|1||Ringling College of Art and Design||Top 5%|
|2||Full Sail University||Top 10%|
|3||University of Central Florida||Top 15%|
|4||Florida State University||Top 15%|
|5||University of Florida||Top 20%|
Our 2018 rankings of the top 5 graphic design school programs in Florida. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
Established in 1931 by art collector, circus baron, and real estate developer John Ringling, Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) opened with 111 courses and just 75 students. Today, the school sits on a 35-acre campus, serving more than 1,300 degree-seeking students with 94% enrolled full-time, and 6% enrolled part-time. Students come from 42 states, DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Military Bases, and 56 countries.
RCAD offers a BFA in Graphic Design that prepares students to design “show-stopping solutions for print and interactive media.” Launched in 1980, the program allows students to collaborate with other artists such as copywriters, printers, photographers, illustrators, and developers to “make their ideas a reality.”
Graduates of the RCAD Graphic Design Program have been hired by companies such as Google, Facebook, Adult Swim, CBS Interactive, ESPN, Apple iTunes, Leo Burnett, Microsoft, Yahoo!, American Greetings, IGN Entertainment, Wieden + Kennedy, Walt Disney Company, Birchbox, Inc. and many others.
Full Sail University was established in 1979 in Dayton, Ohio as an audio recording workshop. The school eventually relocated to Central Florida in 1989 and is now home to approximately 15,000 students enrolled in 78 degree programs in the areas of Entertainment, Media Art, and Technology. Programs lead to an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree.
Options for aspiring graphic designers include a BS in Graphic Design that takes 29 months to complete online. Per the school, students in the program will “sharpen” their eye for “aesthetics through projects, critiques, and the study of popular culture.” In addition to technical proficiency and creative development, the program will help students “hone real-world skills such as media integration, advertising, and branding.”
Sample courses include Psychology of Play, Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries, Graphic Principles, Digital Audio and Video, Digital Publishing, Typography and Page Layout, Interactive Media Design and Usability, Logos and Symbols, and Creating Brand Experience. The BS in Graphic Design also contains seven one-credit Career Modules that are woven throughout the curriculum.
Note that a Media Design MFA is also available. Also offered online, this program highlights areas such as Brand Development, Design Strategy, Design Integration, Effective Copywriting, Organizational Structures, and Defining Client Needs. The MFA takes just 12 months to complete.
Established in 1963 and home to more than 64,300 students, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the largest university by enrollment in Florida. It is also the nation’s second-largest university and one of America’s youngest institutions. The school, which has four campuses across Orlando and in Daytona Beach, offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges.
The College of Arts and Humanities at UCF is home to the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BFAs in Art - Emerging Media: Graphic Design and Art – Studio Art. A BA in Art – Studio is also available. Per the school, the Graphic Design Program “allows students to integrate the multiple domains of art, storytelling, and technology.” It is “designed to provide a solid foundation in techniques and theory in one focused area of competence, as well as a broad understanding of related disciplines including arts, humanities, and technology.” The program also provides “extended experience in working in multidisciplinary teams on realistic problems.”
Both Studio options allow students to specialize in a number of areas. BA and BFA specializations for graphic designers include type and design, book arts, and drawing and printmaking combination.
Founded in 1851, Florida State University (FSU) is the oldest continuous site of higher education in Florida. The school serves nearly 42,000 students from every Florida county and 140 countries, making it one of the largest of the 11 institutions of higher learning in the State University System of Florida. With more than 275 degree programs across 16 colleges, FSU has ample degree options for artists and designers of all kinds—including graphic designers.
The College of Fine Arts, Department of Art offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers including a BFA in Studio with a Focus in Interactive Media or Text + Media, and an MFA in Studio Art. Sample courses for Interactive Media include Typography, Virtual Environments, Web: Art, Design, Code, and Video Art. Text + Media courses include Typography, Art & Language, Printmaking, Intermedia, Digital Fabrication, Video Art, Web: Art, Design Code, and Digital Photographic Imaging.
Students in both focus areas will have the opportunity to request personal studio space in the BFA Warehouse, where they can exhibit their work in a public gallery space. Additionally, graduating BFA seniors exhibit their work at FSU’s Museum of Fine Arts (MOFA) in their last semester.
The MFA program is a 60 credit hour program that accepts just 33 students per class. Students may focus in Design, Printmaking, Drawing, Electronic Media, Installation, Painting, Papermaking, Performance, Photography, Sculpture, Video, or a combination of these options.
Other program highlights include study trips to New York, Miami, Atlanta, and New Orleans, Grad Studios, and Exhibitions in the student-run MFA gallery, local spaces, and the FSU Museum of Fine Arts.
University of Florida (UF) was founded in 1858 as the Gainesville Academy. It serves more than 52,000 students enrolled in more than 30 certificates, 100 undergraduate majors and 200 graduate programs through dozens of departments, colleges and schools. The College of the Arts is home to the School of Art + Art History, which offers BFA, MFA, and Certificates in Graphic Design, as well as a BA in Visual Art Studies with a Concentration within a specific media.
The BFA is a studio-rigorous program that encourages “exploration and experimentation across a variety of media during the first two years,” says the school. Students will take studios outside of the core media focus, “thereby allowing for a diverse media experience throughout the entire four years of the BFA education.”
The MFA is a research-heavy degree that allows for a specialization, while the Graphic Design Certificate highlights “coursework considered essential to gain a better understanding of graphic design thinking, processes, methods, and practices in order to create effective graphic and communication design works.” Students who complete the program will “have a focused skillset sought by many disciplines, industries and professions.”
The BA in Visual Art Studies is a “flexible” degree program, which allows students to “more easily double-major or concentrate on another area of study completely outside of the arts.” Majors “enjoy a broad studio foundations program allowing experimentation across media while also focusing on a particular studio area, if they choose to.