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Top Schools with Graphic Design Graduate Programs: List of Schools

Find out about graduate-level graphic design study options. Learn about the schools, their rankings and their degree options for this field of study, and compare similarities and differences to make an informed decision.

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Graduate degree programs in graphic design typically result in a master's degree and are available from several top universities. Explore a few of these schools and distinguish between the programs they offer.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

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School Information

Graphic design students study visual communications in a variety of mediums. A Master of Fine Arts or Master of Design program may take up to three years to complete and typically requires completion of a thesis. In addition to design studios, students in graduate level graphic design programs may complete coursework in history, design research and typography. Three top universities are among the options for master's degrees in graphic design. These schools are all highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Yale University in New Haven, CT

School Highlight: Yale tied for third in a national ranking of the best colleges and universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.

This Ivy League school was ranked 5th in Kiplinger's 2016 ranking of the 50 best values in private universities. Yale's School of Art offers only one degree, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) with a choice of four specializations. In the graphic design specialization, students develop a thesis through lectures and presentations, small thesis groups, individual writing sessions and design studios. The program is number two in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2016 ranking of the best graduate schools for graphic design.

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA

School Highlight: Carnegie Mellon University was founded in 1900 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It ties 24th in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best national schools and 46th in the 2016 Kiplinger ranking of the 50 best values in private universities.

The Design Department at College of Fine Arts formerly offered two Master of Design programs, one in Interaction Design and the other in Communication Planning and Information Design. The current Master of Design program still focuses on these two topics. However, now it emphasizes research and innovation in design. The Pennsylvania university was listed 5th in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 list of the best graphic design graduate programs in nation.

Boston University in Boston, MA

School Highlight: A 60-credit MFA program includes regular faculty critiques.

Boston ties for 39th in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best national schools. The two-year Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design designates the second year for preparation of the master's thesis, which is displayed in an exhibition. The graphic design curriculum includes study in both modernist and postmodernist design theory.

Top Graphic Design Schools

Here are some additional schools with top graphic design schools grad programs.

  • Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI, offers students in the 2-D master's degree program mentoring from an Artist-in-Residence.
  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minnesota offers a professional certificate that can be earned on campus or online, in addition to the 2-year Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.
  • Rhode Island School of Design in Providence has master's degree programs that include a 2-year M.F.A. option for students with a graphics undergraduate degree and a 3-year M.F.A. for liberal arts degree holders.
  • Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia offers graduate graphic design options that include a 45-credit Master of Arts (M.A.) a 90-credit Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.).
  • The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois holds a 'critique week' at the graduate level that puts classes on hold for extended panel critiques.

Students can pursue a master's degree in graphic design from top-ranking institutions throughout the country, including Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and Boston University. Each of these graphic design programs are distinct in the specializations and program requirements that they offer.

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