What are the top Washington DC graphic design schools for 2023?

Top Washington DC Graphic Design School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1George Washington UniversityDC
2American UniversityDC
3Howard UniversityDC

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

1. George Washington University, Washington, DC
George Washington University

Columbian College of Arts & Sciences at George Washington University (GW) provides close to 100 degree and graduate certificate programs to 8,000 students. Corcoran School of Art & Design. GW’s largest academic unit, Columbian College houses 42 academic departments and three schools. This includes Corcoran School of the Arts & Design, home to the Graphic Design BFA and 21 credit hour Minor.

BFA Program features include participation in World Studio’s Design Ignites Change and Design Lab where students work on real-world projects, access to state-of-the-art studios and labs, internship opportunities, and study abroad experiences. GW Corcoran students have studied and worked overseas in Saudi Arabia, Japan, London, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and China. In the U.S., students have engaged in experiential learning experiences in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Corcoran BFA students have also interned at or worked with companies, networks, and publications such as Architectural Digest, Apple, Discovery Communications, NBC, The Daily Beast, National Geographic and PBS.

The Graphic Design BFA Program at GW explores branding and identity, motion graphics, typography publication design, systems design, information design, mobile apps, interaction design, environmental design, and web design. The program culminates with a professional portfolio and Thesis Exhibition known as NEXT.

Graduates of the George Washington University Graphic Design Program are prepared to pursue positions such as Package Designer, Exhibit Designer, Publication Designer, User Interface Designer, Package Designer, Branding/Identity Designer, Interaction Designer, Book Designer, Motion Designer, Environmental Designer, Mobile Apps Designer, and Web Designer.

Program alumni have been hired for full-time positions at places such as The Smithsonian Institution, Apple, Discovery Communications, National Geographic, The Daily Beast, and Harper's Bazaar.

George Washington University serves more than 26,000 students from all 50 states, DC, and 130+ countries, making it the largest institution of higher education in Washington, DC. Founded in 1821, GW offers hundreds of programs (including more than 100 online programs) across 14 colleges and schools, and 100 research centers. George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA-CESS).

2. American University, Washington, DC
American University

With more than 100 degree programs spanning the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences, the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at American University (AU) is the institutions largest school. Within the CAS is the Department of Art, which has a Graphic and Visual Communication Design Program. For students interested in a four-year degree program, the Program has a BA option. For individuals seeking a shorter program or an add-on to a related degree, the Department has an 18 credit hour Minor.

Students in this mini-major will complete nine credit hours of courses such as Visual Communication Design, Digital and Emerging Media Design, and Typography I: Visible Language for Publications. The other nine credit hours will consist of electives, which allow students to gain experience in areas such as packaging design, branding, and information design. Elective examples include Visual Branding and Design Systems, Kinetic and Sequential Graphics, Packaging Design, Data Visualization and Information Design, and Design for Print: Digital and Analog Print Production.

The Graphic and Visual Communication Design Program at American University provides opportunities to add a Minor or Second Major, or enroll in a combined Bachelor’s/Master’s degree program. All students will complete at least 120 credit hours for the traditional BA Program, with the option to complete an internship and/or independent study program through electives.

Course examples for the program include Graphic Design History: Visual Culture, Commerce, and Propaganda, Visual Concepts and Image Making for Design, Digital and Emerging Media Design, Experience Design: Interactive Media and Mobile Devices, Visual Branding and Design Systems, and Typography II: Type and Image.

Students in good academic standing have access to AU Abroad. In partnership with the Department of Art, AU Abroad offers a variety of study abroad programs suited for artists and designers. Examples include Australia (University of New South Wales), England (University College of London – Slade School of Fine Arts), Italy (Studio Art Centers International), Scotland (Glasgow School of Art), and Wales (Aberystwyth University).

The AU Graphic and Visual Communication Design Program culminates with the Design Capstone. In this courses, students will research, conceptualize, design, and complete a number of design projects that will become a part of their final senior portfolio.

Graduates of the Graphic and Visual Communication Design Programs at American University go on to pursue graduate study or careers in areas such as Book Publishing, UI/UX Design, Magazine Publishing, Exhibit Design, Advertising, Marketing, Multimedia Design, and Web Design.

Founded in 1893, American University is classified as an R2 Institution, ranked "Doctoral: Higher Research Activity" by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. AU serves more than 14,000 students enrolled in 170+ programs across eight colleges and schools. American University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and it is recognized by the University Senate of the United Methodist Church.

3. Howard University, Washington, DC
Howard University

The Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University (Howard) houses the Department of Art (est. 1921). Within the Department is a Graphic Design Program that leads to a BFA or MFA. In addition to providing career-oriented courses that allow students to engage with companies, agencies, and cultural institutions in the DC area, the Graphic Design Program explores print, digital 2D and 3D, interactive and motion design.

Course examples across programs include Design for Advertising I-II, Design Workshop, Problems in Illustration, Design Seminar, Typography, Magazine and News Design, Art History, Digital Design I-II, Reproduction Techniques, and Studio Problems in Design. BFA students will complete a professional portfolio of their best work and MFA students will complete a Thesis across four courses. Students in both programs will have the opportunity to complete an internship or apprenticeship.

Graduates of the Graphic Design BFA Program at Howard University go on pursue a graduate degree or careers in Graphic Design, Advertising Design, Brand Management, Packaging Design, Multimedia, Illustration, UI/UX Design, Book or Magazine Design, Marketing, and Exhibit Design, among others.

Graduates of the MFA Program are prepared for leadership positions at places such as advertising agencies, publishing firms, magazines, non-profit organizations, marketing firms, and universities.

Founded on March 2, 1867 by Civil War hero General Oliver O. Howard, Howard University is a private research university that comprises 13 colleges and schools. Approximately 9,690 Howard students have access to more than 130 areas of study leading to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Howard University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).