Design Department has a Visual Communication (Graphic Design) BFA and a Book Arts Certificate with both undergraduate and graduate pathways. The undergraduate certificate consists of 12-13 credit hours. The graduate program requires 12 credit hours. Examples of available courses across programs include Publication and Editorial, Bookmaking, Papermaking or Japanese Woodblock, Publication Design, Letterpress, Writer’s Workshop, The Artists Book, Typography & Printing in Italy, and Medieval Manuscripts & Early Printed Books. Both programs offer the opportunity to complete Study Abroad: Typography & Printmaking in Italy.

The University of Kansas Visual Communication Design Program consists of 120 credit hours. Courses for this professional BFA are hands-on, studio-based, and research intensive. Course examples include Principles in Visual Communication. Branding, Designing Understanding, Typographic Systems, Think and Make, Design Thinking and Research, Fundamentals in UX Design, Designing Social Interactions, and Elements of Type. In the Junior year of the program, students will begin working on their final portfolio. In the final year of the program, students will complete the Professional Studies requirement (two courses), Senior Problems, and the Final Capstone Project.

Graduates of the Visual Communication Design and Book Arts Programs at KU work in advertising, branding and package design, UI/UX design, publishing, book design marketing, public relations, industrial design, exhibition design, motion graphic design, environmental design, web design, and multimedia. Possible careers include Graphic Designer, Communications Manager, Advertising Commercial/Industrial Designer, Advertising Art Director, Visual Designer, Multimedia Artist, Public Relations Manager, Exhibition Designer, Art Director, and Marketing Manager.

Founded in 1865, University of Kansas opened on September 12, 1866 with one building and 55 students. Today, the school serves 28,500 students across five Kansas campuses including Lawrence, Overland Park, Kansas City, Wichita, and Salina. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), University of Kansas houses more than 400 degree and certificate programs across 13 academic schools.

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

The College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University (K-State) houses more than 20 departments, 5,700+ students, and more than 80 degree programs, study abroad options, and pre-professional pathways. Among the Departments of the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Art. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department has both Art BFA and MFA Programs with a Graphic Design Concentration.

An 18 credit hour Graphic Design Minor is also available. Consisting of 18 credit hours, the Minor features courses such as Graphic Design Techniques, Advanced Printmaking Workshop: Illustration and Experimentation, and Digital Techniques in Visual Art. With a variety of art and design electives, students have the opportunity to gain additional skills in areas such as illustration, digital photography, environmental design, and digital video. The K-State Graphic Design Minor can be added to any art or design major.

The Art BFA with a Graphic Design Concentration at Kansas State University is a professional degree program that requires 120 credit hours of study. All BFA majors will take 42 credit hours of basic requirements, 15 credit hours of Art History, and 13 credit hours in foundations. The Graphic Design Concentration consists of 48 credit hours. Course examples include Design for Digital Media, Visual Communication Design I: Typography and Design Principles, Graphic Design Techniques, Visual Communication II: Methods and Processes, Advanced Independent Study Design, Visual Communication III: Storytelling in Design, Design for Digital Media I-II, and Visual Communication Design IV: Design and Context. Upon completion of Capstone I: Research and Capstone II: Project, Graphic Design students will participate in the BFA Exhibition or Portfolio Presentation. 

The Kansas State University Art MFA is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Consisting of 60 credit hours (with 35-40 credits in the Graphic Design Concentration), the program features small classes of just 10-12 students across disciplines, assigned studio spaces in K-State’s collaborative design space—Willard Hall, the visiting artist series, and participation in the AIGA student group, which hosts field trips, workshops, and other activities.

The Art MFA at K-State culminates with a solo exhibition held in Mark A. Chapman Gallery, located on the first floor of Willard Hall.

Kansas State University alumni have been hired by a variety of companies across the state and the U.S. Examples include Amazon, Google, Walt Disney Company, Koch Industries, Cargill, IBM, Whole Foods, Manhattan-Ogden USD 383, Banner Health, Shamrock Trading Corporation, Design West, Lockheed Martin, Hormel Foods, Little Bird Marketing, Target, and Land O’Lakes.

Founded in 1863, Kansas State University serves approximately 19,720 students enrolled in more than 250 undergraduate majors and options and 165+ graduate degrees and certificates. Programs at K-State are housed across nine colleges and a graduate school. Kansas State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

3. Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas
Wichita State University

The College of Fine Arts at Wichita State University (WSU) houses the School of Art, Design and Creative Industries, home to the Graphic Design BFA Program. Consisting of 120 credit hours, the program features courses that explore branding, packaging, advertising, illustration, app design, typography, motion graphics, and web design.

Students will begin the program with Art Foundation courses such as Foundation 2D Design, Introduction to Art and Design, and Foundation 3D Design. Students will then begin Introductory Graphic Design coursework with courses such as Typography I, Vector Applications, and Graphic Design Concepts. Upon successful completion Foundation and Introductory coursework, students are admitted into the Graphic Design Emphasis, to be completed over four semesters during the Junior and Senior years.

Examples of upper division courses include Sequential Media, Typography II, Exploration of Graphic Design Media, Drawing for Visual Communications, Graphic Design Campaigns, Interactive Design, Graphic Design Applications, and Professional Practices in Graphic Design. Students have the option to select two courses from the following: The Entrepreneurial Experience, Marketing, and Advertising Copywriting.

To enhance the degree, the School of Art, Design and Creative Industries provides the opportunity to complete several internships and 12 credit hours of electives from other programs across WSU. Examples include Communication, Technical Theatre, Business, Entrepreneurship, and Marketing. Applied learning and research experiences are part of the program as well as a Graphic Design Capstone course, which provides the opportunity for students use media and formats to create several professional advertising and promotional campaigns.

Upon completion of the Graphic Design Program at Wichita State University, graduates will have a professional portfolio of their best work to present to potential clients and employers. In addition, after graduation, WSU alumni can participate in workshops, attend career fairs, and meet with job counselors to do mock interviews and assist with their job search.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at Wichita State University are prepared to pursue positions at advertising agencies, in corporate art departments, and at art and design studios. Some program alumni go on to pursue graduate study or launch their own studios and freelance businesses.

Founded in 1895, Wichita State University is one of six state universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents. With its affiliate, WSU TECH, Wichita State serves approximately 21,940 students enrolled in more than 200 areas of study across nine colleges and schools. Wichita State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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

The College of Technology at Pittsburg State University (Pitt State or PSU) houses the Department of Graphics and Imaging Technologies (GIT). All Emphasis Areas within the GIT Department share a core curriculum, with a required 120 credit hours to graduate. In addition, each area has support courses and electives, allowing students to customize the degree. All areas lead to a BST in Graphic Communications and include Graphic Design, Packaging Graphics, Graphics Management, Print Media, Digital Media, and Web/Interactive Media.

Across Emphasis areas, students benefit from a hands-on learning environment, partnerships within the industry, and participation in the Graphic Arts Club, which hosts guest speakers, presentations, and social events.

In addition to the Graphic Communications BST, the GIT Department at Pitt State has a variety of Minor options including Graphic Design, Packaging Graphics, Print Media, Photography, Digital Media, and Web/Interactive Media. Minors are 21 credit hours. Course examples across programs include 3D Graphics, Publication Design, Vector Based Graphics, Paperboard Packaging, Web Content Management Systems, Digital Media Design, Personalized Campaign Design, Page Layout Software, Web User Experience, and Product Photography.

At the graduate level, the College of Technology’s Department of Technology and Workforce Learning has Graphic Design and Graphics Management Emphasis Areas within the MS with a Major in Technology. Both programs consist of 30-33 credit hours, with the option to complete coursework only or coursework and a Thesis. Across Emphasis Areas, students will take courses such as Graphics Administration, Leadership Management, and Creating Connections Through Presentations.

Graduates of the Programs in the College of Technology at Pittsburg State University have gone on to secure leadership and other positions in fields such as Advertising, Production, Marketing, Printing, Design, and Sales. Alumni are Art Directors, Layout Artists, Advertising Specialists, Photographers, Supervisors, and Researchers, among others.

Pittsburg State University opened as the Kansas State Manual Training Normal School Auxiliary in September 1903. On the first day of classes, the school welcomed 54 individuals to its campus. Today, more than 1,000 faculty and staff serve 6,500 students enrolled in 100+ programs across four distinct colleges. Pittsburg State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas
Fort Hays State University

The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) houses the Department of Art and Design. Within the Department are both BFA and MFA Programs for students who would like to pursue a degree in Graphic Design. The Department also has Minor and Certificate options for individuals seeking a shorter program. The Art Minor consists of 24 credit hours with the opportunity to study Graphic Design, Drawing, and Printmaking.

The Graphic Design Certificate consists of nine credit hours including Graphic Design I-II, and Computer Assisted Graphic Design. The Motion Design Certificate consists of 12 credit hours and includes Graphic Design I, Computer Assisted Graphic Design, Motion Design I, and Digital Media Art of Topics in Art II: Video Storytelling I.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at Fort Hays State University is the largest program in the Department of Art and Design. Students in this program benefit from the Department’s long-term partnership with Leo Burnett Chicago. Each spring, students engage in personal portfolio reviews with creatives from the agency. Many students are offered internship opportunities or employment.

Consisting of 120 credit hours, the BFA Program requires courses such as Digital Media I-II, Book Making, Graphic Design I-IV, Computer Assisted Graphic Design, Printmaking, History of Graphic Design, Creative Photography, Professional Development in Graphic Design, and Typography. Students in this program will complete a professional portfolio of their best work and participate in the Graphic Design Exhibition.

The Art and Design MFA at Fort Hays University has seven Studio Concentration areas. Students are required to choose one. Areas include Design (Graphic Design, Photography), Printmaking, Intermedia, Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, and Ceramics. The Studio Concentration consists of 37 credit hours. The MFA culminates with the Thesis and Thesis Exhibition. Students will have the opportunity to exhibit their work at the Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art. In addition, one piece from the students exhibition may be donated to the gallery. This work will become a part of the FHSU’s permanent collection.

Graduates of Fort Hays University enjoy a 95% employment (or higher education) rate. Examples of companies that have hired FHSU Graphic Design graduates include Leo Burnett Company, Yahoo!, CMT in Nashville, and Joe Duffy and Partners in Minneapolis. Some students have launched their own design studios including Justin McClure Creative, Burley Studios, and Awe-Full Design.

FHSU Graphic Design alumni have also been hired to teach at universities such as Zayed University in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates, University of Wyoming, University of Nebraska, Buffalo State University, and Wichita State University.

Founded in 1902 as the Western Branch of Kansas State Normal School, Fort Hays State University is a regional public institution that serves close to 13,000 students on campus, online, and at partner institutions around the world. The school provides more than 100 programs across five colleges and dozens of departments. Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).