Schools for Aspiring Art Directors: How to Choose

Dec 13, 2019

A degree in graphic arts is both a requirement for most art director positions, as well as a wonderful opportunity for students seeking an education in a field that encourages and requires creativity. Students in this area of study have several paths they can take, with degree options ranging from advertising art to classic arts.

Graphic design programs can focus on a wide array of mediums, all of which allow students to pursue creative interests while furthering their education. Students who are unsure about which aspect of art directing to pursue would do well to consider liberal arts colleges, which require students to take a combination of fine arts classes and general education courses.

Schools for Aspiring Art Directors:

This list of colleges and universities identifies some schools offering graphic design programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition* (2018-2019)
Allan Hancock College Santa Maria, CA 2-year, Public Associate's In-state $1,352; Out-of-state $6,784
Bakersfield College Bakersfield, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $1,325; Out-of-state $7,261
Hudson Valley Community College Troy, NY 2-year, Public Associate's (Fine and Studio Arts Management) In-state $5,812; Out-of-state $13,087
Iowa State University Ames, IA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state $8,988; Out-of-state $23,392
Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $22,584
Temple University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state $16,970; Out-of-state $29,066
University of Akron Main Campus Akron, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $11,463; Out-of-state $15,500
University of Kentucky Lexington, KY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's (Fine/Studio Arts) In-state $12,245; Out-of-state $29,099
Central Community College Grand Island, NE 2-year, Public Associate's (art degree transfer program) In-state $3,000; Out-of-state $4,320

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Students who want to pursue a degree in graphic design have many things to consider when selecting a program.

  • There are various types of art programs and concentrations as well as schools devoted solely to art; students may want to consider if they would prefer a school strictly dedicated to art or one with more flexibility.
  • Students may want to take what an art program offers for career preparation and portfolio assistance into account when choosing a school.
  • Some programs offer increased flexibility for students juggling full time work as well as school.
  • There are some community colleges that offer the option of transferring to a university to complete a bachelor's degree.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Bachelor's degree students are trained in core design principles, which are refined and specialized by the student's elective choices.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Graphic design master's programs usually involve a deeper study of the principles governing the graphic design field. The practical coursework allows them to work on specific projects under a faculty member's supervision. The program may require a thesis paper or project before the degree is conferred.

Those interested in pursuing studies in graphic design will find many institutions that offer this program. It's possible to begin studies at a community college and transfer to a university to complete a degree or to pursue a bachelor's or master's at a reputable college.

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