What are the top Tennessee graphic design schools for 2022?

Top 5 Graphic Design School Programs in Tennessee - 2022 College Rankings
1University of Tennessee Knoxville
2University of Tennessee at ChattanoogaChattanooga
3University of MemphisMemphis
4Middle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboro
5Nossi College of ArtNashville

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

1. University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee
University of Tennessee

The College of Architecture and Design at University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT Knoxville or UTK) houses the School of Design, which offers a BFA Graphic Design and a 15 credit hour Graphic Studies Minor that takes two years to complete. Graphic Design Program features include small class sizes, collaborative Design Studios, 24/7 access to state-of-the-art labs and equipment, and participation in the Annual Senior Show.

Course examples across programs include Advertising Principles, The Art of Presentation Design, Principles, Processes and Applications of Design, Design as Visual Message-Making, User-Centered Design, Writing, Layout, and Production of Technical Documents, Expanded Principles of Typography, Interactive & Screen-Based Design, Advanced Design Investigations, The Idea of Design. BFA students have the option to complete the Practicum (45 working hours), Undergraduate Research (course) and/ or a study abroad experience.

Over the past five years, graduates of the UTK Graphic Design Program have enjoyed an impressive 90% employment rate. Alumni work at leading companies such as Apple, GAP, Google, HGTV, Instagram, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Zillow. Some have started their own companies including Matchstic Media, Morris Creative, Nathanna Design, Old City Mailroom, Robin Easter Design, and many others. All students must complete a Capstone Project to graduate.

Graduates of the UT Knoxville Graphic Design Programs are prepared to pursue positions at advertising agencies, publishing companies, magazines, design studios, public relations firms, marketing firms, film studios, web design companies, game studios, and museums, among others.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been continuously accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) since 1897. Founded in 1794 as Knoxville as Blount College, UT Knoxville serves 31,700 students enrolled in more than 900 programs of study in 11 colleges.

2. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) houses the College of Arts and Sciences, home to the Department of Art (UTC Art), which has a BFA Program with a Graphic Design Concentration. As part of UTC, students in the program have access to internships at local and national companies, cooperative education assignments with partner companies, and experiential learning opportunities.

Course examples for this 120 credit hour program include Space and Sequence, Visual Literacy for Graphic Design, Processes and Materials for Graphic Design, Typography I-II, Studio Processes, Design History, Expanded Drawing, Interactive Media, and Survey of Time-Based Art.

UTC Graphic Design BFA students will also complete two Graphic Design Workshops, a Portfolio Review, and the Professional Practices in Graphic Design and Professional Preparation for the Visual Artist courses.

UTC Graphic Design graduates are prepared to pursue positions at advertising agencies, creative agencies and studios, marketing firms, web design studios, public relations firms, production studios, publishing companies, newspapers and magazines, and technology firms, among others.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1886, UTC serves more than 10,000 students enrolled in 97 undergraduate programs, 88 graduate programs, and 50 minors in six colleges and schools. 

3. University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee
University of Memphis

The College of Communication and Fine Arts at University of Memphis (U of M) houses the Department of Art, home to the Graphic Design Program which has BFA and MFA pathways. A 12 credit hour Graduate Certificate is also available. Courses for this program include History of Graphic Design, Print Communication Design, Writing/Design Process, and Interactive Media Design.

The Graphic Design Program covers print and digital design, visual communication, creative solutions, and current industry computer applications. Students in all programs have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, internship opportunities, and instructors that have both professional and design education experience.

The BFA requires 120 credit hours to graduate and the MFA requires 60. Students in the BFA Program will complete 67 hours in Graphic Design. Course examples include Computer Assisted Graphic Design, Visual Thinking, Typographic Design I-II, Interactive Media Design, Electronic Pre-Press Production, Print Communication Design, and Graphic Design Methods. Graduates will leave the U of M Graphic Design BFA Program with a professional portfolio.

The MFA in Art with Graphic Design Concentration consists of 42 credit hours in 7000-level courses. Completed on a full-time schedule, the MFA culminates with the Thesis Exhibition.

Graduates of the Graphic Design Programs at University of Memphis are prepared to pursue titles such as Computer Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Media Specialist, Brand Manager, Digital Media Designer, Design Director, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Artist, Illustrator, User Experience Designer, Packaging Designer, 3D Artist, Exhibit Designer, Digital Artist, Layout Designer, Multimedia Producer, and Concept Artist.

University of Memphis is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This public research university was established in 1912 as West Tennessee State Normal School. Serving close to 21,625 students, U of M offers more than 375 areas of study, subjects, and disciplines leading to degrees and certificates at all levels. Programs at U of M are housed in 13 colleges and schools.

4. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Middle Tennessee State University

The Graphic Design Program at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) has the largest number of students across the Department of Art and Design. Housed in the College of Liberal Arts, the Department provides access to state-of-the-art computer labs (Apple) and studios, internship opportunities, seminars, workshops, and participation in the Graphic Design Show.

Leading to a BFA, the MTSU Graphic Design Program consists of 120 credit hours including 41 in general education, 79 in the major, and 0-3 in electives. Course and elective examples for the program include 3D Design, Typography in Motion, Graphic Design Technologies, Word and Image, Interactive Design I-III, Print Media: Book Arts, Digital Illustration, Package Design, Advanced 3D Practices, and Mixed Media Painting.

In the final year of the MTSU Graphic Design Program, students will complete Portfolio I-II and the Senior Project. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in the Graphic Design industry or for graduate study.

Middle Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Established in 1909 as Middle Tennessee State Normal School, MTSU opened with 125 students on September 11, 1911. Today, Middle Tennessee State University serves around 22,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs in over a dozen colleges and schools.

5. Nossi College of Art, Nashville, Tennessee
Nossi College of Art

Nossi College of Art (Nossi) has a 133 credit hour Graphic Design (GD) Program leading to a Bachelor of Graphic Arts (BGA). The program provides opportunities to work with local clients on real-world projects. Students can also gain experience through the internship program.

Course examples for the program include Production Art, Corporate Identity, Graphic Design: Linear Design, Packaging Design, Adobe InDesign, User Interface Design, User Experience Design, Motion Graphics, Layout Design, Graphic Design: Advertising, Exploring 3D, Publication Design, Advertising Art Direction, Environmental Graphic Design, and Business Marketing for Creatives.

During the senior year of the BGA Program, students have the option to complete the Independent Study course. The Capstone and Portfolio & Promotion courses are required to graduate. Students can complete the Nossi BGA Program in just 44 months.

Graduates are prepared to pursue positions such as Brand Identity Developer, Graphic Artist, Senior Design Manager, Graphic Designer, Production Artist, UI or UX Designer, Art Director, Package Designer, Web Designer, Typographer, App Developer, Marketing Director, Motion Graphics Designer, Production Artist, Digital Publisher, and Creative Director.

Nossi College of Art is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Launched in 1973 as a Fine Art school, Nossi has expanded to offer business, marketing, and technology programs. With just over 300 students, Nossi College of Art has undergraduate programs in Illustration Technology, Graphic Design, Videography & Filmmaking, Photography, and Culinary Arts.