Highest Honors: 2018 Top Graphic Design Schools

In the January/February 2018 magazine, which kicked off our 55th year of publishing, GDUSA released its annual Students To Watch roundup. In addition, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite institutions which 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, educators, recruiters. 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, continue to blur.


Academy of Art University is the largest accredited private art and design university in the nation. Founded in 1929, the school and San Francisco have grown up together and served as mutual sources of inspiration and talent. Academy of Art University offers accredited AA, BA, BFA, B. Arch, MA, MFA and M. Arch degree programs in numerous areas of study, as well as continuing art education and pre-college programs for high school students. Flexible online degree programs are available in most areas of study, including graphic design. What makes the School of Graphic Design special is its emphasis on portfolio development. From the very first class, students are encouraged to create an exceptional portfolio that demonstrates skills in traditional drawing and painting as well as a well-rounded education in typography, print and editorial design, branding, information design, web design and packaging.

For more than 80 years, Art Center College of Design has remained focused on the core educational mission of developing creative leaders and innovators in art and design. The institution is leading the way with cross-disciplinary programs and studios that prepare students within and outside their chosen fields. Art Center College has an international reputation for its rigorous, transdisciplinary curriculum, faculty of professionals, strong ties to industry and a commitment to socially responsible design. The school has roughly 2,000 students, undergraduate and graduate.

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. The Program is housed among other prestigious design disciplines within the beautiful traditional campus setting.

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. Founded in 1907, the college currently offers 22 undergraduate and 13 graduate programs to its nearly 2000 students. Graphic design students at CCA learn how to engage the mind and the senses by translating ideas into provocative forms and powerful experiences. They identify problems and find solutions that move people to think, feel, and act.

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is a highly regarded private art college near Los Angeles. 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.

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, multi-cultural research university. The School of Design houses approximately 250 students within a historic building on campus in Pittsburgh, one of America’s most livable cities. School officials state: “The demand for our graduates is increasing, and each year during Confluence, our career fair, many students receive offers of employment prior to graduation.”

Located in the heart of Detroit and integrated into Detroit’s cultural life, the College for Creative Studies (CCS) educates artists and designers to be leaders in the creative professions. A private, fully accredited college, CCS enrolls more than 1,400 students pursuing BFA and MFA degrees. The College 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 develops 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.

A global center for high-tech innovation, Seattle is surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Because of this balance, Seattle has attracted a robust, globally-involved design community. Cornish College of the Arts and its Department of Design is at its center. The curriculum is centered on the student’s interests in corporate, entrepreneurial, or social design practice. By engaging in individual and collaborative projects, students learn the demands of user experience, the value of understanding narrative systems and the relationships of type and image. Their education in traditional and digital design techniques is founded in critical and contextual learning. The school partners with companies like Amazon and Microsoft for “real-world” experiences. But they also collaborate with nonprofit social innovators like the Raikes Foundation and Partners Asia to give students opportunities to deploy their skills for social good. Department Chair Jeff Brice dubs the balance of technique, context, corporate and social design the “ecology of practices.”

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 at Cranbrook 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-in-Residence, one for each discipline, all of whom live and practice on campus alongside our students.

Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design offers seventeen undergraduate programs, nine graduate degree programs, and one PhD program, all of which are 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 (DUTV) and radio (WKDU 91.7 FM) 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, offering a balance of traditional and technical artistic studies. Graphic Design students learn to conceptualize, design and produce visual communication in books, magazines, posters, ads, packaging, websites, interactive media, information systems, exhibition design, motion and many other forms of media. Students use this work to develop an expansive portfolio, which, along with six-month co-op experiences, prepares them for successful employment after graduation.

At FIT, a newly formed Communication Design Pathways Department brings together the Advertising Design BFA, Graphic Design BFA, Packaging Design BFA, and Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design BFA with the Communication Design AAS. The Department’s mission is coupled with that of the School of Art and Design to educate the next generation of creative, socially-responsible, and globally-relevant 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. 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.

Howard University in Washington DC is a leading research university guided by an extraordinary cadre of faculty, students immersed in cutting-edge scholarship and innovation. The Department of Art is committed to graduating socially conscious professional artists/designers and scholars, presenting a multifaceted program that offers a professional degree program enriched by academic support from University-wide departments. Emphasis is placed upon instruction from a multicultural perspective and recognition of the dynamic reciprocity of art and life. The Department of Art is an accredited institutional member of NASAD and offers BA, BFA and MFA degrees in various disciplines. The Design Program aims to develop a range of knowledge, skills and competencies in visual communication through experiences in 2D, 3D, print, digital, motion, and interactive design.

The Graphic Design Communication program at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) cultivates design strategists with an innovative spirit and superior critical thinking skills applicable to a diversity of human needs. Consistent with Jefferson’s overall mission to provide professional training with a rigorous Liberal Arts and Business core, 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 seeks to develop students who can contribute intelligently and responsibly at a global level to further the common good. Culminating with a B.S. degree, the program is conceptually-based on the belief that a designers’ highest value is to be able to generate ideas. The curriculum embraces design thinking and strategic planning, features real-world assignments, and is based on active, hands-on learning emphasizing traditional design skills and the ability to responds to complex problems across a variety of media. Student work regularly wins recognition from the likes of Adobe, AIGA, Creative Quarterly, Graphis, GDUSA, How, SPD, The One Show, and UCDA.

The Kansas City Art Institute, located in Kansas City MO, is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the BFA degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, fiber, filmmaking, graphic design, illustration, interactive arts, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization. The Graphic Design Department has a rich and robust history, with a legacy of talented faculty and students who all have a strong commitment to the field of design. The department goes beyond the traditional division between web and print design to give students a cross-media skill set that adapts to context, audience and participant input. This rigorous approach to audience research, theory and conceptual problem-solving helps position graduates as thought leaders, and exposes students to professional practices, concepts and skills required to build rewarding careers.

Kennesaw State University, a public university in Georgia, is a leader in innovative teaching and learning. KSU offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate degrees to its more than 35,000 students. The School of Art and Design currently serves over 700 majors. It’s award-winning Graphic Communications program is a rigorous, progressive concentration. The 200+ students advance technical and creative skills through visual literacy and technology, coupled with a foundation for career and educational achievement. Students graduate with expertise in graphic communications-related industries and an understanding of their work’s relevance in a multicultural and global market place, most being employed in the print, web, animation and interactive media industries.

The LSU College of Art & Design in Baton Rouge is Louisiana’s foremost school for fine arts, art history, and the design professions, with programs highly ranked in national surveys. The school combines the best of both worlds: the resources and faculty of a large liberal arts institution with the personal attention that comes in a close-knit community. More than 35 full-time faculty members and 500 undergraduate and graduate students explore and embrace studies in art history, ceramics, digital art, graphic design, painting & drawing, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. The graphic design BFA program prepares students to become visual communicators, critical thinkers, and creative problem solvers through a broad range of experiences in typography, print and editorial design, information design, digital imaging, packaging, environmental design, identity design, and branding.

MICA has become a leader in the education of artists and designers by fostering a community of talented, creative individuals committed to redefining the boundaries of art and design. The College’s innovative curriculum, state-of-the-art campus and world-class faculty provide the education, community, experiences and resources needed to prepare the artists and designers who will lead in the 21st century. Located in Baltimore, MICA offers a BFA and MFA in Graphic Design, an MA in Social Design, MPS degrees in Business of Art and Design and UX Design, a dual MBA/ MA in Design Leadership and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Graphic Design.

MIAD is Wisconsin’s only four-year, private college of visual art and design, offering BFA degrees in Communication Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture + Design and Studio Art (New Studio Practice). Throughout MIAD’s Communication Design program – closely tied to its award-winning Illustration program — students have the opportunity to intern at leading advertising and design firms, in corporate settings, and more. The college’s enrollment has grown over the past three years, and upon graduation, MIAD alumni fill important positions, sharing their voice in major, multinational corporations, and marketing and communications firms.

The nationally renowned Northwestern University School of Professional Studies has an extensive offering of online master’s degrees and certificate programs, and this now includes an online Master of Science in Information Design and 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 their 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. The IDS program was developed in consultation with industry leaders; it is a part-time and completely online degree.

Established in 1918, Otis is the first independent professional school of art in Los Angeles. The City of Angels is a cultural capital, making it a stimulating place to study art and design. When students graduate, they join the professional communities of entertainment, art, design and fashion. Alumni and faculty are leaders in these communities and support recent graduates. technological proficiency, and innovative outcomes. The goal is to develop critical thinking and visual communication tools for careers in a changing and competitive workplace. During senior year students explore conceptual, theoretical, and experimental projects through individual proposals. They meet in cross-disciplinary teams led by faculty advisors and guest critics. Graduates value structure, surface and form, but also consider the engagements and interactions of design with clients, audiences, and the culture at large.

PCAD, a fully accredited art college in Lancaster PA, 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.

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 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.

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. It is the perfect choice for students who prefer to transition to the big city with advanced skills and a tight group of friends. 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.

Rich, multifaceted and encompassing a broad range of media, Graphic Design at RISD respects the foundations of formal, aesthetic and analytical knowledge and skills while exploring the ever-changing context and function of visual communication. In the studio students learn the fundamental value of typography, imagery, grids, systems and more in the course of creating everything from traditional books, posters, logos and websites to apps, interactive texts and other digital media. Graphic Design graduates leave RISD prepared to work in almost any field imaginable — from education to film, television, publishing, retail and more. Alumni follow a wide range of individual paths, including running their own design studios, working for large corporations, specializing in web and interactive media, and creating everything from package design to title sequences for film and television.

For 85 years, 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 eleven disciplines and the Bachelor of Arts in two. The College’s 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.

The intensive BA degree program in Graphic Design at Rutgers-Camden is heavily rooted in a Liberal arts context – reading, writing and critical thinking. The program focuses on interdisciplinary thinking and research through personalized interaction with faculty who are active researchers and practitioners. The program fosters and challenges technical and conceptual proficiency while developing an awareness of one’s individual perspective and process through a constantly evolving and experimental curriculum. The goal is for students to become aware of their own creative methods and perspectives in order to extended them beyond the boundaries of traditional graphic design roles. The Rutgers-Camden campus resides on the Delaware River across from Philadelphia. Many graduates have established successful careers in print design, advertising, interactive and web design and product design — working in traditional graphic design studios to design think tanks. In addition, our student works have been awarded and recognized by organizations including AIGA, Graphis, GDUSA, UCDA, CMYK, DSVC, and Applied Arts.

The Graphic + Media Design program at The Sage College of Albany is a nationally recognized, NASAD accredited BFA degree that combines traditional graphic design with media-rich technology. Our standards are high, and our curriculum is challenging. We pride ourselves on small classes and distinguished faculty who know their students well. Sage students broaden their artistic vision through intensive studio work, research, internships, service learning, and interdisciplinary projects, and they are equally proficient in print, interaction design, video, and digital imaging. They graduate with the confidence to influence their world with their creative vision, critical thinking abilities, and problem solving expertise.

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, Georgia; Hong Kong; Lacoste, France; and online via SCAD eLearning. SCAD enrolls nearly 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 100 countries. Career preparation is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni employment rate. In a study of Spring 2016 SCAD graduates, 98 percent were employed, pursuing further education or both within 10 months of graduation. At SCAD, graphic design students gain the agility and interdisciplinary perspective needed to make contextually appropriate design decisions in an ever-shifting global landscape. The university’s graphic design curriculum is rooted in creative processes, problem-solving methodologies and visualization concepts designed to connect brands to their users. Students learn to build visual systems across print and multimedia platforms through a variety of approaches — augmented reality, branded spaces, interactivity, environmental and wayfinding systems, typeface design and more. At all levels of study, coursework parallels the latest evolutions of professional practice and entrepreneurship, and emphasis is placed on originality, sustainable processes, contextual relevance and economic feasibility.

SAA is a nationally recognized graphic design college based in Kettering OH. At SAA, students explore their uniqueness and train to become hybrid designers able to apply the principles of design and creativity to both print and web projects. The two-year program offers individualized attention from faculty experienced in the design industry who can adjust the curriculum to stay current with market trends and technology advancements. Courses focus on creativity, typography, graphic design, photography, web and app design, illustration, video and motion design, marketing, and presentation skills. SAA has a consistently high job placement rate and a strong reputation among employers for educating designers who are creative and prepared for the demands of the advertising industry. Each student completes an internship in their second year and develops an amazing portfolio. Late news: SAA has announced that in July it will formally change its name to The Modern College of Design to reflect its broader mission and offerings.

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.

School of Visual Arts 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. Comprised of more than 6,000 students at its Manhattan campus and 35,000 alumni in 100 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. For information about the College’s 32 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, visit the website.

Founded in 1997, Sessions College for Professional Design is a fully online school of visual arts offering degree and certificate programs. Associate degree majors include Graphic Design, Web Design, Digital Media, Illustration, Advertising Design, and Digital Photography. The mission is to prepare art and design professionals for successful careers by providing the highest quality of online arts education; students gain a thorough training in the technical, creative, and critical thinking skills required for a fast-changing industry. In the Graphic Design Associate degree program, first year students gain proficiency in the traditional elements of art and design. Software and coding classes build skills in contemporary design tools and technologies for digital imaging, illustration, layout, and web publishing. Second year classes explore a range of media including layout projects, print production, packaging, and branding and marketing concepts.

Shillington’s innovative approach to design education is premised on the belief that students can achieve amazing results in a seriously short amount of time — no experience required. In only 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time, students graduate with the technical and conceptual skills they need, completely prepared for the expectations of the design industry. Shillington graduates are technical and practical problem-solvers, ready for today and tomorrow’s real-world challenges. At Shillington “we move fast and mentor students to work like professional designers, following clear processes and meeting tight deadlines. Friendly and experienced teachers mix design theory and practice together so students are trained to think like designers from day one. Our mission hasn’t changed in 20 years, and delivers results year after year. Graduates get hired at top design studios, work for major brands and start their own businesses. Thousands of students have kickstarted their creative careers at Shillington.”

The Multimedia, Photography & Design department at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University 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. MPD values cross-media partnerships, workshops and collaboration. MPD encourages its students to let their passions drive their focus and academic path, and it is proud to support and foster the individuality of its students and their unique voices and vision. Graduates of the design program have gone on to work at places such as IDEO, National Geographic Magazine, Google, Adobe, IBM, Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, Trip Advisor, and their own start up businesses.

The Texas State University Communication Design Program is one of the largest public programs in the country and one of the best in the Southwest. The goal is to create a stimulating learning environment where students can pursue their specific interests within four areas of professional study: graphic design, art direction, interactive media, and illustration. In addition to course work, students are encouraged to participate in design competitions, serve as interns to a professional practice, join student organizations, and attend visiting professional lectures and exhibitions. Students have been published and honored in CMYK, Graphis and GDUSA. They have also received recognition by The One Show, AAF, National DSVC Student Show, Creative Summit, Art Director’s Club of Houston, Austin Addy Awards, and San Antonio Addy Awards.

The mission of The Cooper Union’s School of Art is 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. Upon completion, disciplines offered are graphic design, drawing, film and video, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture. The graphic design curriculum includes courses on typography, web design, game design, information design, motion graphics and more. The school has a long and proud history, and is located in New York City.

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, which encompass 32 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.

As part of the DAAP, the Myron E. Ullman School of Design Communications Design Program empowers students with a core of knowledge that provides a solid educational base. The core of the curriculum is a series of sequential design studios and a world-class professional practice (co-op) program helping 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.

Located in Philadelphia, the Tyler School of Art’s Graphic & Interactive Design program 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 program 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 both nationally and world-wide. Based at Temple, one of the nation’s great urban public universities, 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 one of the world’s leading (and most affordable) art centers. Students attend lectures and exhibitions at museums and galleries, participate in community art projects and earn high-profile internships.

Visit Tyler Graphic & Interactive Design at tyler.temple.edu/programs/graphic-interactive-design

The UCLA Department of Design Media Arts (DMA) offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to media creation that fosters individual exploration and innovative thinking. Within the context of the department, design is a process and way of thinking, and media arts foreground experimental media creation. The results emerge in and on books, galleries, game consoles, installations, films, magazines, performances, public spaces, televisions, and websites. They “strive to create socially and culturally relevant objects, experiences, and spaces.”

Founded in 1876, UArts is one of the nation’s only universities dedicated solely to educating students in the visual and performing arts, design and writing. It is a leader in educating creative individuals through an innovative and flexible, yet rigorous and well-rounded curriculum. With more than 1,800 enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs on its campus in the heart of Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts, students collaborate across disciplines and benefit from being in such a vibrant city. Graphic Design at UArts is on the leading edge, delving into new technologies, as well as re-inventing how handmade images and messages uniquely speak to the electronically engaged world. The program emphasizes unique invention, and its students explore both new technologies and old-world craft.

USC Roski’s MFA in Design is a studio-based program located in the cultural capital of Los Angeles. The select cohort enrolled each year is offered a unique experience focusing on wide-ranging experimental design, social practice, teaching methodologies, as well as cross-disciplinary opportunities at one of the world’s leading research universities. The instructional model is focused on critical dialogue through regular studio visits with renowned faculty, professional artists and designers, and scholars. Students may also take Critical Studies courses emphasizing histories in art and design, visual arts and communication theories, and global art and design practices. At least one “design study tour” course is required that includes travel and research to a city in the US, Asia, or Europe. The USC Roski School of Art and Design has long specialized in identifying critical disciplinary intersections that lead to new thinking, imagination, and invention.

The MFA in Graphic Design at Vermont College of Fine Arts is a trailblazing low-residency program built around students’ particular interests, values, and goals. Students join the faculty in continuously rethinking 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 track offerings 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, and a body of design work that is personal and relevant to the next stage in their design careers and creative lives.

The VCU Advertising program is centered on professional practice, studio intensive coursework and experimental collaboration in education. We’re part of the Robertson School of Media and Culture located on VCU’s urban campus in downtown Richmond, Virginia. 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.

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. 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 Visual Communication Design program prepares students for a career in graphic design by focusing on conceptual thinking, semiotics and problem-solving tactics. The program demands individual creativity, teamwork skills and adaptability while preparing students to enter the job market with practical experience and a full, professionally viewed portfolio. Graduates are working in app design, editorial design, product and packaging design, web and interaction design, advertising and other related fields.

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.
woodbury.edu, wmcd.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 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.