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Best Schools with Graduate Programs in Design: List of Schools

Discover the graduate-level options for studying design at top schools. Research the programs, the schools, the rankings and the locations to make an informed education decision.

School Overviews

Students who want to pursue design studies beyond the undergraduate level can find graduate degrees at some top universities and art schools in the U.S. Possible specializations include graphic, interior or industrial design, and programs typically lead to Master of Arts, Master of Design or Master of Fine Arts degrees. Keep reading to learn about the options at two New England art schools that are both highly ranked for all three types of design, and see a list of additional schools around the country that also offer advanced design degrees.

1. Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island

School Highlight: Graduate studies are located apart from undergraduate studies in the Center for Integrative Technologies (CID) in downtown Providence.

In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) as the number two fine arts school in the country. The school's graphics and interior design programs were regarded as the best, with the industrial design program securing the number two spot in the report.

RISD offers 22 graduate programs in art and design. The graduate school offers programs in graphic, interior and industrial design. The school's department of graphic design includes 1-year and 2-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees, conditional of a student's background and undergraduate major. Classes include design studios and advanced drawing.

RISD offers both a Master of Arts in Interior Architecture and a Master of Design in Interior Studies. Both programs teach graduates to become socially and environmentally responsible designers. Students in the school's Master of Industrial Design program take classes in wood and metal study, design methodology and studio work.

2. Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York

School Highlight: The Pratt Institute's main Brooklyn campus is supplemented by a second location in Manhattan.

Pratt Institute has become the largest art and design school in New England. Pratt's overall fine arts programs were ranked 27th in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report; that same year, the school's interior design program was tied for first, the industrial design program was fourth and the graphic design program ranked ninth.

The school's Master of Science (M.S.) in Interior Design is available for those who wish to explore aesthetic expressions and the practical application of design, with a focus on environmental responsibility. The Master of Industrial Design is offered as an interdisciplinary program, where students take coursework in color, theory, history and prototyping structural designs.

An MFA in Communications Design is available for those planning to enter studio practice in print and digital media. The school also has Master of Science degrees in communication design and an package design, teaching students to work in corporate-based careers, such as digital advertising and brand management.

Top Graduate Design Programs

College/University Name Distinction Location
Art Center College of Design With a U.S. News & World Report #2 ranking in 2012 for its industrial design program, the Art Center offers multiple degree options including a dual degree in innovative systems design Pasadena, CA
California College of the Arts Graduate degrees available at this school include an MBA in Design Strategy that focuses on ethical, profitable and sustainable product design Oakland, CA
Carnegie Mellon University Ranked #4 for its graduate graphic design program by U.S. News & World Report, this school offers a Master of Design (Mdes), a Master of Professional Studies (MPS), a Master of Arts (MA) and a Professional Doctorate in Design (DDes) Pittsburgh, PA
Cranbrook Academy of Art This small school of under 200 students was ranked 4th for industrial design Bloomfield Hills, MI
Maryland Institute College of Art Graduate degrees at MICA range from a Master of Arts in Social Design to a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Graphic Design to an MBA in Design Leadership Baltimore, MD
School of the Art Institute of Chicago SAIC was ranked #12 in the nation for graphic design and #3 for its multimedia/visual communications program by U.S. News & World Report in 2012 Chicago, IL
Yale University U.S. News & World Report ranked Yale's graphic design program as second best in the nation (2012) New Haven, CT

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