What are the top Arizona graphic design schools for 2023?

Top Arizona Graphic Design School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1Arizona State UniversityTempe
2University of ArizonaTucson
3Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff

Our 2023 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in Arizona. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) houses the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts—home to The Design School. Within the School is a Visual Communication (Graphic) Design Program accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Degree options include a Bachelor of Science in Design (BSD) in Graphic Design, a Master of Science in Design (MSD) with a Concentration in Visual Communication Design (VCD MSD), and a Master of Visual Communication Design (MVCD).

The Graphic Design BSD is available at ASU’s Tempe campus and through ASU Online. Course examples for the program include Visual Communication I-VI, Designing Life, Motion Graphics and Interaction Design, Principles for Graphic Design I-II, Advanced Media, Technology for Design I-II, Exhibit Design, and Letterform. The ASU Graphic Design BSD requires 120 credit hours to graduate, including 45 upper division hours.

The VCD MSD is available at the ASU Tempe campus. Consisting of 36 credit hours taken over four semesters (two years), the MSD Program requires courses such as Research Methods, Qualitative Research in Design, Methods in Visual Communication I-II, and VCD Seminar: Contemporary Issues. Visiting designers, an internship in teaching design, and a Thesis or the Applied Project Course are also part of the program.

The MVCD Program at the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts explores interaction design, user experience design, design for social innovation, service design, participatory design, and more.

Students will also engage in visualization, prototyping, theoretical research, ideation, creative solutions testing, and visual research.

Consisting of 42-43 credit hours, the MVCD Program has two options: a two-year, studio-based degree for professionals with solid design experience or a degree in VCD, Graphic Design or other related area, and a three-year degree, also studio-based, for students without an undergraduate design degree or experience in VCD or Graphic Design.

Students in the two-year ASU MVCD Program are encouraged to complete an internship, while three-year students are required to complete an internship. Internships take place during the summer after the first year, and they may be completed anywhere in the U.S. and around the world. Both program options require successful completion of Advanced Visual Communication Design Studio IV (culminating experience), worth five credits.

Graduates of the Design Programs at Arizona State University are prepared to pursue positions such as Graphic Designer, Set and Exhibition Designer, Instructional Designer, Technologist, Design Educator, Commercial and Industrial Designer, Art Director, Media Collection Specialist, Desktop Publisher, Package Designer, Animator, and UI/UX Designer, among others.

ASU Design alumni have been hired at major companies and organizations such as Google, UNICEF, American Airlines, GoDaddy, and Banner Health.

Arizona State University serves approximately 140,760 students, making it one of the largest universities in the U.S. Founded in 1885 as the Arizona Territorial Normal School, ASU has four campuses that provide 800 fully accredited degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
University of Arizona

The College of Fine Arts at University of Arizona (UA) houses the School of Art, which has a Design Arts and Practices (DAP) Program that prepares students for careers in areas such as Graphic Design, Desktop Publishing, Exhibition Design, User Experience (UX) Design, Product Design, and User Interface (UI) Design. Leading to a BA, the program explores design history, theory, and practice. DAP students develop skills in visual communication, computational thinking, design thinking, project management, problem solving, data analysis, and teamwork/collaboration.

Course examples for the UA Design Arts and Practices BA Program include Gaze Digital Photography, Amalgam Mixed-Media, Typography, Experience, Sound, Video, and Performance, Design for Web and Devices, Propaganda Design, Dealing with Data, Information Graphics, Design Studio, and Design Thinking. The program includes a culminating Capstone Project.

The College of Fine Arts at University of Arizona also has a Studio Art Program with BFA and MFA options in Studio Art. Students in both programs may select from the following Emphasis Areas: Illustration and Design (I+D), 3D & Extended Media, 3D Studies, and Photography. I&D undergraduates may choose an Illustration or Design Track. Other program features include team projects with local clients, field trips, participation in the Annual Spring Portfolio Review, internship opportunities, and study abroad experiences.

The UA Studio Art BFA requires 125 units, including 42 in upper division coursework, and 24 in the emphasis area. Mapping, Photography, Printmaking, Typography, Design, Illustration, and Contemporary Art are just a few course examples. The MFA consists of 60 units, with 30 units in studio art courses. Graduate students participate in interdisciplinary coursework, seminars, and independent studies. Teaching opportunities are also part of the program.

All School of Art students have access to external resources such as the Center for Creative Photography, University Museum of Art and the Poetry Center, and a state-of-the-art library. Internal resources include studio spaces, computer labs with Wacom Cintiq Touch screens and animation stations, a digital imaging lab with large format printing, mounting services, letterpress equipment, and darkrooms.

Graduates of the Design Arts and Practices Program at University of Arizona are prepared to pursue positions such as Graphic Designer, Creative Director, Visual Designer, Illustrator, UI/UX Designer, Brand Manager, Packaging Designer, Advertising Artist, Motion Designer, and Multimedia Designer.

Established in 1885, University of Arizona opened in 1891 with 32 students and six faculty members. Today, UA serves approximately 51,135 students, making it one of top five largest post-secondary institutions in Arizona. Students at UA have access to more than 300 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in more than 150 areas of study. Programs are offered across 20 colleges and nearly two dozen specialized schools. University of Arizona is accredited by the by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

3. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona
Northern Arizona University

The School of Communication at Northern Arizona University (NAU) is part of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Within the School is a Visual Communication BFA Program with a Graphic Design Emphasis. Program features include studio classes, collaborative learning, off-campus internships, multidisciplinary study, the opportunity to work on real-world projects in the campus-based VisualDESIGNlab and the Advanced Media Lab, and study abroad experiences.

The Visual Communication BFA at NAU requires 120 credit hours with 70 units in the Major, including 30 units of emphasis requirements. The program explores color, type and symbols, motion graphics, branding, interactivity, digital images, multimedia, photography, animation, and project management. Course, lab, and studio examples include Graphic Design I-III, Visual Design Lab, Typography I-II, Visual Communication Studios, and Drawing Fundamentals.

The final course for the program is Graphic Design Senior Portfolio, which consists of the analysis, development, and preparation of a professional portfolio and written capstone statement. Self-promotion, resume, visual documentation, and an oral presentation are also required.

Graduates of the Visual Communication Design BFA Program at Northern Arizona University work in advertising, publishing, retail, web design, game design, technology, education, and many other areas. Program alumni have been hired by major companies, brands, and studios such as Google, Nike, Yahoo, Citigroup, GAP, Motorola, Amazon Game Studios, Abercrombie & Fitch, GoDaddy, Teva, IBM, W.L. Gore, L’Oréal, and Body Glove.

Founded in 1899 as Northern Arizona Normal School (NANS), Northern Arizona University is a public, doctoral university that serves 28,090 students across the main campus in Flagstaff, the Yuma campus, 20 statewide locations, and online. More than 420  programs are available across 17 colleges and schools. Northern Arizona University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).