What are the top Minnesota graphic design schools for 2022?

Top 5 Graphic Design School Programs in Minnesota - 2022 College Rankings
1Minneapolis College of Art and DesignMinneapolis
2University of Minnesota - Twin CitiesMinneapolis
3Minnesota State UniversityMankato
4University of Minnesota – DuluthDuluth
5Winona State UniversityWinona

Our 2022 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in Minnesota. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) offers a BFA in Graphic Design, an MA in Graphic and Web Design, an interdisciplinary MFA, and a fully online User Experience (UX) Design Certificate.

Students in all MCAD Design programs will participate in critiques, collaborative projects, and hands-on training experiences through internships and other experiential learning activities. Students in all programs also have the option to study abroad in places such Japan, Germany, Ireland, England, Italy, or anywhere in the U.S.

The 120 credit hour BFA in Graphic Design combines core courses, foundation studies and studio electives with humanities and sciences coursework. Course examples for the program include Liberal Arts Advanced Seminar, Art and Globalization in the Atlantic World, Applied Art and Design Objects, Graphic Design 1-2, Digital Production, Publication Design, Type Plus, Web and Screen, Coding Concepts, and Advanced Graphic Design Seminar. MCAD BFA students will also complete Senior Project: Graphic Design, worth six credit hours.

The MCAD MA in Graphic and Web Design is a 30 credit hour program that explores typography, web design and programming, design principles, ideation, workflow management, and research. Students in this program can expect to work in teams with peers and professionals in the industry to complete projects and solve problems. Course examples for the program include Typography, User Experience Design, Experimental Interaction, Design in Context, and Motion Design.

The 60 credit hour Interdisciplinary MFA highlights independent and collaborative studios, one-on-one work with a mentor, and the opportunity to pursue creative work in multiple areas. Examples include graphic design, web and multimedia, paper and book arts, experimental video/film, web and multimedia, comic arts, animation, printmaking, illustration, photography, installation, drawing/painting, and public arts.

Graduates of the Design Programs at Minneapolis College of Art and Design go on to establish careers such as Graphic Designer, Brand and Logo Designer, Production Artist, Editorial Illustrator, User-Experience (UX) Designer, Art Director, Front-End Developer, Creative Director and Web Designer, among others. MCAD alumni work for design firms, start-ups, publishing houses, large corporations, museums, government agencies, small businesses, and production studios. Some graduates have launched their own design studios or other creative firms.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). MCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

Established in 1886, Minneapolis College of Art and Design serves more than 800 students. The school offers 14 undergraduate majors leading to a BFA or BS, three MA programs, including the new MA in Creative Leadership (launching summer 2022), one MFA program, and five professional development certificate programs.

2. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

The College of Design at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (UofM or UMTC) houses the Graphic Design Program, which has a BFA Program and MA, MFA, MS, and PhD Programs with an optional Graphic Design Track. Students in all programs will participate in advanced studios, design projects (individual and collaborative), seminars, workshops, internships, and study abroad experiences.

The Graphic Design BFA explores areas such as typography, data visualization, digital drawing, color theory, hand-drawing, and web design. Course and elective examples for the program include Text and Image, Packaging and Display, Travels in Typography, Identity and Symbols, Storytelling and Design, Data Visualization Studio, Digital Illustration and Animation, Concept Sketching, Interaction Design and Product Innovation Lab. The Graphic Design BFA Program culminates with the Senior Thesis and Exhibition, which allows students to present their work to the faculty, peers, and the design community. Students will graduate with a portfolio of their best work.

In addition to the Graphic Design Track, the MA, MFA, MS, and PhD Programs in the UofM College of Design allow students to specialize in one of the following areas: Design Education, Human Interaction with Designed Objects, Color Systems and Perception, Design History, Visual Representation of Information, Multicultural Communication or Social and Cultural Implications of Design.  

The MA and MS Programs offer two plans: A and B. Plan A is thesis-focused and prepares students for the PhD Program. This pathway can be completed in 2-3 years full-time. Plan B is a project-based, two-year program designed for students seeking career advancement. Both plans are 34 credit hours and a both require a final oral examination.

The UMTC MFA with a Graphic Design Track consists of 60 credit hours completed over three years, full-time. Students will complete 40 credit hours in the major and 12 capstone project credits. A final oral examination is required to graduate. Consisting of 64 credit hours completed over four years, full-time, the PhD is for students interested in research or teaching. Students in this program will take 28 credits in the major and 24 dissertation credits.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities work for advertising agencies, publishing companies, graphic design studios, public relations firms, web design studios, marketing firms, entertainment production studios, government agencies, museums, and in-house design departments at companies in a variety of industries. They hold titles such as Graphic Designer, Art Director, Data Visualization Strategist, Interactive Designer, Creative Director, User Experience Designer, and Web Designer, among others. 

The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities has been accredited continuously since 1913 by Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Founded in 1851, UMTC is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota System and the state’s only land-grant university. One of largest research universities in the nation, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is also one of just five universities in the U.S. with agricultural, engineering, law, medical, and veterinary medicine schools all on one campus. Around 4,000 UMTC faculty members serve more than 50,000 students enrolled in over 150 undergraduate majors, 150+ minors, and more than 200 master’s and doctoral programs.

3. Minnesota State University, Mankato, Mankato, Minnesota
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato (MNSU) is home to the College of Arts and Humanities, which houses the Art + Design Program. Graphic Design options include a BFA in Art with an Emphasis in Graphic Design, a Minor in Graphic Design, and a Certificate in Graphic Design. The BFA Program requires 120 credit hours. Course examples include Three-Dimensional Design, Interactive Design Survey, Graphic Design I-III, Typography I-II, Web Design I-II, Motion Graphics, Concept and Image, and Self-Initiated Design Workshop. Students will also have the option to complete the Individual Study course for 1-6 credits, and/or the Internship, also worth 1-6 credits.

The Minnesota State University, Mankato Art BFA Program culminates with the Senior Capstone and Exhibit.

The Graphic Design Minor and Certificate Programs require 18 credit hours. Course examples across programs include Graphic Design I-II, Concept and Image, Typography I-II, Motion Graphics, Web Design, and Interactive Design Survey. Credits earned in the Certificate program double count toward the Art BFA-Emphasis Graphic Design.

Students in all MNSU Graphic Design Programs have the opportunity to join the AIGA student group, interact with design professionals through mentorships, and participate in the study abroad program.

The Art Programs at Minnesota State University, Mankato are accredited by the        National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Minnesota State University, Mankato has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1916. Founded in 1868 as Mankato Normal School, when it opened, MNSU had just 27 students. Today, the school serves more than 14,000 students enrolled in more than 215 programs at all degree levels. The programs at Minnesota State University, Mankato are housed in six academic colleges.

4. University of Minnesota – Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota
University of Minnesota – Duluth

University of Minnesota – Duluth (UMD) has Graphic Design Program with BFA and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) options. When the BBA launched, it was the first program of its kind. Leading to a Marketing and Graphic Design BBA (MGD BBA), the program is housed in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE), Department of Marketing. The BBA is a collaboration between LSBE and the Department of Design within the UMD College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The Department of Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The BFA in Graphic Design is also housed in the Department of Art and Design. Students in the program can choose between the Studio Emphasis and the Marketing Emphasis. Both emphasis areas, as well as the MGD BBA) explore topics such as Brand Identity, Typography, Interactive Design, and Motion Graphics. Students in all programs will also complete a professional portfolio and an internship. Students have interned at Evolve Creative, Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Epsilon, Duluth Art Institute, YMCA, National Sports Center, Downtown Duluth Arts Collective, Downtown Duluth Arts Walk, and Unanico Group.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at University of Minnesota – Duluth have gone on to graduate study at schools such as Academy of Art University, San Francisco or positions at local and national companies. Examples include American Family Insurance, Hemisphere Companies, AmeriCorps, Advanced Print + Design, Blue42, Clever Creative, E&M Consulting, Duluth Screen Printing, and Rock Island Design Company.

University of Minnesota – Duluth is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Established in 1895, the school opened as Duluth State Normal School. Today UMD serves nearly 10,000 students enrolled in dozens of undergraduate majors and graduate programs in 25 fields across five colleges and schools.

5. Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota
Winona State University

The College of Liberal Arts at Winona State University (WSU) houses the Art & Design Department. As part of WSU, the Department offers experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, with companies and organizations across the Midwest. Students in the Art & Design Department’s Graphic Design Program will also have opportunities to participate in faculty-led travel study tours and the study abroad program.

Leading to a BA, the Winona State University Graphic Design Program requires 69 credit hours in the major and the Junior Portfolio Review. In addition to courses such as Typography and Information Design, Campaign and Systems Design, and New Media and Technology Design, Graphic Design students will take courses in the Communication Studies, Marketing and Mass Communication, and Computer Science departments.

Other course examples for the program include Branding, Digital and Social Media Marketing, Tactile and Environmental Design, Sports Marketing, Body of Work, Web Technology, and The Constructed Photograph. In the final year of the Graphic Design BFA Program, students will complete the Advanced Design Project course, Special Topics in Creative Practices, and Portfolio and Professional Development.

The Winona State University Graphic Design BA Program culminates with the Senior Design Exhibition. Graduates are prepared to seek positions in advertising and marketing, web design, interactive design, exhibit design, and many other areas.

Winona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Founded in 1858, WSU is the oldest member of the Minnesota State System of colleges and universities. Consisting of two campuses in Winona and Rochester, Minnesota, the school serves around 7,600 students enrolled in more than 110 programs in five colleges.