Our 2015 rankings of the top graphic design schools in the Midwest.

We define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (Top 1% of schools considered)

Cranbrook Academy of Art dates back to 1932 when it was called The Academy of Art. Home to around 150 students, the school consists of 10 departments led by an Artist or Designer-in-Residence. Programs for aspiring graphic designers include an MFA in Graphic Design. The program, which places strong emphasis on studio work time and group critique, is offered through the 2D/graduate graphic design department.

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2. Minneapolis College of Art & Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Top 1% of schools considered)

The Society of Fine Arts established the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts in 1886. At the time, the school’s campus consisted of a rented apartment in downtown Minneapolis. Today, under the name Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD), the school sits on a 10-acre campus just south of downtown Minneapolis, and next to the famed Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It is home to nearly 800 students from 29 states and 13 countries, and it offers a variety of programs for aspiring artists and designers. Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design and an MFA in Visual Studies, which prepares students for a career in Graphic Design. A Certificate in Graphic Design is also on the menu.

3. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 2% of schools considered)

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is home to more than 3,500 students enrolled in 25-plus programs. Founded in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design, SAIC houses one of the nation’s top Visual Communication Design Departments. The Department is offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers including BFA and MFA degrees in Visual Communication Design. A Certificate in Graphic Design is also on the menu and it takes two years to complete.

4. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio (Top 2% of schools considered)

The University of Cincinnati dates back to 1819. It is home to 44,251 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across 13 colleges and a graduate school. The College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) is home to the School of Design, which houses the Communication Design program. Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a Master of Design (MDes) with an Emphasis in Visualization and Product Interaction, and a BS in Graphic Communication Design (formerly Graphic Design).

5. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio (Top 2% of schools considered)

Kent State University was founded in 1910. Also known as Kent State or KSU, the school is home to 27,500 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across dozens of colleges, schools, and departments. The College of Communication and Information, School of Visual Communication Design offers a variety of degree programs for aspiring graphic designers. Undergraduate options include BA and BFA degrees in Visual Communication Design. Graduate level options include MA and MFA degrees in Visual Communication Design.

6. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas (Top 3% of schools considered)

The University of Kansas (KU) opened its doors in September 1866. It is home to around 28,000 students enrolled in more than 360 degree programs across 13 schools. The School of Architecture, Design and Planning is home to the Department of Design. Established in 1920, the Department offers five design programs. Offerings for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Visual Communication in Graphic Design. The program is “networked with local advertising and promotional agencies,” where students may complete an internship as part of the degree.

7. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri (Top 3% of schools considered)

Established in 1885, Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is home to more than 700 students enrolled in a variety of BFA programs in areas ranging from Animation to Sculpture. The Graphic Design Department at KCAI offers one program for aspiring graphic designers—a BFA with an Emphasis in Graphic Design. The program, which “stresses collaborative work within a studio environment,” offers internship opportunities with major creative agencies and studios as well as access to the New York Studio Residency Program. 

8. University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, Wisconsin (Top 4% of schools considered)

The University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW-Madison) is home to 43,389 students. Founded in 1848, the school houses 21 colleges and schools that offer more than 300 academic programs.

The School of Education is home to the graphic design program. Aspiring designers have two options—a BS or BFA in Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design. Several graduate programs are also on the menu. Options include MA and MFA degrees in Art with a Focus in Graphics. The School also offers a Doctoral Minor in Art, which features several focus areas—including Graphics.

9. Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Top 4% of schools considered)

Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) was founded 1974. It is home to around 740 students enrolled in 11 major specializations and 15 minors. Program options for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Communication Design (CD). The program offers internship opportunities at advertising and design firms in Milwaukee and around the nation, as well as access to MIAD’s Visual Resources Studio. MIAD CD graduates hold titles such as Art Director, Creative Director, Designer and many others.

10. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio (Top 4% of schools considered)

Founded in 1910, Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is home 19,000 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across nine colleges. The College of Arts and Sciences houses the School of Art, Division of Graphic Design (BGSUGD), which offers a BFA in Graphic Design. Graduates of the program have landed positions with major corporations and creative firms across the U.S. They hold titles such as Graphic Designer, Communications Specialist, Art Director and many others. 

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