What are the top graphic design school programs in Missouri for 2021?

Top 5 Missouri Graphic Design Schools - 2021 College Rankings
1Washington University in St. LouisSt. Louis
2Kansas City Art InstituteKansas City
3Missouri State UniversitySpringfield
4Webster UniversitySt. Louis
5Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis

Our 2021 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in Missouri. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
Washington University in St. Louis

Founded in 1853, Washington University in St. Louis serves nearly 15,000 students enrolled in more than more than 90 fields of study in seven schools. The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts offers a BA in Design and BFA in Communication Design. The BA in Design is a 120 credit hour, collaborative program that allows students to experience design research and process through work in graphic design, interaction design, illustration, and fashion. Students can complete a broad design degree without a concentration, or choose a concentration in Communication or Fashion.

The BFA in Communication Design is a “collaborative program at the intersection of graphic design, illustration, and interaction design,” says the school. Students in this program can choose to design interfaces for mobile devices and the web, they can make pictures for games and motion graphics, or illustrate stories and create comics and design printed posters and books. Students can also choose to apply design skills to social problems in the community, including areas such as public health and urban education, or they may study the history of printed images, comics, and advertising through the Douglas B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library.

The first year requires studio coursework in 2D and 3D design, digital design, drawing, and a weekly lecture course. Second year students explore disciplines across art and design, selecting from introductory courses in fashion design, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and typography.

Course highlights include Branding & Identity, Content to Cover: The Design of Books, Design for Social Impact, Enchanted Objects: Material Culture, Letterpress Printing, Pictures for Communication, Sculpting Realities, Visualizing Literature: Texture/Structure, and Visual Principles for the Screen. Professional Practice Seminars help students “develop essential skills like writing preparing a portfolio and CV, applying for internships and jobs, and presenting a public lecture” on their work.

The BFA Program culminates in a Senior Capstone, which may be an illustrated book, graphic novel/mini-comic, screen-based presentation, digital experience or zine. The final project is displayed in a public exhibition and reviewed by external design professionals.

2. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City Art Institute

Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) was established in 1885 as a Sketch Club. Today, this art and designs school serves nearly 700 students, enrolled in 13 BFA programs with courses taught by practicing artists, designers, and scholars.

KCAI offers a BFA in Graphic Design Program that balances “proficiency in software with essential hand skills, such as drawing, painting, collage, model making and experimental processes,” says the school. Students in the program can expect an “immersive studio experience” and a “rigorous, diverse curriculum.” Course highlight Branding & Identity, Communication, Information and Data Visualization, Interaction, Media, Social Innovation, and Type and Image.

All students will have the opportunity to participate in 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 abroad. These programs have allowed students to gain valuable professional experience in real world settings.

Graduates of KCAI’s Graphic Design Program have gone on to work with local and national design and advertising firms such as Airbnb, Barkley, Nickelodeon, Design Army, DMH, Fossil, Garmin, Hallmark, Hint, Hyperakt, Pentagram, Populous, Radius, R/GA, Salesforce, the Getty, and VML.

3. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
Missouri State University

Missouri State University (MSU) was founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School. This public university system has four physical campuses including three in Missouri and one in Dalian, China. The school serves 26,000 students, making it the state's second largest university campus by enrollment.

MSU offers more than 100 bachelor’s programs with over 170 options, 61 master’s programs with nearly 100 options, and seven doctoral programs in eight colleges. The Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters houses the Art and Design Department, which offers a BFA in Design with Graphic Design and Graphic Design and Illustration Tracks.

In the Graphic Design Track, students will explore areas such as Information Architecture, Information Graphics, Interactive New Media, Publication and Editorial Design, Web Design and Development, and More. This four-year program prepares students for careers in Advertising, Consulting, Graphic Design, Journalism, Publishing, and Web Development. Many graduates become Educators, Entrepreneurs, and Studio Owners.

The Graphic Design and Illustration Track combines elements from the Graphic Design Track through a 4.5-year plan. Students in the program will study strategies for Information Graphics and Web Design, and learn methods for traditional illustration techniques. Graduates of the program are prepared for careers in Advertising, Consulting, Education, Entertainment, Graphic Design, Illustration, Journalism, Portraiture, Publishing, and Web Development.

4. Webster University, St. Louis/Webster Groves, Missouri
Webster University

Founded in 1915, Webster University is serves more than 12,000 students, including more than 3,500 at its main campus in Webster Groves—a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. The school, which has 50 residential, metro, military, and international locations, houses five colleges and schools including the College of Arts & Sciences, George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology, Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, the School of Communications, and the School of Education.

The Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts houses the Department of Art, Design and Art History, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design. A Certificate in Motion Graphic Design is offered jointly by the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, Department of Art, Design and Art History and the School of Communications, Electronic and Photographic Media Department

The BFA in Graphic Design requires completion of the Global Citizenship Program for Art and Design BFAs. This includes 15 credit hours of study, plus the Global Cornerstone Seminar and the Global Keystone Seminar. Another 84 credit hours of study are required as well as a number of credit hours from electives and an additional 15 hours of electives outside of Art, Design and Art History. Recommended electives include Advertising Campaign Production, Advertising Production: Internet or Print, Interface Design, Introduction to Interactive Digital Media, Visual Communication for Advertising and Public Relations, and Visual Design for Interactive Media.

Course highlights for the BFA program include 3D Design, Creative Strategies, Design for Digital Portfolios, Design for Good, Design Play, Digital Visualizations, Professional Practice in Graphic Design, and Type Dialogues. Students will also complete the Visual Arts Seminar and Practicum, the BFA and Review, and finally the BFA Senior Thesis.

The Motion Graphic Design Certificate consists of 18 credit hours. Students in the program “will learn the theoretical and conceptual foundations of motion media design and then apply them to projects destined for television, film, interactive and other real-world environments.” Required courses include Design Concepts, Graphics and Effects, Motion Graphics, StoryLab OR Production House, Time Studio, and Type Dialogues. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be able to produce motion graphic projects for external audiences using industry standard software, techniques and workflows.

5. Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri
Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University (SLU) is one of the nation’s oldest Catholic universities. The school, which has an additional campus in Madrid, Spain, serves nearly 13,000 students from all 50 U.S. states and 82 foreign countries. The school offers more than 190 programs in 14 colleges, schools and degree-granting centers.

The College of Arts and Sciences is the oldest and largest academic unit at Saint Louis University. Degrees are offered in more than 30 academic areas across a range of subjects and fields, including the humanities, fine and performing arts, sciences, and social sciences. Opportunities and hands-on experience outside of the traditional classroom are also available.

The Department of Fine and Performing Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences offers a BA in Studio Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design and Visual Communication and Studio Art Minors. The BA program consists of 3D Design, Color Theory, Computer Art, Drawing, Graphic Design I & II, Graphic Design Studio, and Printmaking. Independent Study and three Studio Seminars are also part of the program.

All Studio Art majors and minors are expected to actively participate in the SLU art community by submitting work to all student art exhibitions and helping to host these exhibitions.

The Visual Communications Minor complements the BA program. Contributing departments include the Department of Communication, the Studio Art Program, and the Department of English in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts.

This interdisciplinary program “provides the theoretical framework and the technical facility for students to understand and manipulate visual elements effectively in a variety of communication modes,” says the school. These include Graphic Design, Photojournalism, Video and Animation, and Web Design.

Course highlights include Digital Storytelling, Graphic Design, Media Lab, Media Script Writing, New Media Writing, Photojournalism, Sports Documentary, Studio Production, Video Production and Design, and Web Design. Students are encouraged to complete an internship as part of the Minor program.