|1||University of Colorado, Denver||Colorado|
|2||Brigham Young University||Utah|
|3||Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design||Colorado|
|4||Texas State University, San Marcos||Texas|
|5||Oklahoma Christian University||Oklahoma|
Our 2019 rankings of the Top 5 illustration programs in the Southwest US.
We define the Southwest as Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) originated in 1912 as an extension of the University of Colorado Boulder. The school which gained its independence in 1973, serves approximately 19,400 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs in 13 schools and colleges. The College of Arts & Media houses the Illustration Program, which consists of a BFA in Fine Arts with an Illustration Emphasis and a Minor Illustration.
Per the school, students in the BFA program “receive instruction in conceptual illustration, digital illustration, rendering, perspective, painting, exhibition preparation, professional practices and the use of various artistic and illustration techniques.” Sample courses for the program include Anatomy for the Artist, Digital Painting, Graphic Novel Workshop, Illustration I, II, III & IV, Painting, Drawing and the Printed Image, and Typography Studio
"In preparation for a professional illustration career, the coursework allows students to master numerous essential digital and traditional tools and work to successfully bring the two together in ambitious and innovative illustrative work.” In addition to coursework in a range of areas, students will complete studio courses and lectures, as well as an internship and a Capstone course.
Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue a freelance illustration career, as well as positions in advertising, design, entertainment, publishing, and many others.
Founded in 1875, Brigham Young University (BYU) serves nearly 33,700 students enrolled in 177 undergraduate majors, 68 master’s programs, and 26 doctorate programs. The school houses dozens of departments, colleges, and schools, including Fine Arts and Communications and the Department of Design.
The Department of Design is the newest department on the BYU campus. It prepares students in 15 areas of study, including Animation, Art Direction, Game Development, Illustration, Interaction Design, Motion Design, and Visual Development to name a few. The Illustration option leads to a BFA. MFA programs are also available.
Per the school, this limited enrollment program (40 students) prepares students to “create marketable illustrations incorporating concept, rough sketches, color comps, and finished art as well as effectively communicate story concept.” Sample courses for the program include Advanced Concept Design, Bookbinding, Career Strategies for Employment and Internships, Gesture Design for Animators, Illustration 1-4, Introduction to Photography and Digital Workflow, Marketing Management, Narrative Illustration, Painting Mixed Media, and Sketchbook.
Students will complete a final project and a professional internship for up to six credit hours
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design was founded 1936. It serves 775 art and design students enrolled in 16 degree and certificate programs. Besides Illustration, a few program options include 3D Animation, 3D Character Animation, Design Processes and Production, Fine Art, Game Art, and Graphic Design. The school also offers graduate programs.
The BFA in Illustration has three concentration options including Children’s Book, Concept Art and Sequential Art. Program highlights include a collaborative environment, knowledgeable professors, small class sizes, and portfolio development. Students may also complete the program on-campus or online. Graduates of the program are prepared to seek positions in Editorial Illustration, Children’s’ Book Illustration, Concept Art for Games & Animations, Comic Books and Graphic Novels, Technical & Medical Illustration and Product Design & Licensing.
Established in 1899, Texas State University serves nearly 38,700 students enrolled in 97 bachelor’s, 93 master’s, and 14 doctoral programs in 10 colleges. The College of Fine Arts and Communication’s School of Art and Design offers a BFA and MFA degrees with a major in Communication Design. Areas of study within the Communication Design (ComDes) program include Advertising Art Direction, Graphic Design, Digital Media, and Illustration.
ComDes students can expect to take courses such as Expanded Media, Introduction to Printmaking: Screen and Relief Painting, Screen Printing, 2D Studio Art, and Watercolor. Courses are taught in a studio environment, with class sizes limited to approximately 16 students. Students may further their education with independent study courses and professional internships, which provide “excellent work experience before graduation,” says the school. While most interns work with Austin and San Antonio firms, “ComDes students have held internships all over the United States and in Europe.”
All students have access to study abroad opportunities in places such as England, Italy, Japan, Korea, and Mexico. Students also have access to extended educational opportunities (travel and alternative study) in Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and abroad.
Graduates of the program will leave ComDes with “a superior portfolio,” that will enable them to “enter into the professional practice of communication design.”
Oklahoma Christian University opened in 1950 as Central Christian College with just 97 students and a campus of three buildings. Today, the school sits on a 200 plus-acre campus that serves nearly 2,600 students. The school offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and 30 additional areas of study, along with seven graduate degrees. Programs are offered through five colleges including the College of Business Administration, College of Biblical Studies, College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Natural and Health Sciences.
The College of Liberal Arts houses the Department of Design, which offers a BFA in Communication Design with heavy illustration coursework and the opportunity to complete up to 12 hours of electives. A BS and Minor in Communication Design are also available.
Courses for the BFA program are classroom- and studio-based and include titles such as Business of Branding Yourself, Contemporary Art, Digital Design for Print, Digital Sculpting, Figure Drawing, Fundamentals of Drawing, Graphic Arts Production, Illustration I & II, Interactive Media Design, Painting, Printmaking, Technology for Graphics, Texturing, Rendering and Lighting, and Typography as Visual Language. The BS and 21 credit hour Minor offer many of the same courses.
Students in all programs have access to more than 60 student organizations and 20 study abroad and off-campus learning options such as the European Studies Program, the Asian Studies Program, and Ibaraki (Japan) and Korea Long-Term Exchange Programs.