2021 GDUSA Top Graphic Design Schools

In the January/February 2021 print magazine, which kicked off our 58th year of publishing, GDUSA released our annual Students To Watch roundup. Now we’ve compiled a list of 50 of our favorite institutions and programs that prepare students to work in professional graphic design, based on a mix of objective and subjective factors, including our own decades long relationships with designers, students, recruiters, educators. The list is alphabetical. The reach is national. The theme is practical. Education is more important than ever as the lines between the studio and the classroom, the office and the academy, the university and society, especially in 2021, are more synergistic than ever.

Academy of Art University, founded in 1929, is America’s largest private accredited art and design university. The school offers a unique professional environment in classes taught by working professionals, and there are 30 distinct areas of study to choose from both online and on campus. Students are challenged to reach their full potential in an atmosphere of support and deep collaboration, and the institution strives to instill in its students the highest ethical standards of personal and professional integrity. Flexible online degree programs are available in most areas of study, including graphic design. Located at the intersection of art and commerce, the Graphic Design program integrates practice, theory and inquiry while refining and encouraging innovation, critical thinking, visual literacy, and conceptual problem solving. Students learn to influence marketing strategies, raise awareness of critical issues, and facilitate cultural change. The Academy of Art University offers a BFA and MFA in Graphic Design as well as an AA degree and Certificate program.
Contact: www.academyart.edu/gdusa

ArtCenter’s visionary approach to art and design education is based on the College’s conservatory-like approach to teaching and learning; a desire for rich, intercultural and transdisciplinary dialogue; and a mandate to provide students innovative learning and making spaces. An international leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines, as well as visual and applied arts. Programs include Advertising, Graphic Design, Graduate Graphic Design and Graduate Media Design Practices. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to the industry and social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, its alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.
Contact: www.artcenter.edu

The Graphic Design Program at Auburn University prepares students to practice visual communication in a competitive global environment. Auburn’s nationally regarded BFA is NASAD accredited and concentrates on interactive design and mobile design, user experience design, strategic branding, typography, publication design, packaging, illustration and image-making, and fine arts. Students receive hands-on design instruction in a professional studio environment with a strong sense of community among students and faculty. Courses emphasize a systemic approach to design by incorporating cross-disciplinary collaborations and train students to become versatile designers and art directors. The program hosts exhibitions, design symposiums, and guest lectures by industry leaders, and the internship program provides real-world experience and opportunities to network. Students build a strong portfolio of work as a result of their overall experience and education.
Contact: cadc.auburn.edu/graphicdesign

Founded in 1918, Ball State University is a major researchintensive, residential university. The art-making facilities in the School of Art are competitive with the best in the country, and faculty and staff are active nationally and internationally as artists, creators, scholars and designers. With roughly 600 students, the NASAD accredited programs (BA, BS, BFA, MFA) cover a broad range of opportunities, including Visual Communication (Graphic Design), Animation, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture, Photography, Ceramics, Glass, Metals, Intermedia, Graphic Arts Management, Art History, and Art Education. In the Visual Communication BFA, students receive a rigorous interdisciplinary education focused on cultural awareness and realworld work expectations. The program also provides an opportunity to enroll in an award-winning student-run design studio and to collaborate on local, regional, national, and international design projects.
Contact: bsu.edu/art

Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) educates students to shape culture and society through the practice and critical study of art, architecture, design, and writing. Benefitting from its San Francisco Bay Area location, the college prepares students for lifelong creative work by cultivating innovation, community engagement, and social and environmental responsibility. CCA offers a rich curriculum of undergraduate and graduate programs in art, architecture, design, and writing taught by a faculty of expert practitioners. Attracting promising students from across the nation and around the world, CCA is ranked as one of the most diverse colleges in the US. Design at CCA is dedicated to conceptual exploration alongside practice-based problem solving. We teach students to become leaders in the field by emphasizing collaborative studio work, creative risk-taking, and elegant design solutions that engage with pressing social issues.
Contact: www.cca.edu

CalArts is a highly regarded private art college near Los Angeles CA. The program in Graphic Design offers both a BFA and MFA degree, with courses in web and interface design; motion graphics; print and publication design; branding, identity, and type design; as well as in design history and education. The curriculum emphasizes both practical and conceptual skills. Throughout its history, the graphic design program has been home to prestigious design educators and has produced influential graduates, garnering a reputation for boundary-pushing visual experimentation and academic rigor. Students create a body of work that is uniquely theirs, preparing them to carve an independent path into design practice.
Contact: calarts.edu

Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design is one of the oldest and most respected programs, with a rich history in Product Design, Communication Design, Interaction and Service Design. It is one of the only leading programs to offer design degrees at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels within a multi-disciplinary, multicultural research university. Graduates are employed by Whirlpool, Volkswagen/Audi, Motorola, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Skype, Pinterest, IDEO, R/GA, Isobar, the Mayo Clinic, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, to name a few.
Contact: design.cmu.edu

Located in the heart of Detroit and integrated into its cultural life, CCS educates artists and designers to be leaders in the creative professions. A private, fully accredited college, the school enrolls more than 1,400 students pursuing BFA and MFA degrees. It also offers non-credit courses through its Continuing and Precollege Studies programs and opportunities for youth through its Community Arts Partnerships programs. Graphic design studies strengthen students’ design and research skills, and develop their ability to use a variety of media in creating engaging communications. The program focuses on design planning/strategy, branding systems, interaction design, motion graphics design, publication design, environmental design, advertising design and experience design.
Contact: collegeforcreativestudies.edu

Columbus College of Art & Design teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the midst of a thriving creative community in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1879, CCAD is one of the oldest private, nonprofit art and design colleges in the U.S. CCAD offers 12 BFA programs, including a BFA in Advertising & Graphic Design, and a Master of Fine Arts program that produce graduates equipped to shape culture and business. In CCAD’s Advertising & Graphic Design program, students learn how to mix verbal, visual, and interactive media to create and convey resilient, tailor-made messages, using the latest techniques and tools. Graduates go on to work at companies such as Airstream, Fitch, IBMX, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Landor, Lego, and Wondersauce.
Contact: ccad.edu/academics/advertising-graphic-design

The School of Art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art has a mission to educate artists in the broadest sense, both as creative practitioners engaged with a wide range of disciplines in the visual arts and as enlightened citizens of the world who are prepared to question and transform society. The program is structured around an integrated curriculum that fosters connections between disciplines, as well as between traditional and new media. The Foundation Program consists of a series of prerequisite courses taken during the first year and is intended to prepare students for studies in all of the disciplines offered. Following completion of the Foundation Program, disciplines offered are graphic design, drawing, film and video, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture. Students may choose to focus their work in one or more areas of specialization and are encouraged to follow an integrated approach. The graphic design curriculum includes courses on typography, web design, game design, information design, motion graphics and more.
Contact: cooper.edu/art

Cranbrook Academy of Art is the nation’s leading graduate-only program in architecture, design and fine art including, of course, graphic design. Each year, just 75 students are invited to study and live on the landmark Saarinen-designed campus, which features private studios, state-of-the art workshops, a renowned Art Museum, and 300 acres of forests, lakes, and streams, all a short drive from Detroit. The focus is on studio practice in one of ten disciplines: Architecture, 2D and 3D Design, Ceramics, Fiber, Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Print Media, and Sculpture. The program is anchored by celebrated Artists- and Designers-inResidence, one for each discipline, all of whom live and practice on campus alongside our students.
Contact: www.cranbrookart.edu

DePaul University’s BFA in Graphic Design prepares students to communicate to diverse audiences through a wide range of design practices, integrating emerging media and contemporary technologies including typography, digital/interaction design, branding, illustration, motion graphics, package design, programming, and digital fabrication. Chicago’s vibrant design community provides an array of opportunities for collaboration, networking, and professional internships, which are also supported by our Design Internship Program. An award-winning faculty oversees a host of initiatives, design labs, and research programs that foster student learning, engagement, and community. And students lead their own initiatives as well, including an AIGA student chapter, maker space and digital fabrication studio. Design-related study abroad programs in Japan and Scandinavia provide our students with a global context for their practice.
Contact: www.cdm.depaul.edu

Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design offers nineteen undergraduate programs, eight graduate degree programs, one PhD program, and twenty-one minors, all predominantly studio based. The College maintains an award-winning faculty of industry practitioners who emphasize the use of the latest technologies. Westphal College is home to the Mandell Theater, the Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel’s television and radio stations, the Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies, MAD Dragon Records and Drexel’s Historic Costume Collection. The Graphic Design program prepares students to inform, persuade and entertain through the creative use of word and image, and a balance of traditional and technical artistic studies. Graphic Design students learn to conceptualize, design and produce visual communication in websites, interactive media, motion graphics, books, magazines, posters, ads, packaging, information systems, exhibition design and many other forms of media. Students develop an expansive portfolio, which, along with six-month co-op experiences, prepares them for successful employment after graduation.
Contact: www.drexel.edu/westphal/undergraduate/vscm

The Communication Design Pathways Department’s mission is coupled with that of the School of Art and Design to educate the next generation of creative, socially responsible, and globallyrelevant professionals able to succeed in the broad spectrum of art and design fields. The department challenges students to create new and valuable ideas through innovation, collaboration, and experimentation. Within the Department, the Graphic Design BFA is an intensive, professionally oriented course of study. Courses are taught by working design professionals, industry leaders and members of the ADC, TDC, AIGA, and SPD. Study abroad, internship and networking opportunities along with the Senior Thesis Project and a juried design exhibition develop a well-rounded designer with a strong portfolio. Marianne Klimchuk is the Chair.
Contact: www.fitnyc.edu/communication-design

Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS) has introduced an online Masters in Design Management & Communications to its award-winning portfolio of professional communications programs. Bringing together the worlds of creative management, design thinking, and business strategy, the program extends beyond the limits of traditional design programs. Students develop a holistic understanding of creativity and the design process while mastering the managerial insights and leadership strategies needed to deliver business-focused outcomes. Ideal for professionals within the fields of design, communications, marketing and related areas, the program is entirely virtual, so students don’t have to interrupt their careers to earn the degree. Learning is done through a blend of online lectures, group discussions, and applied coursework — all of which can be completed from home or office. Faculty members bring expertise across a wide range of specialties, including creative strategy, design leadership, digital and traditional marketing communications, social media, management, and branding.
Contact: scs.georgetown.edu/create

At the Hartford Art School, students build the skills that will enable them to successfully enter the professional world. The School offers eight studio majors leading to the BFA — including in Visual Communication Design — a BA program in Art History, and three MFA programs. Students have the best of both worlds, pursuing rigorous studio-based disciplines with a liberal arts university environment. Visual communication design students learn how to design static and interactive work, which can include motion graphics, product packaging, and advertising pieces. The program encompasses all visual languages used to communicate, and classes on design theory, methods, and history align with practical work with real clients by senior year. Designers in this program are able to think critically about how to tell a story using design elements rather than words, and to consider not only about how work looks, but also about how people will interact with it.
Contact: artschool@hartford.edu

The Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is a college of art and design awarding the BFA degree in 13 majors — Animation, Art History, Ceramics, Creative Writing, Fiber, Filmmaking, Graphic Design, Illustration, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Product Design and Sculpture. The school recruits top talent from across the country and equips them with a versatile skillset and the fearlessness to pursue their craft. KCAI’s Graphic Design department takes a wide-ranging view of the possibilities for visual communication, introducing students to the principles of print, interaction, motion, environment, experience, information, and advocacy. The approach to design problems can best be described as exploratory, systematic, and transmedia; and it recognizes the complexity of contemporary design and seeks to foster critical and surprising responses through a rigorous process of research, thinking, formmaking, and connection to various external communities.
Contact: kcai.edu/graphic-design

Graphic Communications, with more than 200 majors, is the largest program in the College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University. This vigorous, progressive program supports students in advancing their technical and creative skills while visual literacy and technology serve as the foundation. Students embody competencies and relevance for a multicultural, global marketplace. The School of Art and Design (SOAAD) is accredited by NASAD, and offers students challenging and exciting degrees including the BFA in Art, the BFA in Digital Animation, the BS in Art Education, the BA in Art History, a BAT degree in Apparel Textiles Technology, and, new, an MFA in Art and Design. SOAAD and the City of Atlanta are a powerful combination providing education and networking opportunities that launch careers into both the local and international creative industry.
Contact: arts.kennesaw.edu/visual-arts

The BFA and MFA Communication Design programs have the largest number of majors within the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The program attracts students from all over the eastern U.S, as well as from places as far away as China, India, Japan, Iran, Kenya and Germany. Kutztown University is situated in rural Pennsylvania a short distance from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC. 13 permanent full-time faculty members ensure that students get a consistent, guided and mentored education. As freshmen, students take the foundations: drawing, design and digital skills. Sophomores study the foundations of design: typography, visual thinking, illustration techniques, and more digital skills courses, along with Historical Survey of Graphic Design and studio classes. As juniors, KUCD students learn all aspects of design as required by the industry: Graphic Design, Advertising Design, Interactive Design, and Illustration. Seniors hone their skills in their chosen specialization areas. They can also choose an internship or a variety of fine art studios or minor courses. Courses in professional practices and portfolio development ensure that students are prepared for the real world. Alumni enjoy lucrative careers in sought after positions locally, nationally and abroad.
Contact: kucd.kutztown.edu

Known until recently as the Miami Ad School, the M.AD School of ideas has built is reputation over 25 years for producing outstanding creative graduates who are ready to work from the first day on the job. Whether a Portfolio program, a Graduate program or a Boot Camp, the school’s educational concept pairs realistic training taught by practicing professionals with hands-on internships. While still in school, students may intern in a choice of dozens of agencies and companies; this real-world experience has made M.AD students frequently awarded and highly recruited. At present, the school and its 15 locations worldwide are undergoing an ambitious rebranding by COLLINS.
Contact: miamiadschool.com

MICA envisions a just, sustainable, and joyful world activated and enriched by designers who are valued for their leadership and imagination. MICA officials state: “Our program empowers students to make the world they imagine through a sequence of required courses and broad-ranging electives. We see graphic design as a comprehensive activity of visual problem solving in commercial, social, public, and political spheres. Designers forge creative, purposeful lives and careers in a diverse and changing world. Graphic Design graduates shape culture, flourish through collaboration, embrace difference and champion equity, and invent through thoughtful disruption. Graphic Designers strive for excellence and rigor, act with intent and critical appraisal, and exemplify resilience, passion, and conviction.”
Contact: www.mica.edu

Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as the original land-grant institution that democratized higher education and helped bring science and innovation into everyday life. Today, MSU is one of the top research universities in the world — on one of the biggest, greenest campuses in the nation — and is home to a diverse community of dedicated students and scholars, athletes and artists, scientists and leaders. A thriving graphic design program is nested in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. Located in the Kresge Art Center, undergraduate and graduate graphic designers are exposed to a series of experimental and intellectual exercises that prepare them for a wide range of professional careers in design and academia. Notable alum, such as Katherine and Michael McCoy, Sam Landers, Doug Kisor, and Ellen Bruss, have made historic contributions to design history and continue to give back to our students in lasting and meaningful ways.
Contact: art.msu.edu

MIAD is Wisconsin’s only four-year, private college of visual art and design, offering BFA degrees in Communication Design, Illustration, Industrial (Product) Design, Interior Architecture and Design and Fine Arts (New Studio Practice). Throughout the Communication Design program — closely tied to its awardwinning Illustration program — students have the opportunity to work with professional clients in the classroom and via the MIAD Innovation Center. Students also intern at leading advertising and design firms, in corporate settings, and more. The college’s enrollment has grown 50% over the past five years, and upon graduation, MIAD alumni fill important positions, sharing their voice in major multinational corporations and marketing and communications firms.
Contact: www.miad.edu

The Modern College of Design is a nationally recognized design college in Ohio. The Modern transforms students passionate about art, design, photography, and technology into exceptional designers and future leaders in design. The Modern’s unique residential and online programs provide an innovative education in design, marketing, business, and leadership, and students complete internships and co-ops at agencies across the country. Modern students are creative problem solvers and are recognized nationally for their work. Faculty are industry experts and provide oneon-one education and mentorship. Alumni have access to The Modern’s vast network of employers and work for some of the world’s leading brands, including Apple, Nike, and Disney.
Contact: www.themodern.edu

The College of Design unleashes the power of design to transform practice and address the confounding challenges of our time. Officials state: “We spur creativity, balance data with intuition, embrace ambiguity, and generate prototypes that shape the world. We teach students through coursework, community engagement, scholarship, and our example as designers. We integrate practical, ethical, and aesthetic thought to inform business, design, and technological solutions. We prepare students for a highly competitive and rapidly evolving workplace. In all our activities, we develop the designer’s perception, knowledge, skills and problemsolving abilities to prepare students for successful careers — and lives.”
Contact: design.ncsu.edu

The nationally renowned Northwestern University School of Professional Studies has an extensive offering of online master’s degrees and certificate programs, and this includes an online Master of Science in Information Design & Strategy (IDS). As digital output increasingly becomes the backbone of most business strategy, there is an acute need for professionals with a better big-picture understanding of information management, design and technology. The IDS program teaches students how to translate information and data into meaningful visual forms, narratives and interfaces. This interdisciplinary program prepares students to step into a cross-functional or leadership role by developing a deep and holistic understanding of today’s sophisticated digital media. The program is particularly useful for people in creative fields who want a stronger grounding in business strategy, so that they can expand career opportunities and make a larger impact on their organizations. The strong theoretical framework of the program and its focus on fundamental concepts makes the degree applicable to many diverse fields and types of organizations — business, the arts, government, healthcare, and education, to name a few — regardless of changes in technology. IDS program was developed in consultation with industry leaders; it is a parttime and completely online degree.
Contact: sps.northwestern.edu/masters/information-design

The mission of Nova Southeastern University, a private, not-forprofit institution, is to offer a diverse array of innovative academic programs that complement on-campus educational opportunities and resources with accessible distance learning programs to foster academic excellence, intellectual inquiry, leadership, research, and commitment to community through engagement of students and faculty members in a dynamic, life-long learning environment. The art and design major provides students with a dynamic and comprehensive instructional program in the visual arts. Students may earn a BA in Art and Design in preparation for careers as freelance artists or for employment with public and private organizations. Students gain solid grounding in core courses including fundamentals of color, art history, and photography, and then focus their work within graphic design or studio art. On-campus studios (printmaking, drawing, painting, graphic design, ceramic, sculpture, and pottery), gallery, and museum-quality installations and traveling exhibitions encourage students to connect with visual art every day. Art majors at NSU are also free members of Fort Lauderdale’s NSU Art Museum, and can visit the latest exhibits, attend talks or openings, or serve as a volunteer or intern.
Contact: www.nova.edu/arts

Established in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design was the first independent professional school of art in Los Angeles and has become a national leader in art and design education. The BFA Communications Arts program includes areas of emphasis in Graphic Design and Illustration. Graphic design students research and conceive projects that combine images and typography to convey specific ideas. Illustration students develop strong personal style and image-making skills in a variety of media. The MFA Graphic Design program is a 14-month, L.A.-based, student, faculty, and research collective of designers investigating the issues of our day. Otis alumni and faculty are Fulbright, Guggenheim grant recipients, Academy Award recipients, legendary costume designers, leaders of contemporary art movements, entrepreneurs, and designers at Apple, Abercrombie & Fitch, Disney, EBay, Google, Hulu, Lululemon, LACMA, Mattel, Metro, Nike, Pixar, among others. Otis College is also home to the influential Otis Report on the Creative Economy, which chronicles the power and reach of creative industries in California and its regions.
Contact: www.otis.edu

Based in New York but active around the world, The New School’s Parsons School of Design offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of design disciplines. Parsons’ five schools, and rigorous undergraduate, associates and graduate degree programs, offer options for both focused training and interdisciplinary study. The School of Art, Media, and Technology embodies the frisson between art and design, with programs in Communication Design, Data Visualization, Design and Technology, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Illustration and Photography. An AAS in Graphic Design goes beyond basic technical knowledge to provide a more complete design education for those wishing to change their careers or build their portfolio. The program investigates up-to-the-minute tools and trends of the trade, including web design, while providing a solid foundation in traditional practices and concepts.
Contact: www.newschool.edu/parsons

PCAD, a fully accredited art college, believes graphic design provides a means to communicate powerfully and effectively through images and typography. In the graphic design program, students focus on demanding conceptual and technical courses, enhanced by gradual involvement with clients. Benefiting from a curriculum informed by PCA&D’s over-arching education philosophy “Communications as Currency,” students experience how the creative process involves collaborating with other designers, photographers, digital artists, and illustrators to meet the needs of a client. All faculty are freelance or full-time designers. Selected designs enhance students’ portfolios with professional work before they graduate, and the required senior internship is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate skills to potential employers. The senior year culminates with the final portfolio and senior exhibition, honing presentation skills. PCA&D’s graphic design BFA program is structured to prepare students to work successfully in this highly competitive field.
Contact: www.pcad.edu

Founded in 1887, Pratt Institute is a global leader in higher education dedicated to preparing undergraduate and graduate students for successful careers in art, design, architecture, information, and liberal arts and sciences. Located in a cultural hub, with historic campuses in Brooklyn and Manhattan, Pratt is a living lab of craft and creativity with an esteemed faculty of accomplished professionals and scholars. The Institute has Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs in communications design, which are part of Pratt’s School of Design. The Undergraduate Communications Design department offers concentrations in illustration, advertising art direction, and graphic design, and teaches students to craft the strongest and most impactful communications possible by being creative problem solvers and elegant image-makers. Pratt’s Graduate Communications Design department educates graphic and package designers, and offers an MFA in communications design and MS in package design degree programs. Both programs provide students with the opportunity to develop and refine their design process, design voice, and creative skills, preparing them for leadership positions in their field.
Contact: www.pratt.edu

PrattMWP students spend their years immersed in, not one, but two strikingly different environments with lively art cultures. Students who select this route complete the first two years of their program on the Utica campus in upstate New York, and are then guaranteed a seamless relocation to Pratt’s main Brooklyn campus at the beginning of their junior year. The PrattMWP campus allows students to achieve the prestige and benefits of a Pratt art education at a location that develops their confidence, individual voice and insights. PrattMWP shares its campus with the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, which offers collections, exhibits, classes and events that attract artists and art enthusiasts worldwide. Majors are offered in Fine Arts, Communications Design, Art Education, and Photography. Communications Design students have recently been recognized by GDUSA, PRINT, Creative Quarterly, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, United States Mint, and the British Journal of Aesthetics.
Contact: www.mwpai.edu

Graphic Design at RISD provides a comprehensive education that pushes on the boundaries of the discipline. Students learn how to communicate ideas visually, play with the tools of the field, frame points of view and messages, build community and embrace a fluid, networked culture. Faculty support these explorations and encourage ambitious ideas along with a mastery of traditional practice.
Contact: risd.edu

Since 1931, Ringling College of Art and Design has cultivated the creative spirit in students from around the globe. The private, not-for-profit fully accredited college offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in twelve disciplines and the Bachelor of Arts in two. The College and its 1,400 students benefit from an award-winning faculty, cutting-edge technology, and a supportive creative community. The rigorous curriculum employs the studio model of teaching and immediately engages students through a comprehensive, first-year program that is both specific to the major of study and focused on the liberal arts. The Ringling College teaching model ultimately shapes students into highly employable and globally aware artists and designers.
Contact: www.ringling.edu

The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited university, offering more than 100 academic degree programs in more than 40 majors across its locations in Atlanta and Savannah GA; Lacoste, France; and online via SCAD eLearning and SCADnow. The innovative SCAD graphic design curriculum is rooted in creative processes, problem-solving methodologies, and visualization concepts designed to connect users to top brands. Each year, SCAD graphic design students earn distinguished accolades, including Applied Arts Student Awards, GDUSA Awards, and International Design Awards. In 2019, the prestigious Red Dot Design Rankings placed SCAD as the No. 1 university in the U.S. Through SCADpro, the university’s in-house design studio, students join forces with titans of design, draw inspiration, and form lasting connections with industry powerhouses. The combination of advanced instruction and unrivaled portfolio-building opportunities leads to elite internships and careers with top companies such as BMW, Apple, and Google. Career preparation is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni employment rate. In a study of Spring 2019 SCAD graduates, 99% were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation. SCAD provides students and alumni with ongoing career support through personal coaching, alumni programs, a professional presentation studio, and more.
Contact: scad.edu or dgreenhi@scad.edu

A leader in educating artists, designers, and scholars since 1866, SAIC offers nationally accredited undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate programs to students from around the globe. An historically significant accredited independent school of art and design, located in one of the greatest American cities, its accolades are many, including recognition by Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism survey, as “the most influential art college in the United States.” SAIC has an educational philosophy built upon an interdisciplinary approach to art and design, giving students opportunities to develop their creative and critical abilities, while working with renowned faculty who include many of the leading practitioners in their fields.
Contact: www.saic.edu

School of Visual Arts has been a leader in the education of artists, designers and creative professionals for more than six decades. With a faculty of distinguished working professionals, dynamic curriculum and an emphasis on critical thinking, SVA is a catalyst for innovation and social responsibility. Comprised of more than 7,000 students in 31 programs and 38,000 alumni in 100 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. SVA’s BFA Design program focuses on teaching visual communication problem solving, extending students’ practices beyond conventional graphic design with coursework in 3D design, interactive design and motion graphics. The College’s MFA Design program, founded in 1998, aims to provide students with the tools, inspiration and experience that prepares them for careers in which they succeed as individual and collaborative authors and entrepreneurs.
Contact: www.sva.edu

Sessions College for Professional Design is a fully online school of visual arts offering a range of degree programs and certificate programs in Graphic Design, Web Design, Digital Media, Illustration, Advertising Design, Digital Photography and Fine Arts. The Sessions College Associate and Bachelor’s degree programs in Graphic Design offer an accessible, affordable path for students seeking to enter careers in print and interactive visual communication. Designed for high school graduates and adult learners, the programs offer a powerful foundation in visual design and a working knowledge of contemporary design practices and media. Sessions College inspires current and future art and design professionals to achieve excellence through industry relevant, projectbased online education. Talented, passionate experts teach the artistic, digital, and critical thinking skills required by dynamic creative fields.
Contact: www.sessions.edu

Shillington is the Original Graphic Design Bootcamp. Since 1997, their innovative course has been helping to create the next generation of industry ready graphic designers. With campuses in New York, London, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — and the opportunity to study Online from wherever you are in the world — the fast-paced, intensive course teaches the skills required to succeed as a designer. Shillington is the perfect place to build the foundation of a creative career. The course ensures that students spend more time doing what they love while learning real and relevant skills — from design theory, typography and packaging to mobile app design and user experience (UX) — in over 30 briefs. All in an inspirational learning environment designed to mirror a working design studio and lead by experienced, practicing designers. Shillington students graduate with a professional design portfolio and industry-relevant skills, going on to work for top creative studios, big brands or launching their own businesses — all within 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time.
Contact: www.shillingtoneducation.com

The School of Design is an inquisitive community of students and faculty that addresses firsthand the issues of the world around it. State school officials: “We take pride in our professionally oriented programs, many of which have a long history at Syracuse University. We offer undergraduate degree programs in communications design, design studies, environmental and interior design, fashion design, and industrial and interaction design and graduate degree programs in design and museum studies. Concern for sustainable design practices, social issues, and excellence in professional practice forms the core of our programs.” The School of Design’s first-year experience is a prerequisite, providing a focused, design-studio-based education critical to the development of a solid understanding of the fundamental elements of the design disciplines. Students learn basic visualization and making skills as well as an ability to apply iterative thought and action processes to a given problem. In addition, students receive a focused introduction to the ethical and philosophical grounding of each of the design professions. School of Design faculty are active professionals dedicated to ensuring that students reach their potential and provide one-on-one instruction in studio classes. The School maintains a special relationship with the Syracuse community through the activities of various student groups (including chapters of professional design organizations) who work on projects with not-for-profit agencies as well as funded research design collaborations.
Contact: vpa.syr.edu/academics/design/programs/communications-design-bfa

The Visual Communications department at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications embraces emerging and traditional forms of visual storytelling. Its design program emphasizes strategy, problem solving and human-centered design to create smart, compelling, innovative solutions in print and pixels, including motion, UI/UX, augmented reality, virtual reality, brand identity, product packaging, typography and publication design. The Visual Communications department values cross-media partnerships, workshops and collaboration. Graduates of the design program have gone on to work at places such as IDEO, Google, Adobe, IBM, Facebook, Amazon, Mapbox, Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, National Geographic Magazine, Herman Miller, Trip Advisor, Near East Foundation, US State Department, and their own startup businesses. The program offers both a BS in Graphic Design and an MS in Multimedia, Photography, and Design degrees.
Contact: newhouse.syr.edu/vis

Located in Philadelphia, the Tyler School of Art & Architecture’s Graphic & Interactive Design Department offers one of the nation’s most rigorous and respected BFA and MFA programs in graphic design. Students at Tyler are mentored by faculty members who understand the design profession’s exacting standards, are committed to the growth of each student, and are invested in their post-Tyler outcomes. Core pillars of the department include authorship, entrepreneurship, and design for social justice. Tyler students are taught a conceptual approach to the design process — they develop skills in research, image-making, typography, and visual storytelling, and they learn to work with information and content, creating digital systems and narratives across new and emerging technologies. The result is that student work is frequently featured in national and international design competitions and publications, and graduates are employed by influential studios and agencies. Based at Temple University, a great urban public university, Tyler puts students in a position to take advantage of a vibrant campus with more than 300 academic programs and the resources of a city with a reputation as a world leading (and affordable) art center. Students attend lectures and exhibitions at museums and galleries, participate in community art projects, and earn high-profile internships.
Contact: tyler.temple.edu/programs/graphic-interactive-design

The Visual Communication Design program at Thomas Jefferson University cultivates design strategists with an innovative spirit and superior critical thinking skills applicable to a diversity of human needs. The curriculum fosters an appreciation for design as a cultural craft with a relevant historical background and a rapidly evolving future that includes multiple disciplines. The program develops students who can contribute intelligently and responsibly at a global level to further the common good. Jefferson faculty and students embrace design thinking and strategic planning as powerful tools to help solve complex problems in society and in business. Students can extend this core knowledge to either the Graphic Design Communication or Web Design & Development concentration. Trained through Nexus Learning®, Jefferson’s pioneering approach that prioritizes project-based learning and real-world collaborative experiences, student work from this program is regularly recognized in nationally in competitions, exhibitions and publications.
Contact: https://www.jefferson.edu

The School of Design at the University of Central Oklahoma places student-centered excellence at the program’s core. This philosophy and practice are eloquently captured in a quote by senior design student Cynthia Luong: “Design isn’t just about what you learn from your peers and mentors but also about the lasting connections and comradery with them. You experience everything together, the ups and downs, the successes and failures, the wins and losses. You learn valuable life lessons — to be more independent, confident, decisive, and flexible in your way of thinking, not just in design but in everyday life. Each class is a different experience and challenging both mentally and physically, and every one of them as important as the next. One such course is the working design studio, Clocktower. This studio is an excellent medium between a school setting and actual real working experience with clients. Clocktower was where I learned to manage time, take critique, and hone my creativity. UCO Design is a milestone, as well as a fantastic stepping stone into the world of design. One that I will remember as being one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
Contact: www.uco.edu/cfad/academics/design

The Myron E. Ullman School of Design Communication Design Program empowers students with a core of knowledge that provides a solid educational base. This core is a series of sequential design studios and a world-class professional practice (co-op) program that help students develop critical and visual thinking along with essential design processes. Students also have opportunities to further develop in specific areas of interest (including graphic design, interaction design and motion design). DAAP students are prepared to be skilled professionals who can apply work in local and global markets while respecting the diversity of the human community. The School of Design is innovative in teaching and in transforming the design disciplines by infusing learning with the newest design thinking methods and technologies. Through inspired interdisciplinary projects and solid corporate partnerships, the school is devoted to furthering its role as a leading design institution.
Contact: www.daap.uc.edu

Fueled by the scholarship, research, and resources of a tier-one research university, the Stamps School of Art & Design provides a unique approach to transdisciplinary, inquiry-led design practice. Our graduate and undergraduate students enjoy a supportive, curiosity-filled culture of makers and scholars seeking to activate their creative practice as an engine for cultural change and innovation. The school offers undergraduate degrees in art and design and two graduate level degrees: an MFA in Art and an MDes in Integrative Design. Called “one of the best integrations of design approaches in an MDes program […] anywhere in North America” by Peter Jones, author of Design for Care: Innovating Healthcare Experience, the Stamps MDes is a collaborative, project-based, two-year program undertaken in deep partnership with industry and non-profit partners. At Stamps, Integrative Design is not locked into one disciplinary design strategy. Instead, Stamps students are called upon to be adaptive, utilizing multiple tactics as the project or problem requires.
Contact: www.stamps.umich.edu

USC Roski School of Art and Design has a noteworthy history as a supportive environment for talented students to explore creativity, experimentation, and collaboration with renowned faculty. Roski’s graduate programs are housed in a state-of-the-art facility in the Los Angeles Arts District — a vibrant art and design community. The MFA Design program instills a critical understanding of the issues, theories, and ideas that are relevant to contemporary design. This open approach offers myriad opportunities for interdisciplinary research and collaboration across the 18 professional schools at USC, one of the world’s leading research institutions. This gives Roski design students the ability to integrate countless relevant pathways to shape their contemporary design practice. Roski’s faculty is a diverse group of internationally recognized artists, designers, and scholars dedicated to their students and their professional work. Small classes ensure a close, personal instruction with abundant access to the faculty that includes Jason Ellenburg, April Greiman, Brian O’Connell, and MFA Design program director Ewa Wojciak. Additionally, students interact with visiting designers in lectures, classes, and portfolio reviews through the Visiting Designer and Designer-in-Residence forums.
Contact: roski.usc.edu

Utah Valley University is located in the heart of the Silicon Slopes technology hub just a short drive from several world-class ski resorts and numerous other year-round recreational activities. The Art & Design department offers BFA degrees in Graphic Design, Photography, Illustration, Painting and Drawing, and Sculpture and Ceramics. The department also offers a BA in Art History and a BS in Art Education. As an integral part of the largest university in the state, the Art & Design degree programs are robust and vibrant while still prioritizing small class sizes and individual critiques. Graphic design students further benefit from a focus on concept-driven design and regularly win national and regional awards from competitions including GDUSA, PRINT Regional Design Awards, IPPY Awards, UCDA, Design Competition, AIGA 100 Show, and DesignArts Utah.
Contact: uvu.edu/artdesign

The MFA in Graphic Design at Vermont College of Fine Arts is a truly original low-residency program built around students’ particular interests, values, and goals. Students and faculty continuously rethink graphic design by considering the role of design in the larger culture, the relationships between designers and their work, and the nature of education in design. Both the two-year and threeyear tracks combine two on-campus residencies per year with six-month semesters of faculty mentorship and independent study. Students, faculty, and guest designers take part in a weeklong residency on the historic campus in Montpelier VT to begin each semester. They then return home and work from an individually crafted study plan with a faculty advisor for the remainder of each semester. Graduates emerge with new research methods, critical expertise, a supportive international network of fellow designers, and a body of design work that is personal and relevant to the next stage in their design careers and creative lives.
Contact: vcfa.edu/graphic-design

The VCU Advertising program is centered on professional practice, studio intensive coursework and experimental collaboration in education. Our coursework focuses on smart thinking and rigorous practice in creative and strategic advertising. In our creative courses, students learn how to create and execute big ideas through the crafts of art direction, copywriting, design and storytelling. These classes emphasize the attributes and transferable skills necessary to succeed in advertising and media communications.
Contact: robertson.vcu.edu

Virginia Tech pushes the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing students to be leaders and problem-solvers. As a leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers about 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 34,000 students and manages a research portfolio of more than $502 million. Through experiential learning, future-focused research, and an inclusive, spirited culture, Virginia Tech strives to accomplish the charge of its motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). The Graphic Design program prepares students for a career in design by focusing on conceptual thinking, userexperience, and problem-solving tactics, while also developing aesthetic abilities. The program demands individual creativity, teamwork, and adaptability, and will prepare students to enter the job market with practical experience and a professionallyreviewed portfolio. Graduates work in app design, editorial design, product and packaging design, web and interaction design, advertising, and other related fields.
Contact: www.sova.vt.edu

Founded in 1884, Woodbury University is a private non-profit institution. The BFA in Graphic Design is a professional degree that is included in the University’s accreditation by NASAD. Woodbury students consistently win awards, landing more than 50 since 2009. Students have achieved recognition in communication design, entertainment design, web, advertising, packaging, photography, logo design and environmental graphics. They learn the art of visual communication through the study of design, aesthetics, and media. In the senior year, they can focus their creative energy by customizing their studies in entertainment, motion, advertising, publication, or environmental graphics. Woodbury’s Los Angeles location, in the heart of the media capital, offers numerous internship opportunities at companies including Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios, The WB Television Network, MTV Networks, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, Mattel, and The Getty.
Contact: www.mcd.woodbury.edu

This highly selective MFA program accepts up to ten students each year, and up to seven students for a preliminary year program. The degree program focuses on the development of a cohesive, investigative body of work, also known as the student’s thesis. It is conceived as a loose framework within which each student’s visual method is deployed across many diverse projects during his or her two-year course of study. While every thesis project is unique, there are several common features: a focus on methodology, the application of a visual method to studio work, and the organization of the work in a thoughtfully argued written document and catalogue raisonné, also known as the “Thesis Book.” Students applying to the preliminary-year program typically have relevant experience in a field of study outside design and demonstrate evidence of visual acuity.
Contact: art.yale.edu/GraphicDesign