What are the top graphic design school programs in Tennessee for 2020?

Top Texas Graphic Design School Programs - 2020 College Rankings
1University of Tennessee - ChattanoogaChattanooga
2University of Tennessee – KnoxvilleKnoxville
3Watkins College of ArtNashville
4East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City

Our 2020 ranking of the top graphic design school programs in Tennessee. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee
University of Tennessee Chattanooga

University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) was founded in 1886. The school serves more than 11,600 students enrolled in dozens of degree programs through six colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Arts offers one program for aspiring graphic designers—a BFA in Studio with a Concentration in Graphic Design. The four-year program “engages contemporary theory and practice” in students’ chosen media, says the school.

By their senior year, “students concentrate almost exclusively on studio coursework within the area of concentration, with an emphasis on individual expression, open exploration, and experimentation.” Course highlights include Typography, Interactive Media, Processes and Materials for Graphic Design, Professional Practices in Graphic Design, Survey of Time-Based Art, Space and Sequence, Expanded Drawing, Visual Literacy for Graphic Design, Graphic Design Workshop, and Professional Preparation for the Visual Artist.

Students will also complete a Visual Arts Internship that will prepare them for positions at ad agencies, marketing firms, production studios, technology companies, and many others.

University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee
University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Founded in 1794 as Blount College, the University of Tennessee – Knoxville (UTK) serves approximately 29,460 students enrolled in more than 900 programs of study through 11 colleges. The College of Architecture + Design offers a BFA in Graphic Design. The program curriculum is sequenced to provide students “with the skills needed for singular, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary projects,” says the school. The program begins with a Design-Centered Foundations program that allows students to start “looking at the world through the lens of design” from day one. “Small faculty-to-student ratios in a studio setting create a dynamic and creative environment in which to learn.”

Course highlights for the program include Meaning-Making in Design, Design as Visual Message-Making, Visual Theory and Design Theories, Expanded Principles of Typography, Interactive and Screen-Based Design, and Graphic Design Studio. Students will complete a Practicum consisting of 45 working hours, as well as Professional Seminar, Portfolio Review, and Undergraduate Research or International Study.

With 90% of graduates working in the field within the past five years, UTK Graphic Design graduates “compete on a national stage and gain employment at locations all around the country.” Graduates have been hired at Apple, Discovery, Gap, Instagram, Google, HGTC, Facebook, and Zillow.

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, Nashville, Tennessee
Watkins College of Art Design & Film

Watkins College of Art (formerly Watkins College of Art, Design & Film) was founded in 1885. The school serves more than 300 students enrolled in BFA degrees in Film, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interior Design, and Photography, a BA in Art, and MFA degrees in Film and in Visual Arts. In the BFA in Graphic Design Program, students will develop their “capacity to create fun and arresting visual pieces that help people, businesses, and missions thrive,” says the school.

Students will accomplish this by honing “fabrication and production techniques in a wide range of print and digital media,” by employing “research-based strategies and methods for connecting with target audiences,” and by exploring “methods for activating public spaces.’ Students will “collaborate with classmates to design and execute exhibitions of their work” and they will “develop a professional-level portfolio with samples from genres such as package design, logo development, corporate identities, illustration, and editorial design.”

Course highlights for the 120 credit hour BFA in Graphic Design include Digital Design, Web & Interactive, Advanced Typography, Promotion & Packaging, Advanced Web Development, Experimental Typography, Introduction to HTML & CSS, and Brand Development. Students will also take Portfolio Review, Senior Portfolio Development, and Professional Practices.

Those with an interest in enhancing the degree, Watkins offers a Web Design Concentration consisting of 12 credit hours. Students will take Series: Special Topics in Web Development, Special Topics in Graphic Design, Special Problems In Advertising, and Internship I.

Other program highlights include access to state-of-the-art workstations, software, and production equipment, as well as swatch books and an extensive periodicals collection.

East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee
East Tennessee State University

Founded in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School, East Tennessee State University (ETSU) serves more than 14,500 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. The school offers more than 350 programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Arts & Sciences houses the Department of Art & Design, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design that “emphasizes visual problem solving with a variety of graphic media,” says the school.

The program covers illustration, typography, photography, and computer technology and how they are used to design branding and corporate identity systems (logos), ads, packages, displays, posters, web sites, animations, and other collateral forms of visual communication. The Graphic Design workshop “gives students experience working with real clients. They design materials for non-profit agencies as a form of service learning.”  Students also receive practical experience in account management, design, and production.

Graduates of the BFA in Graphic Design Program work in advertising agencies, design firms, publication industries, and corporate graphic design departments.