|1||Arizona State University||Tempe|
|2||Northern Arizona University||Flagstaff|
|3||University of Arizona||Tucson|
Our 2019 rankings of the top graphic design school programs in Arizona. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Founded in 1885, Arizona State University (ASU) is home to more than 100,000 students (2017) enrolled in over 290 academic undergraduate programs and hundreds of graduate programs across 17 colleges and schools. The Tempe campus is home to nearly 52,000 students, making it the largest campus in the ASU system.
The ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts houses the Design School, which offers programs in the areas of Architecture, Environmental Design, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Visual Communication Design/VCD (Graphic Design). Visual Communication Design (VCD) options include a BSD in Graphic Design, an MSD with a Concentration in Visual Communication Design (VCD MSD), and a Master of Visual Communication Design (MVCD).
The BSD allows students to work on projects in the areas of Information Design, Interaction Design, Exhibition Design, Animation, Motion Graphics, Branding, Publication Design, Web Design, Interface Design and multiple contemporary facets of sensorial design. The MSD for individuals interested in “advanced studies in visual language, history, theory, criticism and methodology, design processes and technology.” The degree “develops an understanding of contemporary graphic design issues through specialized research and design skills. It also prepares the graduate student for a career in graphic design education.”
The MVCD has two options—a two-year studio-based program and a 3+ program. The two-year studio program is designed for students with a degree in VCD or Graphic Design and a 3+ program is designed to be a first professional degree for those students who do not have an undergraduate degree in VCD or Graphic Design.
2. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona
Northern Arizona University (NAU) was established in 1899. The school serves more than 31,000 students enrolled in nearly 300 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs through nine colleges and dozens of departments and schools. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences houses the School of Communication, which offers a BFA in Visual Communication with a Graphic Design Emphasis.
Per the school, through “rigorous coursework, students will develop skills in using aesthetic and conceptual judgment, color, type, symbols, digital images, multi-media, interactivity, motion graphics, photography, and project management to produce messages that clearly inform, effectively communicate brand experience, and persuade viewers.” Course highlights include Promotional Communication, Communication Design, Graphic Design I-V, Advanced Graphic Design Topics, Visual Communication Studios, Public Relations Writing, and 2D Design Fundamentals.
Students will have the opportunity to complete supervised field experience in an appropriate agency or organization or Visual Design Lab, an experiential professional practicum with an emphasis on “project research, problem discovery, development of design solutions, and implementation of professional communication design projects in collaboration with peer design teams and selected client-partners.”
Graduates of the NAU BFA in Visual Communication program are prepared to seek positions in Advertising Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Experience/Interface Design, Interaction Design, Corporate Media Design, and Print Production Design. BFA alumni have gone on to start “successful independent design practices” and land positions at some of the country's leading firms, including Body Glove, Yahoo! Games, Teva, and Nike.
3. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
Established in 1885, the University of Arizona serves nearly 45,000 students enrolled in more than 300 undergraduate majors and graduate programs and applied learning opportunities through dozens of colleges and schools. The College of Fine Art houses the School of Art, which offers BFA and MFA programs in Studio Art with an Emphasis in Illustration + Design. The BFA also has Illustration and Design Tracks. 125 units are required to complete the BFA in Studio Art, 42 units of which must be upper division coursework. Twenty-four units of upper division coursework is required in the Emphasis.
Per the school, the Illustration Track “provides a rigorous education in constructive anatomy and learn to describe the human form realistically and expressively and find personal methodologies in traditional and digital media.” Students will “graduate with a professional portfolio and knowledge of the history of Illustration as well as, the guidelines for ethical professional business practices in the field.”
The Design Track “provides a foundation in design principles and methodologies, creative problem solving and digital processes.” The program provides “knowledge and skills in professional practice including identity systems, web design, typography, motion graphics, history, contemporary criticism, and theory.” Students “will graduate with a professional portfolio and a broad understanding of the business of design as well as its potential as a medium of critical inquiry and community involvement.”
Course highlights for the BFA program include Drawing, Design, Space, Mapping, Surface, Illustration, Material Studies, Printmaking, Writing, and Photography.
Sixty units are required to complete the MFA, with 30 units in studio art courses. Sample studio art courses include 2D Painting and Printmaking, 3D and Extended Media, Photography, Illustration + Design and Interdisciplinary Practice. Twelve units are required in elective coursework, three units in ART 696A Contemporary Art: Concepts and Issues, three units in ART 596 Graduate Professional Practice and 12 units of Art History. A Graduate Interdisciplinary Critique must be taken twice in the first four semesters of the program and a Thesis Exhibition is also part of the program.