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.

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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.

We'll profile three of the top design schools in country, each of which was highly ranked for its master of fine arts program by U.S. News and World Report for 2017. Let's see what makes these schools and their respective programs stand out from the crowd.

Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island

At the Rhode Island School of Design, graduate studies are located apart from undergraduate studies in the Center for Integrative Technologies (CID) in downtown Providence.

For 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) as tied for #4 on its list of the best fine arts school in the country. The school's graphics design program was ranked #1.

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 on 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.

Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York

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

Pratt Institute has about 4,700 students. Pratt's graduate level fine arts program was ranked as tied for #15 by U.S. News & World Report for 2017. The Princeton Review included Pratt on its list of the best Northeastern schools.

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.

Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA

The Art Center College of Design offers multiple degree options, including a dual degree in innovative systems design. Art Center College of Design was rank tied for #20 on the U.S. News and World Report's list of best fine art schools in the country for 2017.

At the graduate level, students can earn an MFA Graduate Graphic Design degree, a Master of Science (MS) in Industrial Design, and MFA in Media Design Practices, an MS in Transportation Systems and Design or an MS in Environmental Design with either a spatial experience or furniture and fixtures track.

Through a partnership with Claremont Graduate University's Drucker School of Management, the school also offers a dual MS/MBA program in Innovation Systems Design. All of these interdisciplinary programs prepare students for a variety of design-related careers.

Top Graduate Design Programs

Here are some more schools with excellent graduate level design programs:

College/University Name Distinction Location
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 tied for #5 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 by USN&WR for 2017 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 #4 for its MFA program by U.S. News & World Report for 2017 Chicago, IL
Yale University U.S. News & World Report ranked Yale's graphic design program as second best in the nation (2017) New Haven, CT

Graduate programs in design are available at traditional four-year universities and art-focused institutions. Most programs confer master's degrees in specialized subjects within the broader field of design.

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