What are the top South Carolina graphic design schools for 2022?

Top 5 Graphic Design School Programs in South Carolina - 2022 College Rankings
1Clemson UniversityClemson
2Charleston Southern UniversityCharleston
3University of South CarolinaColumbia
4Coastal Carolina UniversityConway
5Winthrop UniversityRock Hill

Our 2022 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in South Carolina. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
Clemson University

The Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University houses the Department of Graphic Communications, which has BS and MS pathways. Consisting of 400 students, the  Graphics Communications BS provides access to a 14,000-square-foot laboratory and two additional state-of-the-art labs equipped with packaging and printing equipment.

Students also benefit from interactions with students in the Packaging Science Department through the Sonoco Institute, which hosts workshops, classes, and seminars. A mandatory internship part of the program a as well as the opportunity to add a Business Administration or Packaging Science Minor. Graduates of the Graphics Communications BS Program at Clemson University have been hired at R.R. Donnelley, Boston Beer Company, Newell Brands, The Hughes Agency, and Horizon Investments. Some program alumni have gone on to pursue graduate study at Clemson, Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), and Wake Forest University.

The Clemson University Graphic Communications MS Program has both Thesis and Non-Thesis options. Students in the Thesis option will complete 33 credit hours to graduate. Non-Thesis students will complete 30 credit hours. Core courses for both options include Current Developments and Trends in Graphic Communications, Package and Specialty Printing, Commercial Printing, and Graphic Communications Graduate Seminar.

The Thesis option requires the Master’s Thesis Research course. The Non-Thesis option requires Graphic Communications Research Problems I-II. For students without relevant work experience, an industrial internship is a required component of the MS Program—both options.

Graduates of the Graphic Communications MS at Clemson University are placed in creative, technical, and scientific positions; sales, marketing, and customer service; packaging, printing, and publishing; and academic and management.

For students seeking a program that provides a foundation in Art, Clemson University has a Fine Arts Program with BA and BFA pathways. Housed in the College of Architecture, Arts, and Humanities’ Department of Art, both programs are accredited by National Association for Schools of Art & Design (NASAD).

The Art BA is a Liberal Arts program that allows students to customize their studies with a double major or a minor in any area. Students in may also choose an emphasis such as Digital Art and Design Media. The Visual Arts BFA offers emphasis areas such as New Media, Drawing, Printmaking or Photography, with complementary coursework in Graphic Design and Animation.

Program benefits for both pathways include the visiting artist series, access to Lee Gallery, the annual field trip to art centers such as New York City, the four-week summer school in Orvieto, Italy, and the opportunity to exhibit works in the Lee Art Gallery in the senior year or the programs. In addition, Clemson Art students regularly display their work in national and regional venues, as well as locally in the Pendleton and Greenville arts districts.

Graduates of the Clemson University Art and Visual Arts Programs work at art museums and galleries, for publications, and in public relations, exhibit design, graphic design, illustration, art therapy, media, retail, animation and cartoons, and art journalism. Recent employers include Anthropologie, GDC Home, Museum of the Cherokee, Kaleidoscope Design Factory, and Greenville County Schools. 

Some program alumni have gone on to pursue graduate study at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Northwestern University, Christie’s Education, Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), and University of Georgia.

Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school opened as Clemson Agricultural College in 1893 with 446 students. Today, Clemson University serves 26,400 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs and 90+ minor options.

2. Charleston Southern University, Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston Southern University

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Charleston Southern University (CSU) houses the Communication and Media Arts area, which has a Graphic Design Program leading to a BFA or a Minor.  Students in both pathways benefit from small class sizes, individualized instruction, experiential learning, portfolio development, and internship opportunities.

CSU Graphic Design students have interned with the NHL and the Stingrays, and at FASTSIGNS, the Citadel, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Fortibus Marketing, Charleston Magazine, TargetMarket, BoomTown!, Trident United Way, and Benefitfocus, among others.

All students will complete core program requirements. Course examples include Visual Communications, Drawing, Procedural Programming, Digital Image Editing, Printmaking, Web Design I-II, Principles of Marketing, Typography, Advertising, Business of Design, Digital Illustration, Programming in Alice, and Photography. BFA students must complete a Minor. In the junior and senior years, students will specialize in an area such as Illustration, Print Design, Web Design, or Photography.

During the final year of the Charleston Southern University Graphic Design Program, students will complete the Graphic Design Portfolio course, which provides the opportunity to create a polished portfolio of the student’s best work.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at CSU are prepared to pursue positions such as Graphic Designer, Brand Manager, Package Designer, Creative Director, Web Designer, Illustrator, Photoshop Artist, Art Director, and Infographics Designer. Program alumni work at ABC, FASTSIGNS, Knight Printing, Colliers International, Horizon Scientific, MUSC, Bourne Group, Virginia Tech, The Brandon Agency, King + Columbus, Benefitfocus, and Jeff Cook Real Estate, among others.

Charleston Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1964 as the Baptist College at Charleston, CSU serves 3,350 students enrolled in more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and online programs in eight colleges and schools.

3. University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
University of South Carolina

The College of Arts and Sciences at University of South Carolina (U of SC) houses the School of Visual Art and Design, which has BA and BFA degree programs in Studio Art with Concentrations in Graphic Design and Graphic Design + Illustration (GD+I). At the graduate level, the School of Visual Art and Design has MA and MFA degree programs in Studio Art, and a Media Arts MA.

The Studio Arts Program at U of SC is housed in South Carolina’s largest school of art. Classes take place at McMaster College, University of South Carolina’s 85,000-square-foot facility designed specifically for the programs and production in the visual arts. Coursework across programs explores Design Systems, Packaging, Product Design, Logo Design and Branding, UX Design, Multimedia, Poster Design, Publication and Editorial Design, Digital Illustration, Motion Graphics, and Interactive Design. Some courses provide opportunities to work on projects for real clients.

Students in all programs have access to internship and study abroad opportunities, the South Carolina Chapter of the AIGA, which hosts workshops, guest speakers, and events such as The Summer Design Film Series, and U of SC benefits such as the GD+I Visiting Speaker Series, Monthly Meet Ups, and participation in interdisciplinary projects across the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Visual Art and Design, the university.

University of South Carolina Design alumni have been hired at/by Google, The Charlotte Hornets, Lyft, The South Carolina Lottery, Nike, The Florida Marlins, Humana, ByFarr Design, Reebok, Aeropostale, Bumble, Paper Source, Auburn University Athletics, RIGGS partners, Studio, The Half and Half, Stitch, University of South Carolina Football, and The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

University of South Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Established in 1801 as South Carolina College, University of South Carolina is one of the nation’s oldest public universities. The school offers more than 300 areas of study to a population of nearly 35,400 students. Programs are U of SC are housed in 16 colleges and schools.

4. Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina
Coastal Carolina University

Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts at Coastal Carolina University (CCU) has more than 50 program options including degrees, certificates, and minors. Programs are housed in the Edwards Department of Visual Arts. Degree options for Graphic Designers include the BFA in Visual Communication Design and a BA in Graphic Design. An 18 credit hour Minor in Graphic Design is available for students who would like to enhance their degree in other art and design related areas. The Minor is also ideal for students looking to learn the basics of Graphic Design, without enrolling in a degree program.

Across Design Programs, students have access to state-of-the-art equipment and labs, development workshops, and experiences and projects through magazines, labs, and organizations such as CHROMA, Archarios Literary Art Magazine, the student-run publishing lab Athenaeum Press, and Tempo Magazine.

Course examples across programs include Graphic Design I-II, Identity Systems, Concepts in the Artistic Process, User Experience Design, Typography I-II, Environmental Design, Interaction Design, and Motion Design. A major component of the Design curriculum is the Practicum & Capstone “The Designer as a Professional” and Senior Showcase. In this advanced Capstone course, students will participate in lectures and discussions with a focus on the Business of Design. Students will revise existing projects and complete new ones to add to the Final Portfolio. In addition to a Professional Portfolio of the student’s best work, graduates of the Design Programs at Coastal Carolina University will have work experience gained through the Graphic Design Internship.

Coastal Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1954 as Carolina Junior College (CJC), a branch of the College of Charleston, CCU opened with 53 students and a handful of part-time instructors. Housed in Conway High School, classes at CJC met after hours. Today, Coastal Carolina University sits on 621 acres that house 115 main buildings. The school is just minutes from Myrtle Beach, SC. Coastal Carolina University serves more than 10,000 students enrolled in more than 100 undergraduate majors and 30 graduate-level fields of study in six colleges.

5. Winthrop University, Rock Hill, South Carolina
Winthrop University

Winthrop University houses the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), which is one of just 37 university arts programs accredited in all areas of arts, and the only comprehensive collegiate arts program nationally accredited in all the arts in the State of Couth Carolina. CVPA houses the Department of Design, which serves around 600 students. The Department has a Bachelor of Design (BDes) in Design Program with Experience Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, and Interior Design options. The programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).

Course examples for the CVPA Graphic Design Program include Human Experience, Visual Thinking and Symbolic Communication, Design Studio Experience, Multimedia Design, Corporate Identity, Graphic Arts Production Practices, Intermediate Typography, Visual Communication Seminar I-III, and Three-Dimensional Graphic Design. Cognate Requirements include Advertising Principles, Contemporary Business Issues or Personal Finance, Preparation of Oral & Written Reports, and nine credit hours of electives.

In the final year of the CVPA BDes Program, students will take the Professional Portfolio and Practices course and complete the Senior Thesis Proposal and Senior Thesis courses. A Professional Internship is also part of the program. Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at Winthrop University are prepared to seek positions in all areas of Visual and Graphic Design.

Winthrop University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1886, the school serves close to 5,200 students enrolled in bachelor's and master’s degree programs offered both on-campus and online. Students at Winthrop University have access to more than 60 areas of study and certificates. Programs at Winthrop are housed in five academic colleges including Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, University College, and Visual and Performing Arts.