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Schools with Commercial Art and Design Programs: How to Choose

Commercial art and design programs focus on the same skills and objectives as graphic design programs. Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs provide the training, experience and knowledge required for a career creating visual communication used to sell products.

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Students interested in earning an associate's degree in commercial art and design will find transfer and career training programs at community colleges. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in the field are typically available at art schools and colleges with visual or fine arts departments.

Schools with Commercial Art and Design Programs

Commercial art and design and graphic design programs are offered at these schools.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, RI private, not-for-profit, 4 year Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate $45,840; Graduate $45,530
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA private, not-for-profit, 4 year Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate $50,665; Graduate $40,625
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA public, 4 year Bachelor's Undergraduate: In-state $12,772; Out-of-state $31,464
California College of the Arts San Francisco, CA private, not-for-profit, 4 year Bachelor's Undergraduate $43,708
California Institute of the Arts Valencia, CA private, not-for-profit, 4 year Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate Undergraduate $43,986; Graduate $43,400
School of Visual Arts New York, NY private, not-for-profit, 4 year Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate $35,000; Graduate $39,200
Art Center College of Design Pasadena, CA private, not-for-profit, 4 year Bachelor's Undergraduate $39,230
Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, MD private, not-for-profit, 4 year Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate Undergraduate $43,870; Graduate $42,280
Yale University New Haven, CT private, not-for-profit, 4 year Master's Graduate $38,700

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

When choosing a commercial art and design school there are a number of factors to consider.

  • A commercial art and design program should be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
  • Generally, students considering an associate's program should look for one with credits that can be transferred to a bachelor's degree program.
  • Students can look for schools offering internships, hands-on projects and guest lectures from commercial art and design professionals.
  • Some schools offer graphic design degrees, and prospective students may want to review specific course options to see if there are courses in commercial art.

Associate's Degrees

Community colleges typically offer 2-year degrees in either graphic design or commercial art. Some award an associate's degree in advertising with an emphasis in commercial art.

Bachelor's Degrees

Those who major in commercial art will likely take a core of fine arts classes to develop foundational skills followed by courses geared toward technical training in commercial art and design, including digital art. Schools and colleges offer programs that may lead to a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Science.

Master's Degrees

Master's degree programs typically focus on studio courses and often require an internship. Some master's degree programs allow students the option of specializing in commercial design using environmentally friendly materials.

Both public and private institutions offer programs that are relevant to those interested in a career in commercial art and design. Undergraduate certificates and degrees can be pursued, and it's also an option to continue graduate studies in a relevant discipline.

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