Did you know? Located at the intersection of art and commerce, Academy of Art University's Graphic Design program integrates practice, theory, and inquiry, while refining and encouraging innovation, critical thinking, visual literacy and conceptual problem solving. Learn more.
|1||Kent State University||Kent|
|2||University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati|
|3||The Ohio State University||Columbus|
|4||Cleveland Institute of Art||Cleveland|
|7||Columbus College of Art and Design||Columbus|
|8||University of Dayton||Dayton|
|9||University of Akron||Akron|
|10||Bowling Green State University||Bowling Green|
Our 2019 rankings of the top 10 graphic design school programs in Ohio. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Founded in 1910, Kent State University (KSU or Kent State) serves nearly 40,000 students (in an eight-campus system) enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across dozens of colleges and schools. The College of Communication and Information (CCI), School of Visual Communication Design, offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers including BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Visual Communication Design. A Design Minor is also available.
The BA allows students to choose 20 percent of their coursework. Per the school, students in the program “develop technical proficiency and design expertise in the organization of imagery and typography to communicate information in both the two-dimensional and three-dimensional form. Students in the BA (and the BFA program) produce work for print, video, screen displays and interactive experiences, as well as package design, exhibition design and environmental wayfinding.”
The BFA program leads to a professional degree and focuses on intensive work in the visual arts supported by a program of liberal/general studies. Students develop technical proficiency and design expertise in the organization of imagery and typography to communicate information in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional form and interactive forms and environments.
The MA is designed for students with “undergraduate degrees in design or related fields who wish to advance their studio skills in print design, illustration, web design, 3-D design, motion graphics, interactive design, corporate identity, information architecture, interaction design or information graphics. The program offers individualized plans of study, experiential learning, design history and research. Interdisciplinary study is encouraged.”
The MFA is recommended for students with undergraduate degrees in design or related fields who wish to enter a career in higher education instruction or to advance their studio skills in print design, illustration, web design, 3-D design, motion graphics, interactive design, corporate identity, information architecture, interaction design, information graphics or a combination of two or more. This terminal degree offers graduate teaching and research assistantships, individual plans of study, experiential learning, design history and research. Interdisciplinary study is encouraged.
The Design Minor provides students with “a foundation in graphic design, including design research and history, graphic software, industry standards and professional ethics.”
All School of Visual Communication Design students must complete 300 hours of internship before graduation. Most internships are paid, and students have the opportunity to work at major companies across Cleveland and in Chicago, San Francisco and New York. Students in all programs also have plenty of study abroad/away opportunities.
2. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
Founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati (UC) serves nearly 46,000 students enrolled in 370 degree programs across 13 colleges and a graduate school. The College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) houses the Myron E. Ullman Jr. School of Design, which offers a BS in Communication Design. The program, which takes five years to complete, offers three Concentration areas including Graphic Design, Motion Design, and Interaction Design.
Students in the BS program will take a broad range of courses such as Foundational Drawing and Design, Kinetic Communication, Typography, Photodesign, and Design Ideation. Courses are supplemented with general education requirements, directed electives, design history, and interdisciplinary courses in design thinking and user-centered design. Per the school, studios “will refine and develop specific or general skills and be enhanced with further study in design history, methodology, research methods, and global studies.”
Besides the BS in Communication Design, aspiring graphic designers might consider another program offered through UC’s Blue Ash College. The Art and Visual Communication Department here offers a two-year Associate Degree in Applied Graphic Communication. The program is designed for “students seeking foundational skills appropriate for further study in the design field or for employment in areas of design support.” Classes are small, so students receive considerable personal attention and direction from faculty. Though the program is a two-year degree, students may take up to three years to complete the program.
3. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University (OSU) was established in 1870. The school serves 68,100 students enrolled in more than 200 majors, specializations, and minors across 12+ colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences is home to the Department of Design, which offers a Bachelor of Science in Design (BSD) in Visual Communication Design and a Design Thinking Minor.
Per the school, students in the program use digital tools, “including advanced computing technology, to visualize and present translations of complex data and ideas.” Students will “study and explore research-based approaches to the visual design of information, the development of brand identities based on present and future conditions, and the creation of way-finding systems for navigating complex environments.”
The production of printed materials such as books, brochures, packaging, and posters is also part of the program. Sample courses include Design Media 1 for Visual Communication Design, Typographic Design, Materials + Processes for Visual Communication Design, Design Research, Collaborative Design, Professional Practices, Sustainability and the Built Environment, and Design Matters. In their senior year, designers will complete a final project “that demonstrates each student's comprehensive knowledge and ability to work independently.”
The Design Thinking Minor is a 15 credit hour program introduces students to new and creative ways to solve problems. Courses include Design Practice, Design History, Exploring Design Thinking, Visualization as Thinking, and Presentation as Thinking.
Graphic design students who would like to pursue graduate study at OSU have two options: the MFA in Visual Arts offered through the Department of Art and the MFA in Digital Animation and Interactive Media offered through the Department of Design. The MFA in Visual arts has two emphasis areas: Art and Technology or Printmaking. The 72 credit hour, three-year program allows students to work across disciplines and with faculty from all seven studio areas offered in the MFA program.
The MFA in Digital Animation and Interactive Media allows students to select courses that cover visual design, technical skills for animation and interactive media, programming and algorithms, audio design, writing and scripting, and professional development.
4. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Founded in 1882, Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) serves 670 students enrolled in 15 majors in art, design, craft, and interactive media. Among them is Graphic Design. Students in this BFA program will "explore both innovative and traditional methods of graphic design including typography, print and web design, package design, and signage," Says the school. Students will be "introduced to forms, methods, conventional and experimental types of media, and concepts crucial to creative development, self-expression, and effective visual communication and production."
Other program highlights include the opportunity to collaborate with Industrial Design and Interior Design students on projects and in the classroom. The integrated curriculum will help students "build valuable communication skills and develop techniques" for presenting their ideas and final projects.
Graduates of the program are prepared to seek positions such as Advertising Designer, Art Director, Associate Partner, Film Director + Writer, Magazine Designer, and many others.
5. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University was established in 1804. The school serves more than 23,000 students enrolled in more than 250 programs across 11 colleges and 15 schools. The College of Fine Arts, School of Art and Design offers a BFA in Graphic Design. Per the school, students enter the School of Art and Design as BA majors and to become a studio art BFA major in graphic design, they first complete the Foundations Program, take two 2000-level studio graphic design courses, plus two studios outside of graphic design, and submit a portfolio of studio work for review at the end of the sophomore year.
Course highlights for the program include Animation, Content & Concept in Material & Form, Digital Photography, Experimental Drawing and Painting, Figure and Gender, Glaze Calculation & Materials, Graphic Design Principles, Graphic Design Studio I-IV, Letterpress and Bookmaking, Papermaking, Public Spheres & Dissemination Tactics, and Screen/Paper. A Graphic Design Practicum and Graphic Design BFA Exhibit are also of the program.
Per the school, graduates of the BFA in Graphic Design often secure positions “with design firms nationally and internationally in areas such as corporate design, brand and identity design, package design, information design, interactive design, collateral design, publication design, book design, signage, environmental design and type design. Through the rigor of the academic studies as well as the development of practical skills, graduating designers are also prepared to enter advanced degree programs.”
*Students interested in design might also want to explore the design program offered through the School of Visual Communication in the Scripps College of Communication. The BS in Visual Communication offers sequences in Information Graphics: Publication Design and Multimedia. An advisor-approved internship is also part of the program. This opportunity consists of 400 hours of paid and supervised work in the student’s field.
6. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Chartered in 1809, Miami University is one of the oldest public universities in the country. The school welcomed its first students in 1824, and quickly became known as the “Yale of the West.” Today, the school servs around 24,400 students across four campuses in Oxford, Hamilton, Middletown, and West Chester. Miami, which houses seven colleges and schools, offers bachelor's degrees in over 120 areas of study. Graduate students choose from more than 70 master's and doctoral degree programs. Several associate's degrees as well as bachelor's degrees are offered through study at the regional locations.
Programs for aspiring graphic designers are offered through the College of Creative Arts (CCA), Department of Art. Options include a BFA in Communication Design (formerly Graphic Design) with nine Focus options including Communication, Technical Communication, Interactive Design, Environmental Design, Studio Art, Cultural Studies, Business, Art and Architectural History, and Perception and Cognition.
Program highlights include small classes (20 students per class), the opportunity to work on real world projects through interdisciplinary studios, special projects, and visiting artist lectures and workshops. Students will also learn letterpress printing and bookbinding, mixing hand media with new digital approaches, and they have the option to co-major, minor or double-major Interactive Media Studies or choose between Miami’s many other minor and double-major options. Paid internships within leading firms are also part of the program as well as Highwire Brand Studio and/or the Interactive Media Studies capstone.
Per the school, these “nationally-recognized interdisciplinary programs” allow students to work with profit and non-profit clients. In addition, through Miami University’s Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg, students have the opportunity to “study abroad, earn regular Miami credit, and live in the heart of Western Europe.” The wide variety of courses offered through the program is designed to “take advantage of the European location.” Students will have “many opportunities to see the great museums of Europe and to experience the ancient artistic traditions of the continent.”
7. Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio
Founded in 1879 and home to nearly 1,100 students, Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) is one of the oldest private art and design colleges in the United States, offering 12 BFA programs and two graduate programs in art and design. Options for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA In Advertising Design & Graphic Design and an MFA In Visual Arts.
The BFA is a 120 credit hour program consisting of 42 hours of program requirements, 36 core studio requirements, and 42 core liberal arts requirements. Sample courses include Advanced Design Concepts, UX Strategy Interaction, Motion Graphics, Trends in Design, Visual Literacy, Illustration for Graphic Design, Applied Design, Web Strategy and Design, and Digital Photography. Graduates of the program have been hired by A&E Television Networks, BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, Young and Rubicam, Arc Worldwide/Leo Burnett, American Greetings, Ogilvy & Mather, and Apple.
The MFA in Visual Arts consists of a 60-hour curriculum, taken over two years. Project proposals can be based in design, illustration, printmaking, interactive design, animation, photography and many others. Other program highlights include small class sizes (9-15 students are accepted each year), the opportunity to work with an off-campus mentor or participate in a practicum, and access to the 13,700-square-foot graduate facility, which includes individual student studios, a lounge, and an exhibition space.
MFA graduates have been hired by the Academy of Art, the Art Institutes, Beats by Dre the Museum of Contemporary Art, Nickelodeon, and many others.
8. University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio
Founded in 1850, with only 14 students, one building and one farm, the University of Dayton (UD) serves nearly 11,000 students enrolled in more than 80 undergraduate and 50 graduate and doctoral programs through five academic units. The College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art and Design offers a BFA in Graphic Design and a BA in Visual Arts.
Per the school, the BFA in Graphic Design is an “intensive professional program of study” that covers “design methods and design theory, and provides the visual, conceptual, and technical skills needed to be a successful designer.” Approximately 65 percent of the degree requirements are in the creation and study of visual communication design. During the course of the program, students will assemble a portfolio that can be presented to potential clients and employers. As seniors, students will present their final portfolio to faculty and the professional community.
The BA in Visual Arts is a flexible program that the school says encompasses art history, fine arts, photography and visual communication design. The program emphasizes a "broad liberal arts education with supportive studies from all areas of the Department of Art and Design." The curriculum consists of visual arts foundation courses, with additional coursework at the 200 level, and six hours of upper level art history courses. Studio and art history courses make up 35 to 40 percent of the degree work, and "electives are structured to expand knowledge within the arts.”
The BA in Visual Arts “is structured to encourage the addition of a minor or second major within another discipline." Students in both the BA and BFA programs have the opportunity to engage in experiential learning opportunities at UD’s China Institute, “while engaging in a unique academic experience — for the same cost as a semester on campus.”
9. University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
Founded in 1870 as Buchtel, University of Akron serves around 20,550 students enrolled in more than 300 areas of study through 11 colleges and schools. The Butchel College of Arts and Science houses the Mary Schiller Myers School of Art, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design. Program highlights include several well-equipped graphic design studios, 70,000 square feet of learning space, co-op programs and internships, and access to Emily Davis Art Gallery, which showcases art and design of regional, national and international significance as well as student, juried student and scholarship exhibitions.
Students also benefit from the visiting artists and lecture series sponsored by the Mary Schiller Myers School of Art as well as participation in student organizations such as the Student Art League and Design x Nine. Course highlights include Corporate Identity, Digital Imaging, 4D Design Interactivity, Graphic Presentations, Illustration, Packaging Design, Professional Design Practices, Typography, and Web/Mobile Devices.
Graduates of the BFA in Graphic Design are prepared for careers as communicators in the visual arts, including Graphic Design, Illustrating, Photo Editing, Photography, and Web Design, as well as work as a Creative Director.
10. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Established in 1910, Bowling Green State University (BGSU) serves 19,000 students, including 2,500 at BGSU Firelands in Huron, Ohio. Students come from 50 states and 70 other countries The school offers more than 200 undergraduate majors and programs on the main campus and eight baccalaureate and 14 associate degree programs at BGSU Firelands. Programs are offered through eight colleges, including the College of Arts and Sciences.
Established in 1929, the College of Arts and Sciences at BGSU houses the School of Art, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design that the school says, “merges design ideologies and research with appropriate aesthetic and communication methods in typography, design history and theory, information graphics, interactive design, systems-based design, emerging media, community engagement, design thinking and creative placemaking.”
Course highlights for the program include 3D Design, Graphic Design Thinking, Histories and Theories of Design for Social Impact, History of Graphic Design and Integrative Models, Interactive Graphic Design, System-Based Graphic Design, Time-Based Design, and Typographic Systems.
The BGSU Graphic Design facilities are housed in two buildings—the CAVE (Center for Advanced Visualization and Education) Lab, in the Fine Arts Center, and classroom space in located in the Wolfe Center for The Arts. Students have access to progressive digital lab facilities, making spaces and galleries, as well as Adobe Creative Cloud and the Adobe Typeface Library, which affords students access to over 2,300 of the strongest and most respected typefaces available. Spaces also contain color printers and bookbinding equipment, plus a thirty seat lecture space.
Other program highlights include the opportunity to study art and humanities courses at BGSU’s sister school in Florence, Italy, called SACI and internship opportunities with a focus on providing real-world experience. Per the school, “the program positions students for successful internships and design careers with organizations such as Nike, Uber, Thirst, Owens Corning, Sarankco and Organizing for America.”