What are the top graphic design school programs in West Virginia for 2021?

Top 5 West Virginia Graphic Design Schools - 2021 College Rankings
1West Virginia UniversityMorgantown
2West Liberty UniversityWest Liberty
3Marshall UniversityHuntington
4Shepherd UniversityShepherdstown
5Concord UniversityAthens

Our 2021 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in West Virginia. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia
West Virginia University

Founded in 1867, West Virginia University (WVU) is a public, land-grant institution that holds the R1: Doctoral Universities status, which is the “highest research activity” as described by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Nearly 30,000 students are enrolled across WVU’s three-campus system. Serving nearly 27,000 of the schools nearly 30,000 students, the Morgantown campus is the largest in the WVU System.

Around 360 majors are offered at Morgantown in 14 colleges and schools. The College of Creative Arts houses the School of Art and Design, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design and an interdisciplinary MFA. Students in the BFA program begin their studies with foundations in color, symbolic drawings, typography, design for small and large formats, and design thinking. “Tactical elements of design are explored hands-on through paper engineering, book arts courses, and access to a letterpress studio,” says the school.

Other program highlights include the opportunity to work as project directors with clients in the school’s model design studio—Studio 2453, internship experiences, a portfolio class that helps prepare seniors for a design career, and the opportunity to present work in Cleveland or Pittsburgh at AIGA Portfolio Days. Students receive valuable feedback from industry professionals at the event.

The interdisciplinary MFA program offers all of the benefits of the BFA program as well as the opportunity to present a paper at a major conference.

Graduates of the WVU Graphic Design and MFA programs work locally at newspapers, television stations, local agencies, their own businesses, and even at the University. Graduates also have “careers at the headquarters of Coca Cola, at the helm of NBC’s entertainment division in Burbank, CA, in major packaging firms, designing the web interests of the New York Times, creating multimedia for large corporations in DC, and designing for social concerns in the national offices of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and for numerous environmental groups.”

2. West Liberty University, West Liberty, West Virginia
West Liberty University

Founded in 1837 as West Liberty Academy, West Liberty University (WLU) serves more than 2,500 students enrolled in more than 70 programs of study through seven colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Communication houses the Department of Journalism, Communication Studies & Visual Arts, home to the Division of Art, which offers BS degrees in Visual Communication Design (with a Track in Illustration) and Digital Media Design.

Students in both programs “will experience lectures, workshops, tutorials, and project work,” says the school. They will also “develop a broad range of communication skills in visualization, communication, presentation, writing, and technology.” Opportunities for independent learning and internships are also available.

As part of the required practicum in upper level coursework, all students will work with real world clients such as 4-H Foundation of Hancock County, Echo International, The John Fowles Society, The Ohio Valley Museum Consortium, St. Vincent de Paul Parish – Wheeling, The Strand Theatre Preservation Society, and WV Arts and Crafts Guild, to name a few. Past internships include Action Images, Center for Educational Technologies, Challenger Space Center, Design and Image Studio, Lamar Advertising, and Oglebay Institute.

Graduates of the Digital Media and Visual Communication Design Programs are prepared for careers in Arts Administration, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Multimedia, Publishing, and Web Design, along with Specialist careers in the Art, Design, and Digital Media industries.

3. Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia
Marshall University

Founded in 1837 as Marshall Academy, Marshall University (MU) serves nearly 13,000 students enrolled in more than 100 degree programs and dozens of certificate programs in 12 colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Media houses the School of Art & Design (SoAD), which offers a BFA Fine Arts: Visual Arts with an Emphasis in Graphic Design.

The program provides the opportunity for students to choose their own niche as related to their interests. Options include Illustration, New Media, Print Graphic Design, and Web Design. In addition, students may minor in a related field to expand their opportunities. For example, students have minored in Advertising, Business, Game Design, and Marketing.

Other program highlights include an internship experience during the junior or senior year and excursions to Chicago, New York, Washington, and Florence, Italy. Students will leave the program with an exit portfolio and “digital presence” that will give them an edge in today’s competitive job market.

4. Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherd University

Established in 1871, Shepherd University is a public liberal arts college that serves 3,700 students enrolled in more than 90 programs of study in 25 colleges, schools, and departments. The school is a military-friendly campus that provides all students with career, study abroad, and honors opportunities, as well as a wide variety of internship and job opportunities in local entrepreneurial initiatives and in national and international industries.

The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Shepherd houses the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater. Students in the Department can earn a BFA or a Minor in Graphic Design. The program offers instruction in Brand Identity, Digital Illustration, Editorial, Motion Graphics, Packaging, Typography and User Experience (UX)/User Interface (UI) Design.

In addition to the internship, BFA students will complete two Capstone courses in the senior year. Graduates will leave the program with solid work experience and a polished portfolio.

5. Concord University, Athens, West Virginia
Concord University

Established in 1872, Concord University serves more than 2,000 students enrolled in dozens of programs through several colleges and academic units. The College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences houses the Department of Art, which offers a BA in Art with a Concentration in Advertising/Graphic Design.

The program requires successful completion of 120 semester hours including the General Education Program, the Core Program, the Major in Studio Art or Advertising/Graphic Design, and a Minor or Electives as worked out with the student’s adviser.

Course highlights for the program include Advanced Illustration, Advertising and Sales Promotion, Basic Computer Graphics, Basic Production Techniques, Design, Drawing, Graphic Techniques, Photography, Principles of Marketing, Typography, and Web Design. Students will also complete the Senior Seminar course, which is designed to help prepare seniors for the upcoming Senior Exhibition.

Other program highlights include field trips to museums, exhibitions, printing companies, and advertising firms, access to a state-of-the-art technology Mac based computer lab, and the Sophomore Review, which includes a mini-portfolio and essay reviewed by faculty.

Students will have the opportunity to complete the portfolio and create a resume that will be assessed with a mock interview conducted by faculty. In addition, local, national, and international internship opportunities are available along with many real-life experiences with businesses and clients inside and outside the classroom.