As a student in Academy of Art University's School of Graphic Design, you’ll be mentored by faculty members with years of graphic design experience working with brand-name companies and strong ties to the overall industry (AIGA). Learn More.
What are the top North Carolina graphic design schools for 2022?
|1||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||Raleigh|
|2||Appalachian State University||Boone|
|3||University of North Carolina at Charlotte||Charlotte|
|4||East Carolina University||Greenville|
|5||North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University||Greensboro|
Our 2022 ranking of the top 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
The College of Design at North Carolina State University (NC State University) houses the Department of Graphic and Industrial Design, which offers a Bachelor of Graphic Design (BGD) and a Master of Graphic Design (MGD). Both programs are recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The NC State MGD is one of the few graphic design graduate programs with STEM Classification (CIP).
At the undergraduate level, students will learn how to collaborate with computer programmers, software engineers, and ethnographers; implement human-centered research methods, communicate information and messages through digital platforms, images, and typography; and produce product packaging, applications, websites, identity systems, data visualizations, signage, books, and magazines.
Collaborative Research and Design Projects are a major component of the BGD Program. In the Department of Graphic and Industrial Design’s Collaborative Sponsored Studios, students have the opportunity to work on real-world projects with clients and developers, engineers, designers, and other business professionals. Companies that students have worked with include Hanes, Coca Cola, IBM, Caterpillar, Bosch Appliances, Lowe’s, Under Armour, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and John Deere.
In addition to working in Collaborative Studios, NC State BGD students have the opportunity to take an advanced studio in another College of Design discipline (a swing studio), study abroad for a semester or summer at the NC State Prague Institute, and gain professional experience through paid internships.
The NC State MGD Program has two-year and three-year options. The two-year program, MGD II, is designed for students with a BFA in Graphic Design and experience in the field. The three-year program, MGD III, is for students with a BA in another field or with a Concentration in Graphic Design. Students in this program will take two semesters of specialized coursework before entering the MGD II Program.
All students will participate in graduate studios, seminars, and workshops, they will have opportunities to take electives at affiliate universities such as Duke University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and work on collaborative projects and research with major companies and institutes such as IBM, the Institute of Emerging Issues, SAS, NC State Laboratory for Analytic Sciences, and Red Hat. For the graduate project, MGD students will research an area of focus, record conclusions, design studies and mock-ups, and present the project to the public.
Graduates of the MGD Program at North Carolina State University are prepared for leadership positions in user experience and user interface design (UX/UI), with expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), research, data visualization, and digital typography. Graduates are also qualified to teach universities or pursue a PhD in Design or other related area.
NC State MGD alumni go on to establish successful careers at consulting firms, software companies, and colleges and universities. Examples include Adobe, Lenovo, IBM, Fjord, IDEO, Red Hat Software, Carnegie Mellon, University of Washington, Pratt Institute, and University of Michigan.
North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Established in 1887 as a land-grant institution focusing in agriculture and engineering, NC State employs more than 9,000 faculty and staff members that serve 36,000+ students enrolled in more than 260 degree programs across 11 colleges.
2. Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
Appalachian State University (Appalachian State or ASU) houses the College of Fine and Applied Arts (CFAA). In the CFAA Department of Art, students can earn a BFA in Graphic Design. Program benefits faculty-led regional and national trips, study abroad experiences in places such as Austria, Italy, Panama, and South Africa, and internships with companies and organizations such as Discovery Communications (Chicago, Illinois), Publicis (Bangkok, Thailand), and Appalachian Voices (Boone, North Carolina). Students in this four-year professional program also have access to clubs and organizations such as AIGA ASU, the Art History Club and Student Art League, and the Arts Management Organization (AMO).
The Appalachian State Graphic Design BFA consists of 120 credit hours. Although it is not required, many students add a minor such as Studio Art with Portfolio Review, Studio Art without Portfolio Review, or Art History. Course examples for the program include Digital Imaging, Interaction Design, Idea Lab, Technical Writing, Video Production and Story, Typography I-III, Creativity: Methods & Practice, Motion Graphics, Hand-Lettering, and Sign, Symbol, Image.
The ASU Graphic Design curriculum includes an internship opportunity and Graphic Design Professional Practice. In this course, students will participate in lectures, create self-promotional packages, engage in research and writing related to job search preparedness, and develop and refine their portfolios. Students may also visit local or regional design studios and printing facilities.
Graduates of the Appalachian State University Graphic Design BFA Program can pursue careers such as Advertising Director, Computer Graphic Artist, Book Designer, Communications Specialist, Creative Director, Editorial Artist, Graphic Designer, Art Director, Multimedia Designer, and Cartoonist or Illustrator. Program alumni have been hired at Gap, McCall Publishing, Red hat, Oculus Studios, Amazon.com, COCG, Footbridge Media, Fifty&Fifty, and Raizlabs, among others.
Appalachian State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC). Founded in 1899 as Watauga Academy, Appalachian State is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. The school serves more than 20,600 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs in eight colleges and schools.
3. University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
The College of Arts + Architecture (COA+A) at University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) has a 120 credit hour Graphic Design BFA Program that consists of 78 credit hours in the major. Housed in the COA+A Department of Art and Art History, the BFA is a professional degree program that takes four years to complete. Major components of the program include several graphic design projects, an internship, Senior Seminar, the recurring summer experience in Rome, and the BFA Senior Exhibition.
Course examples include 2D and 3D Design, Digital Foundations, Graphic Design I & II, Design Thinking, Interactive Art and Design, Communications Design, Print Production, Typography I-II, UX/UI Design Strategies, and Design Research. Students graduate from the UNC Charlotte Graphic Design Program with a professional portfolio of their best work.
Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in areas such as advertising and marketing, publications design, book design, exhibit design, UI/UX design, public relations, multimedia design, film and video, animation, web design, and computer systems design.
University of North Carolina-Charlotte is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1946, UNC Charlotte serves around 30,150 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in nine colleges. University of North Carolina Charlotte is a public research university and the third largest school in the 16-campus UNC System.
4. East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
East Carolina University (ECU) houses the College of Fine Arts & Communication, home to the School of Art and Design (SoAD), which has several pathways suitable for students interested in Graphic Design. At the undergraduate level, ECU SoAD has an Art Program that offers a Concentration in Graphic Design. Leading to a BFA, the program requires 30 credit hours in the concentration. Course examples for the program include Form, Space, and Color, Narrative in Art and Design, Process in Studio Arts, Graphic Design Studio I-VII, and Topics in Graphic Design.
At the end of the SoAD BFA Program, students will complete a Senior Exhibition, and a Capstone Experience consisting of a film, reel, or portfolio.
At the graduate level, East Carolina University offers an MFA in Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design. Graduate students have 24/7 access to their own studio space, and access to the Shape Lab, state-of-the-art computer labs, and the wood shop—all housed in the Jenkins Fine Arts building.
This immersive three-year degree requires 60 credit hours of study with 24 in the concentration. Students will take Problems in Communication Arts 6200, 6210, 6220, 6230, 6240, 6250, 6260, and 6270. To graduate, MFA students will complete a Thesis and Written Report.
Students in all Art Programs at ECU have access to internship opportunities, the study abroad program, and career development services. All SoAD programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
Graduates of the Art Programs at East Carolina University work in Communications, Entertainment, and Information. They are Graphic Designers, Illustrators, and Educators, among others.
East Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school serves more than 28,000 students, making it the third largest university in North Carolina. ECU offers more than 200 undergraduate, graduate, and minor programs in 12 colleges and schools.
5. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina
The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (North Carolina AT&T) houses the Visual and Performing Arts Department, which has a Visual Arts Program for Graphic Designers. Pathways lead to a BA and include Visual Arts-Visual Media (Graphic) Design and Visual Arts Design. Another option for designers is the BS in Graphic Design Technology. Housed in the College of Science and Technology’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology, the program is the only one of its kind in the region.
The BS Program has Concentration options: User Experience (UX) and Technical Design (TD). The in-demand UX Concentration explores virtual reality (VR), logo design, website development, typography, marketing, publishing design, multimedia production, game design, and 2D and 3D animation. The TD Concentration focuses on Packaging and Product designs, as well as Architectural and Mechanical design.
Graduates of the North Carolina AT&T Graphic Design Technology Program go on to establish careers with government agencies, organizations, and companies that have in-house design departments. Some program alumni have established successful freelance businesses or launched their own studios.
The BA Programs require 124-128 semester credit hours to graduate. Students in both pathways will graduate with a professional portfolio of their best work.
Graduates of the North Carolina AT&T Visual Arts Programs are prepared to pursue positions with advertising agencies, design studios, web design firms, publishing companies, magazines, museums, public relations firms, animation studios, creative agencies, film production studios, and in-house design departments.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1891, the school serves 13,322 students enrolled in more than 140 degree, certificate, and minor programs. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University houses nine colleges and schools, plus AT&T Online.