What are the top Oregon graphic design schools for 2023?

Top 5 Oregon Graphic Design School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1Portland State UniversityPortland
2Oregon State UniversityCorvallis
3Willamette UniversitySalem
4George Fox UniversityNewberg
5Western Oregon UniversityMonmouth

Our 2023 ranking of the top 5 graphic design school programs in Oregon. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Portland State University, Portland, Oregon
Portland State University

The College of Arts at Portland State University (PSU) houses the School of Art + Design (A +D), which has a Graphic Design BFA, a Graphic Design Minor, and an Advertising Management (AM) Minor for Graphic Design Majors. The 24 credit hour AM Minor consists of the following courses: Advertising, Creative Strategy, Consumer Behavior and Customer Satisfaction, Advertising Campaigns, and Marketing Management. Students will select one 400-level Marketing elective to complete the program.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at Portland State University provides the opportunity to gain experience through A + D Projects (the School of Art + Design’s in-house studio) where they have the chance to work on projects for real clients. Other program features include the peer mentorship program, the weekly graphic design lecture series, field trips, professional portfolio development, demos, and professional off-campus internships.

More than 200 study abroad programs are also open to BFA students. Examples include Summer Abroad experiences such as Art History in Rome, Mixed Media and Printmaking in Guanajuato, Mexico, and Berlin: The Fall and Rise of an Art City.

Each spring, PSU Graphic Design students will participate in the annual student showcase Be Honest. This allows them to present their work to design professionals. In the final year of the program, graduating Seniors will participate in Fresh—the A + D Graphic Design Senior Showcase. The event allows students to network, display their work, and get feedback from industry professionals.

Consisting of 32 credit hours of study, the PSU Graphic Design Minor is a flexible program that includes courses such as Digital Page Design, Communication Design Systems, Narrative and Communication Design Typography, Digital Imaging and Illustration, and Communication Design Systems.

Graduates of the Portland State University Design Programs are prepared to pursue positions such as Graphic Designer, Branding and Identity Designer, Interactive Designer, Web and Mobile Designer, Product Designer, Art Director, User Interface Designer, Environmental Designer, Illustrator, Design Manager, App Designer, Publication Designer, and Motion Graphics Designer.

Program alumni have been hired at major agencies and corporations such Apple, IBM, Nordstrom, Adidas, Snapchat, Spotify, Dropbox, Wieden+Kennedy, Buzzfeed, R/GA, Nike, and IDEO. Others have found success at design studios such as OMFCO, Jolby, Sandstrom, and Instrument. Some PSU Design alumni have gone on to launch their own start-ups, product lines, or freelance careers.

Portland State University opened in the summer of 1946 with 220 students. Today, PSU serves approximately 22,015 students, with more than 2,700 students enrolled in the College of Arts, making it the largest art school in the Pacific Northwest. PSU College of Arts houses the Schools of Art + Design, Architecture, Film, and Music & Theater. Portland State University offers more than 200 degree programs housed across nine colleges and schools. Portland State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

2. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
Oregon State University

The College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University (OSU or Oregon State) houses the School of Visual, Performing, and Design Arts. Students here can earn a BFA or Honors BFA (HBFA) in Graphic Design (GD). Consisting of 180 credit hours, this professional program includes a nine-month, seven credit hour Senior Capstone Project that will be presented at the Year-End Capstone Showcase.

Course examples for the program include 2D Core Studio, Graphic Design Pro Application, Typography 1-3, Process: Making and Meaning, Interactive Design, Graphic Design Technology and Production, Graphic Design: Collaborative Process, and Graphic Design: Professional Development. Students may focus in other areas of art and design through the required 32 elective credit hours for the program.

Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA at Oregon State University are prepared to seek careers in branding and visual design, exhibition design, interactive design (web and video), package design, publication design (newspapers, magazines, catalogs), and information design.

Founded in 1856 as Corvallis Academy, Oregon State University is one of just three land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant universities in the U.S. Serving approximately 35,240 students, OSU has campuses in Corvallis, Bend, Portland, Newport, and LaGrande, Oregon. The school also houses 12 experiment stations.

Students at Oregon State have access to more than 200 academic programs across 11 colleges,  36+ Extension Programs across all 36 Oregon counties, and hundreds of online degrees through the Ecampus Program. Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

3. Willamette University, Salem, Oregon
Willamette University

The Graphic Design Program at Willamette University is housed in Pacific Northwest College of Art (PCNA). Leading to a BFA, the program emphasizes hands-on learning, collaborative projects, and independent work that students will produce in the Wacom Lab, state-of-the-art printmaking studios, and other facilities. BFA students may also participate in PNCA’s Design Lecture Series, which attracts guest designers from around the world. Launched in 2016, the series is a collaboration between the Graphic Design Program, PNCA, and Portland-based FISK Studio.

The Willamette University/PNCA Graphic Design Program requires 120-121 credit hours of study. Course examples for the program include Writing in Context, Graphic Design Advanced Studio I and II, Time Arts, Visual Elements: Digital Tools, Typography I and II, Interactive Media, Design Studio I: Psychology of Seeing, Marketing & Branding, Design Studio II; Rhetoric and Persuasion, Motion Graphics, Research for Creative Practice, and 3D Design. Suggested electives include Environment and Experience, Printmaking, Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VT), and Interface and Structure.

In the final year of the Graphic Design Program at Willamette University, students will have the option to complete the Graphic Design Internship or the Center for Design course. The Program culminates with the Design Arts Thesis and Portfolio.

Willamette University/PNCA graduates have gone on to establish successful careers at places such as Nike, Wieden+Kennedy, Microsoft, National Public Radio, Intel, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), NBC News Digital, Boeing, Seattle Seahawks, and Oakley. Some Graphic Design alumni have launched their own freelance businesses or design studios where they have worked with clients such as Google, Uniqlo, Starbucks, Lexus, AT&T, IBM, Legoland, Coca-Cola, and XBOX.

Willamette University was established in 1842, making it the oldest university in the West. This Liberal Arts college serves close to 1,900 students enrolled in dozens of programs across the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Law, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. Willamette University and PNCA merged in 2021.

Established in 1909, PNCA is an independent college within Willamette University. The school serves around 650 students enrolled in 11 BFA degrees and eight minors. Eight graduate MA and MFA degrees are offered within the PNCA Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies.

Pacific Northwest College of Art and Willamette University are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). PNCA is also a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

4. George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon
George Fox University

George Fox University houses the Department of Art and Design, which has a Graphic Design BA Program that guarantees an internship placement in the field with companies such as Nike and Sprout Box. The Department also has a 23 credit hour Graphic Design Minor that can be taken with a variety of majors across the University.

Students in both programs benefit from the project-based course Creative Action Studio; participation in community-based events such as art retreats on the Oregon Coast; faculty mentors; participation in the weekly visiting artists series ArtTalk; and access to national organizations such as AIGA.

The Graphic Design Programs at George Fox University explore Branding and Identity Systems, UI/UX Design, Print and Packaging, Drawing,  Typography, and Web Design. Specific course titles include Art and Professional Networking Seminar, Design in Practice, Experience Design, Systems, Identity, and Branding, Collaborative Design, UI/UX Design, Print and Packaging, and Web Design.

The 18 credit hour Graphic Design Core is project-driven and covers the top applications used in the industry. In the third year of the program, students will complete the Junior Portfolio Review. The program culminates with the Senior Capstone Research Defense.

Graduates of the George Fox Graphic Design Programs enjoy a high job-placement rate. Around 84% of program alumni find jobs within three months of graduation. Graduates work in areas such as Newspaper and Magazine Publishing, Advertising, Book Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations, and Entertainment.

Founded in 1891, George Fox University is a nonprofit Christian institution that serves approximately 4,040 students enrolled in more than 80 degree programs. The school operates across four Oregon campuses in Newberg (main), Portland, Salem, and Redmond, Oregon. George Fox University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

5. Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Oregon
Western Oregon University

The Art Department at Western Oregon University (WOU) houses an Art and Design Program that serves more than 100 students. For students interested in Graphic Design, the Program has an Art and Design BA with a Visual Communication Design (VCD) Concentration. Students will begin this 56 credit hour focus area with core courses such as Introduction to Typography and Digital Images & Photography I, followed by eight credits of Studio Electives.

Upper division courses for the VCD Program include Creativity and Idea Generation, Graphic Design: Process & Theory, History of Graphic Design, Art & Design for the Internet, Graphic Design: Form and Communication, and Video & Animation I. In the final year of the program, students will have the opportunity to participate in the Critique & Seminar course, as well as the Gallery Internship, worth two credits.

The Visual Communication Design Program at Western Oregon University culminates with the Portfolio and Professional Preparation course worth four credits. During this Capstone experience, students will explore career strategies, professional ethics, business practices, and preparation for the portfolio presentation. Capstone experience for VCD students includes oral presentation of each candidate’s portfolio.

Graduates of the Creative Arts Programs at Western Oregon University are prepared to pursue careers in animation for film, television, and games, forensic animation, medical animation, animation for advertising, architectural animation, animation for education and job training, and multimedia, among others.

Founded in 1856 as Monmouth University, Western Oregon University is the state’s oldest public university. The school serves approximately 4,020 students enrolled in more than 100 programs housed in two colleges including the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. Western Oregon University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).