What are the top Michigan graphic design schools for 2023?

Top 5 Michigan Graphic Design School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing
2College for Creative StudiesDetroit
3Wayne State UniversityDetroit
4Grand Valley State UniversityAllendale
5Central Michigan UniversityMount Pleasant

Our 2023 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in Michigan. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University

The College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University (MSU) houses the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD), which offers a BFA and a Minor in Graphic Design. The Graphic Design Minor consists of 15 credit hours. BFA students have the opportunity to gain real-world experience in the AAHD Design Center, which provides creative services to local businesses. Students in all AAHD programs are eligible for AIGA membership, and they have access to the Annual Visiting Artist & Scholar Lecture Series, and opportunities to complete an internship at a local or national company.

In addition to completing required courses, students in the Graphic Design BFA will select courses from the Two-Dimensional, Three-Dimensional, and Electronic Art and Intermediate and Photography Areas. Course examples for the BFA and the Minor include Graphic Design I: Graphic Form, Motion Design, Digital Graphic Design: Tools and Methods, History of Graphic Design, Graphic Design II: Visual Communication, Interaction Design, Experimental Design Practices, Concepts of Graphic Design, Design Thinking for Entrepreneurs, Design Center, Cartographic Design and Production, and Senior Seminar and Professional Practice.

Graduates of the MSU Graphic Design BFA Program work at advertising agencies, marketing firms, design studios, publishing companies, and more. They hold titles such as Graphic Designer, Art Director, Creative Producer, Media Manager, Communications Coordinator, Web Designer, and User Experience Designer. Program alumni have been hired at Leo Burnett, General Motors, Quicken Loans, TechSmith Corporation, Campbell Ewald, Domino’s, and Shift Digital.

For students seeking a graduate degree, Michigan State University has a Create Your Own Pathway MFA Program that includes seminars, dedicated studio practice, opportunities for external study, and formal critique. Students may select courses from any area of interest to build a focus area. This includes Graphic Design. In addition to selected courses, and seminars such as History of Art and Professional Practices, MFA students will take studios such as Integration in Studio Art and Exploration and Research in Studio Art.

The Michigan State University MFA Program requires a Final Research Project, completed over several courses, to graduate. Program alumni are prepared to pursue positions at major companies, design studios, advertising agencies, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions.

Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). This land-grant, public research university serves 49,695 students enrolled in more than 200 academic programs across 17 colleges. One of the largest and greenest campuses in the U.S., MSU houses more than 100 institutes and centers including the Institute of Global Health and the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. 

2. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
College for Creative Studies

The College for Creative Studies (CCS) has a STEM-designated Communication Design (CD) Program that allows students to add a 15 credit hour Minor or Business Concentration. Minor examples include Advertising Design: Digital, Creative Entrepreneurship, Entertainment Arts, Illustration, Photography, and Product Design.

Leading to a BFA and consisting of 42 to 43 credits in liberal arts and 84 credits in studio, the CD Program features research projects; opportunities to study abroad for a year or a semester in places such Paris, Australia, Germany, Mexico, and Austria; and internship opportunities at major agencies and companies such as Foote Cone & Belding, Microsoft, Urban Outfitters, Reebok, FUSE, Whirlpool, Quicksilver, and Chrysler.

Course examples for the program include Motion Essentials, User Interface Design (UI), Performative Spaces, Typography I-III, 2D & 3D Integrated Design Studio, User Experience (UX) Design, Advanced Communication Design, Concepts & Methods/Visual Culture, Professional Studio Practice I-II, and Business Practices.

With one of the highest employment rates in the country, CCS Communication Design graduates are working in industries such as advertising, book publishing, public relations, marketing, magazine and newspaper publishing, retail, manufacturing, industrial design, and entertainment. They hold titles such as Graphic Designer, User Experience and User Interface Designer (UX/UI), Brand Manager, Visual Digital Designer, Creative Director, Branding/Identity Designer, Design Strategist, Digital Content Manager, and App Designer.

College for Creative Studies alumni have been hired at major companies such as Apple, Google, Adidas, General Motors, Wieden + Kennedy, Adobe, Razorfish, Buzzfeed, eBay, Carhartt, Ford Motor Co., Microsoft, Mercedes Benz, Converse, Nokia, Facebook, IDEO, Lego, Moosejaw, Nike, Herman Miller, Rivian, and Whirlpool. Some program graduates have launched their own design studios in places such as Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and The Netherlands.

Founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, College for Creative Studies is a private, nonprofit institution that serves more than 1,400 students enrolled in 23 art and design programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. CCS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and it is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

3. Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
Wayne State University

Wayne State University (WSU) has industry partnerships with major companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Quicken Loans, and the City of Detroit. These partnerships provide  variety of internship and career opportunities for students in all WSU programs. This includes the Design BFA Program.

Housed in the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History, the Design BFA Program has a Graphic Design Concentration that consists of Core, Departmental, and Major requirements. Courses in the Core include Surface Studio, Spatial Studio, Time Studio, Drawing I, and Encounters with the Arts of Global Africa, Survey: Ancient through Medieval, OR Survey: Renaissance through Modern.

Departmental requirements allow students to choose two Art or Design Studio electives and an Art or Design History elective. Other requirements include Design Process and Intro to Graphic Design: Skills and Concepts. The Graphic Design Concentration requires 36 credit hours. Course examples include Graphic Design I-II, Typography, and Interactivity in Graphic Arts. Students may enhance the degree through required electives. Examples include Illustration, Information Design, Interactivity, Advanced Typography, Directed Study, and Special Topics. Students may also choose electives from any courses within the Digital Arts.

A major component of the Design BFA at Wayne State University is the opportunity to gain work experience through the WSU Internship Program. As part of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts, the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History also provides opportunities to work on campus-based publications such as Expressions Magazine.

Internships at Wayne State University may be completed during the Junior or Senior years. In the final year of the program, students will complete the Senior Seminar and Senior Studio courses. Graduates are prepared to pursue positions in advertising and marketing, corporate branding, packaging design, publishing, exhibit design, and in in-house design departments across companies and industries. 

Recent graduates of the Wayne State University Department of Art and Art History have completed internships or been hired at Amazon, Vera Wang, Carhartt, the National Gallery of Art, 96.3 WDVD-FM, Detroit, Detroit Parade Company, College for Creative Studies (CCS), Electronic Data Systems (EDS), and Ella Sharp Museum. Department alumni also include a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and winners and nominees for the Golden Globe, Grammy, Tony, Emmy, Obie, Screen Actors Guild, and Caldecott awards.

Wayne State University was founded in 1868 as The Detroit Medical College. The school serves 24,000 students enrolled in nearly 200 degree and certificate programs across 13 colleges and schools. One of the largest College’s at Wayne State, the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts (CFPCA) houses 17 undergraduate programs, 10 graduate programs, and three graduate certificate programs. Wayne State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

4. Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan
Grand Valley State University

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) houses the Department of Visual & Media Arts, home to the Studio Art BFA Program. Within the Program is a Graphic Design Emphasis that provides to option to add a Minor. Examples that complement the Emphasis include Advertising and Public Relations, Digital Studies, Ethics, Culture and Society, Marketing, Photography, Nonprofit Administration, and Writing. In addition, students who would like to pursue a career in teaching can add the Graphic Design Emphasis to the BA or BS degrees in Art Education.

Other program benefits include work and learning experiences through the GVSU Internship Program; opportunities to work with on single projects with clients outside of the classroom; access to state-of-the art computer labs and production facilities; and opportunities to present student work through frequent public screenings.

The Studio Art BFA at GVSU requires 126 credit hours, with 36 credit hours in the Graphic Design Emphasis. The Graphic Design Senior Project consists of an additional three credits. Around 88 credit hours are required in Foundations, Studio Electives, Art and Design History, and General Education.

Course examples in the Emphasis include Graphic Design Studio I: Introduction to Typography, Graphic Design for 3D Experiences, Graphic Design Studio II: Typographic Systems, Digital Prepress, Graphic Design Studio III: Branding and Service Design, Graphic Design Forum, Experience Design Studio I: Digital Interfaces, Graphic Design Professional Practice Seminar, and Experience Design Studio II: Integrated Systems.

The Graphic Design Program at Grand Valley State University culminates with the Graphic Design Senior Project and Group Exhibition. Graduates of the program are Graphic Designers, User Experience (UX) Designers, Creative Directors, Brand Managers, Digital Designers, User Interface (UI) Designers, Creative Managers, Web Designers, and Product Designers.

Program alumni have been hired at Apple, Rivian, Hallmark, Newell Brands, Barfly Ventures, Vox Media, The Image Shoppe, ArtPrize, Open Systems Technology (OST), Steelcase, Corewell Health, Concept A, Full Circle Marketing & Advertising, Daniel Brian Advertising, The Highland Group, Periscope, True Fabrications, RealHouse, and Visualhero Design Company.

Grand Valley State University was established in 1960. With eight regional campuses and centers, GVSU serves approximately 21,650 students enrolled in 145 degree programs across seven schools and eight locations throughout Michigan. Grand Valley State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Central Michigan University

The College of the Arts and Media (CAM) at Central Michigan University (CMU) houses the Department of Art and Design. Within the Department is an Art BFA Program with a Major in Graphic Design. Program features include small class sizes (limited to 20 students); access to state-of-the-art facilities and labs; participation in student organizations such as the Design Hub; and National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accreditation.

The Art BFA Program at Central Michigan University requires 78 semester hours in Art, including 33 hours in the Graphic Design Major. This includes courses from Electives I (30 hours) and Electives II (three hours). Course examples include Emerging Media in Graphic Design, Logo and Identity Design, Advanced Typography, Design Bureau, Motion Graphics, Web Design I-II, Contemporary Design Issues, and Professional Design Practices.

All students have the opportunity to complete Art History Study Abroad to help fulfill the programs core requirements totaling 12 credit hours. In this overseas course, students learn methods for analyzing and interpreting art of other cultures alongside a variety of tools and techniques.

During Senior year of the CMU Graphic Design Program, students will complete the Graphic Design Capstone Experience and BFA Exhibition, which includes the Thesis, artist’s statement, public presentation, and final portfolio.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at Central Michigan University are prepared to pursue careers in Advertising, Book Publishing, Interactive Design, Magazine Publishing, Exhibit Design, Web Design, and many other fields. Program alumni are employed at companies and organizations in Michigan and across the U.S. They work at places such as Amazon, Quicken Loans, Liberty Mutual, Syd Lee Advertising, Frost Burn Studios, Synergy, Hello World, and AMPM Advertising.

Founded in 1892, Central Michigan University opened as Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute with just 31 students. Today, CMU serves 15,465 students enrolled in 300 programs across seven colleges. CMU also offers 65 fully online programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, and additional programs taught at 25 satellite locations across North America. Central Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).