35 Best Graphic Design Schools 2024 - Rankings & Fees

Top graphic design schools
Updated:
May 23, 2024
15 min read
Expert Reviewed
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/22/24


Getting into a good school for graphic design can give you the tools you need for a creative career path. Read on for tips on how to get into a top graphic design school and more! 

Graphic design is a field that helps brands communicate ideas to their audience, whether it be a new product, logo building, website design, or even animation. Some graphic designers might even develop careers in the film industry. In this article, we’ll list the top schools for graphic design, including their rank, program overview, and admissions requirements.

The 35 Best Graphic Design Schools

School U.S. News Ranking
Rhode Island School of Design #4 in Regional Universities North (tie)
Yale University #5 in National Universities
ArtCenter College of Design #26 in Regional Universities West
California College of the Arts N/A
Maryland Institute College of Art N/A
Virginia Commonwealth University #38 in Most Innovative Schools (tie)
School of Visual Arts #104 in Regional Universities North (tie)
Savannah College of Art and Design #9 in Regional Universities South (tie)
Pratt Institute N/A
The New School's Parsons School of Design #201 in National Universities (tie)
Ringling College of Art and Design N/A
University of Texas at Austin #32 in National Universities
North Carolina State University #60 in National Universities (tie)
California Institute of the Arts #28 in Regional Universities West (tie)
Carnegie Mellon University #24 in National Universities (tie)
University of Cincinnati #142 in National Universities (tie)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago N/A
University of North Texas #260 in National Universities (tie)
Arizona State University #105 in National Universities (tie)
Minneapolis College of Art and Design N/A
Otis College of Art and Design N/A
University of California, Los Angeles #15 in National Universities (tie)
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art #2 in Regional Colleges North
Washington University in St. Louis #24 in National Universities (tie)
Brigham Young University #115 in National Universities (tie)
University of Washington #40 in National Universities (tie)
Portland State University #280 in National Universities (tie)
Full Sail University N/A
University of Illinois at Chicago #82 in National Universities (tie)
University of Southern California #28 in National Universities (tie)
The Ohio State University #43 in National Universities (tie)
Auburn University #93 in National Universities (tie)
San Diego State University #105 in National Universities (tie)
University of Florida #28 in National Universities (tie)
Fashion Institute of Technology N/A

The best way to jumpstart your career as a graphic designer is to acquire a high-quality education to hone your skills and industry knowledge. Below are the best schools for a graphic design major in the country with overviews and what you need to know for each admissions process. 

1. Rhode Island School of Design 

Rhode Island School of Design
U.S. News Ranking #4 in Regional Universities North (tie)
Acceptance Rate 19%
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Score 1416
Average ACT Score 31
In-State Tuition $57,505

According to U.S. News, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) recently ranked as the best school for graphic design. The school was founded in 1877 and is one of the country’s first art design schools. 

RISD offers a four-year Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. The program “allows students to fully absorb an informed design process that provides lifelong support as they go on to engage in real-world design opportunities. Students gain a thorough understanding of the principles of design, theories of communication and strategies for problem solving.” 

Along with standard requirements like the Common Application, transcripts, and test scores, applicants must submit a portfolio of 12 to 20 works that “reflect a full range of your ideas, curiosity, experimentation and experience in creating and making” in any medium. 

You are also required to complete an assignment demonstrating two ideas that are “in conversation” with one another. The admissions committee wants to see your thought process and experimental work in a preparatory study. The second step is to submit your final work; the assignment’s purpose is to show how you think and create.

2. Yale University 

Yale University
U.S. News Ranking #5 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 5%
Average GPA 4.1
Average SAT Score 1540
Average ACT Score 31
In-State Tuition $62,250

Yale University, an Ivy League school, is ranked as the second-best graphic design school. Yale was founded in 1701 and “has been dedicated to expanding and sharing knowledge, inspiring innovation, and preserving cultural and scientific information for future generations.”

Yale University has a BFA that offers art courses that “through work in a variety of media, provide an experience in the visual arts as part of a liberal education as well as preparation for graduate study and professional work.” 

Beyond core courses, you can choose to study graphic design intensively, along with other areas, such as photography, painting/printmaking, and sculpture. 

If you’re interested in the Yale College Art major to get a BFA, you must apply to Yale directly. After acceptance, you must complete five terms of introductory courses and have your work evaluated in a Sophomore Review. 

3. ArtCenter College of Design 

ArtCenter College of Design
U.S. News Ranking #26 in Regional Universities West
Acceptance Rate 76%
Average GPA 3.2
Average SAT Score N/A
Average ACT Score N/A
In-State Tuition $49,942

The ArtCenter College of Design is located in sunny Pasadena, California, and is the third-best college for art and design. Founded in 1930, the school prides itself as “a global leader in art and design education.” 

Along with high-quality academic programs, the College also serves the Greater Los Angeles region through “ArtCenter Extension programs - a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience.”

ArtCenter’s Graphic Design program can be completed in eight terms, where you will “learn to infuse words and images with life and meaning—whether by creating motion graphics, an interface on the latest mobile device, setting type by hand in our letterpress shop or attending a workshop in our new typography center.” 

Students in this program are encouraged to find design solutions through experimentation with a range of media. 

ArtCenter uses its own application portal and offers flexibility by allowing you to choose which term you want to begin studying: in the Fall, Spring, or Summer. You must submit one short answer and two essays that revolve around themes of what influences you, a risk you’ve taken, and why you want to study graphic design. 

A portfolio including six to ten graphic design projects “that demonstrate your ability to combine image, typography, and layout to communicate your ideas” is another application requirement. You can also choose to submit an optional video essay.

4. California College of the Arts 

California College of the Arts
U.S. News Ranking Unranked
Acceptance Rate 78%
Average GPA 3.3
Average SAT Score 1160
Average ACT Score 24
In-State Tuition $57,946

The California College of the Arts (CCA) is tied for the #4 spot as the country’s best graphic design school. Founded in 1907 and located in the bustling Bay Area, CCA is a private nonprofit college. The school offers 22 undergraduate degrees and 11 graduate programs.

CCA offers a BFA in Graphic Design that teaches students “to become leaders in the field by emphasizing craft, creativity, and collaboration, and we encourage them to engage with pressing social issues and think about how their work shows up in the world.”

Students can apply online using either the Common Application or CCA’s online application. You must submit a supplemental personal essay, portfolio, and standard application requirements like transcripts and recommendation letters. 

The supplemental essay asks you to communicate how your art reflects the school’s values and contributes to one or more of the following in 500 words or less: 

  • Community engagement
  • Cultural innovation
  • Social and environmental accountability

Your portfolio should represent 10 to 15 images of your best work, and short clips or animations are also permitted. 

5. Maryland Institute College of Art

Maryland Institute College of Art
U.S. News Ranking Unranked
Acceptance Rate 86%
Average GPA 3.5
Average SAT Score 1208
Average ACT Score 25
In-State Tuition $53,815

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore is tied with CCA as the fourth-best graphic design school. MICA is regarded as a leader in art and design education, and “is a leading contributor to the creative economy regionally and a top producer of nationally and internationally recognized professional artists and designers.” 

MICA offers a three-year BFA major in graphic design that aims to help graduates think critically and thrive in design careers. Students take many courses revolving around: 

  • Graphic design
  • Art history
  • Color and design
  • Studio electives

To apply to MICA, you must use the Common Application. You must also upload your portfolio with 12 to 20 pieces of artwork for the admissions committee’s consideration. 

Your portfolio should be a “selection of recent artwork that represents your artistic interests and demonstrates your technical skills and ability. You should include examples of artwork that reflect the full range of your ideas, interests, experience, and abilities in the arts to date.” 

6. Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University
U.S. News Ranking #38 in Most Innovative Schools (tie)
Acceptance Rate 91%
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Score 1165
Average ACT Score 26
In-State Tuition $16,353

Also tied for the fourth spot in U.S. News ranking is Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Founded in 1838, VCU boasts that research and creativity are two of the school's greatest strengths in any program. 

VCU offers a BFA in Graphic Design that emphasizes collaboration and “will require you to explore design methods, processes, materials and language; broaden your understanding of the diversity and scope of design practices; and customize your educational experience through an array of departmental electives aligned with active faculty research.” 

VCU accepts the Common Application with all standard requirements. You also need to submit a portfolio that has between 12 and 16 of your best works from the past two years.

This work should “show your promise in visual art and design.” Try to submit work that shows diverse skills and illustrates (pun intended) your potential. 

7. School of Visual Arts

School of Visual Arts
U.S. News Ranking #104 in Regional Universities North (tie)
Acceptance Rate 87%
Average GPA 3.4
Average SAT Score 1192
Average ACT Score 26
In-State Tuition $49,140

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) situated in the creative hub of New York, ranks among the top colleges for graphic design in the country. Known for its comprehensive BFA program, students can choose to focus on 3D Design, Motion Graphics, Interaction Design, or Graphic Design. 

This combination of choice and flexible learning pathways is a key reason why SVA is among the best schools for graphic design.

At SVA, emphasis is placed on industry interaction, a broad scope of study areas, and entrepreneurial elements. After all, the BFA program goes beyond the basics, diving deep into the practicalities of graphic design and what it means to operate in today's fast-paced, digital realm.

BFA Concentrations at SVA Key Features
3D Design Exploration of 3D modeling, printing, and animation techniques.
Motion Graphics Training in creating moving graphic images for various digital platforms.
Interaction Design Focus on designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services.
Graphic Design Introduction to visual concepts for commercial, educational, cultural, and social causes.

For those interested in blending design prowess with leadership, SVA's MFA program in Design/Design as Entrepreneur is an ideal fit. This intensive master’s program combines the principles of design with business fundamentals, helping students prepare for leading roles within the design industry.

Over the years, SVA has been instrumental in its alumni establishing more than 50 design studios globally – a testament to the practical, hands-on education that the institution provides. Overall, aspiring designers would be well-served by considering SVA as a prime choice for their graphic design education journey.

8. Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design
U.S. News Ranking #9 in Regional Universities South (tie)
Acceptance Rate 82%
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Score 1130
Average ACT Score 24
In-State Tuition $40,095

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), one of the top design schools in the US, stands out for its comprehensive approach to graphic design education. Its diverse range of graphic design degree programs includes BA, BFA, MA, MFA, and even a minor in graphic design, catering to students with varying educational objectives.

What distinguishes SCAD from other institutions is its commitment to fostering an environment that emphasizes engagement with industry professionals. This allows students to experience a genuine feel of the graphic design industry beyond theoretical knowledge.

SCAD encourages a culture of individual critique and mentoring. Each student is given a platform to receive personalized feedback, paving the way for their steady improvement and growth as young designers. Irrespective of the degree programs students choose to follow, they are constantly exposed to real-world experiences and gain valuable insights into various sectors of the industry.

By choosing to study at SCAD, as an aspiring graphic designer, you open doors to impactful careers in a variety of sectors. The blend of personalized attention, real-world experiences, and high-level engagement with industry professionals makes it an excellent option for those looking to excel in the field of graphic design.

9. Pratt Institute

Pratt Institute
U.S. News Ranking Unranked
Acceptance Rate 45%
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Score 1289
Average ACT Score 29
In-State Tuition $59,683

Consider the Pratt Institute when exploring the leading graphic design institutions in the US. This Brooklyn-based school offers an undergraduate program layering traditional skills with aspects of motion and culture, empowering students to journey through graphic design with agility and adaptability.

Pratt Institute's curriculum aligns with the shifts in the industry. It covers a wide array of graphic design elements, from the creation of traditional magazine layouts to the innovation of 3D designs. This approach helps students become versatile, well-rounded graphic designers ready to pioneer changes in the industry.

Recognizing the importance of both manual art and computer-based design, Pratt commits to nurturing the creative and technical competencies of its students. It merges historical design principles with contemporary digital practices, ensuring graduates are equipped with the skills necessary to lead in the evolving graphic design landscape.

  1. Historical Design Principles: These serve as the foundation upon which students can build their knowledge and skills. Understanding the past allows for more profound insights into the present and future of graphic design.
  2. Contemporary Digital Practices: The digital era has revolutionized graphic design. As one of the best graphic design schools in the US, Pratt provides students with the technical skills to leverage digital tools and platforms effectively, creating compelling visual narratives that resonate with audiences.

Pratt Institute stands out for its forward-thinking curriculum that creatively combines traditional design principles, modern digital practices, and the dynamic influences of culture and motion. It's more than an educational institution; it’s a thriving network that launches its students into successful careers in the graphic design industry.

10. The New School's Parsons School of Design

The New School's Parsons School of Design
U.S. News Ranking #201 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 57%
Average GPA 3.6
Average SAT Score 1100
Average ACT Score 26
In-State Tuition $56,244

Being one of the top colleges for graphic design, Parsons School of Design offers a dynamic learning experience. It proudly integrates various aspects of design into its curriculum, ranging from commerce-related impacts to the influence of design on culture. This breadth and diversity of subject matter provide students with a holistic view of the graphic design industry.

At Parsons, you're not just learning from textbooks. The school encourages interaction with industry professionals through workshops, guest lectures, and design competitions. This hands-on exposure enables students to get a first-hand glimpse of real-world challenges and opportunities in the design industry.

But what sets it apart as one of the top design schools in the US, you ask? Well, Parsons' commitment to combining design learning with its practical application in society and business makes it a great choice for ambitious graphic design students. 

Here are some key features of Parson's Graphic Design program:

Curriculum Industry Interaction Societal Impact
Comprehensive and reflects the vital role of design in commerce and culture Rich in guest lecturers, workshops, study abroad opportunities, and competitions A core part of the learning process, emphasizing how design influences business and society

Parsons School of Design presents aspiring designers with a powerful blend of theoretical learning and practical experience.

11. Ringling College of Art and Design

Ringling College of Art and Design
U.S. News Ranking Unranked
Acceptance Rate 65%
Average GPA 3.5
Average SAT Score N/A
Average ACT Score N/A
In-State Tuition $55,260

When discussing the best colleges for art and design, the Ringling College of Art and Design deserves a mention. It's known for its unique multidisciplinary approach that nurtures creativity while also preparing students to meet industry demands.

The curriculum at Ringling College synergetically integrates technology, traditional art, and design thinking. It’s tailored to assist students in honing their technical skills, creative abilities, and understanding of design principles. This multi-faceted approach ensures that students are well-prepared to meet the rapidly evolving demands of the graphic design industry.

What sets Ringling College apart is its commitment to producing industry-ready professionals. The school achieves this by providing real-life project experience and emphasizing portfolio development. 

By the time a student graduates, they are equipped with not just academic knowledge, but also an impressive portfolio that showcases their skills and creativity. This portfolio serves as a testament to their professional aptitude and enables them to stand out in the competitive job market.

Key Features Description
Program Approach Multidisciplinary, combining technology, traditional art, and design thinking.
Industry Readiness Real-life project experience and portfolio building are significant aspects of the program.
Graduate Success 1,705 graduates every year are sought after for their comprehensive skills and professional attitude.

The Ringling College of Art and Design offers an academically robust and pragmatically applicable graphic design program, making it an appealing choice for aspiring designers across America.

12. University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin
U.S. News Ranking #32 in National Universities
Acceptance Rate 31%
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Score 1355
Average ACT Score 30
In-State Tuition $11,698

Standing out as one of the best schools for computer graphic design, the University of Texas at Austin is heralded for its rich offerings in the field of graphic arts. Its focus on nurturing design thinking and honing technological proficiency forms the cornerstone of its curriculum.

With a carefully crafted pedagogical approach, the institution provides a fertile ground for budding designers to grow and mature into professionals ready to lead the industry. By fostering a holistic understanding of design aesthetics coupled with advanced technical skills, it sets the stage for producing the next generation of skilled and innovative graphic designers.

At the core of its graphic design degree programs lies the belief that practical, hands-on learning coupled with rigorous theoretical study prepares students to tackle the myriad of challenges and opportunities present upon graduation. 

By imparting the essential skills and knowledge that are critical to the profession, they prepare their graduates to not only succeed but to become leaders in their respective design sectors.

This perfect blend of theory and practice, innovation and creativity, is a key determinant in the success of every University of Texas at Austin graduate, making it one of the preferred destinations for those looking to make a significant impact in the world of graphic design.

13. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University
U.S. News Ranking #60 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 47%
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Score 1330
Average ACT Score 28
In-State Tuition $9,105

Recognized as one of the best graphic design schools in the US, North Carolina State University has a reputation for excellence in shaping the future of design. The institution offers a comprehensive range of specialized degree programs catering to emerging graphic designers.

NC State University is committed to advancing the state-of-the-art design skills of its students alongside providing practical knowledge. This commitment ensures students are industry-ready upon graduation and capable of creating influential and impactful design work in various media contexts.

The university's comprehensive and robust curriculum underscores the significant role of graphic design in shaping public perception. This instructive focus offers students the opportunity to understand and appreciate the strategic aspects of graphic design in today's diversified and fast-paced digital era.

Whether you're keen on shaping the aesthetics of websites, crafting the visual style of brand identities, or using your artistic mastery in the world of conventional print media, NC State's top graphic design programs will equip you with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to reach your career goals.

14. California Institute of the Arts

California Institute of the Arts
U.S. News Ranking #28 in Regional Universities West (tie)
Acceptance Rate 29%
Average GPA 3.3
Average SAT Score 1160
Average ACT Score 24
In-State Tuition $55,056

As an aspiring graphic designer, one of the top colleges for graphic design you should consider is the California Institute of the Arts. Renowned as one of the leading graphic design institutions, it provides a wide array of celebrated programs in the field of graphic design.

You will be encouraged to explore diverse media and cultivate a profound understanding of the societal impact of design. The college's pedagogical model artfully marries creativity with critical thinking, ensuring that you won't just become technically proficient, but also an innovator in the design realm.

The curriculum offered by the California Institute of the Arts includes:

  • Brand Identity Design
  • Interactive and Motion Design
  • Environmental Graphics
  • Editorial and Publication Design
  • Package Design

By enrolling in these programs, you will be equipped with a robust set of skills that are essential in the ever-evolving domain of graphic design.

Additionally, the practical learning experience enriched by industry exposure ensures that upon graduation, you're fully equipped to embark on a successful career in the dynamic world of graphic design.

Now, let's provide an overview of the graphic design program details:

Program Duration Courses Included
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design 2 years Graphics Studio, Typography, Visual Perception and the Language of Form, Contemporary Design Culture
Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design 3 years Advanced Graphic Design, Design Theory, Research Methods in Graphic Design, Collaborative Project

Both these programs promote and nurture creativity, critical thinking, and a deep understanding of the societal impact of design, thereby molding you into a versatile graphic designer ready to make a substantial contribution to the field.

15. Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University
U.S. News Ranking #24 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 11%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1510
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $63,829

Enrolling in one of the best schools for graphic design can open diverse career paths for you. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pennsylvania distinguishes itself as one of the leading contenders in this field. 

With a design program that cohesively integrates human-centered design and technological innovation, CMU dominates the graphic design academia not only for its qualitative education but also for adopting an interdisciplinary approach.

So, what makes Carnegie Mellon stand out among the top graphic design schools in America?

  1. Human-Centered Design: At CMU, the courses are meticulously designed with a human-centered approach that invites students to understand the end-users' needs and motivations. 
  2. Technological Innovation: Recognizing the ever-evolving face of technology, CMU incorporates the latest digital tools and platforms with traditional methods to help students approach design from a comprehensive perspective. 
  3. Interdisciplinary Approach: CMU's curriculum embraces an interdisciplinary methodology that encourages students to explore and integrate knowledge from various fields.

Ultimately, the graphic design curriculum at Carnegie Mellon University prepares students for a multifaceted career, ensuring they are well-equipped to enter the vibrant world of design upon graduation. 

The reputation of the institution and its dedication towards instilling a balanced blend of creativity, technical proficiency, and cross-disciplinary understanding in the students makes it an exemplary model in the realm of higher education in graphic design.

16. University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati
U.S. News Ranking #142 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 86%
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Score 1223
Average ACT Score 26
In-State Tuition $13,530

As an aspiring graphic designer, one of the best universities that you should consider is the University of Cincinnati. The university's graphic design program emphasizes gaining real-world practical experience, fortified with an understanding of the latest trends and technologies in the industry.

One of the standout features of the program is its cooperative education (co-op) opportunities. This unique approach to learning integrates classroom and practical knowledge, allowing students to work alongside seasoned industry professionals for a significant part of their degree.

The university’s design curriculum incorporates cutting-edge trends and technologies in the graphic design field. This molds students to become critical thinkers and creative problem solvers, both of which are key characteristics of successful graphic designers. 

Beyond fundamental design principles, students are also exposed to other design disciplines such as product design, fashion design, and interior design to nurture a broader perspective on design, helping them understand how various elements can be incorporated for innovative solutions.

Program Highlights Program Outcomes
Real-world cooperative education (Co-op) opportunities Solid hands-on experience, capability to apply classroom theories to practical scenarios
Incorporation of latest trends and technologies in the curriculum Students evolve into critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers
Exposure to various design disciplines Development of broader perspective on design, enhanced versatility

In essence, the University of Cincinnati offers a balanced blend of traditional teaching and hands-on experience, making it an ideal choice for budding graphic designers.

17. School of the Art Institute of Chicago

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
U.S. News Ranking Unranked
Acceptance Rate 81%
Average GPA 3.6
Average SAT Score 1230
Average ACT Score 25
In-State Tuition $54,530

Perched at the forefront of design education is the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The institution's reputation for high standards and thought-provoking curriculum makes it one of the top graphic design programs in the country. 

Known for cultivating some of the leading graphic design institutions' graduates, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago offers an environment that thrives on innovation, creativity, and analytical thinking.

The design program here is expansive and adaptive. Students are not only educated in foundational principles but also encouraged to explore innovative design methodologies and think beyond usual constraints. 

The curriculum incorporates learning experiences that stimulate critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and the capacity to work across a myriad of mediums - something highly significant to thrive in this ever-evolving industry.

  • Emphasis on a dynamic and all-encompassing approach to design education
  • Creative freedom to experiment across various design mediums
  • Rigorous and interactive learning environment complemented by expert guidance
  • Sturdy alumni network providing a platform for job opportunities and mentorship

As the design sector continues to evolve, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago ensures its students are competent and ready for future challenges. By incorporating a comprehensive design program, the institute nurtures graduates ready to succeed and adapt in a world of dynamic graphic communication and design landscapes.

18. University of North Texas

University of North Texas
U.S. News Ranking #260 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 79%
Average GPA 3.5
Average SAT Score 1160
Average ACT Score 23
In-State Tuition $12,044

The University of North Texas stands out as one of the best universities for graphic design, successfully bridging the gap between theory and practice. 

Known for its rich curriculum that both supports students in mastering the foundations of graphic design and instigates innovative and creative expression, UNT attunes to the dynamics of the design sectors they will soon conquer.

Immersion in real-world experiences combined with strong theoretical underpinnings prepares students for success in their careers. Not only are students versed in design principles, but they also engage with the latest design technologies and business principles that drive successful design practices.

In addition to a strong theoretical curriculum, the practical aspects of the program lead to a comprehensive study, shaping well-rounded, industry-ready professionals.

Graphic Design Courses at UNT Internship Opportunities Learning Outcomes
Graphic Design Theory
User Experience Design
Motion Graphics
Packaging Design
Brand Identity
Real-world projects
Design firms
Ad agencies
In-house design departments
Non-profit organizations
Develop a professional portfolio
Understand industry trends
Master industry-standard software
Work effectively on team projects

19. Arizona State University

Arizona State University
U.S. News Ranking #105 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 90%
Average GPA 3.5
Average SAT Score 1245
Average ACT Score 26
In-State Tuition $12,051

Arizona State University is widely known as one of the top graphic design schools in America. Its unique approach to blending practical and theoretical aspects seamlessly in its graphic design degree programs is notable.

The institution prides itself on offering a selection of degree options, providing opportunities for students of different academic backgrounds. The diversity in degree programs is a testament to ASU's commitment to inclusivity in education. 

ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts stands out as a recognized platform for nurturing creativity, innovation, and leadership within the industry.

ASU's graphic design programs are designed to empower students to engage in versatile design practices, ranging from print to digital media, packaging to branding, and more. Exploring various aspects of design allows students to be adept at transforming their creative ideas into tangible solutions.

The university also emphasizes bridging the gap between classroom learning and the real world. Through internships, collaborative projects, and interactive workshops, students are exposed to the practical aspects of graphic design.

Arizona State University's commitment to quality education and forward-thinking practices underscores its reputation as a premier institution for visual communications. It is an ideal choice for students aspiring to make their mark in the field of graphic design.

20. Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis College of Art and Design
U.S. News Ranking Unranked
Acceptance Rate 66%
Average GPA 3.3
Average SAT Score 1160
Average ACT Score 23
In-State Tuition $42,560

Offering a cultivated graphic design program that nurtures creativity and technical prowess, Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minnesota stands among the best graphic design schools in the US. 

The college not only emphasizes industry-standard practices but also encourages students to embrace diverse approaches to design. This holistic approach in the curriculum equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the vast landscape of visual communication.

With its distinctive teaching philosophy, MCAD stands firmly among the best universities for graphic design. It provides an environment where students are free to experiment, guided by a faculty of accomplished professionals. 

The program prepares students to adapt and excel in various roles in the graphic design industry, from digital design to print media and beyond.

By fostering a multidisciplinary and innovative learning environment, MCAD ensures that its graduates are well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities provided by the continually evolving field of graphic design.

21. Otis College of Art and Design

Otis College of Art and Design
U.S. News Ranking Unranked
Acceptance Rate 83%
Average GPA 3.2
Average SAT Score 1090
Average ACT Score 22
In-State Tuition $50,040

Being one of the best schools for designers, the Otis College of Art and Design aims to bridge the gap between creativity and practicality in the world of design. It has meticulously curated a curriculum that encourages students to vocalize their unique perspectives within the design framework. 

The graphic design program at this institution emphasizes immersive, hands-on experiences predominantly in a diverse range of visual communication projects.

With an environment that encourages exploration and experimentation, students thrive in their personal and professional development. The approach is centered on nurturing the individual creative voices of students and enabling them to fluently express their ideas visually, allowing them to make their mark within the industry.

Let's delve into the fundamental components of the graphic design program at the Otis College of Art and Design:

Program Feature Description
Curriculum In depth studies in form, color, and composition are combined with strategic and critical thinking. It provides an extensive understanding of digital technologies and print media.
Practical Exposure Students get first-hand experience working on varied-scope visual communication projects, encouraging them to apply their learned skills and design principles in real-world settings.
Career Prospects The graduates have secured reputable positions as graphic designers, art directors, and brand strategists in prestigious design firms, advertising agencies, and digital media companies.

With its ranking high up in the graphic design school rankings, Otis College of Art and Design provides an ideal platform for you to unleash your design skills, innovate, and leave a distinct mark on the graphic design industry.

22. University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles
U.S. News Ranking #15 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 9%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1405
Average ACT Score 31
In-State Tuition $13,752

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) stands as one of the leading graphic design college programs in the country. They offer a comprehensive visual arts and communication program that seamlessly brings together traditional design aesthetics and modern design principles.

The curriculum at UCLA is structured to develop proficiency in various design media, equipping students with the skills to influence and revolutionize the design industry. Their approach to design education fosters creativity, encourages experimentation, and promotes problem-solving, preparing graduates for rewarding careers in graphic design.

Key Features of UCLA's Graphic Design Program:

  • Great balance between traditional aesthetics and modern design education
  • Diverse mediums of graphic design practice
  • In-depth understanding of various contexts and applications within the design industry
  • Skills and tools necessary to influence and drive innovation in the graphic design industry

UCLA continues its commitment to providing a transformative, enlightened, and relevant design education. It is a valuable choice for all aspiring graphic design students.

23. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
U.S. News Ranking #2 in Regional Colleges North
Acceptance Rate 22%
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Score 1413
Average ACT Score 33
In-State Tuition $46,820

Considered one of the best schools for visual arts, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art echoes the institutiton's long history in cultivating innovative design education via its graphic design offerings. Aspiring designers who wish to be part of the institution can expect a curriculum that blends the arts and the sciences, providing a unique approach to the field.

At The Cooper Union, the program adopts a holistic view of design. The curriculum offers comprehensive learning experiences that aim to prepare students for more than just conventional graphic design careers.

Standing as one of the best schools for graphic design, The Cooper Union ensures that students are equipped with a solid foundation that can be built upon throughout their career. 

By emphasizing both technical precision and artistic exploration, the institution aims to foster a new generation of graphic designers that can navigate the fluctuating realms of the design industry with ease.

Program Components Description
Artistic exploration The course encourages creative experimentation, facilitating the development of a unique design perspective.
Technical precision Students acquire and polish technical graphic design skills to produce professional-grade artwork.
Interdisciplinary approach The curriculum connects the arts and sciences, promising deeper, more diverse insight into the field of design.
Career preparation With various opportunities for real-world application, the program prepares students for successful careers in the industry.

By making the most of the coursework at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, you will surely take your graphic design aspirations to new heights. So, consider enrolling and experience the difference in learning at one of the America's finest graphic design schools.

24. Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis
U.S. News Ranking #24 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 11%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1527
Average ACT Score 34
In-State Tuition $62,982

Known among the best universities for communication design, Washington University in St. Louis has proven its excellence through a comprehensive graphic design program. This dynamic program is designed to turn passionate students into skilled design professionals, ready to establish their presence in the industry.

The program values design theory as much as its application. Students are provided with several opportunities to engage with complex design issues in a collaborative and experimental learning environment. This hands-on approach allows participants to evolve as multi-faceted practitioners who can thrive in the various sectors of the design industry.

When considering the effectiveness of any degree programs, potential opportunities post-graduation is a critical aspect. To enable this, Washington University carefully aligns its curriculum with industry requirements and future trends. 

It regularly updates and innovates its design degree programs to stay in tune with the evolving needs of the graphic design sphere.

With a proud history of nurturing globally successful designers, Washington University continues to deliver successful designers to the field of communications. Its focus on both design theory and practical knowledge allows students to master the art and science of design, creating a variety of career paths before them.

25. Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University
U.S. News Ranking #115 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 67%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1360
Average ACT Score 30
In-State Tuition $6,496

Brigham Young University (BYU), often counted among the best schools for design in the US, offers students a deep exploration of the graphic design world. The design program here is integrated within a fine arts framework, underlining the importance of holistic development of design proficiencies.

Programs Areas of Focus Outcome
BFA in Graphic Design Branding, Commerce Real-world application of learned skills
Interdisciplinary Design BA Visual Development, Film & Motion Title Design Visual storyteller
Animation BFA Feature Film Animation, Character Animation Character designer for movies, film, TV, or video games

Within the school's BFA program, students are equipped with a broad understanding of how graphic design plays a central role in branding and commerce. 

This educational structure cultivates design talents that are not just technically proficient, but also creative and strategically inclined. BYU prides itself on nurturing graduates who contribute substantially to the creative industry, making it one of the best graphic design schools in the US.

  • Broad-Based Education: The curriculum fosters a wide understanding of the graphic design landscape, including its role in commerce and brand development.
  • Creative Nurturing: BYU takes pride in cultivating the creative potentials of its students, preparing them for significant contributions in the industry.
  • Real-World Preparation: Practical application of learned skills is emphasized, preparing students for actual professional design challenges.

26. University of Washington

University of Washington
U.S. News Ranking #40 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 48%
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Score 1340
Average ACT Score 30
In-State Tuition $12,643

Often included among the best schools for graphic design, the University of Washington excels in equipping students with a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted design landscape. 

Located in the School of Art, Art History, and Design, the university's graphic design program has stood out for its expansive curriculum.Here, graphic design is integrated with digital design competencies and traditional print media concepts, venturing beyond the confines of a regular classroom education. 

Students are guided and encouraged to explore the multitude of aspects of design, ensuring the development of a well-rounded skill set that is highly prized in today's diverse and ever-evolving design environment.

As a designer today, the two most used platforms are digital and print. Thankfully, at University of Washington, special attention is devoted to effectively using each medium. This inclusive learning approach gives graduates an advantage in the professional field, allowing them to adapt to various design scenarios and respond to different design needs.

The graphic design program at the University of Washington is testament to the university's commitment to quality education and its determination to produce proficient designers ready to leave their mark in the rapidly transforming design industry.

27. Portland State University

Portland State University
U.S. News Ranking #280 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 93%
Average GPA 3.4
Average SAT Score 1119
Average ACT Score 22
In-State Tuition $9,375

Portland State University offers an engaging graphic design curriculum. The program makes graphic design students ready to be effective communicators and innovators. 

Rather than adhering to standard styles or trends, students are encouraged to develop a design language unique to their vision and capabilities. This provides many opportunities for practical applications of learned design concepts while instilling a spirit of creativity that makes for successful design professionals.

Situated in a vibrant city, Portland State University's graphic design program capitalizes on its urban setting. It reaches beyond campus boundaries to provide students with rich experiential learning opportunities. 

The program connects students with local businesses and cultural institutions for real-world design projects. This allows them to mirror real-world challenges and solutions within their academic pursuits, setting the stage for a smooth transition into professional practice upon graduation.

If you're looking to immerse yourself in a dynamic learning environment where your graphic design skills will be honed, Portland State University could be the perfect fit for you. Being a part of this excellent graphic design program will give you the experience, knowledge, and skills needed to make your mark in the design world.

28. Full Sail University

Full Sail University
U.S. News Ranking Unranked
Acceptance Rate 100%
Average GPA 3.1
Average SAT Score N/A
Average ACT Score N/A
In-State Tuition $26,307

Full Sail University is gaining status as one of the best schools for designers, providing graphic design degree programs that cater to the evolving needs of the digital age. 

The university is making ripples in the industry with its specialized approach to design education that sets a high bar for contemporaries. It's unlike any other program out there, and here's why:

  1. The program is known for its emphasis on digital design and multimedia integration, in line with the growing emphasis on digital communication in today's world. When you graduate from Full Sail University, you are equipped with skills that are adaptable, versatile, and relevant to the industry's ever-changing landscape.
  2. The university's educational strategy includes a mix of theory and practice. It ensures that students not only learn the fundamentals of design but also stay ahead of the curve, courtesy of their exposure to the latest trends, methods, and tools in digital design and multimedia.
  3. Emphasizing entrepreneurial thinking, Full Sail University imparts an entrepreneurial mindset in their students. It molds them to be leaders who can identify opportunities, devise innovative solutions, and effect positive change in the design world.

What truly sets Full Sail University apart is its commitment to delivering relevant, industry-focused education. It caters to the current demand in the graphic design industry while keeping a close eye on the horizon for future trends. 

To anyone aspiring to be a leader in the world of graphic design, Full Sail University emerges as one of the top contenders for their educational pursuits.

29. University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago
U.S. News Ranking #82 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 79%
Average GPA 3.5
Average SAT Score 1120
Average ACT Score 24
In-State Tuition $17,811

The University of Illinois at Chicago provides a top-tier graphic design program. This program strategically fosters an immersive blend of creativity, technology, and strategic thinking to help you reach your full potential and carve a successful career path.

The curriculum goes beyond just academic learning, as it mirrors real-world requirements, providing a more relatable and hands-on approach to mastering graphic design. 

The blend of classroom learning and projects is curated to encapsulate the entire spectrum of graphic design, making you prepared for the numerous roles in visual communication. Here, you're not just trained to become a graphic designer - you're shaped into a visual communicator and a strategic thinker with these key features:

  • Artistic Principles: A foundation in art and aesthetics equips you with a sound understanding of design's visual aspects.
  • Practical Design Strategies: Learn to apply the principles of design in a practical, real-world context, preparing you for the challenges you'll face as a professional.
  • Creativity: You'll be encouraged to think creatively, develop unique ideas and approaches, and ultimately stand apart in the competitive design field.
  • Technology: A thorough training in the latest design technologies ensures you stay updated and industry-relevant.
  • Strategic Thinking: A focus on strategy equips you with the skills to plan, manage, and execute design projects successfully.

If you're aspiring to be a part of the leading graphic design institutions, the University of Illinois at Chicago with its comprehensive approach to graphic design education should be on your list. Get ready to turn your passion for graphic design into a promising career!

30. University of Southern California

University of Southern California
U.S. News Ranking #28 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 12%
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Score 1440
Average ACT Score 32
In-State Tuition $68,237

As one of the top schools in California, the University of Southern California provides an engaging and challenging environment for aspiring graphic designers. At USC, you are encouraged to dive deep into the dynamic world of graphic design through a well-rounded curriculum at the Roski School of Art and Design.

The university's forward-thinking program stands out amongst top graphic design programs due to its emphasis on integrating design innovation and technology. This approach fosters a successful learning environment that continually keeps pace with the rapidly evolving landscape of the graphic design industry.

This program equips you with the skills and knowledge to create impactful designs that resonate with diverse audiences. So, if you have an eye for design and a passion for innovation, USC's graphic design program is the perfect platform to start your journey into this exciting field.

At USC, your education goes beyond the classroom. Real-world assignments and hands-on projects provide practical experience that puts your theoretical knowledge to the test.

Beyond technical skills, USC's program instills in you a strong sense of creativity and encourages critical thinking. This not only enhances your design capabilities but enriches your understanding of how effective design can influence perceptions and drive change.

31. The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University
U.S. News Ranking #43 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 53%
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Score 1340
Average ACT Score 29
In-State Tuition $12,485

The Ohio State University provides a comprehensive graphic design program that immerses students in the wide spectrum of graphic design, from digital applications to traditional print forms.

This educational experience is characterized by its blend of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. A progressive and inclusive approach to education underlines OSU's curriculum. Students “gain understanding of user interfaces to better develop interactive design solutions for web and mobile applications.”

As they navigate through the program, students are well-prepared to meet the diverse needs of the graphic design marketplace. Below is an overview of the core curriculum components that students at OSU engage with:

Program Component Description
Design and Visual Communications Focuses on the principles of visual communication and their application to solve problems. This includes typography, color theory, layout, and imaging.
Interactive Media Design Students explore and develop digital communication through the application of interactive media. This includes web design, motion graphics, and user interface design.
Design History and Theory A critical understanding of design developments and their cultural implications over time, providing students with a contextual understanding of the field.
Professional Practice and Entrepreneurship Prepares students for the business side of graphic design, including aspects of freelancing, setting up a design studio, and understanding client relations.
Research and Creative Discovery Encourages students to engage in independent research and creative exploration to apply learned concepts in a practical context.

To conclude, OSU's devotion to broad and balanced education, combined with its emphasis on independent thought and creativity ensures a well-rounded experience for their students in the dynamic field of graphic design.

32. Auburn University

Auburn University
U.S. News Ranking #93 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 44%
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Score 1304
Average ACT Score 27
In-State Tuition $12,536

Auburn University is widely celebrated for its graphic design program. Known to promote a systemic approach to design education, it stands amongst the best schools for graphic design nationwide. 

Auburn encourages its students to evolve beyond the traditional boundaries of the discipline and to engage in cross-disciplinary collaborations. The goal is not merely to educate, but to produce well-rounded, adaptable creators.

At Auburn, students are nurtured within a vibrant studio environment that fosters peer-to-peer interaction and extends individual learning outside of formal classes. This active, practice-based setting offers aspirants the unique opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-world design challenges, facilitating both hands-on learning and professional growth.

The structure of Auburn's design program is designed to mold versatile designers with an all-encompassing set of skills. Graduates are equipped to adapt to various roles within the industry, ranging from a corporate identity designer to a publication designer, visual interface designer, packaging designer, and beyond. 

The ultimate aim is to produce industry-savvy professionals, not mere degree holders. With its unique vision and consistently high quality of education, Auburn University is indeed worth considering for those aspiring to make unique contributions to the field of graphic design.

33. San Diego State University

San Diego State University
U.S. News Ranking #105 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 39%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1215
Average ACT Score 26
In-State Tuition $8,290

When it comes to the top graphic design schools in America, San Diego State University is an excellent choice. Their graphic design program is rooted in the idea of design as a powerful tool for communication and change. 

As a testament to this, the curriculum is broad-reaching, delving into the realms of user experience design, strategic branding, and other relevant aspects of the design industry.

With the diverse and comprehensive course structure, students get the opportunity to build an impressive design portfolio. This can effectively open avenues for them to connect with professionals and creatives in the design industry, thereby enhancing their learning experience outside the classroom.

As part of one of the leading graphic design institutions, students are encouraged to push their creative boundaries while understanding the commercial viability of their work. This integrated learning approach allows students to gain a realistic understanding of the graphic design industry, setting them up for success in their future careers.

Program Focus Area Outcomes
Graphic Design Bachelor’s Program User Experience Design, Strategic Branding, Interactive Design Development of a Comprehensive Design Portfolio, Professional Networking
Art Master’s Program Advanced Design Theory, Brand Strategy Mastering Advanced Design Concepts, In-depth Industry Experience

Whether you want to venture into creative agencies, start your design studio, or join the fast-paced tech industry, the graphic design program at San Diego State University is structured to help you grasp the nuances of design and apply them in real-world contexts.

34. University of Florida

University of Florida
U.S. News Ranking #28 in National Universities (tie)
Acceptance Rate 23%
Average GPA 3.9
Average SAT Score 1360
Average ACT Score 30
In-State Tuition $6,381

Recognized as one of the best universities for graphic design, the University of Florida presents a vibrant and dynamic program that has won accolades for its exceptional teaching methods and in-depth studio culture. 

This Bachelor of Fine Arts program has been meticulously designed to help students master the critical skills necessary to thrive in the diverse and evolving world of graphic design.

  • With a strong foundation laid in design principles, the University of Florida ensures that each student is well-versed in the fundamental aspects of design. The course covers everything from typography to color theory, giving students a solid grounding and enabling them to apply these fundamentals in any design project they undertake.
  • The program goes beyond the basics by giving students an introduction to cutting-edge design practices. Innovative and contemporary trends and techniques in the field of graphic design find a prominent place in the curriculum, making the learning experience exciting and current.
  • One of the remarkable features of this program is the emphasis it lays on preparing students to transition seamlessly into professional roles. The curriculum, combined with practical work and internships, ensures that students graduate ready to dive headfirst into the design industry.
  • This design program also encourages students to explore their creative vision and apply it to commercial, social, and cultural design projects.

Through their journey at the University of Florida, students are trained to become design thought leaders, constantly reshaping and influencing the landscape of graphic design. Not just a school, but a launchpad, the University of Florida truly stands out among the best universities for graphic design.

35. Fashion Institute of Technology

Fashion Institute of Technology
U.S. News Ranking Unranked
Acceptance Rate 53%
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Score N/A
Average ACT Score N/A
In-State Tuition $6,170

As an up-and-coming graphic designer, you deserve to learn from the best. The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) stands at the forefront of innovation and excellence in graphic design education. An excellent choice among design aspirants, FIT is steadfast in its commitment to providing industry-specific training and nurturing creative minds.

At the heart of FIT's curriculum is a keen understanding of the pivotal role that design plays in global business success. According to FIT, their program focuses on: 

  • Advanced and kinetic typography
  • Editorial design
  • Experiential design
  • Branding and identity systems
  • UI/UX and motion graphics

With an alumni network established in diverse design roles across the globe, FIT's impactful education is evidenced in its graduates' success stories. If becoming a leading designer is your ultimate goal, FIT can help pave your path to success with its contemporary and all-inclusive education approach.

  • Quality of Education: FIT's curriculum enriches students with a comprehensive understanding of the industry, equipping them to navigate the competitive landscape of graphic design.
  • Alumni Success: The institute boasts a large number of alumni who have graduated to become leading designers.
  • Curriculum: Contemporary and comprehensive, the curriculum addresses the needs of a global market, where design is central to business success.

The Fashion Institute of Technology embodies the high standard of education that aspirational designers seek, positioning itself as an excellent choice among the best graphic design schools in the US.

How to Choose Which Graphic Design Schools to Apply to

If you have a passion for graphic design, it’s in your best interest to add top graphic design schools to your college list. Applying to college can be nerve-wracking, especially if your heart is set on one school. Highlighting your candidacy and demonstrating why you should be accepted is crucial to success.

For a more detailed look, take our college selection quiz to figure out what graphic design school is best for you.

The actionable steps below can make your application stand out. If you want to give yourself the best chance of getting accepted into the right graphic design program for you, read on! 

1. Start Thinking About Your Application Early 

Starting your application as early as possible can give you the extra time you need to stand out in college applications. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re running out of time and rushing to ensure you make a deadline. 

To avoid headaches, lack of sleep, and stress, think about your future as early as possible—your junior year of high school is a great time. Take the SAT or ACT early, start thinking about your essays way before they are due, and give yourself time to breathe and grow with your application. 

2. Put Work Into Your Portfolio - Show Only Your Best 

Your portfolio is arguably the most crucial part of your application. It can help secure your entry into good graphic design schools. The admissions committee wants to see that you’re a versatile creator, and that you want to let your creative prowess shine through. No matter how many pieces of work a program wants to see, ensure you pull together your best or favorite pieces. 

Building a portfolio isn’t easy and takes time and dedication. However, a stellar portfolio can captivate anyone reviewing your profile, especially if your work makes a lasting impression on them. If you have a diverse set of work, it shows you’re an adaptable and multi-talented artist who would benefit from a graphic design program. 

3. Understand Your Projects 

If the program you apply to does interviews, you need to know all about your work when your interviewer asks a question. They may want to know details about your concept, inspiration, the work’s purpose, or why you made specific choices.

One way to make sure you’re well-prepared to talk about your art is to identify the details above and talk about them. Articulating your purpose and art concept can show your thought process to the admissions committee. 

4. Think Critically About Your Essays 

Your essays are an opportunity to speak directly to the admissions committee. Ensure your essays directly address the prompt and that your narratives are thoughtful and authentic.

Your essays will likely revolve around themes like “why graphic design?” or why you want to join a program. Don’t be afraid to sprinkle your personality throughout these essays and demonstrate your love for art and passion for what you do. Your commitment to your creativity can go a long way! 

If you need help getting into your top program, book a free consultation with one of our counselors! They have the insider knowledge that will take your application to the next level.

Our students always have an incredible experience whenever they work with us. Take Wei, for example, who got into the University of Washington in St. Louis.

“I really appreciated how the entire Quad Education team provided guidance that helped me take my applications to the next level but never tried to change my writing style or the essence of what I wanted to portray. They made the application process enjoyable, and even helped me learn more about myself that I will carry with me beyond college. I am so thankful to Quad Education for all of the amazing guidance and would highly recommend working with them! - Wei, University of Washington in St. Louis.”

Graphic Design Career Outlook and Salary 

There are numerous career paths open for you after you graduate from a top graphic design school. We’ll explore some of the possible avenues of work you might pursue after graphic design school.

Graphic Designer

The graphic designer career path is an obvious choice after graphic design school. A graphic designer creates visual concepts to inspire, inform, or persuade consumers and viewers. 

Art Director

Art directors make big decisions on what design elements to use in various industries, like publication, film, and advertising. Art directors manage projects from start to finish and ensure their team works efficiently toward goals and targets. 

UX Designer

A UX designer ensures that all aspects of a product’s design run smoothly and is easy to navigate. They focus on how the product feels and ensure the product flows logically in a way users and consumers can understand. 

Digital Designer

Digital designers can take on numerous projects. A digital designer’s purpose is “to create digital assets for multimedia and graphics projects, including websites, mobile apps, advertising, animation, emails, social media, video games, and interactive displays.”

Multimedia Designer

Multimedia designers create design elements for use in numerous ways. They may create multimedia pieces for websites, television, video games, and more. This job requires high technical and creative skill levels. 

Advertising Designer

Advertising designers typically work underneath an art or creative director. They must research their target audience for a product and create advertisements that appeal to them. 

Take a look at this table comparing the average salaries for these positions:

Job Title Average Annual Salary
Graphic Designer $58,910
Art Director $106,500
User Experience (UX) Designer $89,250
Digital Designer $98,540
Multimedia Designer $57,645
Advertising Designer $62,930

When considering which graphic design school to attend, it's important to keep in mind the potential earning opportunities for different positions. 

FAQs: Best Graphic Design Schools

If you still have questions about getting into the best graphic design schools in the U.S., these FAQs can provide more clarity. 

1. What Top Colleges Have Graphic Design Programs? 

Yes, other top colleges do offer specializations in graphic design. Some other good schools for graphic design include the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University. 

2. What Should I Include in My Graphic Design Portfolio?

You can include many mediums in your portfolio, but you should aim to present a well-rounded selection. Graphic design portfolios can include web graphics and print work, font design, video graphics, drawings, paintings, interactive media, and any other type of art or design work. 

3. What Art Courses Should I Take to Get Into Graphic Design School?

If your high school offers AP classes or the IB program you should consider enrolling in these to demonstrate your commitment and passion for art and learning. Not only can you gain valuable new skills to apply to your future art pieces, but these classes can strengthen any college application. 

4. Who Should I Ask For Recommendations for a Graphic Design Program? 

Your letter(s) of recommendation should ideally come from a teacher that you’ve established a strong relationship with. The recommendation that would make the most sense for an application to graphic design would be an art teacher. 

Think about which teachers you’ve spent the most time with, who has encouraged or inspired your art, or if you’ve committed yourself to a club or extracurricular run by that person. Any of your teachers who meet these criteria can be a great recommender. 

5. What Skills Do I Need to Become a Graphic Designer? 

Graphic designers are creative and can convey a non-physical concept into a tangible piece of art. They communicate ideas, emotions, and messages and have the technical skills to produce well-constructed pieces. 

When you put your portfolio together, don’t be discouraged if your work isn’t up to the standard you want it to be. Remember that the purpose of going to school is to enhance your work, build your skills and talent, and learn more to help you further your career after graduation. 

6. What Do I Do If I Get Rejected at the Best Graphic Design Colleges? 

Getting rejected is hard, but it doesn’t mean it has to be the end of your graphic design story. You can accept an offer from another school, or you can take a year off and try again in the next admissions cycle. A year off can give you time to improve all facets of your candidacy, including adding more complex and diverse work to your portfolio. 

7. Which College Has the Best Graphic Design Program? 

The Rhode Island School of Design is ranked as the nation’s best graphic design school. However, ensure you check program websites and courses to determine what's best for you. 

8. Which Colleges Offer the Best MFA Program?

The 5 best MFA programs include Stanford University, The University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Cornell University, and Columbia University. The ranking criteria are based on job satisfaction post-graduation.

Final Thoughts

Graphic design is a great career path if you’re a creative soul looking to make art and expression your full-time job. An education at top-rated graphic design schools can help propel your artistic career and help you succeed after graduation in numerous roles. 

Remember to start your application as early as possible, ensure your portfolio is diverse, and take care in crafting your application essays. Using these tips, you can confidently apply to the best graphic design schools in the country and launch yourself into a fulfilling creative career. 

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