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The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that cell phone ownership among adults now exceeds 90 percent. Our modes of communication are changing before our very eyes, and the transformation from print to visual communication is altering society and relationships. This communication revolution is affecting the way graphic designers conceive, produce, and evaluate their work.

What is graphic design and what do graphic designers do?

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design says, “Graphic Design is the profession that plans and executes the design of visual communication according to the needs of audiences and contexts for which communication is intended.” And further, “Graphic designers apply what they have learned about physical, cognitive, social and cultural human factors to communication planning and the creation of an appropriate form that interprets informs, instructs, or persuades. Graphic designers use various technologies as a means for creating visual form and as an environment through which communication takes place.”

Our nation’s institutions of higher learning are leading the way in training the next generation of graphic designers. Graphic design is one of the most influential art forms of our time. Visual design art is commercial, social, public, and political touching the lives of people everywhere they go on mobile devices, billboards, print, website, logos, on the big screen, and on computers. Images and words seek to captivate our attention everyday and everywhere. 

What do you study in graphic art and design degrees?

Undergraduate degrees in graphic design come in multiple forms. Online graphic design programs are popping up more and more that fit our busy lifestyle. Traditional brick-and-mortar, with community resources, art facilities, and studio art remain a solid choice. Degree types also vary with a BA, BS, and BFA in Graphic Design most common.  Some graphic design schools offer a BFA in Art with concentrations is specific forms of graphic art like Web Design, 3D Animation and Modeling, or Media Arts to name a few. There are also a few unique combinations like Graphic Art and Marketing and even Graphic Design and Philosophy.

Most graphic design schools offer a similar curriculum: a general education core, fundamentals of art core, advanced courses in graphic design, and most include a professional portfolio and internship. A sampling of courses includes:

  • Graphic Design
  • Typography
  • Art History
  • Branding Design
  • Publication
  • Web Design
  • Animation
  • Vector illustration
  • Studio Art

Accreditation does matter to some employers. Look for programs that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

What are some graphic art careers?

The most important fact to know about becoming a graphic designer is that you are entering a very competitive, and rapidly changing industry with high-demands and that judges everything by results. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a slower than average job growth at four percent. The average salary of a graphic artist is $48,700 per year. Graphic designers work in corporate, government, non-profits, cultural organizations, and self-employment settings. According to the BLS, one in five designers are self-employed.

As for job specifics, it depends on the degree, title and location. Listed below is just a selection of some possibilities:

  • Art Director
  • Creative Director
  • Film and Video Editor
  • Graphic Designer
  • Industrial/Product Designer
  • Marketing Manager
  • Multimedia Artist/Animator
  • Photographer
  • Web Designer
  • Digital Analytics Specialist
  • Digital Marketer
  • Photojournalist

 

1. Carnegie Mellon Universitybachelors program

  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 6,283
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  10 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

“CMU doesn’t imagine the future, we create it.” Carnegie Mellon University is a private, global research university. The University’s 143-acre main campus is three miles from Downtown Pittsburgh. Academically, CMU is organized into seven schools and offers many degree options. CMU is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global University Leaders Forum.

Carnegie Mellon’s Bachelor of Design degree (BDes) four-year program comes with options. Students choose one of three tracks: industrial, graphic, or physical/digital design. The CMU track record in design demonstrates the program’s effectiveness with graduates employed across the country in leading companies, design firms, startups, and nonprofits. In addition to the previous three options, CMU’s Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe) program is another unique option. The IDeATe program features traditional design degree elements fused with game design, animation and special effects, innovation and entrepreneurship, intelligent environments, and learning media design. Applications for CMU are due January 1st. Last and not least, the tuition at Carnegie is on the higher end.
When the superb quality and customizable degrees are considered it’s clear why CMU landed at #1.

2. UCLA

  • Location: Los Angeles, CAdesign and media arts
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 30,873
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  17 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship, Doctor’s degree-professional practice
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission as well as numerous other accrediting bodies.

The University of California, Los Angeles is a large, public, research institution located in Westwood. UCLA offers a huge number of degrees and is known for healthcare (four hospitals on two campuses and more than 170 community clinics throughout  Southern California), arts and culture, athletics, and distance learning.

The Bachelor of Arts in Design Media Arts at UCLA is offered at an affordable cost and is of the highest quality. UCLA is known for arts, and the DMA degree illustrates the fact. If you choose it, you will be guided by expert faculty and be encouraged to be creative. In fact, the Department of Design Media Arts faculty promotes experimentation, process, and personal growth. If you are currently in high school, you may want to check out the DMA Summer Institute to experience what the department is like first-hand. The curriculum of the DMA degree builds off the UCLA general core and includes fundamental courses, lectures, studio classes, special topics (which you choose from), and a Senior Project.  Applications at UCLA are accepted from November 1-30. The DMA program application includes a creative portfolio among other things.

3. University of Florida

  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 34,554
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 20 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, One but less than two years certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship, Doctor’s degree-professional practice
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges as well as numerous other accrediting bodies.

The University of Florida is a public land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant research university in Gainesville, Florida. Besides incredible sunshine, UF research (over $700 million a year) and science programs and resources (over 200 centers and institutes) shine. UF is known as the Harvard of the South. To the University’s credit, 56 percent of students graduate with no student loan debt.

The first thing to know about University of Florida’s graphic design degree is that the School has been training young men and women for over 50 years in the field. With this rich experience, you can count on quality in the BFA in Graphic Design program, UF’s focus is broad and aimed at cultivating creativity and a think-outside-the-box mentality.  With the overall emphasis on studio/classroom collaboration, you take courses in development, design process, design systems, strategy, professional development. You are also required to produce a senior capstone, a professional portfolio, which certainly helps you in your job search or graduate applications. With affordable tuition and a history of quality, not to mention the testimony of alumni working for Apple, Microsoft, Viacom, JetBlue, Facebook, Interbrand, Twitter, Tampa Bay Lightning, IDEO, Walt Disney Imagineering, and more, at UF you are in good hands.

 

4. Midway University

  • Location: Midway, KY
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 1,005
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  14 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Dr. Lewis Pinkerton, a physician and minister, opened the Kentucky Female Orphan School to fulfill a need and cast a vision. Midway University is now coeducational in its undergraduate programs and is known for business, equine studies, nursing, and teacher education. Set on a beautiful 200-acre working farm and provides quality education to 1200 students.

Midway University offers a Bachelors in Marketing and Graphic Design. The degree works exceptionally well for those interested in business applications.  The utility of the degree applies in many different areas, such as corporate communication, integrated marketing management, advertising, brand management, public relations, and creative design management. With this combination of knowledge and skills in our competitive world, you will be prepared to make an impact. This degree is 100-percent online. The Graphic Design concentration includes courses in Photoshop, Digital Storytelling, Digital Animation, Applied Graphic Design, and more. MU is affordable and offers a small campus, close-knit environment. If Midways seems like a fit, you might also examine their three distinct study abroad programs: Study Aboard, Service Learning Abroad, and Faculty-led Programs.

 

5. Liberty University

  • Location: Lynchburg, VA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 47,050
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 19 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, One but less than two years certificate, Associate’s degree, Two but less than four years certificate, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship, Doctor’s degree-professional practice
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges as well as several other accrediting bodies.

Liberty University is one of the largest Christian universities in the world. Since 1971 Liberty has trained “Champions for Christ” to go into the world and make a difference. LU’s offerings are vast: 224 undergraduate, 117 graduate, five doctoral degrees and over 200 online degree options.

Liberty University offers a 100-percent online Graphic Design Degree. The degree focuses on digital applications such as 2D and 3D design, publication design, digital photography, and more. You are trained to excel in our rapidly-changing marketplace. The curriculum covers all the fundamentals of graphic design with some art history. Courses include  Vector illustration, Advanced Typology and 20th-21st Century Art, to name just some. Housed in, and taught by the School for Visual and Performing Arts, you will be getting the same quality of instruction as traditional brick-and-mortar. There is a 180-hour internship as well as a 30-hour practicum. Combined with course knowledge, these experiences form a portfolio that serves you in your job search. Not only is the online degree offered at an affordable price, but there are also no textbooks to buy, and outstanding military and service discounts, a $250 per credit hour rate for veterans.

 

6. Champlain College

  • Location: Burlington, VT
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 3,912
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  16 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate degree, Master’s degree
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

Audeamus, or Let us Dare, is Champlain College’s motto. Champlain has prepared young people for business and life since 1878  The coeducational, private university is located in Burlington, Vermont and has campuses in Dublin, Ireland and Montréal, Canada. Champlain is known for excellence academic with a globally-minded orientation. Popular majors include Business Administration and Management, Graphic Design; and Writing.

The Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Graphic Design & Digital Media at Champlain is innovative and affordable. With an “upside down” curriculum you begin by jumping right into practical experiences; this model focuses on hands-on learning in conjunction with coursework and effectively prepares graduates for careers. The school’s website reports that 87 percent of 2016 graduates were employed within six months of their graduation. With the Champlain global-focus, you also get the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland or Canada among other choices. You can even complete your internship in another country. In addition to the BFA, there is a combined bachelor’s/master’s option. With such a vibrant and innovative learning model it may be natural to think there is a high tuition rate. In fact, Champlain is the third lowest on our whole top 30 list!

 

7. West Texas A & M University

  • Location: Canyon, TX
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 7,389
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  21 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Like so many of our universities, West Texas A&M has humble origins. Established in 1910 as a normal school, the University is now home to over 10,000 students and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Popular majors include Business, Marketing, Agriculture, Agriculture Operations, and Liberal Arts to name just some.

WTAMU offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design through the Department of Art, Theatre and Dance. Priced at the second lowest on our list, the Degree is both affordable and of high quality. The curriculum builds on the university core and moves from general and fundamental courses in art and design to advanced classes and a senior project.  In step with the times, and helpful to get a job in today’s world, WTAMU requires nine hours of computer art classes. For those interested in going above and beyond the Department of Art, Theatre, and Dance also offers an option to earn a Graphic Design Honors. Honors are accomplished by completing an additional English, History, Computer, and Theatre class.

 

8. Kentucky Wesleyan College

  • Location: Owensboro, KY
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 785
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  13 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s degree
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Kentucky Wesleyan College started as a place to learn to be a preacher. It is now an institution of higher learning with school in Fine Arts & Humanities, Natural Sciences & Mathematics, Professional Studies, and Social Sciences. The small, private, Methodist school provides a personal education experience for traditional students as well as online programs.

At KWC you can earn your Bachelor’s in Graphic Design entirely online. With today’s economy ever moving and changing, the demand for highly-skilled designers is constant. In fact, you may be looking for an online program so that you can continue working while earning your degree. The Graphic Design program prepares you for work in a variety of fields from public, private, non-profit, and businesses from small to big. Building on KWC’s 39-credit liberal education core, the specific art curriculum trains you in drawing and design, typography, branding design, publication, web design, animation, and more. The degree is 120 total credits with six hours of internship required for graduation. Admission is entirely online.

 

9. Upper Iowa University

  • Location: Fayette, IA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 3,991
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  16 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Located in Fayette, Iowa, Upper Iowa University offers a student-centered education through traditional brick-and-mortar programs, a nationally-recognized distance learning platform, and 20 centers located all over the world. UIU was founded in 1857 and enrolls almost 5000 total students. The University is military friendly and affordable.

A distinguishing characteristic of UIU’s Graphic Design program is their curriculum. Rather than take specified courses and complete prescribed projects you create your own projects in every class. This “portfolio-driven” curriculum cultivates originality, creativity, and prepares you for a successful transition into the workplace. The coursework at UI increases in complexity as you progress through the program as well. This methodology forms leaders in problem-solving, a characteristic that employers look for in every application and interview. Another feature worth noting of the program is the flexibility of completing the degree online or on-campus. If you happen to be a transfer student, UI’s generous policy may allow you to receive credit for many lower-division courses. When all is said and done, and you’ve completed courses in photography, web design, typography, digital illustration, and more, you will be confident on day one of your new career.

 

10. California State University, San Bernardino

  • Location: San Bernardino, CA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 18,476
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  30 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission as well as several other accrediting bodies.

One of 23 universities in the California System, California State University, San Bernardino is known for excellence. Consistently ranked high by reputable organizations such as Princeton Review, CSUSB offers more than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees. The School’s campus is set in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains and has recently seen some new facilities.

CSUSB’s Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design is the most inexpensive on our list at $214 per credit. With this affordable price and high quality, it’s easy to see why the School made our list. Whether you’re interested in electronic, digital, or print media, the BA in Graphic Design delivers. The 96-credit program includes courses in art history, web design, studio art electives, and marketing. In fact, if you want to combine more business courses with graphic design, you may be pleased to know CSUSB offers a BA in Graphic Design and Marketing. Nothing is left out in a complete preparation for our dynamic economy. The program (and whole Department of Art) is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and whether online or face-to-face, is taught by the same recognized faculty.

 

11. Rhode Island School of Design

  • Location: Providence, RI
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 1,999
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 9 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree
  • Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation and New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

Through the pioneering work of the Centennial Women of Rhode Island in the late 19th century Rhode Island School of Design was born. To this day RISD is known for their impeccable academic reputation. RISD is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) and offers 19 academic programs and numerous majors.

Like all RISD programs, the BFA in Graphic Design is superb quality. It is this fact that underscores the distinctive of the program. The program is well-structured.  It moves from basic analytical, sensory and technical design experiences into advanced knowledge and skills such as communication, problem-solving, and visual and information systems, all leading to a narrowing of interests through senior electives and a capstone project. RISD also offers summer courses and projects to enhance learning to juniors and seniors. An intangible, often overlooked area to note is the incredible facilities and resources at RISD, including a unique partnership with Brown University. Admission requirements include (besides test scores and transcripts) a portfolio with 12-20 samples, a writing sample, and essay. The program is the highest cost of our top 30.

 

12. Southeastern University

  • Location: Lakeland, FL
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 5,055
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 21 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Southeastern University is a Christian liberal-arts school located in Lakeland, Florida. The University has 80 additional extension learning sites across the country. Faith is the bedrock of the SU experience. All applicants are required to write a statement of faith in Jesus Christ to be accepted. SU has seen a rising enrollment and recently built several new, state-of-the-art facilities.

SU offers a Bachelor of Science in Digital Media and Design. The program’s focus is graphic and web design, digital media, analytics and communications. This combination of knowledge and skills transfers to immediate real-world impact in today’s economy. The degree can be completed online (the only private Christian school in Florida offering a fully online graphic design program) or face-to-face. The BS includes 40 hours of core courses, 55 hours of general education, and 25 hours of electives. Courses such as Digital Marketing and Analytics and Mass Communication Law make the degree broad in applications. Potential jobs include: Digital analytics specialist, Digital Marketer, Graphic designer, Photojournalist, or Web designer, to name just some.

 

13. Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Location: Richmond, VA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 23,865
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  18 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Two but less than four years certificate, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship, Doctor’s degree-professional practice
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges as well as numerous other accrediting bodies.

Virginia Commonwealth University is a large, public research university with 30,000 students. VCU was founded by Richmond citizens to train social workers. The mission to improve our society and helping individuals remains. VCU offers over 200 programs and is known for fine arts, health care, nursing, and engineering.

Multiple fine arts programs are ranked and recognized at VCU. The BFA in Graphic Design is #2 and #7  in U.S. News and World Report ‘s rankings for fine arts and graphic design, respectively. Five outcomes form the heart of the training through the Department of Graphic Design: communication, client and audience needs, ethics, technology as a vehicle of communication,  and design as a dynamic process. The scope and sequence is rigorous, with admission only in the fall to maintain their disciplined structure. You must complete the Art Foundations Program and pass an evaluation to enter the Graphic Design Program. Assuming you maintain a GPA above 2.5 and complete specific classes you then have your professional portfolio assessed at the end of sophomore and junior year. With this curriculum progression, you can be assured you will be prepared for success on day one in a variety of jobs.

 

14. Herzing University

  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 1,978
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: One but less than two years certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Herzing University is an example of what the American experiment can do. The institution began as an institute to train people with computer skills. It then grew, changed, expanded, and relocated. Currently operating 10 campuses and an online portal, Herzing University is a private, non-profit school offering undergraduate and graduate programs in both traditional on-campus and 100 percent online formats. You can earn your bachelor’s and master’s in four years and have a study abroad option in China.

You have three options for a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design at Herzing. You can choose a general BS or hone in on either Print or Web Design as a concentration. The general BS in Graphic Design is intended for those interested in careers in print, television, cinema, multimedia, and digital entertainment. Potential jobs/titles include graphic designer, graphic artist, designer, creative director, artist, design director, creative manager, desktop publisher, and graphic designer/production. The 124-credit curriculum (for all three options) requires an internship and a senior capstone project. All the options follow the same general core, but instead of the 48 credit general graphic art option, the print or web design focus requires 39 credits and 24 credits in the concentration.

 

15. California Baptist University

  • Location: Riverside, CA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 6,937
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  18 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Located on a beautiful 75-acre campus in Riverside, California featuring Mission Revival architecture, California Baptist University offers a Christian university education. The private, non-profit school has 7000 undergraduates and is known for Business, Nursing, Psychology, and Kinesiology and Exercise Science.

CBU offers an online BA in Graphic Design and Digital Media. The online degree prepares you through the same coursework as the school’s traditional brick-and-mortar programs. Instruction is personal with the Christian worldview infused in every class. For example, you will be able to think about ethical problems in the graphic design industry in light of your Christian faith. Courses cover Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, design history, color theory, typography, and more. You also create a professional portfolio and are required to complete an internship. Admission requirements include 24 transferable units and a minimum GPA of 2.0. With the ability to apply every eight weeks you can essentially start any time of the year. Perfect for working adults, transfers, or true first-year students, the degree takes an average of 16 months to complete.

 

16. University of Houston

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 35,995
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 21 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: One but less than two years certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges as well as numerous other accrediting bodies.

The University of Houston is the third largest university in Texas. The public, research institution offers numerous degrees at every level. Princeton Review ranked UH as one of the best ROI’s for American universities in 2016. The school is very diverse. International students make up 10 percent of the student body. Popular degrees include Business, Marketing, Engineering, and Biology.

UH offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design and Sculpture. Though no portfolio requirement for admission into the School of Art (you follow the general UH freshmen, transfer, etc. process), you will create, build, and maintain a portfolio that you need for entry into your area of concentration. When you complete the general education requirements, 12-credit art history core, and four studio classes (12 credits total), then you apply for the Graphic Arts concentration your junior year. The 120-credit program is guided by expert faculty who will equip you with the academic and technical know-how for a variety of careers in private, corporate, non-profit businesses or self-employment. Tuition at UH is higher than other degrees on our list.

 

17. Maryland Institute College of Art

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 1,730
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  9 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Two but less than four years certificate, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education and National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts was established in 1826. Now called the Maryland Institute College of Art, the institution has endured fire, war, and social change for nearly 200 years. The institution remains steadfast in its dedication to art, expression, and advancing creativity in society. MICA is a member of the prestigious Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) as well as the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The purpose of MICA’s BFA in Graphic Design is to train ‘design visionaries.’ The major comes with the option to choose a concentration in Studio or Humanistic Studies. Knowing and understanding the power of art, and specifically graphic art in our society, the historically-rich experience of MICA is distinctive. The flow of the curriculum moves from three years of core design classes into advanced concentrations. Classes include studies in typography, web design, and several areas design meant to give a breadth of experience to each student, including publication, furniture, and music design. The faculty brings a rich and respected artistic experience and accolades to bear in the program. The program’s internship comes with the benefit of incredible professional connections.

18. Arizona State University

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 42,477
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  23 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, One but less than two years certificate, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission as well as several other accrediting bodies.

Arizona State University is racking up accolades. ASU innovation and research is renowned. The most popular majors at ASU are Business, Engineering, Biological and Visual and Performing Arts. The 86 percent retention rate indicates students are satisfied. Lastly and commendably, ASU boasts more Fulbright scholars than Cornell and UC Berkeley.

ASU offers an Online Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology (GIT) through the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. The program is a graphic design degree with a focus in web design from concept to product. Graduates prepare with a “creative, technological, and managerial understanding” for a variety of positions and applications from web designers and developers, to advertising executives in government, corporate, non-profit, cultural organizations, or as entrepreneurs. The requirement for the program includes 40 classes; you can choose to complete these either online or on-campus. Classes expose you to all the basic knowledge of graphic art: print, web, photo, video, and animation. Requirements include a professional portfolio and presentation, and senior project. Students can also take electives in computer animation, digital workflow, and specific secondary focus classes.

19. Pennsylvania State University

  • Location: University Park, PA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 41,359
  • Student to Faculty Ratio:  16 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, One but less than two years certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship, Doctor’s degree-professional practice
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education and numerous other accrediting bodies.

Penn State is a leader in teaching, research, and public service.  The main campus is in University Park. PSU is granted the highest rating for research universities by the Carnegie Foundation with an $800 million annual expenditure. Academic options are numerous with nearly 200 majors in just about every field possible.

The Stuckeman School at PSU offers a Bachelor of Design through the Department of Graphic Design. Though PSU has 40,000 undergraduates, life as a student of Graphic Design is a close-knit, personalized experience. It’s not easy to get into PSU’s Graphic Design program. You first must apply and be accepted into the College of Arts and Architecture, do well in coursework, and the have your portfolio reviewed. With a structured curriculum taught by experienced faculty, you will gain a social and historical understanding of graphic design as well as preparation in advanced technical skills. Another notable feature of the program is the study abroad option at the Studio Art Centers International (SACI) in Florence, Italy. It is important to note that the quality of PSU’s education is reflected in the cost, one of the highest on our list.

20. University of Maryland University College

  • Location: Adelphi, MD
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 44,219
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 20 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Associate’s degree, Two but less than four years certificate, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree-professional practice
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

University of Maryland University College (UMUC) is located in Adelphi, Maryland. The University is very accessible making it large with numerous programs—over 90,000 total students including their booming distance learning. UMUC also has campuses throughout Maryland, as well as in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

If you love being creative, why not get paid for doing it! That’s what UMUC’s convenient, flexible, and affordable Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Communication does. The Degree program will prepare you for careers in government, corporate, non-profit, or entrepreneurial applications. The training, which can be completed online or hybrid, involves academic knowledge and technical skills in graphic art and design, computer graphics, communication, business-oriented writing, and publication. The progression from general to advanced studies helps you learn how to visually communicate for a purpose, from planning to creating, to working on teams or individually, to evaluating the business-effectiveness of your message. The 120-credit curriculum capstone is a professional portfolio which functions as a final and also as your career launching pad. UMUC will take up to 90 credits for transfer students.

21. California Institute of the Arts

  • Location: Valencia, CA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 959
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 7  to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship
  • Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation as well as several other accrediting bodies.

California Institute of the Arts was the first institution in American to offer degrees specifically in visual and performing arts. This historical pedigree gives Cal Arts an edge in experience and quality. The university has six schools: Art; Critical Studies; Dance; Film/Video; Music; and Theater. Cal Arts 89 percent retention rate is a strong sign of student satisfaction across the board.

The BFA in Graphic Arts at Cal Arts is the most expensive of our top 30. The reason is the programs incredible quality and depth of experience. With several well-known and renowned faculty, a finely tuned general education curriculum, and keen vision of teaching art within a cultural, social, and political context, graduates are confident and skilled. You can also add a Digital Arts minor or double major with Cal Arts Interschool Degree. The program’s scope and sequence are very intentionally and tightly structured. Each year has a lecture and studio course on Graphic Art that progresses in independence as you learn more and more. This progression leads to creative, independent artists who are intrinsically motivated. Courses include Typography, Beginning Motion Design, Web Design, and more.  To graduate from Cal Arts all the work you have to prove you know what you’re doing is compiled in a cumulative professional portfolio.

22. California University of Pennsylvania

  • Location: California, PA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 44,219
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 20 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, One but less than two years certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate, Doctor’s degree
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

There is a city called California in southwestern Pennsylvania. The California University of Pennsylvania is a mid-sized, public university offering over 150 academic programs. Set on a campus of 294 acres, students learn through four colleges, an Honors Program, study-abroad options, and great online options.  The most popular studies at Cal U are Occupational Therapy, Education, Management, Business, and Nursing.

Cal U’s B.S. in Graphic Design is affordable, accredited, and hands-on. Housed in the Department of Communication, Design and Culture the BS is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). A unique characteristic of Cal U’s program is that your training builds on foundational visual and conceptual knowledge with unique hands-on opportunities. Foremost is fact Cal U has its very own student-run graphic design studio called Studio 224. This laboratory of creativity has real-world clients such as The National Aviary and Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation. The curriculum provides a reliable foundation in concepts, form, and color. Students are encouraged to do as many internships as possible. The combination of hands-on opportunities, actual graphic artists as faculty, and excellent facilities and resources could translate to a high cost. At Cal U, the BS is $312 per credit.

‘23. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh

  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 4654
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 12 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, One but less than two years certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh is a private, non-profit school dedicated to “helping students turn creativity into careers.” The school offers a personalized and student-focused art education at several locations around the States and also operates a strong distance program. AI gives programs in media arts, design, fashion, and culinary fields.

The Online BS in Graphic Art and Web Design or BS in Web Design and Interactive Media at AI is perfect for our changing world. The focus is not only graphic arts but specific training and applications in interactive and web-based graphic design. After core courses, you’ll have the opportunity to choose one of two concentrations: Graphic or Web Design. Advanced concentration courses include Form and Space, including Advanced Layout Design, Business of Graphic Design, Interface Design, and Design for Mobile Devices & Emerging Technologies. The overarching emphasis is on creativity and career-readiness. The BS in Web Design and Interactive Media focus is for traditional and mobile web devices, including responsive design websites, mobile apps, and e-books.

24. Minneapolis College of Art and Design

  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 703
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 11 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Since 1886 the School focus is on creativity and love of the beautiful. Minneapolis College of Art and Design is private, nonprofit four-year in the visual arts located in Minneapolis. Programs offered are in fine arts, design, entrepreneurship, and sustainability education. MCAD is one of just a few major art schools to offer a major in comic art.

The BFA in Graphic Design at MCAD is right in line with their mission to train graduates in creativity and purpose. In the case of Graphic Design, this means learning the fundamental ideas of form, color, type, and then applying that knowledge to a problem to captivate and engage the viewer. The curriculum of MCAD accomplishes this mindset through coursework (general to advanced graphic art core) and community. The program includes a Junior review, internship, and the potential to study abroad. With actual professional and collaborative work you will be ready to work on a team, be an entrepreneur and work in print, visual, or web applications. MCAD is selective so be prepared to put your best foot forward. If you’re accepted, odds are you’ll be satisfied as the School has an 83 percent retention rate. The only downside is the cost, which is one of the highest on the list.

25. Lesley University

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 1,968
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 12 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Associate’s degree, Two but less than four years certificate, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

Edith Lesley founded Lesley Normal School in 1909. The School grew from training women kindergarten teachers into Lesley College, then merged with the Art Institute of Boston to become a university.  LU is within walking distance to Harvard Square. It is mainly known for excellent graduate programs in education, the arts, counseling and expressive therapies.

The focus of LU’s Bachelor in Fine Arts is design thinking, visual and conceptual problem solving, and visual effects. With this combination of attributes in mind, the College of Art and Design equips you to enter a competitive and ever-changing industry. An industry that is being reshaped to society with more graphic design degree having digital and video applications. At LU the distinguishing program characteristic is options for your BFA: Graphic Design Animation & Motion Media, several dual-majors, Interactive Design and an Online BS Design for User Experience, as well as a BS Design for User Experience-Online (120 credits). In the Graphic Design BFA, and all the majors, you also learn by doing. You take studio classes, choose electives that fit your interests, engage in an internship here or abroad, and learn from experienced faculty.

26. Boise State University

  • Location: Adelphi, MD
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 20,186
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 20 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, One but less than two years certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities as well as several other accrediting bodies.

Boise State University is Idaho’s largest university and its fastest-growing research enterprise.  BSU has more than doubled its out-of-state student enrollment and boosted the number of degrees offered from bachelor’s to doctorate with everything in between. t.   Perhaps best known, is the $70 million investment in athletics facilities. Since BSU is located in Boise, students enjoy the clean, clear fresh air of the Rocky Mountain range, not to mention great views.  

BSU has a unique BFA. in Graphic Design/Philosophy, a one-of-a-kind on our list. The reason why the strong liberal-arts core is paired with design is based on what both the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and design thinkers such as Gunnar Swanson suggest. The contention is that graphic arts and visual designers “…need to communicate according to the needs of audiences and contexts for which communication is intended. The way BSU accomplishes this admonition is through their core knowledge and philosophy component that examines the physical, cognitive, social and cultural human factors to communication. Built on this foundation the Department of Art faculty take you through type, visual design, graphic design, studio art, and more. Another unique feature at BSU is the Visiting Artist,and Scholar Program (VASP).  VASP gets students in touch and networking with nationally and internationally acclaimed artists and scholars every year through lectures, workshops, and more.

27. Southern New Hampshire University

  • Location: Manchester, NH
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 54,150
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 30 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, Associate’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

Summa Optimaque, The Greatest and the Best. The Southern New Hampshire University motto encapsulates their mission. The private, coeducational, nonprofit university, founded in 1932, is best known for their online learning and innovation. SNHU Online educates over 90,000 students worldwide with a wide array of academic options. The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) awarded SNHU the 21st Century Distance Learning Award for Excellence in Online Technology.

SNHU hits the nail on the head in regards to the cost. One of the most affordable on our top 30 at $320 per credit hour is a draw. The School offers an Online BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts, which the option to focus on Web Design or 3D Modeling and Animation as a concentration. The program’s goal is to train creative innovators, problem-solvers, and culturally-aware artists with the best technology available. Since the degree is online, you can take classes at any time you’d like, 24/7. The curriculum covers a core where you learn the cultural and social history of art, as well as advanced classes, including a professional portfolio. Applying is pretty simple, and there’s no fee to do so. All in all, an affordable, flexible, and quality online option.

28. Savannah College of Art and Design

  • Location: Savannah, GA
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 10,005
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 19to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a private, nonprofit, university headquartered in Savannah, Georgia. The School was founded in 1978 to bring excellent art education and career-preparation to Georgia. SCAD also has campuses in Atlanta, Hong Kong and France. There are over 40 majors to choose from at SCAD.

At SCAD you have choices. You can take a BA in Visual Communication with a concentration in Graphic Design or a BFA in Graphic Art. If you are interested in an MFA or MA in Graphic Design, you have the option of a combined BFA/MA or MFA that is completed in as little as four or five years. A notable feature of the curriculum at SCAD is the combination of design and business. The graphic design degrees are taught within a framework that incorporates all the fundamental design skills from color theory to typography but with the business side of the industry as well through classes on product packaging, entrepreneurship, mobile technology, interface design and user experience. In addition to the effective curriculum, SCAD offers students the best technology, facilities, resources, and some tremendous extracurricular design experiences.

29. Texas Tech University

  • Location: Lubbock, TX
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 29,963
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 21 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Doctor’s degree – research/scholarship, Doctor’s degree-professional practice
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges as well as several other accrediting bodies.

Texas Technical University was founded in 1923 and is the flagship institution of the Texas Tech University System. TTU is a public, research school and is attached to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. TTU has an award-winning Spanish-Renaissance campus and offers 150 undergraduate, 100 masters and 50 doctoral programs.

The BFA in Art with a specialization in Graphic Design at TTU is a 123-credit hour program. The program focuses on training artists with “social responsibility and civic engagement and the role of the designer in society.” The curriculum covers all the basics of design: typography, branding, multimedia, web design, studio art and art history. After your Junior year, there is a portfolio review. In addition to the curricular aspects of the program, you will gain professional connections and experience through guest speakers, internships, freelance experiences and alumni relationships. Current graduates are working in Texas Monthly, Condé Nast Traveler, Wired Magazine, Nike, and many more. Admission into the Graphic Arts program is competitive and TTU’s School of Art is selective.

30. University of Wisconsin-Stout

  • Location: Menomonie, WI
  • Total Undergraduate Students: 8,412
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 20 to 1
  • Degrees Offered: Less than one year certificate, Bachelor’s degree, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master’s degree, Post-master’s certificate, Doctor’s degree-professional practice
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission as well as several other accrediting bodies.

The University of Wisconsin-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. It was founded in 1891 and is known for career-preparation and offers 48 undergraduate, 21 graduate, and three advanced graduate degrees. UW-Stout students enjoy a 98.2 percent rate of finding employment or continuing their education after they graduate.

UW-Stout’s BFA in Graphic Design and Interactive Media with two concentration options: Communication Design and Interaction Design. The core curriculum of the BFA involves the essential academic and professional skills needed to succeed in the industry. The Communication Design focus includes a focus on advertising, packaging and motion graphics and the Interaction design involves web, mobile app, and emerging screen media. The UW-Stout difference is the hands-on requirements. You have to prove you know what you’re doing to graduate. The challenge starts with admission where new freshmen submit a portfolio.  During the program, you create a portfolio that has to pass muster upon examination. Next, you complete a professional experience such as a co-op, international study group, field experience, or sponsored project. Lastly, you are required to take part in the School of Art and Design exhibition.