|1||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Boston|
|5||University of Massachusetts-Lowell||Lowell|
Our 2019 rankings of the top 5 graphic design school programs in Massachusetts. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) was founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring architects, artists, drawing teachers, and designers. The school offers more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and seven Certificate programs to nearly 2,100 students.
The Graphic Design Department offers BFA in Graphic Design that focuses on “learning by doing” in studio classes. Per the school, students in the program are exposed to intensive critique as well as discussions and lectures “through a sequenced combination of required courses in the major, studio electives, technical workshops and computer lab-based courses.”
Also available is a 38 credit hour Graphic Design Certificate Program (GDC) designed for working adults who are interested in advancing into a career in graphic design. Thanks to an excellent reputation in the design community, graduates of the Certificate program obtain jobs in all areas of the industry.
2. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Founded in 1898, Northeastern University (NU) serves more than 20,000 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across nine colleges and schools, The school also offers select advanced degrees at graduate campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto. The College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) offers a range of programs for aspiring graphic Designers. Options include a BFA in Design with a Concentration in Graphic and Information Design, Interaction Design, or Experience Design, a BA in Art with a Concentration in Visual Studies, and a BA in Communication Studies and Graphic and Information Design.
Half majors in Graphic and Information Design, Interaction Design, and Visual Studies, and Minors in Graphic and Information Design, Experience Design, and Interaction Design are also available. Graduate offerings include MFA degrees in Information Design and Visualization, Studio Art, and Interdisciplinary Arts.
All CAMD students have the opportunity to study abroad in places such as Ireland, Venice, Rome, Berlin and Cuba.
3. Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
Founded in 1839, Boston University (BU) serves more than 33,000 students from 150 countries and all 50 states. The school offers more than 250 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and a graduate school. The College of Fine Arts, School of Visual Arts has several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Graphic Design and Graduate Certificate.
The programs take “a studio-driven approach to design thinking and visual communication. With an emphasis on process and critical design thinking, the program sets itself apart as a maker-based design department set within an art school.” Students in the BFA program begin in the Foundation program. “Freshman year Foundation courses introduce visual concepts in two and three dimensions, with an emphasis on drawing from observation. Students specialize in graphic design coursework beginning in their sophomore year. Yearlong graphic design and typography studios emphasize form and communication.”
Students in the MFA program spend most of their time in the studio. Electives complement the graphic design studios, affording the opportunity to “specialize in areas of interest and provide the essential curricular agility to navigate in a changing practice.” Students participate in lectures “by nationally and internationally distinguished designers” and “direct contact with the industry further enhance the studio experience.”
The Certificate is a full-time, one-year intensive program that is designed for those who are entering the graphic design field for the first time. Students in all programs have access to more than 100 study abroad programs in more than 25 countries.
4. Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Founded in 1909 as the Lesley School, Lesley University serves around 6,900 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across four colleges and schools including the College of Art and Design, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Education, and the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences. The College of Art and Design offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers including a BFA and a Certificate in Graphic Design.
The 123-credit hour BFA program provides hands-on experience in motion, print, interactive and experiential design. In the classroom, students gain experience using industry-standard tools, while being “supported by a community of experienced art and design faculty,” says the school. Students will “work directly with real clients, learn how to address their needs, and produce sophisticated visual work.”
Sample courses for the program include Design Discourse, Design Thinking and Research, Interactive Workshop, Intro to Interactivity, 3D Concepts, Typography, and Visual Communication. Students will participate in several Design Studio courses as well as the internship program (a core requirement of the Graphic Design BA), which provides professional experience outside the classroom at both small and large studios and organizations in Boston and beyond. Past internships have included Arnold Worldwide, Hasbro, Rue La La, New Balance, and more. Study abroad opportunities are also available and can last a semester, a summer, a term, or a year.
The 18 credit hour Certificate in Graphic Design prepares professionals for a career in Visual Design. Students will “gain perceptual, conceptual, visual, and technical skills necessary” to take their careers to the next level. Through an asynchronous learning platform, students will interact with other students who share similar career goals and aspirations. Each course features hands-on learning opportunities where students will explore studio habits, image-making, visual research, typography and the history of modern design. “Coursework spans across both screen and print technologies.”
Courses include History of Modern Design, Language of Design, Typography I, II & III, and Visual Communication.
5. University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts
Founded in 1894 as Lowell Normal School, University of Massachusetts-Lowell (UMass-Lowell) serves more than 18,000 students enrolled in 100+ undergraduate majors, 40+ master’s programs, and 30+ doctoral degrees through six colleges and the Honors College. The School of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (FAHSS) houses the Department of Art and Design, which offers a BFA in Art with a Graphic Design Concentration and a Minor in Art: Graphic Design. The minor, which consists of 18-24 credits, is designed for students who wish to focus on graphic design and computer-assisted art.
Per the school, "The art major is designed to develop a rigorous art practice. Students gain a deep knowledge of the technical and conceptual abilities needed to succeed in the professional world." Program highlights include "a rigorous competence-building sequence of core courses (Graphic Design I,II,III and Typography I,II,III)," the opportunity to gain competencies in public speaking, writing, and new technology, and additional coursework in web design, motion graphics, animation, interactive design and advanced independent studies.
Senior students will also focus on a Capstone Project, which consists of a "year-long exploration where students develop their online portfolio, resume and create a self-directed project that reflects their talent and skills." Internships that provide real-world experience are required for all students and study abroad opportunities are also part of the program.
Graduates of the BFA in Art with a Graphic Design Concentration are prepared to pursue careers in corporate design, brand identity design, web design, user experience, interactive design, app design, book design and package design.