Image Design School and College Information

Graphic design programs at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels are available to individuals interested in working in advertising, Web design, product design and publishing, to name a few areas.

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Associate's degree programs in graphic design are offered by some colleges, and many four-year schools offer bachelor's and master's degree programs. Graduates of graphic design degree programs find employment at advertising agencies, Web design studios and publishing companies.

Top 10 Graphic Design Schools

The following table provides further information regarding design schools.

College/University Location Institution Type Degree Offered Tuition
(2015-2016)*
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, RI 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $45,840 undergraduate
$45,530 graduate
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private Master's $38,700
Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Undergraduate Certificate, Graduate Certificate $43,870 undergraduate
$42,280 graduate
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $50,665 undergraduate
$40,625 graduate
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $12,722 in-state, $31,464 out-of-state
Cranbrook Academy of Art Bloomfield Hills, MI 4-year, Private Master's $33,406
Art Center College of Design Pasadena, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $39,230
California Institute of the Arts Valencia, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $43,986 undergraduate, $43,400 graduate
School of Visual Arts New York, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $35,000 undergraduate
$39,200 graduate
New School - Parsons College of Design New York, NY 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's $43,813

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Here are some considerations to ponder regarding graphic design schools:

  • Due to the growth of digital media, those with experience in Web design are likely to have the most opportunities for employment, so students will benefit from programs that include digital and Web-based media classes.
  • In order to enhance marketability, students may want to look for schools that introduce them to the most commonly-used design software.
  • Extracurricular activities, like lectures and exhibits are an important way for students to network and collaborate.
  • Some programs are offered either full or partially online.

Associate's Degrees

Associate's degree programs in graphic design provide students with education in the fundamentals of image design. Students looking to enter the workforce after graduation may want to consider programs that emphasize portfolio development. In some cases, courses from an associate degree program can be applied to a 4-year bachelor's degree program.

Bachelor's Degrees

Students have the opportunity to expand their artistic process or learn about the business end of graphic design through elective courses. Aspiring designers can benefit from courses that teach job-related skills. Prior to completion of the program, students typically create a professional portfolio to display work.

Master's Degrees

Graduate students engage in design criticism and analysis, in addition to studio-based courses in which students work collaboratively. Overall, students spend more time in design studio courses than they do in undergrad programs. Students are often required to complete a thesis project.

Image Design programs are found through graphic design programs at the associate, bachelor and master degree level. Specialized training with imaging technology and practical, job related training are components to these programs.

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