School and Ranking Information
The Arlington, VA, area has only three choices for students interested in multimedia and graphic design. After consideration of ranking information from U.S. News & World Report and schools' published information about program qualities and opportunities for design students, Marymount University, George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College are the top three choices for education seekers interested in graphic design and multimedia.
- Winner: Marymount University has a bachelor's degree program in graphic design and has coursework that teaches desirable skills for starting a professional career in graphic design (like Web design), per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' suggestions for getting ahead in the field, and the school offers several opportunities for getting hands-on experience.
- Runner Up #1: George Mason is a nationally ranked school with relevant undergraduate and graduate programs and several facilities for advanced multimedia and graphic design work.
- Runner Up #2: Northern Virginia Community College, which grants many undergraduate awards in the field, rounds out the top picks in the area.
School Comparison Chart
|Category||Marymount University||George Mason University||Northern Virginia Community College|
|Rankings||46th in Top Regional Universities, South (2013)*||139th in Top National Universities (2013)*, 1st for Top National Up-and-Coming Schools (2012)*, 70th for Top National Public Schools (2013)*||2nd for Associate Degree Producers among 2-year schools, all disciplines, nationally (2013)***|
|Location||Arlington, VA||Fairfax, VA (12.3 miles from downtown Arlington)||Annandale, VA (6.1 miles from downtown Arlington)|
|School Type||4-year, private not-for-profit||4-year, public||2-year, public|
|Tuition and Fees in 2012-2013||$25,178 (undergraduate)**||$9,620 (undergraduate, in-state), $27,764 (undergraduate, out-of-state); $11,690 (graduate, in-state), $27,620 (graduate, out-of-state)**||$3,485 (undergraduate, in-state), $8,159 (undergraduate, out-of-state)**|
|Graphic Design and Multimedia Programs Offered||BA in Graphic Design||BA, BFA and MFA in Art and Visual Technology; MFA in Graphic Design||1-year Certificate and Associate of Arts Degree in Communication Design|
|Graphic Design and/or Multimedia Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2012||9 (in graphic design)**||1 (in graphic design; art and technology awards were not reported)**||50** (in design and visual communications, general)|
|Most Popular Graphic Design and Multimedia Program 2011||Bachelor's degree||N/A||Associate's degree|
|Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class||48% (20% transfer-out rate)**||64% (20% transfer-out rate)**||18% (11% transfer-out rate)**|
|Noteworthy||Students in the degree program complete professional internships in their senior year****||Hosts a center for the arts*****||Student population was over 50,000 in 2011**|
Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **National Center for Education Statistics, (NCES), ***Community College Week, ****Marymount University, *****College Board.
Winner: Marymount University
- Takes advantage of proximity to Washington, D.C., to help students find internships with prominent organizations and institutions
- Students develop a portfolio and receive a review in their senior year
- The Barry Gallery displays graphic design students' work
- Graphic design majors can submit their work to the school's student newspaper or literary magazine
The Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design program prepares students for careers in fields like graphic design, multimedia design, photography and illustration. Specializations are available in Web design or visual communications. Students must also complete a liberal arts core.
All graphic design majors are required to complete courses like drawing, illustration, typography, history of art and Web design, as well as software courses in Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver. Visual communications students may complete courses in journalism, marketing and advertising, while Web design students can study Web development, elective media and video production. Concentration options are not mandatory, and a range of elective courses can be taken instead. All students must complete an internship to graduate, and past students have interned at the Smithsonian Institute, USA Today Weekend and major businesses; an internship abroad is another option.
Runner-Up #1: George Mason University
- There are six computer labs with industry software programs for imaging, animation and multimedia publishing work
- The school offers several relevant minors in interdisciplinary multimedia and in art and technology
- Classified as a research university
George Mason offers a 36-credit graphic design master's program that is composed of a core curriculum of typography, design history and independent research. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree in graphic design, though a similar major and relevant professional experience can also be sufficient. The elective courses cover topics like brand identity, Web design and visual technology. The master's program requires a final project that demonstrates the abilities of a working professional in the design field. In addition, the university offers a minor in graphic design that requires four courses, for a total of 15 credits, and teaches typography, graphic design methods, editorial design and history of graphic design.
The art and visual technology BA and BFA programs have emphasis options in graphic design and in new media art; the media program includes classes like imaging techniques, interactive art and experimental animation. An MFA program in art and technology is also available, with the same concentrations.
Runner-Up #2: Northern Virginia Community College
- The associate's degree program includes a class focused on compiling a portfolio and writing a resume
- Associate's degree students can choose from concentration options
NVCC has a 36-credit communication design certificate program focused on multimedia that prepares students to be effective visual communicators and obtain jobs in the field. The courses include drawing, fundamentals of design, animation, 3D model rendering and motion graphics. The school also has an Associate of Applied Science program in communication design, which has three specializations: Web, multimedia and interactive design. Graduates may seek a full-time, professional job in the field or transfer to a bachelor's degree program in graphic design.