Schools with Graphic Design Programs: How to Choose

Graphic design is the use of print and digital media to create visual representations for advertising, product design, newspapers, magazines and other purposes. This field is offered at several educational levels and trains students for numerous career paths.

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Certificate programs, as well as associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs in graphic design are available at public and private schools across the U.S.

Schools for Graphic Design

Here's a list of schools with relevant programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
Pennsylvania State University University Park, Pennsylvania 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: In-state $17,514
Out-of-state $31,346
Graduate:
In-state $19,328
Out-of-state $33,142
Arizona State University Tempe, Arizona 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: In-state $10,158
Out-of-state $25,458
Graduate:
In-state $10,610
Out-of-state $22,580
University of Florida Gainesville, Florida 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate:
In-state $6,381
Out-of-state $28,659
Graduate:
In-state $10,770
Out-of-state $27,335
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign Champaign, Illinois 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate:
In-state $15,054
Out-of-state $30,214
Graduate:
In-state $15,023
Out-of-state $28,213
University of Houston Houston, Texas 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $8,759
Out-of-state $20,519
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, Minnesota 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate:
In-state $13,790
Out-of-state $22,210
Graduate: In-state $15,844
Out-of-state $24,508
Iowa State University Ames, Iowa 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate:
In-state $7,736
Out-of-state $20,856
Graduate: In-state $8,130
Out-of-state $21,054
Temple University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate:
In-state $15,188
Out-of-state $25,494
Graduate: In-state $15,354
Out-of-state $21,042

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advertising and Commercial Design
  • Commercial Photography
  • Fashion Design
  • General Visual Communications Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration and Drawing
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Design and Decorating

School Selection Criteria

Students should consider a number of criteria before selecting a school, including the following points:

  • Certificate programs are a good fit for those with a technical background and who want a shorter educational experience. Associate programs may transfer to a bachelor's program, which further provides professional preparation in areas like Web design and project management. Students who wish to move beyond the physical design of products and into academic concepts, such as graphic design theory, research and criticism, may consider completing a master's degree program.
  • Look for up-to-date campus computer and art facilities.
  • Students interested particularly in print or digital design should look for programs that focus specifically on one or the other.
  • Some programs may utilize specific design software at a deeper level than others, with some programs preparing students for the Adobe Certified Expert credential.

Certificate

Certificate programs in graphic design take one year or less and include up to six courses. Some may require that students have a technical background or have completed prerequisite courses prior to enrolling.

Associate Degree

Involves a variety of classes like drawing, advertising and project management. A final project may be required for graduation.

Bachelor's Degree

Found as either a bachelor's in graphic design or a bachelor's in art with a concentration in graphic design, coursework commonly consists of general education courses, a portfolio and a final project.

Master's Degree

Master's programs in graphic design typically move past fundamental principles to incorporate advanced concepts. Students engage in internship opportunities, work with professional design companies and prepare a thesis.

Before selecting a graphic design program, students should make sure that the coursework matches their background and career goals. They should also verify that the school has state-of-the-art facilities.

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