What are the top Minnesota graphic design schools for 2023?

Top 5 Minnesota Graphic Design School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1Minneapolis College of Art and DesignMinneapolis
2University of Minnesota - Twin CitiesMinneapolis
3University of Minnesota - DuluthDuluth
4Minnesota State University - MankatoMankato
5Minnesota State University - MoorheadMoorehead

Our 2023 ranking of the top 5 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

The Graphic Design Program at Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) consists of both undergraduate and graduate pathways. Options include a Graphic Design BFA, Graphic and Web Design MA, an interdisciplinary MFA, and a User Experience (UX) Design Certificate that can be completed entirely online.

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

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

The Graphic and Web Design MA at Minneapolis College of Art and 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 focuses on independent and collaborative studios, one-on-one work with a mentor, and opportunities to pursue creative work in multiple areas. Examples include graphic design, paper and book arts, printmaking, illustration, experimental video/film, web and multimedia, comic arts, drawing/painting, public arts, animation, photography, and installation.

Graduates of the Design Programs at Minneapolis College of Art and Design go on to land positions 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 was established in 1886 by the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts. The school serves roughly 800 students from 40 states and 13 countries. Programs include 14 undergraduate majors leading to a BFA or BS, three MA degrees, one MFA degree, and seven professional development certificate options.

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). The school is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

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

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (UMN) is home to the College of Design, which houses the Graphic Design Program. Available paths include a BFA degree along with MA, MFA, MS, and PhD degrees with an optional Graphic Design Track. Students in all programs participate in advanced studios, individual and collaborative design projects, workshops, seminars, internships, and the study abroad program.

The UMN Graphic Design BFA requires 120 total credits, with 80-89 in the major. The program explores areas such as typography, data visualization, digital drawing, color theory, hand-drawing, and web design. Course and elective examples include Interaction Design, Text and Image, Packaging and Display, Identity and Symbols, Product Innovation Lab, Design and Visual Presentation, Travels in Typography, Storytelling and Design, Data Visualization Studio, Digital Illustration and Animation, and Concept Sketching.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities 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 at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities allow students to specialize in Human Interaction with Designed Objects, Color Systems and Perception, Design History, Social and Cultural Implications of Design, Visual Representation of Information, Design Education, or Multicultural Communication.

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 UMN 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 are prepared to pursue positions at places such as graphic design studios, public relations firms, advertising agencies, publishing companies, web design companies, marketing firms, entertainment production studios, government agencies, and museums. Program alumni hold titles such as Graphic Designer, Art Director, User Experience Designer, Data Visualization Strategist, Web Designer, Interactive Designer, and Creative Director, and among others. 

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota System and the state’s only land-grant university. Founded in 1851, UMN is one of largest research universities in the nation and one of just five universities in the U.S. with agricultural, engineering, law, medical, and veterinary medicine schools—all on one campus. Around 20,000 UMN faculty and staff serve more than 50,000 students enrolled in over 150 undergraduate majors, 150+ minors, and more than 200 master’s and doctoral programs. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913.

3. University of Minnesota - Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota
University of Minnesota Duluth

University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) has two paths to study Graphic Design. Housed in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is the Department of Art and Design, which provides programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). This includes a Graphic Design BFA Program. Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) houses the Department of Marketing. In collaboration with the Department of Art and Design, the LSBE has a Marketing and Graphic Design BBA (MGD BBA) Program. When it launched, the BBA was the first program of its kind.

The Graphic Design BFA at UMD has a Studio Emphasis and Marketing Emphasis. Both areas explore topics such as Brand Identity, Typography, Interactive Design, and Motion Graphics. Students will also complete a professional portfolio and an internship. Internships have taken place at companies, studios, and organizations such as 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.

Other program benefits include access to state-of-the-art studios, labs, and production facilities; study abroad experiences; and participation in the MGD Club and industry competitions.

Some graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at University of Minnesota Duluth have launched their own studios and freelance businesses, while others work at larger firms in areas such as Advertising, Branding, Packaging, Marketing, and Logo Design. Program alumni have been hired at places such as Rock Island Design Company, American Family Insurance, Hemisphere Companies, AmeriCorps, Advanced Print + Design, Blue42, Clever Creative, E&M Consulting, and Duluth Screen Printing.

Established in 1895, University of Minnesota Duluth opened as Duluth State Normal School. Today UMD serves 9,765 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across five colleges and schools. University of Minnesota Duluth is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

4. Minnesota State University - Mankato, Mankato, Minnesota
Minnesota State University, Mankato

The College of Arts and Humanities at Minnesota State University, Mankato (MNSU) houses the Art + Design Program. Within the program are several Graphic Design options including an Art BFA with a  Graphic Design Emphasis, a Graphic Design Minor, and a Certificate in Graphic Design. Across programs, students will have opportunities to explore Branding, Motion Design, Design Thinking, Editorial Design, Image Making, Typography, Publication Design, and Web Design.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at MNSU 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 Graphic Design BFA.

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 internship and study abroad programs.

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

Minnesota State University, Mankato was founded in 1868 as Mankato Normal School. When it opened, the school has just 27 students. Today, MNSU serves more than 14,000 students enrolled in 240+ programs across five colleges. Minnesota State University, Mankato has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1916.

5. Minnesota State University - Moorhead, Moorhead, Minnesota
Minnesota State University Moorhead

The School of Media Arts & Design at Minnesota State University, Moorhead (MSU Moorhead or MSUM) has several paths to study Graphic Design. Options include the Graphic Design BFA, the Graphic & Interactive Design BFA and Minor, and a Minor in Graphic Communications. The Graphic Design BFA allows students to add a Minor in Art, Integrated Advertising and Public Relations, Graphic Communications, or Film Production, while the Graphic & Interactive Design BFA has Emphasis options including Graphic Design, Interactive Media, and Digital Design and Production. Minor options consist of anywhere from 20 to 23 credit hours, while Emphasis areas are 23-24 credit hours.

The Graphic Design BFA explores symbols, typography, motions graphics, brand identity, visual concepts, multimedia, papermaking,  information design, printmaking, 3D modeling,  web design, and visual research. Course examples include Editing techniques, 3D Modeling, Visual Systems and Brand Identity, Motion Design: Typography and Visual Narratives, Experience Design, Multimedia, and Computer Graphics.

Depending on the Emphasis area, students in the Graphic & Interactive Design BFA Program will explore traditional graphic design, virtual reality, visual concepts, logos, brochures, and poster, packaging, magazine layout, vector illustration, magazine layouts, augmented reality, raster artwork, and immersive experiences. Course examples across areas include Immersive Media, Advanced Interactive Media, Digital Prepress & Production, Advanced Digital Design, Editing Techniques, Advertising & PR Principles, Digital Design & Production Studio, 2D Animation and Motion Graphics, and Advanced Typographic Design.

All Emphasis areas for the Graphic & Interactive Design Program require a Capstone Research course and Capstone Project. Students in the Graphic Design BFA will compete an internship and the BFA Senior Project across two courses.

Graduates of the Graphic Design and Graphic & Interactive Design Programs at Minnesota State University Moorhead are prepared to pursue positions with advertising agencies, web and multimedia firms, animation studios, public relations firms, video production houses, marketing agencies, film/TV studios, packaging firms, architecture firms, museums, magazines, newspapers, and publishing companies, among others.

MSU Moorhead alumni have been hired at places such as Microsoft, Starbucks, Archway Marketing Services, 3M, Mighty 790 KFGO, AT&T, Deloitte, Campbell Soup Company, Walmart, Spotlight Media, Delta Airlines, Network Center Inc., Warby Parker, Sargento Foods, Office Depot, AdShark Marketing, Barfly, Target, DoorDash, FedEx, LJL Studios, ZYN Productions, Kelner Communications, and LiveWire.

Minnesota State University Moorhead opened in 1888 as The Moorhead Normal School. The first graduating class consisted of just eight students. Today, MSUM serves around 5,550 students enrolled in more than 230 majors, degrees, certificates, and emphasis areas. Programs are offered in five colleges. Minnesota State University Moorhead is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).