Did You Know.....Full Sail’s Graphic Design program, offered both on campus and online, teaches students skills that are highly sought-after in the creative industry. Students will learn how to meet deadlines and work within specific creative demands while producing high-end design work in a variety of format. Learn more about Full Sail University's graphic design program.
What are the top North Carolina graphic design schools for 2023?
|1||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||Raleigh|
|2||Appalachian State University||Boone|
|3||University of North Carolina Charlotte||Charlotte|
|4||East Carolina University||Greenville|
|5||University of North Carolina Wilmington||Wilmington|
Our 2023 ranking of the top 5 graphic design school programs in North Carolina. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
The College of Design at North Carolina State University (NC State University) houses the Department of Graphic and Industrial Design, home to the Bachelor of Graphic & Experience Design (BGXD) and Master of Graphic & Experience Design (MGXD) Programs. Both pathways 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 MGXD is also one of the few Graphic Design graduate programs in the U.S. with STEM Classification (CIP).
Students in the BGXD Program will participate in studios that explore topics such as branding, data visualization, artificial intelligence, and accessible design. Students will also practice visualization strategies such as storyboarding, mapping, and diagramming, and they will use rapid prototyping techniques to test ideas. All students have the opportunity to collaborate with fellow BGXD students as well as industrial design, architecture, and landscape architecture students.
Other BGXD Program benefits include distinctive courses such as Typography and Technology; Branding, Interaction, and Service Design; Image & Tech Tinkering; and Information and Publishing Design Systems; the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or summer at the NC State Prague Institute or other study abroad location; professional paid internships at major design firms; and participation in sponsored studios as part of the GXD curriculum. Examples of past sponsors have included Caterpillar, John Deere, Lowe’s, Under Armour, Hanes, Coca Cola, Bosch, Eastman Chemical, and The National Civil Rights Museum.
Graduates of BGXD Program at North Carolina State University are designers at top design firms and software companies such as IDEO, R/GA, IBM, Red Hat, Lenovo, SAS, Citrix, IQVIA, Pentagram, and Willowtree.
The MGXD Program at NC State has both two-year and three-year options. Both lead to a terminal degree, equivalent to the MFA, which qualifies graduates to pursue a Design PhD or teach at the university level. The two-year program (MGXD II) is designed for students with a Graphic Design BFA (or equivalent) and experience in design, visual communication, interaction design, or related field. The three-year program (MGXD III) is for students who have earned a BA in another field or a Graphic Design Concentration.
All students will participate in graduate studios, seminars, and workshops; they will have opportunities to take electives at affiliate universities such as Duke and UNC Chapel Hill; and students will 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 Software. For the final graduate project, MGXD students will research an area of focus, record conclusions, design studies and mock-ups, and present the project to the public.
Graduates of the MGXD 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.
NC State MGXD alumni go on to establish successful careers at consulting firms, software companies, and colleges and universities. Examples include Adobe, IDEO, Pratt Institute, Lenovo, IBM, and University of Michigan, Fjord, University of Washington, Red Hat Software, and Carnegie Mellon University.
North Carolina State University employs 9,000+ faculty and staff members that serve more than 36,000 students, making it the largest university in the University of North Carolina System. Established in 1887 as a land-grant institution focusing in agriculture and engineering, NC State offers more than 300 degree programs across 11 colleges, 68 departments, and The Graduate School. North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The College of Fine and Applied Arts (CFAA) at Appalachian State University (Appalachian State or ASU) houses the Department of Art, home to the Graphic Design Program. Students in the program have access to fully equipped facilities and labs, where they will have opportunities to engage in interactive design projects, and create environmental graphics, print publications, screen-based experiences and identity programs. Students will also explore type design, packaging, and signage/information systems.
Leading to a BFA, the Graphic Design Program features faculty-led regional and national trips to places such as New York to visit studios and museums; study abroad experiences in places such as South Africa, Panama, Italy, and Austria; and internships with companies and organizations such as Publicis (Bangkok, Thailand), Discovery Communications (Chicago, Illinois), and Appalachian Voices (Boone, North Carolina). Students in this 120 credit hour, four-year professional program also have access to clubs and organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the Arts Management Organization (AMO), the Art History Club, and the Student Art League (SAL).
The curriculum for the Appalachian State Graphic Design BFA includes a three course Typography sequence, electives, an internship, and a two course Capstone. Course examples for the program include Idea Lab; Sign, Symbol, Language; Interaction Design; Special Topics in Graphic Design; Design Methods; Motion Graphics; Hand-Lettering; Illustration; and Graphic Design for Professional Practice.
To enhance the degree, students have the opportunity to add a minor. Examples include Graphic Communications Management, Creative Engagement and Social Change, Digital Marketing, Media Studies, Photography, and Studio Art, such as Studio Art with Portfolio Review.
In addition to courses such as Motion Graphics, Hand-Lettering, Design Methods, Interaction Design, Idea Lab, and Printmaking Studio, 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. As part of the course, students will also visit local or regional design studios and printing facilities.
Graduates of Graphic Design BFA Program at Appalachian State University are prepared to pursue careers such as Multimedia Designer, Book Designer, Editorial Artist, Graphic Designer, Creative Director, Cartoonist or Illustrator, Computer Graphic Artist, Advertising Director, Computer Graphic Artist, and Communications Specialist. Most program alumni start jobs right after graduation or continue their education at colleges such as Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), Pratt Institute, and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
ASU Graphic Design graduates have been hired at places such as Gap, Amazon.com, McCall Publishing Company, Tiffany and Co., Footbridge Media, Fifty&Fifty, CreateSpace, Oculus Studios, Red Hat, COCG, McKinney, Registered Creative, thoughtbot, and Raizlabs.
Founded in 1899 as Watauga Academy, Appalachian State University is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. The school serves approximately 20,435 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across eight colleges and schools. Appalachian State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) is home to the College of Arts + Architecture (CoA+A), which serves 1,000 students enrolled in 33 degrees and concentrations across five departments. The CoA+A Department of Art and Art History houses the Graphic Design Program, which leads to a BFA. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the program provides access to Rowe 3D Studio, which houses both indoor and outdoor state-of-the-art production facilities, as well as the Macy Graphic Design Computer Lab, a Print Media Lab, and Painting Studio, among others.
Consisting of 120 credit hours, the Graphic Design BFA Program at UNC Charlotte requires 78 credit hours in the major. Course examples include 4D, Design Thinking, Graphic Design I-II, Print Production, UX/UI Design Strategies, Communications Design, Typography I-II, Digital Foundations, and Contemporary Art History. Students will also complete several graphic design projects, Senior Seminar, and the BFA Senior Exhibition. An internship is also part of the program.
Students will 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.
Founded in 1946, University of North Carolina Charlotte serves approximately 29,550, making it the third largest school in the 16-campus UNC System. This public research university provides more than 200 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs across nine colleges. University of North Carolina Charlotte is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The College of Fine Arts and Communication at East Carolina University (ECU) houses the Schools of Art and Design (SoAD); Communication; Theatre and Dance; and Music. The SoAD has several programs that are suitable for students interested in Graphic Design. At the undergraduate level, ECU SoAD has an Art BFA Program with a 30 credit hour Graphic Design Concentration. Course examples for the program include Topics in Graphic Design, Graphic Design Studio I-VII, Narrative in Art and Design, Process in Studio Arts, and Form, Space, and Color.
At the end of the SoAD BFA Program, students will complete participate in the Senior Exhibition and Capstone Experience consisting of a film, reel, or portfolio.
At the graduate level, East Carolina University has an Art MFA Program with a Graphic Design Concentration. This intensive 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. Other program features include 24/7 access to individual, private studio space, the Shape Lab, state-of-the-art computer labs, and the wood shop—all housed in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center (Jenkins). To graduate, MFA students will complete a Thesis and Written Report.
Students in all ECU Art Programs 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.
Founded on March 8, 1907 as a teacher training school, East Carolina University serves approximately 27,150 students, making it the fourth largest university in the North Carolina. The school provides around 250 programs leading to a degree, minor or certificate across 11 colleges and schools. East Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The College of Arts and Sciences at University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is home to the Department of Art and Art History, which houses the interdisciplinary Digital Arts Program with BA and Minor options. The Digital Arts BA has optional Concentrations in Interactive Graphics, and Mobile Applications & Web Development.
Students in the interdisciplinary Digital Arts BA Program at UNCW will take core courses such as Introduction to Graphic Design, History of Graphic Design, 2D Design, Contemporary Art, Introduction to Photography, and Drawing Fundamentals. Other required courses include Visual Design for Multimedia, Computer Graphics Programming, Web Page Development, and 3D Computer Graphics Tools & Literacy.
Across Concentrations, the Digital Arts Program features courses such as Intermediate Graphic Design, Mobile Application Development, Intermediate Life Drawing, and Digital Visual Effects.
A Digital Arts Capstone (Portfolio Project) is also part of the program. Students will complete the Capstone during the last year in the Major and present it in a campus venue.
Graduates of the Digital Arts Program at University of North Carolina Wilmington are prepared to pursue graduate study or positions at graphic design studios, advertising agencies, entertainment companies, video production companies, galleries, museums, and architectural firms.
Established in 1946, University of North Carolina Wilmington is part of the part of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System. The school serves approximately 17,845 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across five colleges and schools. University of North Carolina Wilmington is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission (SACSCOC).