Design Schools in the Charlotte Area
With 8 schools within a 35-mile radius of Charlotte that offer design courses, there are many options in design program offerings. This article profiles three schools that are no more than 35 minutes from downtown Charlotte and looks at the programs they offer. Also included is a table of important information that prospective students need to consider, such as enrollment, graduation rates and costs. Some brief information about an additional school that offers design studies is included at the end of the article.
- Located about seven miles from downtown, Central Piedmont Community College offers two-year associate's degree programs in interior design and advertising and graphic design.
- Queens University of Charlotte offers a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Architecture & Design and a Bachelor of Arts in New Media Design. It is about seven miles from the Charlotte city center.
- At Winthrop University, almost 28 miles from downtown Charlotte, students can study digital information design, interior design and visual communication design at the bachelor's level. Winthrop also offers a master's degree in studio art.
Comparison of Schools
Individuals seeking schools for their design studies should consider many factors. The following table offers a quick way for them to compare these three schools.
|Central Piedmont Community College||Queens University of Charlotte||Winthrop University|
|School Type*||2-year; public||4-year; private not-for-profit||4-year; public|
|Total Enrollment (2017)*||19,100||2,507||6,073|
|Campus Setting*||Large city||Large city||Small city|
|Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018)*|| $2,792 in-state,
|$33,532|| $15,220 in-state,
|% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2016-2017)*||60%||98%||99%|
|Acceptance Rate (2017)*||N/A - Open admissions*||79%||73%|
|Retention Rate (2016-2017)*|| 55% for full-time students;
49% for part-time students
|78% for full-time students||76% for full-time students|
|Graduation Rate*|| 17%,
30% transfer-out rate
(2014 start date)
(2011 start date)
23% transfer-out rate
(2011 start date)
Source: *NCES College Navigator
Central Piedmont Community College
At Central Piedmont Community College, students can study graphic or interior design. Both programs result in an Associate of Applied Science.
Associate of Applied Science in Advertising & Graphic Design
The advertising and graphic design program at this school emphasizes creative problem-solving. In addition to taking general education courses, students cover typography, drawing, illustration, history of graphic design, interactive design, print production, copywriting and media relations.
Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design
The AAS in Interior Design program at this school prepares students to work in both residential and commercial settings. Courses cover business, aesthetic and technical aspects of interior design. Classes include architectural and computer-aided drafting, color theory, history of interiors and furnishings, graphic presentations, textiles, codes and standards of interior design, and business practices. Central Piedmont Community College also offers certificate and diploma programs in interior design.
Queens University of Charlotte
Queens University of Charlotte offers bachelor's degrees in interior or new media design. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report ranked this university 18th among the top regional universities in the South.
Bachelor of Arts in Interior Architecture & Design
This school's Bachelor of Arts in Interior Architecture & Design program incorporates studio art, art history and new media design coursework to prepare students for work in a variety of settings. Courses cover design drawing, computer-aided design, residential environments and environmental ergonomics. Credit also can be earned for completing an international study tour or internship. All students in this program must complete a senior capstone project.
Bachelor of Arts in New Media Design
Students in the new media design program at this school study art techniques and history to hone their creative abilities. Coursework for the Bachelor of Arts covers graphic design, animation, visual literacy skills and the design of websites and software applications. A study abroad opportunity is also available where students can take a ten-day trip to Switzerland and Germany. Real-world experience can be gained through an internship program.
Winthrop University is located across state lines in Rock Hill, South Carolina. This school offers three undergraduate design programs and an MFA in Art and Design.
Bachelor of Science in Digital Information Design
Students attending the Bachelor of Science in Digital Information Design program at this school complete core courses in the major area and select a concentration. Students can choose to focus their studies in digital commerce, interactive media, Web application development or digital mass media. This program combines graphic design, marketing and interactivity. Core courses cover Web design, communication theory and the Internet, information systems, laws and ethics for digital media, and a range of software. Students must also complete general education coursework and a senior synthesis requirement.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design
Students in this BFA program study the history of interior design, architecture and art. Additional coursework includes design drawing, codes and standards, computer-aided design, and spatial analysis and theory. Students must also complete a series of studio courses, participate in a study abroad and prepare a senior thesis.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design
Students studying communication design at this school can choose a concentration in graphic design or illustration. Coursework for the graphic design specialization includes typography, computer imaging, Web design, advertising principles and corporate identity. Students studying illustration explore drawing, typography, portraiture and illustration for a range of mediums, including children's literature, propaganda and editorial content. Students in both programs develop a professional portfolio and submit a senior thesis.
Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art
The MFA in Studio Art program at Winthrop University allows students to hone their creative skills. To be admitted, applicants must submit a portfolio of work in their desired concentration area. Coursework in this program covers art history, special topics in art and electives. Students must also complete a thesis. An exhibition of work is also required.
Other School Options
Stanly Community College is located approximately 31 miles outside of Charlotte in Albemarle, North Carolina. This school offers certificate and associate's degree programs in advertising and graphic design, as well as diploma options in Web design and advertising and graphic design.