|North Carolina State University
|Appalachian State University
|East Carolina University
|University of North Carolina, Charlotte
|Winston-Salem State University
Our 2019 rankings of the top 5 graphic design school programs in North Carolina. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, North Carolina
Founded in 1887, North Carolina State University at Raleigh (NC State) serves around 35,480 students enrolled in 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Known as “the school of 100+ startups and spinoffs,” NC State houses 10 colleges representing all major academic fields. The College of Design is home to the Graphic Design program which offers two degree paths—a Bachelor of Graphic Design and a Master of Graphic Design.
The College has recently established a PhD in Design/Information Design Concentration as well. The undergraduate and graduate degrees are NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design) accredited and the PhD program is set to receive NASAD approval after graduating its first class.
Per the College of Design, students in the undergraduate program study comparative ideas about, and methods for, creating visual communication. Sequenced core studios, typography courses, and image-making courses “progressively introduce and develop skills, processes, and sensitivities across a range of media.” Graduate students will “closely examine the cultural and technological situatedness of graphic design and its products, and to seek understanding of the people who use and interact with the things that graphic designers make.”
2. Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
Appalachian State University was founded in 1899. The school serves approximately 19,108 students enrolled in more than 150 degree programs through the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine and Applied Arts, Reich College of Education, Walker College of Business, Hayes School of Music, Beaver College of Health Sciences and Cratis D. Williams School of Graduate Studies. Appalachian also offers a doctorate of education. The College of Fine and Applied Arts is home to the Department of Art, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design.
The program consists of 66 semester hours in Art Studio and related areas and 12 semester hours in Art History/Criticism and allows students to take a mix of both prescribed and elected courses in art, concentrating on individual strengths and interests. Sample courses for the program include Typography, Digital Imaging, Calligraphy, Interaction Design, Idea Lab, Motion Graphics, Sign, Symbol, Image, Design Methods, and Graphic Design Professional Practice.
Per the school, graduates of the BFA program “will be prepared to successfully contend for the rigorous and highly competitive careers in graphic design as well as for admittance into graduate level programs.”
3. East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
East Carolina University (ECU) was founded in 1907 as a teacher training school. Today, the school serves more than 29,000, making it the third largest university in North Carolina. East Carolina University offers more than 200 undergraduate, graduate and minor programs through 12 colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts & Communication houses the School of Art and Design (SoAD), which has several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include a BFA in Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design, a BFA in Art Education with a Concentration in Graphic Design, and an MFA in Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design.
Per the school, BFA programs include “a strong grounding in the traditions of typography” and address “issues of business, communication, social science, and art. Most classes center around the examination and discussion of student work so a consistent output of graphic design is essential. This limits the graphic design students to those who want to work. The work includes thinking, reading, and talking as well as the production of designed objects.”
Sample courses for the undergraduate programs include Graphic Design Studio, Graphic Design Survey, and Advanced Graphic Design. Students in the program will have opportunities to produce projects for actual clients, internships and study abroad opportunities are also part of the program.
The MFA in Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design is a 60 credit hour program that includes coursework in Graphic Design, Art History, Supporting Art Areas (art electives) and coursework outside of the SoAD. Graduates of the program are prepared to seek employment in “academia as a professor of graphic design, undertake high-level graphic design practice, or a variety of other options.”
4. University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
Founded in 1946, University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) serves more than 29,300 students enrolled in over 200 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through nine colleges. The College of Arts + Architecture (COA+A) offers a BFA in Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design. This “professional” degree program allows students to choose more than one Studio Concentration. Options that complement the Graphic Design Concentration include Digital Media, Illustration, Photography and Print Media.
The 125 credit hour Art with Graphic Design program includes 80 credits in Art. Sample courses include Animation & Interactivity, Communications Design, Digital Media, Digital Media Drawing, Figure Drawing, Graphic Design, Interactive Art & Design, Print Production, and Typography. Students will complete several graphic design projects and the Senior Seminar, and they will participate in the BFA Senior Exhibit. An optional, but strongly recommended internship is also part of the program as well as Study Abroad opportunities. Among the study abroad opportunities is a recurring summer program in Rome, Italy.
5. Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) was founded as the Slater Industrial Academy on September 28, 1892. The school serves 5,190 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in more than 100 majors, minors and graduate programs through four colleges and departments. The College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education (The College) at WSSU houses the Department of Art + Visual Studies. Here, students can earn a BA in Art with a Concentration in Computer Graphics.
The 120 credit hour program includes 60 hours of general education courses, forty of which must be numbered 3000 or above. Sample courses for the program include Computer Animation, Digital Photography, Electronic Imaging, Graphic Design I & II, Introduction to Computer Art and Design, Multimedia Editing, 3D Design, Typography, Special Topics in Computer Graphics and Vector Graphics for Designers. Students will also take Studio Practice Seminar and Portfolio Design, and an Art Internship is also part of the program.Per the school, during the final year of the program Art majors will participate in the “preparation and mounting of the Senior Exhibit at the Diggs Gallery prior to graduation.” Candidates will be required to “submit a representative number of completed artworks showing competence in their area of study and take part in exhibition activities as planned. Activities include creating exhibition promotional materials, exhibit design, and hosting of opening reception.