Top 32 Best Colleges with Graphic Design Majors in the US [2024 Guide]

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top graphic design schools

Without a diploma from the top graphics design program, you may miss out on valuable cutting-edge resources and the opportunity to build a professional portfolio that can open doors to successful careers. Here is the ultimate list of top-ranked graphic design BFA program degrees for aspiring designers and art directors.

Best Graphic Design Schools

Virginia Tech, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, School of Visual Arts-New York, Carnegie Mellon, and California College of the Arts are among the top graphic design programs renowned for their exceptional art school curricula and industry connections. These prestigious art schools offer opportunities for students to collaborate with renowned design firms.

Featured Programs

In the 21st century, where advertising is quite literally everywhere, graphic design degrees are valuable to aspiring marketing professionals to stand out and get noticed as consummate professionals. The right graphic design school will let you develop the skills necessary to catapult your career in the visual arts industry.

School of DesignMinimum In-State Tuition FeeMinimum Out-of-State Tuition Fee
Virginia Tech$12,698$33,310
School of the Art Institute of Chicago$53,000$54,530
School of Visual Arts-New York$28,685$45,000
Carnegie Mellon$45,000$55,186
California College of the Arts$10,200$20,400
University of California$16,000$18,136
Temple University$18,200$28,800
ArtCenter College of Design$25,303 $48,044
Cooper Union School of Art$44,550$48,000
Fashion Institute of Technology$10,846$21,642
Otis College of Art$26,886$46,800
Auburn University$11,000$16,972
University of Southern California$42,560$45,021
Maryland Institute College of Art$26,580$51,870
Louisiana State University$11,954$12,533
Rutgers University – Camden$13,674$15,300
Texas State University$12,220$24,520
University of Cincinnati$10,099$25,433
Howard University$28,916$33,860
Syracuse University$50,890$61,310
Kennesaw State University$5,786$17,040
Drexel University $53,868$58,293
Rhode Island School of Design$53,820$57,505
Thomas Jefferson University$12,730$34,160
Virginia Commonwealth University$12,094$32,742
Academy of Art University$23,022$40,194
Ringling College of Art and Design$49,649$51,170 
Woodbury University$21,696$32,591
The Sage Colleges$22,456$45,397
North Carolina State University$9,459$29,433
The New School – Parsons School of Design$28,989$34,490
Savannah College of Art and Design$15,594$39,105

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s BFA in Graphic/Visual Communication Design comes from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, one of the nation’s most acclaimed and trusted schools of its kind. Completion of the School of Visual Arts Foundation Program is required before graphic design students can enroll in the graphic design program. 

An art and design portfolio review is also required. Once accepted, visual communication design students learn skills such as visual arts, typography, web and mobile design, human-centered design, and hand lettering. For more than a century and a half, Virginia Tech has been one of the South’s leaders in technology and one of its most demanding. 

  • The exclusivity of the Graphic/Visual Communication Design program at Virginia Tech ensures its quality. 
  • In addition to specific art and design skills, the visual communication design program provides a foundation in conceptual thinking, the use of signs and symbolism in visual communication, and interactive media problem-solving. 

The graphic design BFA program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).


School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is renowned for its exceptional graphic design program, which attracts aspiring visual artists and designers. You can pursue a BFA in Visual Communication Design that allows you to design your plan of study at the graduate level. 

SAIC’s Visual Communication Design (VCD) Department offers a comprehensive curriculum that nurtures the skills necessary for careers as graphic designers, user interface designers, web designers, and art directors.

  • The art and design program’s strong emphasis on both physical and virtual media equips graphic design students with a well-rounded understanding of various design disciplines. These include typography design, symbol design, interaction design, website design, bookbinding, package design, exhibition design, and motion graphics design.
  • SAIC’s Continuing Studies Department offers a Graphic Design Certificate program. It provides a shorter yet intensive option for those seeking to enhance their graphic design and visual communication skills. 
  • This visual communication design program covers essential topics such as introduction to graphic design, color theory, and proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite applications.

School of Visual Arts-New York

The School of Visual Arts in New York offers a comprehensive graphic design BFA program with diverse concentration options, including 3D Design, Motion Graphics, Interaction Design, and Graphic Design, leading to a BFA Design degree.

The art institute boasts extensive industry exposure through guest lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and liberal arts design competitions covered by major media outlets like CNN and NBC.

  • The graphic design BFA program includes a complimentary membership to The One Club for Creativity, which includes The Art Directors Club and Type Directors Club, providing valuable networking opportunities.
  • Get access to state-of-the-art visual communication facilities like the Digital Imaging Center and opportunities for internships at local and national graphic design firms, advertising agencies, and design firms. Graphic design students can participate in on-campus Visual Arts Press for hands-on experience in publishing and design.
  • Graduate students benefit from 24-hour access to private studios, fostering focused and immersive learning. The curriculum combines technical skills with a strong foundation in liberal arts, design history, advertising art direction, and user interface design.

Carnegie Mellon - School of Design

The Carnegie Mellon School of Design offers a Bachelor of Design degree (BDes). The BDes designation distinguishes design as a separate discipline. Carnegie Mellon offers three tracks for its Bachelor of Design degree: Communications, Products, and Environments. 

After the first year, students can choose to focus on two of the three tracks. This focus can be narrowed to provide a specialization in one area in the final years, or the student can continue to take courses in both specialties. 

  • Carnegie Mellon also offers a visual communication design program called Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe). This graphic design BFA program allows students to study design as it relates to one of the other disciplines offered by the university. 
  • There are eight visual arts options: sound design, media design, game design, learning media, animation and special effects, intelligent environments, entrepreneurship for creative industries, and physical computing. 

Having 15 years of experience in the education sector, Kelsey Ludeman recommends Carnegie Mellon as an excellent school for graphic design:

Carnegie Mellon School of Design is widely regarded for top-tier undergraduate, master’s, and PHD graphic design programs. The curriculum emphasizes humanity and social systems, embracing an international and forward-thinking methodology. The design school aims to set students up for success in the industry, by offering multiple tracks of focus, high-end facilities, expert faculty, and key industry connections.”

The liberal arts design programs at Carnegie Mellon are taught by experts in communication, industrial, and environmental design. The School of Design collaborates with leading graphic design firms to provide projects that give students real-world experience working with clients.


California College of the Arts

The Graphic Design BFA from the California College of the Arts is one of the most sought-after programs in the country. It has a well-rounded curriculum that allows students to explore various techniques, tools, and materials, and participate in studio projects and critiques.

It offers hands-on experience with traditional techniques through the arts and letterpress studio, which houses bookbinding equipment and lithography presses. The Graphic Design BFA program comes with access to dedicated studio spaces, a prototyping studio, and a cutting-edge hybrid lab for exploring virtual reality and emerging technologies.

  • Strong art and design industry connections, with graduates securing positions at top graphic design firms.
  • There are opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration with programs like computer science, package design, art direction, and visual communication design.
  • Graduate students from this art institute benefit from advanced facilities and resources to further develop their skills and portfolios.

University of California-Los Angeles - Design Media Arts

UCLA’s BA in Design Media Arts, offered by the School of Arts and Architecture, gives students a solid foundation in basic design elements such as typography and color. The program features courses in a wide range of design-related subjects, including visual communication, game design, interactivity, web design, and audio-visual design. 

Class sizes are small, which fosters the development of relationships and a sense of community among students pursuing graphic design degrees at the school. 

  • The liberal arts school prioritizes experimentation and personal growth over commercialism and encourages students to meet new people and learn to think critically and analytically.
  • UCLA’s School of Arts and Architecture combines performance and studio work with research studies to give students a solid foundation in both the arts and their academic studies. 
  • The school of design views design as a way of thinking and combines art history, theory, and practice to promote the creation of experimental media and culturally significant objects and experiences.

Temple University - Tyler School of Art

The Tyler School of Art at Temple University offers a BFA in Graphic and Interactive Design. The visual communication design program is practice-based and covers both print and digital media. 

Students learn typography, image making, branding and packaging, sign and poster design, advertising, illustration, web design, and more. The program prepares students to work both independently and with clients on client-driven projects. 

  • Since there are a limited number of spaces available, a competitive portfolio review process is required to secure a place in Temple University’s Graphic & Interactive Design program. 
  • The visual arts portfolio review is completed during the sophomore year. Students accepted into the major must begin their GAID coursework the following fall and complete all courses in sequence and in time to remain in the major. 

Art institute students pursuing a bachelor of arts in graphic design at Temple University must have a laptop that meets the minimum specifications outlined in the program guidelines.


ArtCenter College of Design

The ArtCenter College of Design offers a top-notch Graphic Design (Gx) program with BFA and MFA (MGx) options, providing comprehensive training in both traditional and emerging media.

The 132-unit Gx BFA program explores various disciplines, including coding, apps, packaging, 3D motion graphics, film, books, and press kits, with a strong emphasis on human-centered design principles. 

  • Art and design students gain hands-on experience through studio courses taught by industry professionals with expertise in packaging, transmedia design, motion, visual interaction, and print. 
  • The visual arts curriculum covers essential topics such as interaction design, graphic design history, narrative sketching, and professional practice. These equip graduates with the skills for careers in web design, visual communication, interactive media, branding, and beyond. 
  • With minors available in areas like product design and interaction design through the Designmatters program, ArtCenter’s graphic design department offers a well-rounded, interdisciplinary approach to design education.

Cooper Union School of Art

The BFA in Graphic Design at the Cooper Union School of Art is an integrated program that provides students with instruction in a variety of disciplines. Students learn to recognize relationships between various visual arts and can choose between graphic design degrees in seven specializations, one of which is graphic arts. 

The school of art strives to foster long-lasting mentoring relationships between teachers and students by allowing students to take the same advanced studio courses multiple times. Each time, the experience will be completely different since the projects change. 

  • The School of Art at the Cooper Union seeks to teach artists to use their creative potential to question the status quo and transform their communities. 
  • School of Art students are encouraged to experiment and participate in research as part of their studies, which include art theory, art history, and criticism in the visual arts.
  • The graphic arts program is NASAD accredited.

Fashion Institute of Technology

The SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) offers a BFA in Graphic Design. The program provides a foundation in the elements of graphic design and builds on it through hands-on projects and classes. 

Students are encouraged to experiment and innovate in their graphic design degrees as they learn and practice typography, interactive media and editorial design, corporate branding and identity, environmental graphic design, and more. 

  • The visual arts program focuses on skills that can be used at work and requires an internship that provides professional experience. Students work to learn presentation skills and are expected to build a professional portfolio. 
  • Graduates can present their work to industry leaders at the Art and Design Graduating Student Exhibition, which provides an outlet for students to showcase their best work.
  • Backed by the State University of New York – by many measures the nation’s best public university system – FIT has been regularly ranked among the top fashion-related schools in the world. This makes FIT a great choice for students seeking a bachelor of arts in graphic design who wish to pursue careers in the fashion industry.

Otis College of Art

Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) offers multiple pathways to study BFA in Graphic Design, catering to both degree-seeking graphic design students and those interested in shorter programs. 

The comprehensive graphic design program includes BFA and MFA graduate programs that emphasize collaboration, cross-disciplinary studies, craft, and presentation skills. 

  • Art and design students gain exposure to various formats, including branding, app development, interactive design, package design, website design, and interactive media, preparing them for careers in design firms and agencies. 
  • In addition to traditional art history and graphic design principles, the curriculum covers typography, UX/UI design, storyboarding, printmaking, motion design, and letterpress, ensuring graduates develop well-rounded skills in visual communication. 
  • For those seeking a more condensed option, OTIS College Extension offers a Graphic Design Certificate program, allowing students to build a professional portfolio through 14 focused courses over one to two years.

Auburn University

The School of Industrial + Graphic Design at Auburn University offers a BFA in Graphic Design that provides students with instruction in many areas of visual design. Subject areas covered include packaging, magazine design, design history, digital interfaces, fine arts, logo design, and brand identity.

Students must enroll as Pre-Graphic Design (PGDE) majors for the first year and then apply for admission to the Graphic Design program. Admission is selective and limited. 

  • The Auburn University School of Industrial + Graphic Design works with industry to offer collaboration experiences that give students the experience of working as part of a visual communication team. 
  • The art and design school also offers study-abroad opportunities in Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, Hong Kong, or Taiwan during the spring and summer. 
  • Auburn University hosts an annual sustainable design competition and a juried Student Show Exhibition. Each fall, experts from within the industry come to the school to speak.

University of Southern California - Roski School of Art and Design

The BFA in Design offered by USC’s Roski School of Art and Design is an intensive program that features immersion in design through studio courses. Students also attend seminars on critical theory and complete a capstone studio course and a senior thesis. 

There are art and design internships available as well as international tours to study art abroad. Students who earn graphic design degrees from USC will be prepared to enter careers in advertising, fashion, packaging design, publishing, sports, entertainment, and more. 

  • The first year focuses on illustration and drawing using a variety of media augmented with design-specific workshops. Students may choose to minor in advertising, business, communication, entrepreneurship, or marketing. 
  • The Roski School of Art and Design is one of the oldest art schools in Southern California. The School of Design provides support for students to experiment and express their creativity, as well as opportunities for collaboration and cross-discipline research with other graphic design schools at USC. 
  • Students at USC learn to create art that raises difficult questions about their culture and their world.

Maryland Institute College of Art

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) provides a strong foundation through its First Year Experience (FYE). It allows undergraduate graphics design students to explore various art and design programs while building essential skills before pursuing their chosen major. 

For those interested in graphic design, MICA offers a comprehensive Graphic Design BFA Program with three concentrations: Graphic Design Studio, Graphic Design + Humanistic Studies, and Book Arts Studio. 

  • This 120-credit fine arts program covers a wide range of graphics design courses, including Graphic Design, Typography, Designing Information, and Advanced Design, equipping students with the necessary skills to become successful graphic designers or art directors. 
  • The art and design curriculum also incorporates design history, drawing, and photo imaging courses, ensuring a well-rounded education. 
  • Students have opportunities to collaborate on visual communication design projects, further enhancing their practical experience and preparing them for professional careers in the field as they consider graduate programs.

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University’s BFA in Graphic Design is the School of Art’s bachelor in graphic design program. It offers exceptional instruction that prepares students to become outstanding visual communicators. 

The graphic design program prepares students to meet the challenges they will meet in the real world as they work in the fields of print design, illustration, information design, advertising, packaging, branding, environmental design, and more. 

  • Art and design students at LSU showcase their skills in regional, national, and international design competitions even before graduation. The program gives them the skills they need to think critically and solve problems creatively. 
  • The College of Art & Design pushes students to explore their creativity, think about contemporary issues, and offer solutions to problems. Students can work with clients on real projects and conduct research that positively impacts the environment. 

LSU graduates join an extensive network of graphic design alumni who make positive contributions to their communities, wherever they are.


Rutgers University - Camden

The Camden College of Arts and Sciences offers Rutgers University’s Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design which has a firm foundation in the liberal arts. Students learn critical thinking with a focus on research and are encouraged to push their boundaries and develop their creative perspectives and methods. 

Students can choose between eight concentrations within the graphic design program. They are animation, arts education, art therapy, graphic design, intermedia and electronic arts, painting and drawing, photography, and sculpture. 

  • The art institute gives students the chance to enjoy the benefits of pursuing an education at a research university without giving up the advantages of attending a smaller college. 
  • These advantages include small fine arts class sizes, which allow students to work closely with faculty members. 
  • Rutgers graduates are prepared for whatever comes next, whether that is a career, professional school, or a graduate degree.

Texas State University

The School of Art and Design at Texas State University’s BFA in Communication Design program offers one of the largest programs of its kind in the US. It stimulates learning for students who wish to pursue the study of art direction, graphic design, and interactive media.

The Visual Communication Design curriculum provides students with rigorous study within their major, which is built on four foundation courses. Subjects included in the graphic design program include corporate identity, art direction, typography, sustainable packaging, design research, and environmental graphics. 

  • There is a focus on preparing for professional practice, and students work on building a professional portfolio. Participation in internships and design contests is encouraged, and many visual communication design students in Texas have been recognized in publications such as Step Inside Design, CMYK, and PRINT. 
  • Art institute students have also been recognized in competitions such as the Creative Summit, the American Advertising Federation Awards, and The One Show. Classes are limited to approximately 16 students and are taught in a studio environment. 
  • There is a student lab available with equipment such as a CNC router, die cutter, 3D printer, and laser cutter.

University of Cincinnati - College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP)

The Myron E. Ulman Jr. School of Design at the University of Cincinnati offers a Bachelor of Communication Design. This graphic design program prepares students to be able to express feelings, information, and ideas in visual form. 

Art institute students learn to use drawing, photography, typography, video, animation, and other visual tools to communicate concepts effectively. 

  • The core of the graphic design BFA program is a sequence of design studios that encourage the development of visual and critical thinking skills as well as design skills. 
  • In addition to their visual communication design course, students at the School of Design participate in co-ops, which provide valuable real-world experience. 

The Visual Communication Design program is five years long and includes five semesters of industry experience through the co-op program.


Howard University

Howard University’s Department of Art offers a BFA in Design that emphasizes cross-curricular experiences. Students learn central principles that form the foundation of design as well as studying theory and learning to apply learned techniques in practical visual design applications.

The graphic design program teaches students to produce multiple solutions to problems, whether 2D or 3D, printed or digital, still or animated. Students identify and analyze problems, research solutions, and develop prototypes. 

  • The art institute program helps students develop problem-solving proficiency as well as design skills. The Department of Art at Howard University has a prestigious history, and the faculty is composed of an energetic group of professors who are motivated to teach creative pursuits to talented students. 
  • Many of the school’s faculty members have achieved national recognition for their contributions to the arts. 
  • One of the nation’s most prestigious HBCUs, Howard University’s design program is also accredited by NASAD.

Syracuse University

Syracuse University’s BS in Graphic Design program focuses on a human-focused approach to graphic design and teaches students to handle the challenges of managing technical skills as well as branding and marketing skills. 

The bachelor in graphic design takes a broad approach to the process and ensures that students have the skills to design websites and related publications. 

  • Fine arts students gain the hands-on experience they need to handle graphic design in the work environment. The students work directly with clients through Newhouse during their senior year as part of the capstone course. 
  • That allows art institute students to handle the challenges of working in a real-life environment without the pressure associated with starting a new career. 
  • Students also have access to an annual workshop to learn skills related to teamwork and design from experienced professionals in the graphic design field.

Kennesaw State University

The BFA in Graphic Communications from Kennesaw State University evaluates the challenges associated with a global marketplace. The graphic design BFA program recognizes the challenges of handling design and creative works in a connected world that requires consideration for variable audiences and target groups. 

By teaching students the technical and creative skills they need to develop marketable skills in a competitive field, the graphics design BFA program helps students advance in their career goals. 

  • This art university differs from other visual arts programs by taking a global and multicultural approach to the graphic communication industry. 
  • Teaching art institute students to handle the challenges of a global market environment, prepares students to gain a competitive edge when applying for new positions. 
  • The school of art also recognizes the importance of technical and creative skills, so it focuses on developing both sets of skills for long-term career goals.

Drexel University - Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

Drexel University’s BFA in Graphic Design program recognizes that students may focus on developing skills in variable aspects of media and on teaching students the skills they need to handle the different forms of communication. 

Students develop an expansive professional portfolio throughout their work in a visual communication design program. They will learn to produce visual communication for print and screen media, posters, advertisements, websites, and related media. 

  • The art university differs from other schools by helping students develop a professional portfolio before they move into the workforce. 
  • That focus on teaching students graphic design and the technical skills associated with graphic design and design history allows them to create works of art that capture the attention of potential employers. 
  • The School of Visual Arts has helped students obtain work in well-known graphic design firms due to its focus on excellence and developing useful skills for different types of media and graphic communication.

Rhode Island School of Design

The Rhode Island School of Design’s BFA in Graphic Design prepares students to handle the problem-solving associated with graphic design. The bachelor in graphic design recognizes that students need more than just technical skills to handle their work environment. 

  • They need the skills to solve problems, critique designs for their effectiveness and respond to potential problems promptly. The graphic design BFA program helps students develop the skills to handle challenges in their work environment without getting overwhelmed or facing complications with their design goals. 
  • Rhode Island School of Design stands apart from other programs by offering an expansive community and opportunities to collaborate with students in other fields. 
  • That aspect of designing allows art institute students to get a feel for the way a graphic designer works with others in their collaborative projects.

Thomas Jefferson University - Kanbar College of Design, Engineering, and Commerce

Thomas Jefferson University’s BS in Graphic Design Communication program allows students to develop the design and technical skills to convey a message in their designs for an employer. The communication design program recognizes that a graphic designer works in every area of graphic communication and visual arts. 

This graphic design program prepares graduating high school students to recognize the role of graphic design in various forms of media and how to get a message across to a target audience through their designs. 

  • The art university stands out from other programs through its collaborative projects. The graphic design program is through the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering, and Commerce. 
  • Visual communication students work with others in related fields to learn the skills they need to collaborate with other parties and groups. That allows them to develop teamwork skills that carry forward into a career. 
  • They also have opportunities to work with professional graphic designers to further enhance their understanding of the role of design in a logo, website, package, or related media.

Virginia Commonwealth University

The Virginia Commonwealth University BFA in Graphic Design degree program focuses on the artistic aspects of graphic design by requiring visual communication students to take art classes as the foundation of their coursework. 

They then move into more specialized studies in publication and print design, motion design, and interactive design. 

  • The coursework teaches students the problem-solving skills they need to handle the challenges of their career goals. 
  • The art university stands out from other programs by developing artistic skills before moving into the technical skills associated with graphic design. 
  • The graphic design BFA program recognizes the importance of art when working on design elements for graphic design firms, and strives to teach students the creative skills they need before focusing on the methodology and technology involved in modern design and interactions.

Academy of Art University

The Academy of Art University BFA in Graphic Design comes from a cutting-edge School of Graphic Design. Its thorough skills education is built around the effective use of both traditional graphic design principles and the most current technology. 

From typography and print media to UX design and even animations and motion graphics, AAU’s bachelor in graphic design program provides an interactive, collaborative curriculum and interviews with experts in the field to improve student understanding of visual communication design. 

  • One of the first schools dedicated to advertising, this art university began in 1929, and its location in San Francisco has made it a destination for students – especially in the modern tech era. 
  • AAU is both regionally accredited and accredited by the NASAD, providing a level of reputability that is rare for a private, for-profit institution. 
  • The largest private art and design school in the nation, the Academy of Art University, is at the forefront.

Ringling College of Art and Design

The Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) in Florida boasts a long-standing and reputable Graphic Design Program, offering both a comprehensive 120-credit BFA and a 15-credit Minor for visual communication students to explore the field. 

The Graphic Design BFA program’s immersive, studio-based curriculum provides hands-on training in various graphic design courses, such as graphics design, art history, design and typography, 3D interactive media, and new media UI/UX. These prepare students for careers as a graphic designer, includinginteraction design roles at advertising agencies. 

  • Graphic design students benefit from visiting artists from major studios like DreamWorks, internship opportunities, and the chance to work on real-life projects with local businesses and at The Design Center—RCAD’s in-house design firm. 
  • The graphic design BFA program also covers essential topics like visual communication design, professional practice, and drawing and 2D design, ensuring graduates develop a well-rounded skill set. 
  • Elective courses like Intro to Letterpress, Wearable Messages, and New Music: Music Branding allow visual communication students to explore their diverse interests within the graphic design field.

Woodbury University

The BFA in Graphic Design from Woodbury University offers students the skills and training they need to handle the challenges of a career in graphic design. The school of art helps students build up their portfolios and learn the technical skills associated with graphic design. 

It also puts a heavy emphasis on problem-solving and critical thinking skills. That focus on developing useful skills helps visual communication students when they start working on hands-on projects and gain experience in their jobs. 

  • It gives them a competitive edge when working toward a long-term goal. Woodbury University differs from other schools by focusing on real-world skills. 
  • The graphic design school also focuses on the networking skills students need to handle their career aspirations and gives them hands-on experience before they move into their careers. 
  • Since students may also want to specialize in a specific area of graphic design, they are encouraged to create a professional portfolio to reflect that area of interest. The focus on skills that enhance a student’s abilities in their career helps with long-term plans for a job.

The Sage Colleges

The BFA in Graphic and Media Design from Sage Colleges offers students a career-oriented degree for their long-term goals. 

The graphic design BFA program helps students learn to use computers and modern tools to improve their work and create compelling works of art that convey a specific message based on the goals of an employer. 

  • The graphic design program recognizes the importance of developing skills in multiple media sources and helps students learn the different skills they need for print and digital media. It also recognizes that a graphic designer plays a role in illustration, print media, fine arts, and publishing. 
  • Sage Colleges differ from other programs due to their accreditation and career-focused curriculum. The school of design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, or NASAD. 
  • The school of art also offers students the opportunity to join the American Institute of Graphic Artists student group, which offers students an opportunity to network with experienced professionals in graphic design careers. The experience allows students to feel confident about their career opportunities.

North Carolina State University

The College of Design at North Carolina State University (NC State University) offers nationally recognized and accredited graphic design programs, including the Bachelor of Graphic & Experience Design (BGXD) and Master of Graphic & Experience Design (MGXD). 

These are both accredited by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The MGXD program is one of the few graphic design graduate programs in the country with a STEM Classification (CIP), reflecting its technical rigor and industry relevance. 

  • Students in the BGXD program gain practical experience through studios exploring branding, data visualization, visual communication, artificial intelligence, interaction design, accessible design, visualization strategies, interactive media, and rapid prototyping techniques. 
  • Collaborative projects with industrial design, architecture, and landscape architecture students provide opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and real-life experience.
  • With a strong focus on liberal arts, visual arts, web design, visual communication design, fine arts, and art direction, NC State University prepares a graphic designer for successful careers in various industries.

The New School - Parsons School of Design

The BFA in Communication Design and Graphic Design from The New School Parsons School of Design is a comprehensive visual communication design program designed to help students focus on a career in graphic design. 

The graphic design BFA program takes a collaborative approach to the teaching process and recognizes that students need to learn teamwork skills to improve their opportunities for their careers. It also focuses on hands-on projects that help students build up their portfolios while working together to finish a project. 

  • New School’s Parsons School of Design stands apart from other programs by taking a hands-on approach to the learning process. 
  • It also offers students an opportunity to network with professional graphic designers at the top design firms for a chance to gain opportunities for their career goals. 
  • Guest critics help students identify weaknesses while internships give them hands-on experience in their field to start working on long-term opportunities.

Savannah College of Art and Design

A BA or BFA in Graphic Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design focuses on a holistic approach to the graphic design industry. It studies the visuals and language used by powerhouse graphic design firms to convey messages to an audience or encourage action from an audience. 

The graphic design program also teaches students the skills they need to handle more than just the designs of a product. It teaches entrepreneurship skills, marketing skills, packaging design, mobile technology, and user experience as part of a holistic strategy for the industry. 

  • Savannah College of Art and Design, or SCAD, stands out from other programs by offering more than the basic design and art skills associated with the graphic design industry. 
  • It takes a holistic approach to education and teaches students unique skills that give them a competitive advantage in the workplace. It teaches students the marketing and entrepreneurship skills they need to understand their target audience. 
  • It then delves into the technical skills to create a design that captures the attention of the target audience and encourages action through a few words or a carefully designed image.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Graphic Design Schools

To rank the Best Value Graphic Design Degree, Value Colleges editors began by seeking out regionally-accredited and NASAD-accredited art and design schools. Only schools meeting those basic qualifications for quality were considered. From there, graphic design programs were ranked according to three equally-weighted factors:

  • Cost – current IPEDS data
  • Reputation – Niche student reviews
  • Graphic Design Alumni Salary – current College Scorecard data

With this combination of criteria, Value Colleges gives students the assurance that the graphic design degrees they choose will combine affordability and results for a measurable value and return on investment.

A man and a woman discussing the design on the screen

Why Get a BFA in Graphic Design?

Graphic design is a process that uses visuals to communicate a message to an audience – not for the sake of art or self-expression, but for a direct and specific purpose. A graphic designer has a variety of tools at hand, from photography and color to text and animation.

That’s why a graphics design BFA program with a traditional on-campus program is still extremely valuable, even in the age of online education.

A laptop with an image on Photoshop

What Makes a Good Graphic Design BFA Program?

Every graphic design BFA program is different and will have different pros and cons. At the end of the day, you may just find that some design schools are a better “fit” than others. However, there are a few things that can help you pick the best graphic design BFA program:

  • The best graphic design BFA program offers mentorship from professionals for graphic design students. When your school’s faculty has plenty of real-life experience, then you’ve made an excellent choice. A graphic design program can also invite professional graphic designers for lectures.
  • Look for schools that use cutting-edge technology. You’ll want your graphic designer education to reflect real working conditions as accurately as possible.
  • The best BFA schools also give their student graphic designers access to graphic design internships. With graphic design internships, you can get even more real-world experience and boost your resume before you even graduate and begin work as a professional graphic designer.
  • Look for graphic design colleges with NASAD accreditation. NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design) sets quality standards for arts education.

What Will I Learn in a Graphic Design BFA Program?

Graphic designer education requirements will vary from one school of visual arts to the next. However, most graphic design programs will have a few things in common. 

  • At most schools, graphic design degree requirements will include several core classes followed by several design-specific classes. Your graphic design courses should cover the basics of art and color theory. You’ll also learn about typography, creating advertisements, digital design tools, and similar subjects.
  • Many graphic designer education requirements also include special projects. You might complete an internship with a graphic designer, create a capstone project, or do something similar. 
  • These projects will help graphic design alumni build their portfolios and gain a taste of the real-life experience. By the time you graduate, you’ll have some solid work under your belt, which will help you when you start your career.

Graphic design degrees are designed to provide a well-rounded approach. This way, no matter which direction your career takes you as a graphic designer, your graphic design degree courses will provide you with a solid background of knowledge.

What’s the Difference Between a BFA in Graphic Design and a BS in Graphic Design?

Getting a degree in graphic design can be an exciting career opportunity. The average degree program has about 120 credits of coursework. However, the depth of the teaching within the graphic design program depends on whether it is a BFA degree or a BS degree program. 

A group of graphic designers having fun

BS Graphic Design

The BS Graphic Design program covers a broad range of disciplines within the art world. Courses in computer software applications, principles of Design, and digital photography round out the curriculum. 

More technical and industrial skills, like package design (which combines art and design with material science), would also be part of the graphic design program. The BS degree also provides prospective graphic designers with a strong computer graphics background. 

Although the program is a 120-credit hour course, only about forty-eight to fifty-one credits are concentrated on the graphic design major.

BFA Graphic Design

The graphic design BFA program is a much more intensive program within the creative industry. The courses touch on the principles of design and computer graphics background, just like the BS degree.

However, the courses also include Art history, sketching, drawing, visual arts, and color theory. The graphic design program is a 120-credit course, with approximately 72 to 84 credits concentrated in the Graphic Design major.

A man doing graphic design on his computer

Related Questions

What College Has the Best Graphic Design Program?

Virginia Tech and the School of Art Institute of Chicago are widely regarded as having the best graphic design programs in the country, offering top-notch education in visual arts, fine arts, and interactive media design. Their innovative courses and emphasis on cross-disciplinary collaboration make it a leading institution for an aspiring graphic designer.

Which Degree Is Best for Graphic Design?

For those seeking a career in graphic design, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree is often the preferred choice as it provides comprehensive training in visual communication, artistic principles, and technical skills. A graphic design BFA program is typically more immersive and focused on developing a strong portfolio than a general BA or BS degree.

Which Type of Graphic Design Is Most In Demand?

Two of the most in-demand areas of graphic design are web design and user interface (UI) design, as graphic design firms increasingly require visually appealing and user-friendly websites, apps, and digital products. Communication design and interaction design involve creating intuitive experiences for users across various platforms.

Are There Any Trade Schools in America That Offer Graphic Design Programs?

Yes, many trade schools in America offer graphic design programs. To find the best options, it is advisable to refer to top trade school rankings, which provide insights into the quality of education, faculty expertise, and career support offered by various institutions.

A man drawing on the tablet


By attending the top graphics design program, you’ll receive a comprehensive education in art and design courses and have the opportunity to develop a strong professional portfolio. A reputable graphic design BFA program can provide you with the skills and industry connections necessary to secure rewarding opportunities in top design firms and agencies.

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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

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