Affordable Graphic Design Degrees

Scroll down to see the most affordable graphic design degrees in 2016, as well as info on the different types of graphic design degrees and graphic design program accreditation.

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Graduates of graphic design programs create websites and advertisements. They format magazines, books and newspapers. They even help develop video entertainments, digital animation and mobile apps. In short, graphic designers have one of the most creative jobs in the corporate world.

That being said, it’s not a high paying profession. According to the BLS, the median pay was $44,150 per year in 2012. A slower than average job outlook (7%) is predicted for 2012-2022. However, employment of graphic designers in computer systems design is projected to grow 35% over same period. Experts predict strong competition for these positions.

To give you a leg up on the competition, we’ve put together this guide on affordable graphic design degrees. Discover why your portfolio is key to your employment prospects, learn about career opportunities and get the skinny on accreditation and certification.

Note: If you’re interested in becoming a professional artist, check out the info on BFAs and MFAs in Affordable Fine Arts Degrees.

Types of Graphic Design Degrees

Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design

An associate’s degree in graphic design is a 2 year undergraduate program that gives students a strong foundation in the profession. Associate’s programs are offered by technical schools, community colleges, universities and more. A high school diploma or the equivalent is required to apply.

One thing to check – if you are considering using this as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree, make sure your credits will be transferable to your chosen 4-year program.

Degree Options

  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Graphic Design: Often aimed at students who wish to go straight into the workforce upon graduation.
  • Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) in Graphic Design: Combines studio courses in art and design with liberal arts courses.
  • Associate of Arts (AA) in Graphic Design: Curriculum includes humanities courses.
  • Associate of Science (AS) in Graphic Design: Curriculum includes science and math courses.

The AFA, AS and AA are common choices for students who are working towards a bachelor’s degree. You’ll also find plenty of career-based degree programs that focus on a particular skillset (e.g. web design, interactive design, etc.)

Sample Coursework

In addition to general education courses, the curriculum will typically tackle the theory and practice of design. Sample courses might include color theory, illustration and computer graphics.

Your job prospects will live and die on the quality of your professional portfolio, so be sure the school is going to help you create one. In addition, look for courses that cover technical skills and industry tools, such as Adobe Creative Suite.

Career Opportunities

It can be tough to get a conventional entry-level job with an associate’s qualification, but you may be able to find work as a graphic design assistant or freelance designer. If you have outstanding portfolio examples, there’s nothing to stop you from offering your services as an independent contractor.

Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design is a 4 year undergraduate program that provides comprehensive training in all aspects of graphic design and art. A high school diploma or the equivalent is required to apply. Depending on the program, you may also be asked to submit a high school art portfolio.

This is the baseline qualification for most jobs in the field. To improve your chances of employment, look for programs with internships/job training and great faculty currently working in the field.

Degree Options

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design: Combines studio courses in art and design with liberal arts courses.
  • Bachelor of Arts (AA) in Graphic Design: Curriculum includes humanities courses.
  • Bachelor of Science (AS) in Graphic Design: Curriculum includes science and math courses.

You don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design to become a graphic designer. Some graduates choose to pursue a related field (e.g. IT) that incorporates core courses on technology, art and design.

Sample Coursework

Your curriculum will depend on the type of degree you’re pursuing. A BFA will often include more studio work than a traditional BA or BS. However, almost all programs will tackle courses such as:

  • Drawing
  • Illustration
  • Color theory
  • Photography
  • Web design
  • Print design
  • 3D design
  • Commercial graphics production
  • Art history/theory
  • Typography

In addition to the standard curriculum, consider taking classes in business, marketing, writing and other useful skills. And be sure your program tackles popular software (e.g. Adobe Creative Suite) and computer programming languages.

Above all, concentrate on creating quality examples for your professional portfolio. You can garner these through classroom tasks, internships and volunteer work. Most students also use their senior year to work on a final portfolio project.

Career Opportunities

A great portfolio and a bachelor’s degree in graphic design will qualify you for entry-level positions in advertising agencies, design studios, web development groups and publishing firms. Or you may decide to start your own business. As we said in our introduction, the digital realm is where the demand will likely be in the future.

It is possible to go down the self-education route, but we don’t recommend it. A bachelor’s degree will reassure employers you know your stuff, increase your starting pay and make you eligible for more jobs. You may not get past the first round of applications without it.

Certificate in Graphic Design

A certificate in graphic design is a non-degree program that may take anywhere from a few months to a year to complete. Academic certificates typically fall into two categories (see below) and are often offered online.

You may wish to earn a certificate in order to explore a new career, develop your portfolio, strengthen an area of graphic design, improve your job prospects or earn course credits for a bachelor’s or master’s degree. If you’re interested in the last goal, be sure your credits will be transferable to your preferred degree program.

Certificate Options

  • Undergraduate Certificate: Available to holders of a high school diploma. Like the associate’s degree, these certificates are often an introduction to graphic design concepts and tools.
  • Graduate/Post-Baccalaureate Certificate: Available to graduates with bachelor’s degree. These certificates may help working professionals explore the graphic design field or improve their existing capabilities.

Sample Coursework

Certificates vary widely in their focus. There are introductory certificates designed for students with no art training and professional certificates that focus on specific areas (e.g. Certificate in the Business of Design). Some programs will have prerequisites for skills (e.g. Adobe Creative, basics in web design, etc.). Check the program website for curriculum details.

Career Opportunities

Talk with your mentors and peers about your career goals. Although a certificate does not have the same reputation as a degree, it might make you eligible for leadership positions or expand your career options. Someone with a BS in IT, for example, may find that a certificate can help him/her break into the design world.

Master’s Degree in Graphic Design

A master’s degree in graphic is a 1-3 year graduate program that focuses on research and advanced skills in graphic design. A bachelor’s degree is required to apply. Most schools will expect to see your undergraduate or professional portfolio as part of your application.

Not all master’s programs are the same:

  • An entry-level master’s is intended for those who hold a bachelor’s degree but don’t have a graphic design background.
  • A more advanced master’s is targeted towards those who already hold a bachelor’s in graphic design or fine arts.

Degree Options

  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Graphic Design – A professional degree focused on studio work, although it often includes liberal arts courses.
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Graphic Design – Structured like a traditional liberal arts degree, but incorporating aspects of studio work.

Check with each program to see how much studio work is involved.

Sample Coursework

Classes in a master’s program tend to delve deep into design theory and practice. For example, along with advanced courses in interactive design, branding, illustration and art theory, you might tackle important issues affecting your work (e.g. sustainability).

Most schools offer concentrations (e.g. branding, digital design, etc.) and insist that students complete a capstone project or thesis. Throughout this process, you will be refining and adding work to your portfolio.

Career Opportunities

Graduates with a master’s degree in graphic design run their own design companies, work as art/creative directors or chief designers and/or teach graphic design at the university level. An MFA is still considered a terminal degree in the art world (i.e. the highest qualification needed), although DFA proponents are growing.

Important Accreditations

Regional Accreditation

Whichever choice you make, we recommend attending a school with regional accreditation. This is a “seal of approval” granted to non-profit and public institutions by one of six regional accrediting bodies (e.g. New England Association of Schools and Colleges).

You can learn more about the difference between national accreditation, regional accreditation and diploma mills in Accreditation: Understanding the Difference Between Real Schools and Diploma Mills.

Benefits of Regional Accreditation

A degree with regional accreditation will make it much easier for you to:

  • Transfer credits (many regionally accredited institutions will not accept course credits from nationally accredited schools)
  • Apply for student loans, scholarships, tuition reimbursement and funding opportunities
  • Be accepted to regionally accredited graduate schools
  • Look good in the eyes of headhunters and recruiters

Regional accreditation only applies to the institution. For graphic design programs, you can also look for program accreditation from NASAD.

NASAD

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) establishes national standards for undergraduate programs, graduate degrees and related credentials for schools of art and design. It has approximately 323 accredited institutional members.

There are plenty of good graphic design programs that aren’t NASAD-accredited. However, the NASAD symbol will tell you that the program meets a certain number of quality standards.

Search for NASAD-Accredited Institutional Members

Voluntary Certification

IT Certification

Unlike architecture, where certifications run rampant, you won’t find design certification programs from associations like AIGA or the Graphic Artists Guild.

But if you’re looking for IT certification in hardware/software programs, you’ll be spoiled for choice. For example, some graphic designers choose to become an Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) or pursue CIW Web Design Certifications.

School Rankings

1

CUNY Queens College

The Department of Art at CUNY Queens College offers a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design with concentrations in communication design, interaction design, and animation and illustration. The BS in Graphic Design requires six credits of art history core courses, 33 credits of design core courses and 21 elective courses. Students in the program use industry-standard technology to study design as it relates to interactive, time-based, digital and traditional media. Admission into the major requires a portfolio review. The Department also offers minors in graphic design, digital graphics, animation and illustration, and digital moviemaking and imagemaking.

CAG Score 97.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

19,310 Students

2

University of Minnesota-Duluth

UMD's School of Fine Arts and the Department of Art & Design offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design program that combines studies in communication, psychology, and aesthetics. Students learn about advanced techniques in print and electronic media within academic, artistic and commercial contexts. UMD's art and design programs are accredited by NASAD, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. There is also a BFA in Graphic Design/Marketing program available. This program is a collaborative professional degree between the School of Fine Arts and the Labovitz School of Business and Economics. Graphic design coursework is combined with marketing courses to provide students with integrated, broad-based skills that are highly desirable in the contemporary marketplace.

CAG Score 96.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,093 Students

3

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

The Department of Design, Housing & Apparel at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is part of the College of Design. The department offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design program that includes courses in the fundamental aspects of visual studies as well as in modern design methods and theory. Students admitted to the program are required to complete an internship program. The department also offers Master of Arts (MA), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Design programs that allow students to choose a Graphic Design Track. These graduate programs focus on design theory, process and methods as they relate to design practice and research.

CAG Score 96.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

51,147 Students

4

Wayne State College

Wayne State College's Art and Design Department offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in graphic design that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The graphic design curriculum includes 15 credits of art core courses and 41 credits in the graphic design concentration. Graphic design concentration courses cover subjects such as introductory and intermediate graphic design, typography and animation, art history, web design, production and interactive media. Students are also required to complete a senior portfolio and an internship. Additionally, art students can participate in the Department's honors program.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,470 Students

5

University of Florida

The College of the Arts at the University of Florida has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design program that is centered on a collaborative studio/classroom environment. The BFA program allows students to choose an area of emphasis: Art + Technology, Ceramics, Creative Photography, Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture. The curriculum focuses on concept development and application, professional development and the creation of a working portfolio. The college also offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Graphic Design degree. The program focuses on the academic study of graphic design and includes areas of design such as criticism, history, pedagogy and theory.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

49,459 Students

6

Appalachian State University

The Department of Art at Appalachian State University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, as well as a Bachelor of Science and a minor in graphic arts and imaging technology. The BFA curriculum includes 21 credits in studio art, 12 credits in art history/criticism and 24 credits in graphic design studios. The Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Arts and Imaging Technology is offered in three concentrations: print production, packaging production and cross media production. The BS program curriculum includes 25 credits of core courses and 15 credits of concentration courses. The Department of Art offers several scholarships, including the Eva H Burress Memorial Scholarship and the Jaroslav and Jarmelia Kabatnik Memorial Scholarship.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

18,026 Students

7

Fashion Institute of Technology

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program at the Fashion Institute of Technology is open to students who have completed the two-year Associate in Applied Science in Communication Design at FIT. The B.F.A. program equips students with the skills to design magazines, exhibit graphics, interactive web pages, and promotional materials. Students get hands-on training in the technology and applications currently used in the industry. FIT graphic design students work on projects for real clients through the Advertising Design Workshop. Students also create a senior project and entry for a juried design exhibition, helping them compile a strong portfolio of work samples. Students in the B.F.A. program are also required to work an internship in a professional setting.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

9,764 Students

8

Iowa State University

Iowa State University's Graphic Design Department offers a BFA in Graphic Design, an MA in Art and Design with concentrations in graphic design and environmental graphic design and an MFA in Graphic Design. The BFA requires one year of pre-professional core courses and three years of professional graphic design courses. Students can also choose between a summer internship or a study abroad experience. The MA in Art and Design with a concentration in graphic design requires 30 credits of coursework, while the concentration in environmental graphic design requires 34 credits. The 60 to 63-credit MFA in Graphic Design includes a teaching practicum, thesis and optional internship. Scholarships available to graphic design students include the Art and Design Excellence Scholarship and the ASI Design Scholarship.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,435 Students

9

Dominican University

Dominican University's Art Department offers an undergraduate major in graphic design that provides students with an understanding of visual communication and prepares them for careers as professional designers. The BA in Graphic Design consists of 27 credits of major requirements that teach students skills and concepts such as web design, typography, motion graphics and the history of graphic design. Graphic design students are encouraged to complete an internship their junior year, although it is not required. The Art Department at Dominican University offers the Alice Welsh Skilling Scholarship, which provides $7,500 a year for up to two years for transfer students and four years for freshmen, $1,500 for juniors who choose to study abroad and $1,000 grant for materials for their senior project.

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,498 Students

10

The University of Texas at El Paso

The Department of Art at the University of Texas at El Paso offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. UTEP features some of the most state-of-the-art graphic design facilities with computer laboratories that include over 40 iMac workstations, equipped with the latest software. The program prepares students for careers in individual professional practice, corporate design, or education. Students in the graphic design program will take art foundations courses such as History of Art, Basic Drawing, and Professional Art Practices in addition to graphic design courses.

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,079 Students

11

Texas A & M University-Commerce

Texas A&M University Commerce offers a bachelor's degree in design communications. Students in this program will study the composition and design of logos and corporate identities, packaging and billboards, and annual reports. Students will be provided with a rigorous education in art foundations and then continue on to advanced concept-based courses. Students pursuing a design communications degree has won numerous awards and citations in student competitions. Students will take courses like Electronic Media, Digital Imaging for Visual Communication, Art Direction, Internet Development, and Motion Graphics.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

12,111 Students

12

SUNY College at Oswego

The Art Department of SUNY Oswego offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design that include specific attention in print media, web design, and multimedia design. Students have access to state-of-the-art computer work stations in a hands-on studio environment and can opt to specialize in a number of areas such as animation, book arts and illustration, three-dimensional modeling, or videography. Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts (BA) program can also choose Graphic Design as their major. The BA program gives students greater opportunities for multiple or interdisciplinary studies in different programs across the campus. The SUNY Oswego Art Department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,034 Students

13

CUNY Lehman College

The Art Department and Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Lehman College jointly offer an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Computer Graphics and Imaging (CGI). To earn the degree, students must take required classes in math, science, and art. These include three computer programming classes as well as art/CGI classes covering topics such as applied imaging and applications to the World Wide Web, computer modeling, 3D interactive design, and computer animation. Students are also required to take traditional studio art classes, such as basic drawing and introduction to sculpture.

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

12,398 Students

14

Alfred University

Alfred University's School of Art and Design offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Expanded Media with a concentration in graphic design. Students in the B.F.A. program complete 128 credits total, including 72 credits of studio courses, 17 credits of art history courses, 14 credits of electives and a senior project. Students who focus their studies in graphic design take coursework in graphic and typographic studies and complete projects that teach them about creative problem solving, language and form, investigative research, content, context, audience and objectives in design. Students in the major also have access to advanced computer labs featuring high-resolution digital input and output, animation, video and sound.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,310 Students

15

Michigan State University

Through its Department of Art, Art History and Design, Michigan State University offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in graphic design, as well as a Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design. The B.F.A. in Studio Art is a professional degree program designed for students who intend to practice art or design as a career. The B.A. in Studio Art is a liberal arts degree program in which students complete less studio art courses and more humanities electives. Students who want to be admitted into the B.F.A. program must pass a portfolio review, which is not required for the B.A. program. Students in the M.F.A. program must complete a total of 60 credits, 30 of which must be in graphic design.

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,081 Students

16

Ferris State University

Ferris State University offers an Associate of Applied Science and a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design through its College of Business. The AAS in Graphic Design provides students with a foundation of knowledge in design and technology that prepares them for further study in a bachelor's program or work as a design assistant. Students are not required to submit a portfolio for admittance into the AAS program. The BS curriculum includes 11 major courses that teach students about communication design, visual communication. BS students prepare a print and digital portfolio as part of their major requirements and must pass a portfolio review their sophomore year.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

14,600 Students

17

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design offered at Cal Poly Pomona helps students to develop an understanding of design history and theory from different perspectives. Students are trained to keep up with changing technology and are given the opportunity to examine a wide range of visual communication problems and circumstances. The curriculum includes courses in lettering and typography, design and color theory, digital image design, technical illustration, graphic media and production, and web design. Students receive hands-on training in the use of a variety of graphic communication tools, including (but not limited to) drawing, photography, offset printing, and interactive media. Upper division Graphic Design majors may be considered for the merit-based Dian Divelbess Endowed Scholarship ($500).

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,966 Students

18

SUNY at Fredonia

Students interested in graphic design can major in it while working on a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at SUNY Fredonia. The B.F.A. program requires students to complete at least 73 credits in art classes. Twenty-one credits are taken in foundational classes, including art history, drawing, and 3-D art. Classes within the graphic design major focus heavily on graphic design and typography, although students study drawing and painting and may take a course in film photography. Graphic design students are required to select another art discipline as a concentration area as part of the workload for their major, taking at least nine credits in that area. Students seeking to enter the B.F.A. program must submit a portfolio of work.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,215 Students

19

California State University-Fresno

The College of Arts and Humanities at the California State University Fresno offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design degree through the Department of Art and Design. Students admitted to the program can choose from the following areas of emphasis: Graphic Design, Illustration, and Interactive Multimedia Design. The BFA in Graphic Design curriculum exposes students to the practice, principles, and theories of design and includes coursework in computer graphics, illustration, motion graphics, and typography. The department also offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Art that allows students to choose graphic design as their main area of study. This program focuses on the concept of design as information organization and the integration of technology into visual communication.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,179 Students

20

Arkansas Tech University

Housed in ATU's College of Arts & Humanities, the Department of Art offers a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design program with a broad-based curriculum that covers art concepts, processes, and art expression through technology and other media. Coursework includes classes in digital illustration, typography and layout, production design, introduction to printmaking, web design, and two- and three-dimensional design. Students are given opportunities to take part in several real-world experiences throughout their academic stint at ATU, such as competitive exhibitions, relevant internships, and studio research projects. The Bill Preston Donnell Memorial Art Scholarship gives preference to admitted art students with demonstrable financial need, who are residents of Yell County, and who plan to pursue a graphic design degree program.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

12,002 Students

21

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

UICU's School of Art + Design offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in graphic design. BFA students take a variety of courses such as typography and image making, contemporary practices, and the history of graphic design. Students choose an area of emphasis by choosing from an interdisciplinary selection of elective courses. They also have their own studio space and open access to modern facilities as well as production and output devises and equipment, such as laser cutters, 3-D printers, and computer labs. There is also an MFA in Graphic Design degree available. Minority and economically disadvantaged students can apply for the WorldStudio Foundation and AIGA - Scholarships in Art & Design. Award amounts range from $500 to $5,000.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

45,140 Students

22

State University of New York at New Paltz

Students seeking a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from SUNY New Paltz receive a cross-disciplinary education that includes elements taken from communication and media, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and fine arts. Classes are delivered in a hybrid studio/seminar format and include lectures, discussions, demonstrations, work periods, and critiques. The program also includes field trips to museums, lectures, and design studios. To enter the B.F.A. program, students must present a portfolio for review. Students who want to work an internship in graphic design may receive academic credit for the internship. Extracurricular activities of interest to graphic design students include the Design Society, which is a club for design students, and the Student Art Alliance.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

7,692 Students

23

University of Illinois at Chicago

UIC's School of Design offers a Bachelor of Design (BDes) program with two major areas of study - Graphic Design and Industrial Design. Students admitted to the Graphic Design program gain proficiency with digital technology through exposure to design practice, design culture and critical observation. There is also a two-year Master of Design (MDes) in Graphic Design program available. This is a globally oriented program delivered in Chicago and in Basel, Switzerland. Chicago-based students participate in the Basel School of Design summer workshops. Students are required to complete an independent master's research project and to stage a public exhibition of the same project.

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,969 Students

24

University at Buffalo

Students interested in graphic design can earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts in the field from the University at Buffalo. The Bachelor of Arts is a liberal arts program that considers art in a broad context and allows students to add a minor or second major to their education. The B.F.A. is a more intensive, focused studio art program. Students in the B.F.A. graphic design concentration area learn theory and gain technical skills to enter a career as a graphic designer. Scholarships for graphic design majors include the Morrison Scholarships, which are open to graduate and undergraduate art students.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,995 Students

25

Northeast Community College

Northeast Community College offers an Associate of Arts and an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design. The A.A.S. is 62-credit professional degree program that prepares students for job opportunities in graphic design after graduation. The A.A. is a 60-credit degree program designed for students who want to transfer to a four-year institution. Students in both programs take coursework in typography, drawing logic, design, digital photography, graphic arts and web page development. Students in the A.A.S. program also complete coursework in layout, digital prepress, package design and marketing. Additionally, A.A.S. students complete an internship and a graphic design capstone. Students in the A.A. program complete 25 credits of graphic design courses, with the remaining program credits dedicated to general education requirements.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,061 Students

26

Bellevue University

Bellevue University offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design that can be pursued online. A multidisciplinary program, the BA in Graphic Design provides students with an understanding of the elements of design that allows them to conceptualize a wide range of design solutions for different media and audiences. As they go through the program, students build a professional portfolio that shows their abilities and accomplishments in the field. The curriculum includes coursework in the history of contemporary graphic design, typography, publication design, and web page design. Students are required to complete 36 general education credits, 42 credits in the major, 40 elective units, and 9 credits from the Kirkpatrick Signature Series Credits, which is a requirement for all Bellevue students.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

9,879 Students

27

University of Central Missouri

The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Central Missouri offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design through the Department of Art & Design. The program trains students in problem solving, conceptual and aesthetic judgment, and in using state-of-the art computer technology as a design tool. UCM supports it graphic design majors by offering educational enrichment opportunities such as study abroad options, hosting the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) on campus, and international art tours. The university's Department of Art & Design is the only public institution in Missouri that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

13,379 Students

28

University of Northern Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa's Department of Art offers a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design. The B.A. program requires 48 major credits, including a foundations sequence, studio sequence, art history sequence and five concentration courses. Concentration courses include two required introductory courses in graphic design and three electives in subjects such as identity system design, digital image design, typography, publication design, web and interactive design, motion graphics and book structures. Students can also choose to take a course in portfolio preparation. Graphic design students are eligible for scholarships through the Department of Art, which provides awards up to $6,000.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,928 Students

29

Missouri Western State University

Missouri Western State University's Department of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and an undergraduate graphic design minor. The B.F.A. in Graphic Design includes 77 major credits covering subjects like illustration, typography, interactive design and graphic design at introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. Students also complete an independent study, internship and final portfolio. The graphic design minor requires 21 credits of coursework in subjects like beginning drawing, design software applications, typography and graphic design at introductory and intermediate levels. The Art Department offers several scholarship opportunities to its students, including the Western Excellence Award in Art.

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,834 Students

30

Bemidji State University

The Department of Technology, Art and Design at Bemidji State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Art and Design with focus areas in digital design, exhibit design and studio arts. Students who choose a digital design concentration learn about layout strategies, typography, production language and technology, desktop publishing software, digital photography, color management and visual merchandising. The digital design curriculum prepares students for work in print design, advertising, branding, packaging and multi-media. Students in the Department of Technology, Art and Design are eligible for numerous scholarships, including the John Warford Memorial Scholarship and the Marvin Anderson Family Scholarship.

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,986 Students

31

Valencia College

The Associate in Science degree in graphic and interactive design offered at Valencia College is a two-year program that prepares students for careers in print, advertising, web, and interactive design. Students learn how to create graphics for video games and other interactive media, as well as how to animate or design different types of web pages. They also receive training in the use of computer software programs to enhance design work for advertising and publication. Alternately, students can take related technical certificates in the following: graphic design production (24 credits), graphic design support (15 credits), graphics - interactive design production (24 credits), and graphics interactive design support (15 credits). These certificates can be completed in one year or less.

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

43,217 Students

32

Dakota State University

Dakota State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Graphics, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Game Design, a Bachelor of Science in Digital Arts and Design: Production Animation, and a Bachelor of Science in Digital Arts and Design: Web Design and Production. Students in these programs will use the latest technology, equipment, and software to learn how to create advanced graphics. Students in this program go on to become graphic designers, content developers, art directors, and broadcast design artists. Students will take courses such as Digital Painting, Digital Photography, and Computer Graphic Effects.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,047 Students

33

The Sage Colleges

Sage College of Albany offers a bachelor's degree in Graphic and Media Design that gives students skills in graphic design, interactive design, motion design, and illustration. Required courses cover topics such as type and design, graphic design, imaging, digital production, and digital illustration. The program emphasizes practical experiences, and many students say the graphic design internship was one of the best parts of their education. Students can intern part time locally or do an internship anywhere over summer break. Graphic and Media Design faculty members have a large network in the industry and are able to bring in noted designers to give guest lectures and presentations. Students also prepare a professional portfolio to show potential employers or clients.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,878 Students

34

California State University-Chico

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design has accredited the Department of Art and Art History at the California State University in Chico since 1975. The department offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree that includes three options: Art Studio, Digital Media and Electronic Arts, and Interior Design. Students who wish to integrate digital media with traditional or new media can choose an emphasis in digital intermedia, which is an interdisciplinary program that allows the exploration of new technologies or hybrid art forms. The Elizabeth Randolph Study Abroad Award ($3,500) is given to one College of Humanities and Fine Arts student each year to enable that student to take advantage of a Study Abroad opportunity.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,287 Students

35

Concord University

The Division of Fine Arts at Concord University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design/Advertising. This degree places an emphasis on preparing students for careers in graphic art, publishing, illustration, package design, printing technology, advertising design, 35mm and digital photography, and creative/art direction for advertising. Students have a unique opportunity in this program to learn from faculty that have years of professional advertising experience. Students will take courses such as Web Design, Studies in Computer Graphics, Advertising and Sales Promotion, Typography, and Basic Production Techniques.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,545 Students

36

West Texas A & M University

The Department of Art, Theatre, and Dance at West Texas A&M University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Graduates go on to successful careers as graphic designers in corporations, as freelancers, in non-profit organizations, and more. In addition to core classes and art foundation classes, graphic design majors will take 15 hours of graphic design classes, six hours of a B.F.A. senior project, nine hours of art history, nine hours of computer art, and nine hours of art electives.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,972 Students

37

University of Central Oklahoma

The University of Central Oklahoma offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, and it is the largest graphic design program between North Texas and Kansas City. The design programs at UCO boast high hiring rates among graduates, particularly in the Oklahoma City metro area, Tulsa, Kansas City, Dallas, and other major markets. The Department of Design is the largest department within the College of Fine Arts and Design, and it has strong relationships with design firm throughout Oklahoma. There is an online portfolio from current OCU graphic design students that potential students can take a look at by visiting the website.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,840 Students

38

Highland Community College

Highland Community College offers an Associate in Arts in Graphic Design and an Associate in Applied Science in Graphic Design. The A.A. in Graphic Design is intended for students who wish to transfer into a bachelor's program, whereas the A.A.S. degree is designed for students who plan to begin working after completing their two-year degree. Both programs require 63 credits of coursework, but the A.A. program requires 21 credits of core major courses while the A.A.S. requires 19 credits of core major courses and 12 credits of graphic design electives. Some of the subjects covered in both programs include two-dimensional design, drawing, typography and photography.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,217 Students

39

Fairmont State University

The College of Science & Technology at Fairmont State University offers a bachelor's degree in graphics technology. The goal of the graphics technology program is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of computer technology, multimedia technology, and design theory. Courses will cover areas in 2D and 3D design, image editing, photography concepts, and branding and identity design. Graduates of this program go on to become production artists, desktop publishing artists, graphic designers, art directors, web designers, creative directors, digital pre-press technicians, and technical illustrators, among other things.

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,035 Students

40

Central Community College

Central Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science and Diploma program in media arts at its Hastings campus. Both programs can be completed with a specialization in graphic design. The A.A.S. in Media Arts requires seven core courses in subjects like mass media, media writing, web graphics, visual design, audio design and photography. Students are also required to complete 26 credits in the graphic arts specialization, including coursework in electronic illustration, layout, typography, printing processes and exhibit preparation. The media arts diploma requires 21 to 22 major credits and nine general education credits. A 13-credit graphic design certificate is also available.

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,377 Students

41

Ridgewater College

Ridgewater College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a diploma program in multimedia design technology. The A.A.S. in Multimedia Design Technology is a 60-credit program that includes 39 credits of required core courses in subjects like graphic visualization, image editing, interface design, computer graphics, HTML and typography. Students are also required to complete a multimedia portfolio, which involves performing a needs analysis, writing a proposal and eventual publication online. The multimedia design and technology diploma is a 50-credit program that requires the same 39 credits of core coursework at the A.A.S. program. The A.A.S. program, however, requires additional coursework in employment preparation, communications and two-dimensional design, as well as general education elective courses.

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,753 Students

42

Schoolcraft College

Schoolcraft College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Graphics Technology with a concentration in graphic arts, as well as a graphic arts certificate. The A.A.S. in Computer Graphics Technology requires 61 to 62 credits of coursework, including courses in web design and development, the history of graphic design, life drawing, digital imaging and typography. Students are also required to complete a capstone experience in the form of an internship, an honors study course or a practical application course. In addition, students must create a professional portfolio.

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,542 Students

43

University of Houston

The University of Houston offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Courses taken in this program will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of graphic design through a diverse curriculum, including course work in design theory, methods, practice, and history. The graphic design program at UH has a low student-to-faculty ratio, which ensures a lot of personalized and individual attention for each student. Students in the program will work with design and community leaders in social gatherings, interdisciplinary project collaboration, and lectures. Students will take courses in art history, fundamentals (photography, drawing, computer tools in the arts, etc.), and the major concentration of graphic design.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

40,914 Students

44

Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree that prepares students for effective visual communication in various media formats. The curriculum includes coursework in topics such as typographic design, aesthetics and art criticism, intermediate and advanced graphic design, art studies, and advertising design. Students benefit from regional and international artists who participate in the Visiting Artists Program of the department. Students also have the opportunity to exhibit their work during the Senior Exhibitions held each year at the gallery. The Mary Beth and Lacy Noble, Jr. Art Scholarship is given to outstanding current and new art majors based on a portfolio of their work. The amount for the scholarship varies from year to year.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,994 Students

45

SUNY College of Technology at Canton

SUNY Canton offers a Bachelor of Technology in Graphic and Multimedia Design that allows students to combine computer skills with creative skills. Students in the program take technology classes such as web development as well as specialized classes in film and theater production. Required classes for graphic design majors include computer logic, introduction to drawing, computer programming, digital photography, film analysis, and sociology of mass media. In their final semester, students in the program gain real world experience by working at an internship or by working on a group or individual product launch project.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,278 Students

46

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree through the Gwen Frostic School of Art. Students must submit a portfolio of their work for review during the spring semester of their freshman year in order to be considered for admission to the BFA program. The curriculum covers topics such as visual aesthetics, black and white as well as color photography, the history of art, design applications, and graphic form. Students accepted to the program study the theory, history, and practice of graphic design and learn to craft innovative solutions to a variety of modern design challenges. The university has established partnerships with a number of local and regional companies to provide internship opportunities for graphic arts majors.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,914 Students

47

Santa Fe College

Santa Fe College offers an Associate of Science degree in graphic design technology. Students who have already been accepted to the college can apply separately for admission to the graphic design program. This 64-credit degree is designed as a cohort and offered only on a full-time basis. The program can be completed in five semesters and courses must be taken in the prescribed sequence. Santa Fe has articulation agreements with the Miami International University of Art and Design and the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute that allows graduates of this program to transfer their credits to a four-year bachelor's program in graphic design. Students can apply for the Career and Technology Education scholarship, which covers in-state tuition for up to 12 credit hours.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,055 Students

48

Mount Mercy University

Mount Mercy University offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design that provides students with hands-on training in a variety of software programs (Illustrator, After Effects, Dreamweaver, etc.) as well as several scripting languages and web tools. The curriculum includes coursework that cover a wide range of topics including visual technology, art and graphic design fundamentals, web and motion graphics, photography, and typography and design. Students are required to write a thesis and mount an exhibit of their work in order to graduate from the program. Qualified incoming freshmen, as well as transfer and international students, are considered for art scholarships of up to $3,000 per year. These scholarships are renewable for up to four years ($12,000).

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

1,762 Students

49

John Wood Community College

John Wood Community College offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in graphic design. Students accepted to the program learn about current design trends and how to create effective print and multimedia visual communications. The program provides extensive technical training using industry-based software and equipment and involves students in all aspects of the design process. The curriculum includes courses that cover a wide range of relevant topics such as desktop information management, graphic/photo manipulation, drawing fundamentals, design and color, and computerized illustration. Students who complete the AAS in Graphic Design program can take advantage of an agreement that JWCC has in place with the University of Northern Iowa, which facilitates the transfer of the degree to a four-year program.

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

1,900 Students

50

San Jose State University

The Design Department at San Jose State University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree. Students are required to submit a portfolio for review in order to be admitted to the program. Once admitted, portfolio reviews are conducted at the end of each semester to determine a student's continuance in the program. The curriculum includes courses that cover a wide variety of topics such as visual communication and process, introduction, intermediate, and advanced graphic design, visual literacy, exhibition design and information graphics, and user interface and interaction design. All students must complete a professional internship in order to graduate from the program. The department also offers a minor in graphic design for non-design majors enrolled at the university.

Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

32,713 Students

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