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

Top 5 Maryland Graphic Design Schools - 2021 College Rankings
1Maryland Institute College of ArtBaltimore
2University of MarylandCollege Park
3Towson UniversityTowson
4University of Maryland Baltimore CountyBaltimore
5Salisbury UniversitySalisbury

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

1. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
Maryland Institute College of Art

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the nation’s oldest independent, continuously degree-granting college of art and design. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 students and each year, it attracts more than 175 visiting artists, critics, designers, poets, writers, and art historians from across the U.S. and around.

MICA offers around 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, or MPS degree. Study areas include art education, design, electronic media, fine arts, liberal arts, and professional studies. A number of post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also available.

Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design with three Concentrations including Graphic Design Studio, Book Arts Studio, and Graphic Design + Humanistic Studies, an MA in Graphic Design (GDMA) and an MFA in Graphic Design (GD MFA).

The undergraduate graphic design curriculum at MICA features a three-year sequence of core design courses. Highlights include Body/World Machine, Cartographies, Color/Design/Process, Haptics and Optics, PhotoImaging, and Typography. Graduates of the program will have the skills and experience needed to create designs for books, magazines, apps, websites, posters, advertisements, games, logos, film titles, and many other media.

The 60 credit hour MFA program features two years of full-time study that that the school says combines “critical seminars, guided studio courses, and independent work.” Students in the MFA program may “take advantage of electives in many MICA departments, including video, printmaking, and digital media,” to create a focus.

The MA program prepares students for advancing their careers and/or for applying to the competitive MFA. Program highlights include an “intensive introduction to design,” provided by the GDMA Studio, “taught with a strong emphasis on design fundamentals, process, visual research, and working across media,” a Design Theory and Practice Seminar, and the GDMA Workshop. Through the workshop, GDMA students will have the opportunity to create and exhibit a self-directed design project and a professional portfolio.

2. University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
University of Maryland

Founded in 1856, University of Maryland (UMD) is the flagship institution of the State of Maryland. The school is home to more than 41,000 students, 14,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs offered in 13 Colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Humanities houses the Department of Art, which offers Studio Art BA and MFA Programs with a Concentration in Graphic Design. 

The BA provides a pre-professional orientation emphasizing graphic design theory, interactive design, and interdisciplinary research. Students will complete a specific sequence of courses at both the 300 and 400 levels. Requirements include 21 credits in foundation and studio art electives and 12 credits in supporting courses in art history and/or theory, for a total of 60 credits.

Program highlights internship opportunities, the chance to organize and curate exhibitions featuring the work of other students in the department, and the Visiting Artist Lecture series. Recent visiting artists have included Laurie Anderson, Sanford Biggers, Chakaia Booker, Oliver Herring, and Ellen Lupton. Graduates will leave the BA with work experience and a polished portfolio.

The MFA “allows artists the opportunity to dedicate three years to intensive studio practice and to the development of a strong conceptual and historical foundation to that practice,” says the school. Other program highlights include private spacious work studios, access to state-of-the-art facilities in sculpture, digital-media, and printmaking, the lecture series, and a graduate colloquium “that brings in regional and national scholars and critics on an annual basis to work with MFA candidates.”

Students will also have the opportunity to work one-on-one with the schools full-time faculty, who are also practicing artists that can provide guidance and expertise in a variety of media. Departmental graduate assistantships are part of the program and include tuition remission and a stipend.

3. Towson University, Towson, Maryland
Towson University

Towson University (TU) began in 1866 as the Maryland State Normal School. By 1875, the school had enough space to accommodate 300 students. Today, the school sits on a 329-acre campus that accommodates close to 23,000 students, making it the largest university in the Baltimore area and the second-largest university in the University System of Maryland. Students at TU pursue 64 undergraduate majors, 46 master’s programs, and four doctoral degree programs in seven colleges.

The College of Fine Arts & Communication (COFAC), Department of Art, offers a BFA in Art + Design with Graphic Design Concentration, an Art Studio MFA, and an Interactive Media Design Certificate.

All Art + Design majors are required to take 21 units of study in First-Level Foundation. Course highlights include 2D and 3D Process, Drawing: Observation and Invention, and Visual Concepts.

The Graphic Design Concentration requires 60 units of study. Course highlights include Design for the WWW, Digital Object Design, Exhibit Design, Interactive Media: Experimental, Letterpress & Bookbinding, Package Design, Photo Imaging: Motion, and Programming for Designers. An internship is required as well as a BFA Project course. Students in the program will also have the opportunity to complete a Study Abroad experience.

The MFA option covers Graphic Design, Animation, Digital Media, Interactive Digital Media, Illustration, Photography, Printmaking, Interrelated Media, and more. Students in the program may choose a specific area of study while also being able to choose from a variety of learning experiences. Graduate seminars and weekly critiques are part of the program and students will have the opportunity their own private graduate studios.  

During the final year of the program, students will complete the MFA Project course consisting of preparation and installation of selected art works in an exhibition format.

The Certificate in Interactive Media Design (IAMD) consists of 12 units of graduate coursework. Designed for professionals, artists, and educators, this 100% online program emphasizes Graphic Design Theories and Practices, UX and UI Concepts, and Visual Communication. Coursework for the Certificate in IAMD may be applied to one of Towson’s graduate programs.

4. University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland
University of Maryland Baltimore County

Founded in 1966, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) serves around 13,500 students enrolled in more than 200 programs in seven colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) houses the Department of Visual Arts, which offers a Design BFA with a Concentration in Graphic Design.

The program “consists of a combination of required studio offerings in design and an elected group of technology-based courses in photography and/or computer-generated imagery,” says the school. Examples of required courses include Drawing I/Beginning Drawing, Studies in Visual Culture, and Visual Concepts III/Three Dimensional Form, Space, and Interaction.

The Graphic Design Concentration requires 45 credit hours of study. Course highlights include Advanced Interface Design, Design & Technology, Graphic Design IV: Word and Image, Motion Design, Origins and Issues in Design, and Typography I-III. Students will complete a portfolio and they have the opportunity to complete an internship. Some positions are paid.

5. Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland
Salisbury University

Founded in 1925 as the State Normal School, Salisbury University (SU) serves more than 8,000 students enrolled in more than 60 programs in five colleges and schools. The Fulton School of Liberal Arts houses the Art Department, which serves more than 300 students. The Department offers BA and BFA degrees in Art with a Concentration in Visual Communication (BA) and Graphic Design (BFA).

BA and BFA program highlights include “intense studio experiences,” says the school, small studio classes allowing for one-on-one interaction with faculty; access to the Integrated Media Center; an enhanced curriculum including animation, sound art and other new, electronic media exhibitions on campus; trips to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City, and visiting artists each semester. Students also have the opportunity to take electives in other areas of the Department.

BA and BFA students will also benefit from SU’s relationships with more than 100 local and regional businesses with internship programs. Students report that, “their internship experience was extremely important in the transition from student to working designer.”

Graduates of the programs are prepared to seek positions such as Animator, Art Director, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Web Designer. SU alumni have landed positions at Disney, J.P. Morgan, Nasa, Purdue, Under Armour, and more.