Our inaugural list of the Top 50 Graphic Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1.
 Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island (Top 1% of schools considered)

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a private, not-for-profit, four-year art school founded in 1877. It is home to 2,014 undergraduate students and 435 graduate students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries. This co-educational art school offers 32 degree programs. Graphic design is one of the school’s top five most popular majors. Offerings include a BFA in Graphic Design and a two or three-year MFA in Graphic Design.

2. Parsons School of Design at the New School, New York, New York (Top 1% of schools considered)

Parsons School of Design at the New School was founded in 1896. It houses five schools, including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, the School of Art, Media, and Technology, the School of Constructed Environments, the School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion. Nearly 5,000 students are enrolled in 27 undergraduate, graduate, and associate degree programs. The School of Art, Media, and Technology, offers several degree programs for aspiring graphic designers. Offerings include a BFA in Communication Design, an AAS in Graphic Design, and a Certificate in Graphic & Digital Design.

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3. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland (Top 1% of schools considered)

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest degree-granting college of art in the U.S. Founded in 1826, MICA is home to 1,863 students enrolled in 80 BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degree programs. Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design (54 credits in the major), a BFA Studio Concentration - Graphic Design (18 credits in the concentration), and a BFA in Graphic Design + Humanistic Studies (54 + 48 credits in the major).

4. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (Top 1% of schools considered)

Founded in 1701, Yale University is the third oldest university in the United States. This Ivy League institution is home to nearly 12,500 students from the U.S. and 117 other countries. Yale houses more than a dozen schools from the School of Art to the School of Public Health.

The School of Art is home to Yale’s Graphic Design MFA program. Each year, the program admits up to ten students into the two-year graphic design program, and up to seven students are admitted into the preliminary-year program.

5. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York (Top 1% of schools considered)

School of Visual Arts (SVA) was founded in 1947 as “Cartoonists and Illustrators School.” The school is home to more than 4,300 students enrolled in more than 30 programs. Aspiring designers can earn a BFA in Graphic Design, which includes 72 credits in studio art courses and access to SVA’s popular Digital Imaging Center (DIC).

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

The Academy of Art, which would later become Cranbrook Academy of Art, was officially sanctioned in 1932. The school, which houses 10 departments led by an Artist or Designer-in-Residence, is home to around 150 students. The 2D Department is the graduate graphic design department of Cranbrook Academy of Art. The Department places strong emphasis on studio work time and group critique. The program leads to an MFA in Graphic Design.

7. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (Top 1% of schools considered)

Founded in 1887, Pratt institute is home to 4,556 students enrolled in 22 undergraduate degree programs, 26 graduate degree programs, and a variety of Certificate and Minor programs. These programs are offered across five schools and The Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. The School of Art and the School of Design offer several programs for aspiring graphic designers. School of Art students can earn an AAS in Graphic Design/Illustration or an AOS in Graphic Design. School of Design students can earn a BFA in Communications Design (ComD), which integrates Graphic Design, Advertising, and Illustration.

8. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California (Top 2% of schools considered)

Established in 1961, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is home to 1,489 students enrolled in more than 70 programs at all degree levels. The nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts, CalArts offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers through the School of Art. Offerings include a BFA in Graphic Design, an MFA in Graphic Design, and an MFA in Graphic Design with a Specialization in Motion Graphics.

9. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (Top 2% of schools considered)

Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1931. Created by circus baron, real estate developer, and noted art collector John Ringling, the school opened with 111 courses and just 75 students. Today, RCAD sits on a 35-acre campus that houses nearly 1,300 students enrolled in BA and BFA degree programs in 11 majors. Programs for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design, which has been in existence 1980.

RCAD graphic design students will “learn to create design solutions in print, motion, and interactive media with projects of all varieties.” Students gain real-world experience through internships with major firms and through “The Collaboratory,” which pairs teams of Ringling students with local businesses. Students will have the opportunity to work at RCADs in-house design firm on projects with external clients and for Ringling College events.

RCAD design graduates have landed positions at Google, Leo Burnett, Microsoft, Trader Joe's, Wieden + Kennedy, LinkedIn, Yahoo, American Greetings, and more. 

10. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (Top 2% of schools considered)

Founded in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to more than 11,000 students enrolled in 40-plus majors and more than 70 minors and certificate programs. In addition to campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, and Hong Kong, SCAD offers a variety of degree programs for aspiring graphic designers through the School of Digital Media. Offerings include BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Graphic Design. A Minor in Graphic Design is also on the menu. All programs are offered at the Savannah and Atlanta campuses and online. Students that wish to study abroad can earn a BFA, MA or MFA in Graphic Design at SCAD’s Hong Kong location.

11. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia (Top 2% of schools considered)

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was established in 1838. It is home to 31,163 students enrolled in around 226 certificate and degree programs across 13 schools and one college. The School of the Arts is home to the Department of Graphic Design. The Department offers two programs for aspiring graphic designers. Students may choose between the BFA in Graphic Design or the MFA with a Concentration in Visual Communications (Graphic Design).

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

Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD) dates back to 1886 when the Society of Fine Arts established the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts in a rented apartment in downtown Minneapolis. Today, the school sits on a 10-acre campus, just south of downtown Minneapolis and next to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. MCAD 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.

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

Founded in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is home to 3,519 students enrolled in more than 25 programs. SAIC’s Visual Communication Design Department offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Visual Communication Design. The Department also offers a Certificate in Graphic Design that takes two years to complete.

14. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (Top 2% of schools considered)

North Carolina State University (NC State) was established in 1887. The school is home to 33,989 students enrolled in more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across 12 colleges and 65 departments. The College of Design’s Department of Art and Design offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Programs include a BA in Graphic Design and a Master of Graphic Design. The master’s program allows students to enroll in a three-credit elective at nearby Duke University or UNC/Chapel Hill under NC State tuition.

15. Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California (Top 3% of schools considered)

The Art Center College of Design was established in 1930. The school is home to 1,829 students enrolled in more than a dozen undergraduate and graduate programs from Advertising to Transportation Design. Programs for aspiring graphic designers include BFA and MFA degrees in Graphic Design.

16. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California (Top 3% of schools considered)

Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) was established in 1918 by founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times—General Harrison Gray Otis. The school is home to 1,100 students and it offers more than a dozen art and design programs from Advertising Design to Sculpture. The Communications Art Department offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers including BFA and MFA degrees in Graphic Design.

17. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California (Top 3% of schools considered)

Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is home to 1,968 students enrolled in 21 undergraduate and 13 graduate degree programs. One of the schools largest programs is the Graphic Design program, which leads to a BFA degree. Level four or higher students have the opportunity to participate in CCA’s extensive Graphic Design internship program, which allows students to engage with working designers at design firms, publishing houses, museums, nonprofits, and technology companies.

18. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts (Top 3% of schools considered)

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) was founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring drawing teachers, architects, artists, and designers. Today, MassArt is home to around 2,000 students and it offers more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and several certificate programs. The Graphic Design Department offers two programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include a BFA in Graphic Design and a Graphic Design Certificate.

19. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Top 3% of schools considered)

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) was founded in 1900. It is home nearly 13,000 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across seven colleges. The School of Design offers a Bachelor of Design degree (BDes) with a Specialization in Communication (Graphic) Design. The degree is equivalent in rank to a BFA. BDes students have the opportunity to pursue a more interdisciplinary focus that combines two of the following three areas: Product (Industrial) Design, Communication (Graphic) Design, and Design of Physical and Digital Environments.

20. Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Top 3% of schools considered)

Temple University was founded in 1884. It is home to 37,788 students enrolled in 421 academic programs across 17 schools and colleges. The Tyler School of Art at Temple offers several unique programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Graphic & Interactive Design. Students in both programs have the opportunity to participate in Temple University’s Rome Program. The Program manages the Graphic Design Collaborative Workshop, which takes place during a six-week summer session in Rome.

21. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio (Top 3% of schools considered)

The University of Cincinnati dates back to 1819 when both Cincinnati College and the Medical College of Ohio were chartered. The City of Cincinnati established the University of Cincinnati in 1870, which later absorbed both institutions. Today, the University of Cincinnati is home to 44,251 students from the U.S. and 100 other countries. The school is home to 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).

22. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas (Top 4% of schools considered)

University of North Texas was founded in 1890 as Texas Normal College and Teachers’ Training Institute. It is home to more than 36,000 students enrolled in 99 bachelors, 83 masters and 36 doctoral degree programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Visual Arts & Design houses the Design Department, which offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Options include a BFA in Communication Design (Graphic Design) as well as MA and MFA degrees in Design.

23. Portland State University, Portland, Oregon (Top 4% of schools considered)

Portland State University was founded in 1946. It is home to 28,241 students enrolled in more than 120 majors, minors and concentrations across eight schools. The College of the Arts, School of Art + Design offers several programs for aspiring graphic designers. Offerings include BA and BS degrees in Graphic Design. The School of A+D also offers a Minor in Graphic Design.  

24. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio (Top 4% of schools considered)

Kent State University (KSU or Kent State) was founded in 1910. It 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.

25. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (Top 4% of schools considered)

Established in 1885 Arizona State University (ASU) is home to more than 80,000 students across five campuses including Tempe, West (Glendale), Polytechnic (Mesa), Downtown Phoenix, and Thunderbird (Glendale). The Tempe campus is home to the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (ASU Herberger). The Institute offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs for aspiring graphic designers including a Bachelor of Science in Design (BSD) in Graphic (Visual Communication) Design and a Master of Science in Design (MSD) with a Concentration in Visual Communication Design (Graphic Design).

Also known as MVCD, the MSD program features two-year and three-plus-year options. The Two-year program is a studio-based program that consists of 60 hours of study and the three-plus-year program is a 102-hour studio-based program. The 102-hour program is designed for students that do not have an undergraduate degree in visual communication or graphic design.

 

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