Advertising Design Colleges and Universities: How to Choose

Students in advertising design programs learn about the creation, production and presentation of visual sales materials. Degree programs in this field can be found at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels. Bachelor's and master's degree programs are often called advertising and graphic design programs.

Associate's degree programs that integrate studies in both advertising and design can be used as a foundation for a bachelor's degree program or can prepare students for immediate employment. Bachelor's degrees in this field may be specialized, either as a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design with an emphasis on coursework in advertising or as a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising with an emphasis in graphic design.

Schools with Advertising Design Programs

Here's a list of schools with applicable programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
Fashion Institute of Technology New York, New York 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's In-state $5,230
Out-of-state $14,230
College for Creative Studies Detroit, Michigan 4-year, Private Bachelor's $38,950
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, Rhode Island 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $45,840; Graduate: $45,530
Art Center College of Design Pasadena, California 4-year, Private Bachelor's $39,230
Sessions College Tempe, Arizona 4-year, Private Associate's, Certificate $8,000
Savannah College of Art and Design Savannah, Georgia 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $34,970, Graduate: $35,325
Delaware Technical Community College Dover, Delaware 4-year, Public Associate's In-state $3,632
Out-of-state $8,522
Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, Texas 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $7,560
Out-of-state $16,920
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte, North Carolina 4-year, Public Associate's In-state $2,664
Out-of-state $8,808

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students interested in advertising design schools may want to keep these considerations in mind when selecting their program:

  • School-sponsored internship programs can offer case studies and industry projects that can give students a professional advantage with real-world experience.
  • State-of-the-art design facilities ensure students learn to use current technology and applications.
  • A program resulting in a professional portfolio could be of considerable help to a graduate beginning his or her job search.

Associate's Degree in Advertising Design

Programs can be completed in two years and might offer industry certifications and/or certificates in specific media, such as Web design. Typical programs integrate fundamentals of art and design, such as drawing, typography and digital illustration, with studies of advertising practices such as marketing and public relations. Other courses include:

  • Image design
  • Visual communication
  • Merchandising
  • Sales

Bachelor's Degree in Advertising Design

Degree programs at this level often are tailored to the goals of the student through selection of electives. Some programs require the development of a portfolio showcasing the skills acquired by the student through the course of his or her studies. Coursework generally covers:

  • History of illustration
  • Design theory
  • Communication theory

Master of Fine Art in Advertising

An MFA in Advertising program is focused on the art and design of advertising materials. Students usually are required to complete a visual thesis. These programs might include coursework in:

  • Digital media in advertising design
  • Branding
  • Design software

Students looking into advertising design programs should ensure that they'll have access to advanced technical facilities and internships, and will have the opportunity to build a portfolio.

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