2022 GDUSA Top Design Schools

In the January/February 2022 print magazine, which kicked off our 59th year of publishing, GDUSA released our annual Students To Watch roundup. Now we’ve compiled a list of 50 of our favorite institutions 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 that education (and educators) are more important than ever as the lines blur evermore between the classroom and the studio, the academy and the office, the campus and the society.


Academy of Art University is America’s largest private accredited art and design university. Founded in 1929, the Academy offers a unique hands-on learning environment in courses taught by professionals who actually make their living doing what they teach. 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. 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

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. 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 media 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 research-intensive, residential university with about 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The art-making facilities in the School of Art at Ball State are competitive with the best in the country, and our faculty and staff are active nationally and internationally as artists, creators, scholars, and designers. Our Visual Communication BFA students receive a rigorous interdisciplinary education focused on cultural awareness and real-world work expectations. They develop problem-solving abilities, technical skills, and digital competencies across several disciplines. The students enjoy superior facilities outfitted with industry-standard computers,software programs, and equipment. Students work closely with professors and peers in multiple areas to build a solid foundation in design concepts and professional practices while blending traditional and emerging media. The Visual Communication program also provides an opportunity to enroll in an award-winning studentrun design studio and to collaborate on local, regional, national, and international design projects.
Contact: bsu.edu/art

Founded in 1907, 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. A top-ten most diverse college in the US, CCA attracts promising students from across the nation and around the world. Graphic design at CCA is dedicated to conceptual exploration and practical problem solving. We teach students to become leaders in the field by emphasizing craft, creativity, and collaboration, and we encourage them to engage with pressing social issues and examine how their work shows up in the world.
Contact: www.cca.edu

Our program honors strong graphic design history, but constantly incorporates new innovative technologies, platforms, and methods, ultimately pushing the discipline of communication design into new territories. Today, we face many challenges resulting from communication breakdowns and misinformation. Through diverse perspectives, we use new narrative frames, storytelling, and futurecasting to prepare students as future leaders, playing critical roles across various industries, organizations, and settings. We celebrate our interdisciplinary approach to teaching — working alongside students to develop the necessary 21st-century skillsets, posture, and critical consciousness to effectively use Communication Design practice, leading to positive impact. Our curriculum acknowledges that the act of designing does not exist in isolation but instead is part of complex social, political, environmental, and economic systems.
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, MA and MFA degrees. It also offers non-credit courses through its Continuing and Pre College Studies programs and opportunities for youth through its Community Arts Partnerships programs. Integrated into the college’s Communication Design program, Graphic Design studies strengthen students’ design and research skills, and develop their ability to use a variety of media in creating engaging communications. CCS’s innovative curriculum encourages students to create imaginative work that engages users in new and unexpected ways in print, motion, and user experience design. Communication Design students learn to print, code, type, cut/paste, photograph, connect, play, wire, move, gesture, draw, touch, think, paint, video, capture, record, document, make, write, and build dynamic design solutions.
Contact: collegeforcreativestudies.edu

Columbia College Chicago offers two programs in graphic design, a BFA and BA. Both degrees give students the tools and experience needed to launch a career in graphic design within a broader program of foundational studies in art and design. Students also gain a strong business foundation, which will prepare them to join a design firm, an agency, an inhouse corporate design team, or launch their own business. A second BA in Graphic Design is also available. The BFA is a rigorous, professionally focused degree that requires students to learn multiple disciplines and has fewer opportunities for electives. The BA provides a foundation in design, but allows students to choose a general concentration or one in Web Design or Publication Design. All Graphic Design students are required to develop a professional portfolio of work.
Contact: www.colum.edu

The School of Art at The Cooper Union 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. 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 on 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 opportunities for collaboration, networking, and professional internships, which are also supported by our Design Internship Program. Our award-winning faculty oversee 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 our 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

The center for creativity at Drexel University, the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design trains the next generation of scholars, thinkers, makers, and doers in the fields of media, entertainment, design, and the visual and performing arts. Westphal offers 18 undergraduate and nine graduate majors, housed in award-winning facilities that encourage collaboration across creative disciplines. The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design educates students to inform, persuade, educate, and entertain through the creative use of word and image. The program prepares students with diverse backgrounds to enter the field of graphic design with a competitive edge as skilled design practitioners, creative problem solvers, and multi-talented team members.
Contact: drexel.edu/westphal/academics/undergraduate/graphic-design

The Graphic Design BFA Program of the Communication Design Pathways Department educates creative, socially-responsible, and worldly professionals who are well positioned for a broad range of art and design fields. It challenges students to generate problem-solving and culture-making design, through experimentation and collaboration attuned to social, environmental as well as commercial challenges. It is an intensive, professionally oriented course of study that relies heavily on typographic craftsmanship, design authorship and motion design. The program presents an annual VAP lecture series for its design students and multiple student curated exhibitions. It facilitates Study Abroad, internships and professional interaction opportunities. Courses are taught by accomplished practicing designers and scholars.
Contact: www.fitnyc.edu/academics/academic-divisions/art-and-design/graphic-design/index.php

Full Sail University is an award-winning educational leader for those pursuing careers in entertainment, media, arts, and emerging technologies. Founded in 1979, it currently provides degree programs for more than 22,000+ students. Over its 40+ year history, Full Sail has received numerous accolades including “School/ College of the Year” by the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges. Full Sail offers accelerated on-campus and online degree programs including Graphic Design Bachelor’s, Media Design MFA and Digital Arts & Design Bachelor’s. With over 880,000+ square feet of real-world media production facilities, students have the opportunity to learn using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. Additionally, Full Sail graduate credits include work on OSCAR, Emmy, GRAMMY, ADDY, MTV Video Music Award, and Video Game Award-nominated and winning projects.
Contact: www.fullsail.edu

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

KCAI is a college of art and design awarding the B.F.A. degree in 13 majors. We recruit top talent from across the country and equip them with a versatile skill set 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. Our approach to design problems can best be described as exploratory, systematic, and transmedia. We recognize the complexity of contemporary design and seek to foster critical and surprising responses through a rigorous process of research, thinking, form-making, and connection to various external communities.
Contact: kcai.edu/graphic-design

Graphic Communications is one of the largest programs in the School of Art and Design at Kennesaw State University. This vigorous, progressive program supports students in advancing their technical and creative skills with visual literacy and technology serving 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 an MFA in Art and Design (recently added). SOAAD and the City of Atlanta are a powerful combination providing educational and professional opportunities that launch careers into both the local and international creative industry.
Contact: arts.kennesaw.edu/visual-arts

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

Mercer University’s comprehensive graphic design curriculum, housed within a vibrant liberal arts program, encourages the investigation of contemporary directions in art, imaging, and visual communication. By working in a wide range of print and interactive media, students develop cohesive portfolios appropriate for the pursuit of graduate studies or professional practice. Theory, methodology, and industry-standard technology are taught by award-winning faculty members to prepare students for success in this continually evolving field of study.
Contact: liberalarts.mercer.edu/academic-programs/majors-and-minors/graphic-design

Miami Ad School @ Portfolio Center is a graduate-level design and advertising school whose mission is to prepare students for creative practice and leadership. Believing in the importance of ideas and innovation, students learn to render content with real meaning and to create fresh solutions which contribute to our culture. Students use new and emerging media as well as traditional media to communicate. The Center offers full time, intensive, two-year programs; students graduate with a certificate in Design, Art Direction, Copywriting. Additionally, through a collaboration with Furman University, it offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Design (MA-SDG); and bootcamps in Social Media and Strategic Planning. Miami Ad School @ Portfolio Center is a member of Miami Ad School’s global network of 15 schools.
Contact: www.portfoliocenter.edu

Michigan State University, founded in 1855, 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. Within the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, students in the Graphic Design Program are exposed to a series of experimental and intellectual exercises that prepare them for a wide range of professional careers in design. 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. Real-world experience is gained through internships, the client-initiated coursework of Design Center, and the AIGA student group. Inspiring lectures demonstrate the wide scope of the profession, as renowned designers are brought in as part of the annual Visiting Artist & Scholar Lecture Series.
Contact: art.msu.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 one-on-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: themodern.edu

NSU, a private, not-for-profit institution, offers 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, then focus their work within graphic design or studio art. Our on-campus studios, gallery, and museum-quality installations and traveling exhibitions let you connect with visual art every day. As an art and design major, you’re a free member of Fort Lauderdale’s NSU Art Museum, where you can visit the latest international exhibit, attend talks or openings, or serve as a volunteer or intern.
Contact: www.nova.edu/arts

The Ohio State University’s design undergraduate offerings fall into three major programs, each leading to the Bachelor of Science in Design (BSD) degree: Industrial Design, Interior Design, and Visual Communication Design. The Visual Communication Design program was recently ranked third among the 25 best bachelor’s degree programs for 2022 by CollegeRank. Our undergraduate degree programs provide comprehensive, professional training in the design disciplines, while also emphasizing collaboration between each of the areas of study. Students develop projects that demonstrate their abilities to create solutions that meet or exceed professional expectations. The Department of Design also offers two complementary design-led and research-oriented areas of emphasis in Design Research and Development or Digital Animation and Interactive Media, both leading to the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Ohio State is the highest-ranked public university in Ohio and ranked in the top 50 of US universities.
Contact: design.osu.edu

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, LA-based, student, faculty, and research collective of designers investigating the issues of our day. Otis alumni and faculty are Fulbright, MacArthur, and Guggenheim grant recipients, Academy Award winners, legendary costume designers, leaders of contemporary art movements, entrepreneurs, and designers at Apple, Abercrombie & Fitch, Pixar, DreamWorks, Mattel, Nike, and Disney, among others. Otis College is also home to the influential Otis College 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, 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

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 part-time and completely online degree.
Contact: sps.northwestern.edu/masters/information-design

At Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, we are makers and dreamers, designers and entrepreneurs. Here students learn to make creativity their careers. Located in the heart of Lancaster city’s thriving arts community, inspiration is found around every corner. As a micro-college, it’s the personal attention and guidance from our faculty of working artists, coupled with internships and hands-on experiences, that set us apart. A hallmark of our Graphic Design program is our annual Designathon event, a 24-hour push of brainstorming, designing, refining, production, and presentations, as students and faculty create free marketing materials — logos, websites, brochures, and branding — for local nonprofits. This deadline-driven adrenaline-filled experience prepares students well for their futures as they learn to design under pressure.
Contact: pcad.edu/degrees/graphic-design

Portland State Graphic Design equips students to conquer creative challenges with a breadth of technical and artistic skills. The faculty are active makers as well as educators. Through their efforts and connections, Portland State’s graphic design students become part of the larger design community while still in school. We empower students to trust their creative impulses, embrace their interests, and direct their own learning experiences. Individualization of projects and self-authorship are encouraged and in turn create powerful creative workers who trust their choices. We offer students myriad opportunities to make work for the real world. Many of our classes pair students with clients — small businesses, non-profits, cultural institutions — to give students the experience of solving design challenges that will have real, tangible impact. Through visiting designer lectures, field trips, in-class demos, portfolio days, and internship opportunities, our students become integrated members of a global community of makers.
Contact: psu.gd

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 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. 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 practices.
Contact: www.risd.edu/academics/graphic-design

Since 1931, Ringling College of Art and Design has cultivated the creative spirit in students from around the globe. The College and its 1,400 students benefit from an award-winning faculty, cuttingedge technology, and a supportive creative community. The rigorous curriculum employs the studio model of teaching and immediately engages students through a comprehensive, firstyear 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

SCAD is a private, nonprofit, accredited university, offering more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degree programs across locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and online via SCADnow. The innovative SCAD graphic design curriculum is rooted in creative processes, problem-solving methodologies, and visualization concepts designed to connect users to brands. Each year, SCAD graphic design students earn illustrious accolades, including Applied Arts Student Awards, GDUSA, and International Design Awards. In 2021, SCAD was named No. 1 in the U.S. in Art & Object’s Best Art Schools ranking. Career success is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni employment rate. For the past four years, 99% of SCAD graduates were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation. Through SCADpro, the university’s in-house design studio, students join forces with luminaries 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 iconic companies such as Apple and IBM.
Contact: www.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

SVA has been a leader in the education of artists, designers and creative professionals for seven decades. With a faculty of distinguished working professionals, a dynamic curriculum and an emphasis on critical thinking, SVA is a catalyst for innovation and social responsibility. Comprising 7,000 students at its Manhattan campus and more than 40,000 alumni in 128 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. Our Design program focuses on teaching visual communication problem solving. In addition to a distinguished faculty, we offer a wide range of course options tailored to each student’s strengths and needs. We achieve this by offering more studio courses than any institution in the world. Our Advertising program is a soup-to-nuts proposition: we ground students in the basics — typography, digital production, 3D design, motion graphics, and graphic design while broadening their visual literacy and sharpening their voice. Many of SVA’s advertising classes are held right at the agencies of faculty members, where students can mingle with executives, media planners and copywriters.
Contact: 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. Talented, passionate experts teach the artistic, digital, and critical thinking skills required by dynamic creative fields.
Contact: www.sessions.edu

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. 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 design-studio-based education focused on 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-onone 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

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 designing for social good, cross-media partnerships, workshops and collaboration. We encourage students to let their passions drive their focus and academic path, and are proud to support and foster the individuality of its students and their unique voices and vision. Graduates 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, U.S. State Department, and their own businesses. The program offers both a BS in Graphic Design and an MS in Multimedia, Photography, and Design degrees.
Contact: newhouse.syr.edu/

Established in 1876, UArts believes creativity is the most essential skill for success in today’s society and has educated generations of groundbreaking artists, performers, designers and creative leaders for more than 141 years. The Graphic Design Program provides critical thinking and core design competencies together with a wide range of technological approaches, and prepares graduates for careers in fields ranging from publication design to motion graphics to branding and more. We turn out powerful thinkers who are sophisticated typographers and versatile designers. Our students collaborate with other programs at the University and with Philadelphia designers, artists, and organHIGHEST HONORS | 2022 TOP DESIGN SCHOOLS izations, and experiment with the tools and technologies available in the University’s new Makerspace and Center for Immersive Media. UArts graphic design students obtain real-world experience through internships and become fluent in many areas of practice, then lean towards areas of expertise. Many begin working as professionals at local design firms during their junior and senior years.
Contact: www.uarts.edu/academics/graphic-design

The UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts (DMA) offers a multidisciplinary education that fosters individual thinking, encourages experimentation, and works with students to develop truly contemporary practices. Those practices can include typography, graphic design, branding, digital fabrication and printing, photography and video, video games and 3D modeling, virtual and augmented reality, art+science, social and environmental practice, public arts, media archeology and theory, creative coding, interaction, electronics and interface design. DMA’s renowned faculty is committed to educating conscientious designers and media artists, and our community strives to create socially and culturally relevant objects, experiences, and spaces. We make our work public in galleries and laboratories, as social media, on large screens, smart phones and game consoles, in media installations, performances and public spaces, as websites, posters, books and magazines. The department offers a BA in design media arts and an MFA in media arts.
Contact: arts.ucla.edu

The School of Design at UCO places student-centered excellence at the program’s core. This philosophy and practice are captured in a quote by senior design student Emily Falls, “When I joined the School of Design, I knew virtually nothing about design. Now, three years later, I have found my calling as a designer, and I am proud of my work and accomplishments. There are plenty of challenges in the School of Design, and it is wildly rewarding in the end. The School of Design has shaped me into the person I am today, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.” At the UCO School of Design, students learn to be change-makers and social innovators while engaged in real-world work experience outside the typical design classroom. The School of Design is deeply committed to the university mission, which states we exist to help students learn by providing transformative education experiences so that they may become productive, creative, ethical, and engaged citizens and leaders serving our global community.”
Contact: www.uco.edu/cfad/academics/design

At the University of Cincinnati, communication design students receive a foundation in visual problem solving. The core of the curriculum is a series of sequential design studios. These courses help students develop critical and visual thinking along with essential design processes. Students also have opportunities to further develop in the specific areas of graphic design, interaction design and motion design. Students reinforce their skills in the field through several co-ops. Professional communication designers build careers wherever communication is important. Designers often work for design firms, internal design teams, or as independent freelancers. They have career opportunities in branding and corporate identity, digital product design, exhibit design, interface design, motion graphics, package design, service design, user experience design, and web design.
Contact: daap.uc.edu/academic-programs/school-of-design.html

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 how work looks, but also about how people will interact with it.
Contact: www.hartford.edu/academics/schools-colleges/art/default.aspx

The BFA program in Communication Design is guided by a curriculum that emphasizes the development of conceptual thinking that mirrors the challenges found in the graphic design industry. The undergraduate curriculum offers graphic design and user-centered design concentrations that help students develop marketable skills and deep knowledge for diverse design settings. Our students’ work is competitive globally, having garnered recognition from significant design competitions. A nationally and internationally recognized community of faculty provides students with excellent mentors and role models upon which to pattern their careers. The College of Visual Arts and Design creates a climate and curriculum that values, demonstrates, and affirms diversity, equity, and inclusion through its programs and practices. UNT is located in Denton TX, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Contact: cvad.unt.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 new state-of-the-art facility in the Los Angeles Arts District—a vibrant art and design community. The MFA Design program particularly instills a critical understanding of the issues, theories, and ideas that are relevant to contemporary design. Roski’s open approach offers myriad opportunities for inter-disciplinary research and collaboration across the 18 professional schools at USC, a leading research institution. This gives Roski design students the extraordinary 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. 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

Established in 1910, the University of Southern Mississippi is a tier one research institution providing quality education in visual arts for 110 years. As one of only 39 institutions in the nation accredited in all major art forms, it is the flagship university for the arts in the state of Mississippi. The graphic design program has a rich history dating back to 1946 and has produced distinguished alums including an AIGA Medalist and numerous design industry leaders. The design program continues to develop this rich tradition of success which can be seen through our students’ award-winning work. Our BFA curriculum focuses on visual literacy; development of conceptual, aesthetic, and visual skills; and creative problem solving. In addition to traditional coursework, students can experience design in one of 2 student lead agencies: Rise Creative, and SPVA Design and Marketing. Our students also enjoy a rich culture and active community within our program with large, active student organizations that travel to design conferences, portfolio reviews and competitions.
Contact: www.usm.edu/performing-visual-arts/areas-study.php#Graphic%20Design

The School of Design and Creative Technologies (SDCT) at The University of Texas at Austin aims to graduate diverse, creative students who are the best technical creators, designers and problem solvers with exceptional job opportunities. SDCT comprises two academic departments: the Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies (AET) and the Department of Design. The Department of Design empowers students with a multi-faceted educational experience that poises graduates for careers in the design profession, professions with a design component or a strategic focus, and entrepreneurial endeavors. In addition to a BFA and BA in Design, the department offers an MFA in Design and an MA in Design focused on Health, a first-of-its-kind program equipping a new generation to be change agents in healthcare using design methodologies and practices.
Contact: designcreativetech.utexas.edu

The Visual Communication Design program at Thomas Jefferson University emphasizes the role of design as a vital cultural, social, economic, political, and environmental force in society. Rooted in the universal principles of design that shape our world and the human experience, graduates learn to make and think critically in order to identify and solve a wide variety of modern problems.
Every student in the program learns the foundations of visual aesthetics, design research, the creative process, and a variety of tools and technology. Students can extend this core knowledge to either the Graphic Design Communication or Web Design & Development specialization in order to find their unique place within the ever-changing and expanding design profession.
By fostering curiosity, faculty empower students to develop individual points of view and equip them to investigate and tackle the complex challenges of our profession and the world. We provide students with opportunities to explore a range of techniques and applications, to collaborate with peers and faculty from other programs, to work on industry projects, and to engage with the professional design community.
Contact: www.jefferson.edu/academics/colleges-schools-institutes/kanbar-college-of-design-engineering-commerce/school-of-design-engineering/academic-programs/visual-communication-design.html

As an integral part of the largest university in the state, the BFA Graphic Design program at Utah Valley University is centered on thought-provoking, concept-driven design. Within our classrooms, students are exposed to a broad variety of media ranging from print and branding to motion graphics and UI/UX. Beyond campus bounds, they are uniquely situated to find outstanding internship and career opportunities within Utah’s thriving “Silicon Slopes” business hub. Year after year, they have also been successful in winning an array of regional, national, and international design awards.
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 three-year 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 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, 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

Virginia Tech takes 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. Through experiential learning, future-focused research, and inclusive, spirited culture, the institution 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, user experience, 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 professionally reviewed portfolio. Graduates work in app design, motion design, product and packaging design, web and interaction design, advertising, and other related fields.
Contact: www.sova.vt.edu

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts is a leader in architecture, art, and design education. We advance our fields through innovative research and creative practice, excellence in teaching, a world-class university art museum, and a deep commitment to addressing the social and environmental challenges of our time. We offer 15 unique degree programs, supplemented by a number of creative research centers and resources, including the Office for Socially Engaged Practice, Island Press, and the D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, featuring a comprehensive archival collection of periodical illustration. Undergraduates in design may pursue a BFA or a BA as well as second majors and minors in diverse academic fields. Students are free to explore drawing, typography, graphic design, illustration, book arts, and interaction design (and everywhere in between). The MFA in Illustration & Visual Culture (MFA-IVC) program combines studio practice in illustration and writing with the study of visual and material culture. With a focus on illustrator authorship, this two-year, fully residential program is made for illustrators, comic artists, and designers interested in popular visual matter.
Contact: samfoxschool.wustl.edu/academics/college-of-art

Woodbury University has earned a reputation as a leading creative university thanks in part to its nationally ranked Graphic Design program (9th in the country according to intelligent.com). The creative offerings of the University’s Schools of Architecture and Media, Culture & Design are balanced by top notch academic programs in its School of Business and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Woodbury’s location in Southern California and strong connection to the most iconic and innovative companies in the country give students access to an array of career opportunities. A mandatory internship program allows students to gain practical work experience before graduation, and those internships often turn into full-time jobs. Woodbury’s faculty are highly accomplished working professionals and the school’s 9:1 faculty-to-student ratio guarantees unhindered access to their expertise and insights. Woodbury is recognized as an Hispanic Serving Institution and has been named a College of Distinction for 7 years running.
Contact: woodbury.edu/program/school-of-media-culture-design/programs/graphic-design

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