|1||Kansas City Art Institute||Kansas City|
|2||Washington University in St. Louis||St. Louis|
|3||Missouri Valley College||Marshall|
|4||Missouri State University||Springfield|
|5||University of Missouri||St. Louis|
Our 2019 rankings of the top 5 graphic design school programs in Missouri. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
Established in 1885, Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) has a 130+ year history that includes notable name such as Walt Disney, who took classes there as a child, multimedia artist Robert Rauschenberg, who studied fashion design, writer Robert Morris, and performance artist and fabric sculptor Nick Cave, to name a few. Besides a long list of notable alumni and students, KCAI offers 14 academic disciplines in Art, Design and Media to a population of nearly 700 students.
Offerings for aspiring graphic designers include BFA degrees in Graphic Design, Interactive Arts and Printmaking. Per the school, the Graphic Design Program “goes beyond the traditional division between Web and print design to give students a cross-media skill set that adapts to context, audience and participant input.” The programs “rigorous approach to audience research, theory and conceptual problem-solving” helps position students as thought leaders in their chosen fields. KCAI design students “are exposed to professional practices, concepts and skills required to build rewarding careers.”
The Interactive Art BFA uses emerging technology as the “backbone of creation,” so students become “versed in software coding, physical computing and sensors, performance, games and play mechanics, rapid prototyping, user testing and experiential design.”
The Printmaking BFA covers the traditional printmaking processes and concepts including etching, lithography, drawing, collage, silkscreen, letterpress and book arts, as well as post-modern processes, including mass media, collaboration, simulation, appropriation and dissemination.
All programs offer access to KCAI’s internship program, three to five week long faculty-led travel programs, and full semester programs that can take them to one of several participating art and design colleges in the U.S. or overseas.
2. Washington University in St. Louis (Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts), St. Louis, Missouri
Founded in 1853, Washington University (WashU) in St. Louis serves around 15,400 students enrolled in more than 90 fields of study across 10 colleges and schools. Part of the College of Art, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts houses the Communication Design Program. Here, aspiring graphic designers can earn a BFA in Communication Design.
The program consists of credits of coursework, with a minimum of 39 credits taken in Arts & Sciences. Program highlights include the option to take a minor or enroll in a dual degree, and the opportunity to work with faculty in graphic design, illustration, motion graphics, information design, interaction design, and advertising. Students will explore “disciplines across art and design” while “taking a digitally oriented class and selecting from introductory courses in fashion design, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and typography,” says the school. Course highlights include Content to Cover: The Design of Books, Design for Social Impact, Illustration Concepts and Media / Visual Journalism, Interaction Design: User-Centered Applications, Interaction Foundations, Studio Art Practice, Typography, and Word & Image.
As a senior, students will pursue a capstone project in design or illustration that “culminates in an illustrated book, zine, screen-based presentation, graphic novel/mini-comic, or digital experience.” The final project is displayed in a public exhibition and reviewed by external design professionals.
Other program highlights include both local and nationwide internship opportunities, two study abroad options in Florence, Italy: a semester-long program and a nine-week summer program and “numerous opportunities to apply lessons learned in the classroom to real-world situations, and to take advantage of St. Louis’ vibrant arts and culture scene.”
“At Island Press, WashU’s research-based printmaking workshop, students work with professional artists with everything from the conception of projects to printing. The Public Lecture Series brings nationally and internationally recognized artists, designers, architects, landscape architects, urban designers, historians, and critics to campus to speak about their work. Students, faculty, and alumni frequently participate in and attend exhibition openings and other art and design events throughout St. Louis.”
3. Missouri Valley College, Marshall, Missouri
Missouri Valley College (MVC) opened on September 17, 1889. The school serves just over 1,500 students enrolled in more than 30 undergraduate degree programs and several graduate programs. Programs are offered through seven academic divisions and the School of Nursing. The Division of Fine Arts offers both BFA and MFA degrees in Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design. A 21 credit hour Minor in Art is also available.
Per the school, the graphic design concentration "focuses on both traditional and digital graphic design production tools." Students in the program will "develop an understanding of the purpose of graphic design, design best practices and advanced techniques with illustration software." The graphic design concentration requires 60 hours of art courses.
Other program highlights include the opportunity to participate in Art Club, internship experiences, and study abroad opportunities.
4. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
Founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School, Missouri State University (MSU) is the state's second largest university, serving more than 20,000 students from Missouri, nearly every other state and 85 other countries. The school offers 150 undergraduate majors and 48 graduate programs through seven academic colleges and one Graduate College. The College of Arts and Letters is home to seven academic units, which offer more than 70 undergraduate, graduate and interdisciplinary programs. Among these programs is a BFA in Design with a Graphic Design and Graphic Design and Illustration Tracks.
Students in the Graphic Design Track will explore a wide range of subjects including web design, information architecture, interactive new media, information graphics, publication and editorial design and more. Per the school, students will learn “how to create visual communication of value that is responsive to the needs and wants of society.” Career outcomes for the program include advertising, consulting, design studio, graphic design, publications, web development, and more.
“Combining elements from the graphic design track and the illustration track,” students who choose the Graphic Design and Illustration will study “strategies for web design and information graphics, and learn methods for traditional illustration techniques.” Career outcomes include design studio, education, graphic design, journalism, portraiture, professional artist, publishing house, studio owner, and more.
“Students across all tracks in the design program have received recognition in the form of scholarships, competition and exhibition awards, and publication.”
5. University of Missouri - St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
Founded in 1963, University of Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL) serves nearly 17,000 students from 44 states and more than 100 countries, making it the largest public research university in eastern Missouri. The school offers well over 100 academic programs through nine colleges and schools. The School of Fine and Performing Arts offers a BFA in Studio Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design. A Minor in Studio Art is also available.
Per the school, BFA students "must complete a Foundation Art Program that consists of 30 credit hours of study. Sample courses for the program include Design, Drawing, Expanded Artforms, Figure Drawing, and Sculpture.
Graphic design courses include Advanced Problems in Graphic Design I & II, Computer Design I & II, Graphic Design I-IV, Image Making for Graphic Design, Senior Seminar in Graphic Design I & II, and Typography. The concentration is approximately 45 credit hours, including nine hours of graphic design electives. Students will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through an internship and study abroad experiences are also available.