What are the top Missouri graphic design colleges for 2023?

Top 5 Missouri Graphic Design School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1Washington University in St. LouisSt. Louis
2Kansas City Art InstituteKansas City
3Missouri State UniversitySpringfield
4University of MissouriColumbia
5Webster UniversitySt. Louis

Our 2023 ranking of the top 5 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

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) has both BA and BFA options for students who would like to study Graphic Design. Consisting of 120 credit hours, the BA is designed for students seeking a combined liberal arts and studio experience. Students can major in Art or Design. The Design Major has a Communication Concentration, as well as Fashion Design. The Sam Fox BA Program does not require a capstone or final exhibition of work.

Designed for students seeking careers in design, art, and illustration, the BFA is an immersive studio program that requires 121 credits hours of study. Students can major in Communication, Art, Design, or Fashion Design. In the senior year, students will complete a capstone, which may be a digital experience, screen-based presentation, graphic novel/mini-comic, illustrated book, or other work. The Senior Capstone will be presented in a public exhibition and reviewed by local design professionals.

Students in both programs will begin by working with an academic advisor to customize initial coursework and create a schedule. Students will then move on to core studios in 2D and 3D Design, Drawing, and Digital Studio. All studio courses at WashU have low student-to-faculty ratios, so students will have plenty of opportunities to work one on one with instructors. 

As students enter the second semester of the junior year, they will customize their own major courses. Course examples include Semiotics Studio: Designing Signs and Symbols, Letterpress Printing, Design for Social Impact, Animated Worlds, Printing Propaganda: The Letterpress Poster, Global Topics in Visual Communications, Programming Design, Content to Cover: The Design of Books, Type as Image: Experiments on Press, The Illustrators Sketchbook, Image and Meaning, UX Research Methods for Design, and Multimedia Design: Time/Sound/Space.

Courses for the Studio Art & Design Programs at Washington University in St. Louis are supplemented by seminars and readings. In Professional Practice Seminars, students will develop skills such as portfolio development, CV creation, interviewing, searching for jobs and internships, and public speaking.  

Founded in 1853, Washington University in St. Louis serves approximately 17,050 students enrolled in more than 300 academic programs across seven schools. The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts was founded in 2006 after the merging of the academic units of Architecture and Art, and the Washington University in St. Louis Museum. Washington University in St. Louis has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913.

2. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) has a Graphic Design Program with three pathways: the traditional Graphic Design BFA, an Art History and Graphic Design Studio Double Major, and a Creative Writing and Graphic Design Studio Double Major. Across pathways, students benefit from the internship program, interactions with visiting artists, and faculty-led travel to places such as Thailand, France, Vietnam, Argentina, and Peru.

In all pathways, students will take courses such as Type Image I-II, Visual Inquiry, Information & Data Visualization, Social Inquiry, Branding & Identity, Graphic Design History, and Interaction Inquiry. For Art History/Graphic Design Studio, courses may include Contemporary Art, Global/Comparative Art, Modern Art, Baroque Art, and Art History Seminar. Students in the Creative Writing/Graphic Design Program will complete 15 credit hours of literature courses and 12 credits in Creative Writing Workshop. Writing Seminar and Critical Studies I-II are also part of this program.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at Kansas City Art Institute have been hired in a variety of roles at companies, studies, and organizations such as Nickelodeon, The Getty Museum, Hallmark, Airbnb, Radius, Fossil, Salesforce, Pentagram, Hyperakt, R/GA, Populous, Barkley, Design Army, and VML.

Kansas City Art Institute was established in 1885 as a Sketch Club. Situated within Kansas City’s arts corridor—just steps from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art—this four-year art and design college serves more than 700 students enrolled in 13 majors in 15 program areas. Kansas City Art Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

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

Missouri State University (MSU) houses the Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters, home to the Art and Design Department, which has a four-year Design BFA Program with a Graphic Design Track. The Design Program also has a dual Graphic Design and Illustration Track, which takes 4.5 years to complete. Both Tracks require 79-94 credit hours in the major, with 61 major core credits.

Students will explore areas such as information graphics, publication design, information architecture, interactive new media, web design, illustration, editorial design, and information graphics. Course examples across programs include Graphic Design Systems, Typography, Image Design, Drawing I-III, Communication/Design Methodology, New Media Design, Illustration, History of Graphic and Applied Design, Advanced Web Design for Design Majors, and Special Topics in Design.

In the Special Topics course, students will have the opportunity to explore a range of topics such as Book Arts, Comic Book Illustration, Art Direction, History of the Book, Scientific Illustration, and Letterpress Printing. Students will also have the opportunity to complete a Design Internship, where they will work with outside organizations under the supervision of a Design faculty member.

The final semester of the program includes the Professional Design Practicum course, which is a design workshop for the development and production of materials for the Senior Portfolio. Work will consist of projects for a non-profit organization or a selected design issue, a written thesis related to it and public presentation of this project.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at Missouri State University are prepared for careers in areas such as Advertising, Web Development, Newspaper and Magazine Publishing, Consulting,  Entertainment, Computer Graphic Design, Illustration, Journalism, Portraiture, and Education. Some program alumni have launched their own design studios or other design-related businesses.    

Founded in 1905, Missouri State University has four physical campuses including three in Missouri (Springfield, West Plains and Mountain Grove) and one in Dalian, China. The school serves 24,000 students enrolled in more than 160 degree programs with over 270 options. Programs at MSU are housed across eight colleges. Missouri State University has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1915.

4. University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
University of Missouri

The College of Arts and Science (C&S) at University of Missouri (Mizzou or MU) houses more than 40 departments and schools, dozens of programs, and numerous studios and labs. Within the C&S is the School of Visual Studies (SVS)-Department of Art, which has a Graphic Design Program with BA and BFA options. Students in both programs have access to state-of-the-art labs and studios, workshops, and seminars, as well as the opportunity to get involved with the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Student Chapter.

Other program features include internships and study abroad experiences. Internships can be completed on or off campus. Mizzou students have interned at Rachel Ray Magazine in New York, Hallmark, University Hospital, the Kansas City Royals, Mizzou Athletics, the Kansas City Chiefs, Trulaske School of Business, Veterans United, Outdoor Brands, and MU Career Center.

The Graphic Design BA and BFA Programs at University of Missouri require 120 credit hours, with courses such as 2D and 3D Design, Packaging Design, Corporate Identity, Hand Lettering, Printmaking, Design History, Photography, and Letterpress Printing. All MU Design students will complete the Design Senior Seminar and the Capstone Course. BFA students will complete at least 15 credit hours in one Media area, with at least six of those credits at the 4000 level. BA students will take 9-19 credit hours of Studio Art (SA) classes, while BFA students will take 27-33 credit hours of SA classes.

Graphic Design students will graduate from the program with a professional portfolio of their best work. Program alumni have been hired at places such as MCA records (Los Angeles), Hallmark, Nestle Purina, and Cosmopolitan Magazine (NYC). Graduates have also been featured on The Today Show and TheDieline, and they have won Addy, Emmy, and Grammy Awards. Some Mizzou alumni have gone on to launch their own design studios and freelance business that serve clients across the U.S. and around the globe.

Established in 1839, University of Missouri is one of only 64 universities across the U.S. and Canada to be a member of the Association of American Universities. The school serves approximately 31,120 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs including 97 undergraduate majors, 96 master’s degrees, 69 doctoral degrees, and 70+ certificates. The academic programs at Mizzou are housed across eight colleges and schools. University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri
Webster University

The Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts at Webster University (Webster) houses the Department of Art, Design and Art History (DADAH), home to the Graphic Design Program, which has BFA and Minor options. Webster University also has a unique Motion Graphic Design (MGD) Certificate program that combines typography and design techniques with animation, video, and film.

Consisting of 18 credit hours, the hybrid MGD program is jointly managed by the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts-Department of Art, Design and Art History, and the School of Communications (SOC)-Media Arts Department. Required courses include Type Dialogues, Graphics and Effects, Design Concepts, Time Studio, Motion Graphics, and StoryLab or Production Hours.

Also consisting of 18 credit hours, the Graphic Design Minor at Webster requires Introduction to Drawing, Design Concepts, and Digital Visualization. The other nine credit hours can be selected from a list of 12 elective courses. Examples include Design for UX/UI, Design for Digital Portfolios, Screenprinting, Book Arts and Letterpress, Type Dialogues, and Color Photographics.

The Graphic Design BFA at Webster University is a studio-based degree program that requires 36 credit hours in Graphic Design. The program begins with core courses such as Digital Visualizations, Creative Strategies, and Materials and Making. Students will complete an Exhibition, DADAH Critique, and BFA Review as well as 12 credit hours of Art courses and six hours of History and Theory courses.

Graphic Design course examples include Design Play, Type Dialogues, Design for UX/UI, History of Graphic Design, Professional Practice in Graphic Design, and Design for Good. Students will also have the opportunity to explore areas outside of the DADAH through electives. Examples include Advertising Campaign Production, Social Media and Content Development, Animation, Graphics and Effects, and Interface Design.

In the final year of Graphic Design Program at Webster University, students will complete the Senior Critique and Practicum courses, as well as the Senior Exhibition to graduate. Held at the end of the Spring semester in the Arcade Contemporary Art Projects Gallery, the Senior Exhibition entails designing, managing, and executing a group art exhibition from beginning to end. Students will market the event, select a title and themes, install and de-install work, and solicit donations for food and beverages for the event.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at Webster University go on to enroll in graduate programs, launch their own design studios and creative agencies, or to work in design across a variety of industries. Webster alumni have been hired at The Walt Disney Company, Nestle, Smithsonian Institution, MasterCard, AT&T, KPMG, the World Health Organization, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., MRHFM Law, and Octo Consulting. 

Webster University was founded in 1915 as Loretto College by the Sisters of Loretto. When it opened, the school became the first senior Catholic college for women in Missouri and one of the first Catholic women’s colleges west of the Mississippi River. Today, Webster serves a diverse population of more than 10,000 students enrolled in more than 160 programs across five colleges and schools. Webster University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).