What are the top Texas graphic design school programs for 2020?

Top Texas Graphic Design School Programs - 2020 College Rankings
1University of North TexasDenton
2University of Texas at AustinAustin
3Texas State UniversitySan Marcos
4University of Texas at ArlingtonArlington
5University of HoustonHouston
6Texas Christian UniversityFort Worth
7Baylor UniversityWaco
8Texas A&M UniversityCollege Station
9Texas Tech UniversityLubbock
10Texas A&M University Commerce

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

1. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
University of North Texas

University of North Texas (UNT) was founded in 1890 as Texas Normal College and Teachers’ Training Institute. With around 39,200 students enrolled, UNT is the fourth-largest university in Texas. The school offers 105 bachelors, 88 masters and 37 doctoral degree programs across 12 colleges and one school. The College of Visual Arts and Design is home to the Design Department, which houses the Communication Design Program. Program options for aspiring graphic designers include BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Communication Design.

The BFA program covers the basic principles of design, image making, color theory and typography. It is also designed to “help students learn to be effective conceptual thinkers and, most importantly, creative problem solvers in the disciplines of Advertising and of Graphic Design.” The 36 credit hour MA in Communication Design and the 60 credit hour MFA in Communication Design are both taught as concentrations in Design Research.

Students in all Graphic Design programs have the opportunity to complete an internship, study abroad, and access “valuable resources” consisting of over 1,000 reference books, magazines and paper/print samples of photography, illustration, typography, graphic design and advertising.

2. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) was founded in 1881. The school opened its doors in 1883 with one building, eight professors, one proctor, and 221 students. Today, UT Austin is home to nearly 52,000 students enrolled in over 500 degree programs and fields of study across 18 colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts, School of Design and Creative Technologies has several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BA, BFA and MFA degrees in Design.

BA and BFA Design students develop their research, problem-solving and critical thinking/making skills through studio-based courses, while elective courses and the university’s core curriculum emphasize the liberal arts. In their junior year, students must complete at least one professional internship, which may include working at major companies with offices in the Austin area. Just a few include Google, Dell, IBM, Apple, Samsung, Frog, Pentagram, and EA Games.

The BFA is a pre-professional degree program encompassing typography, image creation/manipulation, interaction design and 3-D design that is intended to prepare students for employment in the field of design. During the senior year, BFA Design students undertake a capstone design project and show their work in a public exhibition at the Visual Arts Center.

The Design BA is an “equally rich and rigorous exploration of design as a field,” says the school, “but is intended for students who prefer the flexibility and breadth of a liberal arts degree to the more studio-intensive, pre-professional BFA degree.” BA students enroll side-by-side with BFA students in rigorous introductory design studio courses. In the final two years of study, BA students take fewer upper-division studio courses.

The MFA in Design is a 60 credit hour program that accepts exceptional students with preexisting design skills. The program prepares students for “thought and organizational leadership in the field of design or in fields where design is being utilized strategically. In addition to advanced studio work in established design disciplines,” students have the “opportunity to study, explore and work in disciplines that intersect with design.”

All students in the program “will enjoy a formal curricular partnership with another discipline on campus and develop a thesis that thoughtfully intersects design with another field such as business, anthropology, engineering, or art.” In addition, the MFA Design program offers preparation for college teaching in the field of design through a series of classes exploring design pedagogy.

3. Texas State University, San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas
Texas State University

Founded in 1899, Texas State University, San Marcos (TXST) serves more than 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in more than 200 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs — from biology to music to business to geography and more. With two campuses in San Marcos and Round Rock, Texas, TXST offers programs through 10 colleges, including the College of Fine Arts & Communication—home of the Communication Design Program, which offers both BFA and MFA pathways.

The school says that the Communication Design Program is “one of the largest public programs in the country.” BFA students have three areas of professional study to choose from including Graphic Design, Art Direction, and Interactive Media. Courses in art direction, brand experience, corporate identity, design research, environmental graphics, human centered design, interactive design, sustainable packaging and typography prepare students for professional practice within a designer/client relationship. Students may further their education with independent study courses and professional internships.

Communication Design courses are taught in a studio environment, with class sizes limited to approximately 16. Students have access to the Mitte Complex, which has Macintosh labs, an open lab for student use, digital color printing availability including RISO, digital still and video camera checkout, and a photography studio and a multidisciplinary innovation lab equipped with laser cutter, CNC router, 3D printer and die cutter.

The MFA curriculum is “designed to provide advanced study in the areas of corporate advertising art direction, graphic design, and digital media design. The graduate program will provide students with the following: advanced problem-solving methodologies, updating technological advancement relating to communication design, examination of historical events within the discipline, and emerging theoretical constructs.”

“Web-based delivery is heavily featured in course curriculum, as well as online video conferences, live chat, and blogging interfaces. In addition, the program offers courses via extended weekend seminars, evening courses, and independent directed study. This non-traditional structure allows active professionals to participate.” The MFA program also offers “limited graduate assistant positions for qualified students who wish to immerse themselves full time in their graduate studies.”

For students seeking a future career in higher education, the program provides the appropriate academic credential and the terminal degree in the discipline of visual communication design: the MFA.

“The exchange of ideas on an international basis is an important component of the MFA Communication Design program.” Guest professors from around the world visit the TXST campus to” lecture and share their unique perspective on communication design with graduate students. In addition, selected students are encouraged to participate in international field trips to expand their knowledge in the field of communication design.”

TXST Communication Design students have had their work published in CMYK, Step Inside Design, Graphis New Talent Annual, and PRINT. Students have also received recognition in national, regional, and local competitions such as The One Show, American Advertising Federation Awards, National DSVC Student Show, Creative Summit, Art Director's Club of Houston, Austin Addy Awards, and San Antonio Addy Awards.


4. University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas
University of Texas at Arlington

University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) originated as Arlington College in 1895. The school began with roughly 75 students. Today, total global enrollment for UTA is nearly 60,000. The school offers more than 180 degree programs across nine colleges, including the College of Liberal Arts (CoLA), which houses the Department of Art and Art History. Here, students can earn a BA, BFA or MFA in Art that covers Visual Communication (Graphic Design, Web Design, App Design, Game Design and Illustration), Emerging Media, Intermedia, Film and Video, Printmaking, Drawing, and more. Course highlights include Sign and Symbol, Publication Design, Three-Dimensional Design, History of Graphic Design, Information Visualization, Digital Media, Advanced Typography, Web Typography, Sustainable Design, and Advanced Printmaking.

Students in Graphic Design will complete Graphics Portfolio Preparation, which concentrates on the creation, development, and evaluation of the graphic design portfolio. BFA students will complete the Senior Exhibition/Presentation course as well and internship opportunities are offered in all programs.

MFA students must take 60 semester credit hours over six semesters of the three-year program. The student will be required to spend a minimum of three semesters in the MFA program with one academic year in residency as a full-time student. Thirty-nine credit hours are reserved for the concentration, with the remainder dedicated to supporting studio courses, art history courses, and free electives.

Students are required to take courses such as Research in Visual Communication, Critical Perspective in the Visual Arts & Visual Communication, Research in Studio Intermedia, and Creative Strategies. Elective options run the gamut from Research in Printmaking to Research in Photography Digital Imaging. Independent Study is also part of the program as well as the Thesis Exhibition.

Graduates of the Art programs at UTA have career opportunities such as Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Photographer, Art Director, Exhibition Designer, Art Dealer, Printmaker, Animator, Web/App Designer, and many others.

5. University of Houston, Houston, Texas
University of Houston

Founded in 1927, the University of Houston (UH) serves around 46,150 students enrolled in 300+ academic programs across 12 colleges and the UH Law Center. The Kathrine G. McGovern College of Arts houses the School of Art, which offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include a BFA in Graphic Design, an MFA in Studio Arts with a Concentration in Graphic Design, and a Minor in Studio Arts.

Coursework for the BFA program “investigates current culture and society; design history and theory; method and practice; and technology and communication, all within a graphic design context,” says the school. “Students are instructed using current technologies and develop portfolios that include a wide range of work: identity systems, print based graphics, book design, posters, web and motion.”

The MFA program “promotes advanced research in graphic design and critical theory,” says the school. “Personal investigations converge cultural, social, historical, methodological and/or technological ideas within a graphic design context.” Students define an area of specific interest and concentrate their research and development on this new direction. Students and advisors work together to push the boundaries of theory and practice.”

Design graduate students have 24/7/365 access to the Graduate Design Studio, which includes a personal workspace, two iMacs, a black and white duplexing tabloid printer and a small kitchen. The studio is steps away from the School of Art general computer lab, which houses twenty-one iMacs, three large format Epson plotters, a color laser printer, a color copier, a 24 inch Wacom Cintiq, and several scanners. Other equipment available to graphic design students are a 24 inch Epson plotter, a vinyl cutter, a letterpress, four black and white tabloid printers, portable digital projectors, digital SLRs, GoPros and sound recorders.

All design students have access to the school’s coveted internship program, which highlights jobs with both national and international companies. Students may also study abroad in dozens of countries around the world.

6. Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas
Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University (TCU) was founded as Add-Ran College in 1873. The school serves just over 11,000 students enrolled in 117 undergraduate majors and 103 graduate areas of study in 10 colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts houses the Department of Design, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design.

This professional degree "prepares graduates to enter the workforce as designers and/or art directors upon graduation," says the school. The program has a liberal arts core, with graphic design courses that establish "a strong foundation in basic visual and technical skills, design theory and graphic design history."

In-depth topics courses round out the curriculum, including advertising, corporate identity, packaging, editorial, typography, web and interactive media. A creative internship is also required during the summer between junior and senior year.

The Capstone classes, Portfolio & Marketing and Senior Thesis, "divide their focus among research-based creative problem solving, finishing a competitive portfolio and job-hunting methodology."

TCU Graphic Design BFA graduates enjoy an extremely high placement rate—100% over the past four years. Graduates typically work as creative designers or art directors at design studios and advertising agencies all over world, including Dallas, Austin, Houston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, London, UK; Cologne, Germany; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Managua, Nicaragua; Panama City, Panama and Lima, Peru.

7. Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Baylor University was chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas. It has a total enrollment of 17,383 students enrolled in 142 undergraduate degree programs, 75 master's programs, and 42 doctoral programs in 12 colleges and schools. Students come from 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 89 countries.

The College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Art offers a Graphic Design Emphasis within the Studio Art Major. The program, which leads to a BFA in Studio Art – Graphic Design, “offers students the opportunity to develop their hand and aesthetic skills, and conceptual development,” says the school. Students in the program will take liberal arts courses, visual arts courses, and marketing courses, and an optional internship is available.

Course highlights for the program include Package Design, Web Design, Design Methods, Digital Media for Graphic Design, Type and Image, Advanced Photo: Digital, Marketing, Identity Design, and Portfolio Preparation.

Graduates of the program have gone on to “work in design studios and major advertising agencies.”  Others have “started design studios and advertising agencies of their own.”

8. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Texas A&M College Station opened its doors in 1876 as the state’s first public Institution of higher learning. Today, the school is the primary location for Texas A&M, with branch campuses in Galveston, Texas and Doha, Qatar. The school serves 69,465 students enrolled in 133+ undergraduate programs and 260+ graduate degree programs in 17 colleges and schools. The College of Architecture houses the Department of Visualization, which offers a BS, MS, MFA, and PhD degrees in Visualization.

The BS-Viz program consists of 120 credit hours integrating aspects of fine arts, three-dimensional design, and digital technology into the studio experience.  A required semester away provides the opportunity to study abroad in one of several foreign studies programs or to serve an internship in an industry related to the student’s area of interest.

The MS-Viz is “designed to prepare students for a range of long-term careers in visualization,” says the school. The core curriculum for the program gives all students “a basic grasp of the artistic, scientific, cognitive, and technical foundations of the discipline.” Students in the MS program are required to develop a strong focus area of advanced expertise, and to complete a research thesis in this focus area.

The MFA-Viz or MFA-V is a technology infused visual arts oriented degree that complements the existing MS-Viz “by expanding post-graduate opportunities to include university level faculty positions, self-employment as a contemporary artist, and art direction in digital media.” Through a highly disciplinary curriculum and combined use of digital and analog mediums, students in the program will master the use of artistic visual communication and expression.

Graduates of the program “are equipped with an uncommon balance of artistic insight and technical prowess that sets them apart from their peers. The MFA-V is unique in the State of Texas, and one of only a handful of programs of this kind in the United States.”

The PhD program “focuses primarily on research and the development and dissemination of new knowledge.” This unique pathway “aims to create new knowledge and advance the state of the art in specific fields, including visualization, and to prepare students for careers in research and teaching.”

9. Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
Texas Tech University

Established in 1923, Texas Tech University (TTU) is the largest comprehensive higher education institution in the western two-thirds of the state of Texas. According to a release, for Fall 2019, overall enrollment at Texas Tech was 38,803 students and the graduate enrollment was 6,241 students, both of which broke previous records.

The school offers more than 150 academic programs in 12 colleges and schools, including the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts. Here, in the School of Art, students can earn an Art BFA with a Graphic Design Concentration. This limited-access program “addresses problem-seeking and problem-solving skills,” says the school. “The curriculum stresses the importance of conceptual development, design history, theory and the integration of form and information for the purpose of effective communication.”

The program places emphasis “on social responsibility and civic engagement and the role of the designer in society. Students are exposed to a full range of topics such as typography, branding, publication, interactive, multimedia and web design.”

Students in the program have received awards and scholarships in “prestigious” competitions the national and international levels and their work has been featured in publications and journals such as Print, CMYK, and How. Alumni hold positions in design firms and advertising agencies throughout the country with graduates working at Condé Nast Traveler, Wired Magazine, Nike, Texas Monthly, and more.

10. Texas A&M University – Commerce, Commerce, Texas

Established in 1889 as East Texas Normal College in Cooper, Texas A&M University – Commerce (TAMU-Commerce) is the nation’s fifth oldest state university. The school, which has additional locations in downtown Dallas, Corsicana, Mesquite, McKinney, Midlothian and Rockwall, is the second largest university in the prestigious Texas A&M University System. Serving around 12,135 students, TAMU-Commerce offers 144 total areas of study at the undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels, through five colleges.

The College of Humanities, Social Sciences & Arts houses the Department of Art, which offers a BFA in Visual Communication with an Emphasis in Design and an MFA in Art with an Emphasis in Visual Communication. The BFA in Visual Communication Design prepares students for careers in print. Per the school, the curriculum “encompasses logos and corporate identities, annual reports, packaging and billboards.” Course highlights include Design Communications, User Experience in Multimedia, Digital Imaging and Motion for Visual Communication, Typography, Motion Graphics, Letter Press, Advertising Art Concepts/Copywriting I, and Screenprinting for VisCom.

The MFA with an Emphasis in Visual Communication “explores creative process innovation; design development; inter-disciplinary design community initiatives; design-professional practice leadership, strategy, process and product; and design-teaching methodologies grounded in a social perspective.” The program consists of a capstone project that “addresses an issue of social, educational, environmental or business significance utilizing research methods that yield new knowledge in the chosen field of study. The Visual Communication Design research culminates in a final research paper and exhibition.”

Students in all programs will have the opportunity to complete an internship and study abroad opportunities are available.

Graduates of the Visual Communication Programs at TAMU Commerce “have risen to leading positions in the industry, both on a regional and national level,” says the school. In these positions, graduates of the program have “been instrumental in directing recent trends in graphic design.”