Design Courses in Massachusetts with Degree Program Information

There are around 12 schools in Massachusetts that have design degree programs. Read an overview of ten of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Essential Information

Design courses can help students acquire the essential skill sets needed to work in a wide range of areas, including graphics, clothing, interiors and video games. Depending on the program, students may also find training in the use of today's computer design software.

Massachusetts has almost 4-dozen colleges that offer degrees in one or more areas of design. Below students will find an overview of the ten largest public and private (not-for-profit) colleges that offer design programs, as well as a school comparison table that provides information about degree levels, fields of study and tuition. Certification and degree programs are offered at both 2 and 4-year schools at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some degree programs have concentrations within them. Some may be at least partially available online.

Many design programs offer students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through internships, the creation of a portfolio or studio work. Students may also need to conduct research, or complete a thesis or report.

Boston University

Boston University offers Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs in costume, graphic and theatrical design. In particular, the 130-credit costume design curriculum includes classes in millinery, tailoring, textiles and fabric dyeing. The 132-credit graphic design program requires 32 credits of prerequisite coursework in fine arts, as well as classes in Web design, typography and photography. Through the undergraduate programs in lighting, scene and sound design, aspiring professionals study theater technology and Shakespeare and learn how to work with AutoCad or VectorWorks software.

An internship is required for the Master of Fine Arts programs in costume, lighting, scene and sound design. Students pursuing a graduate degree in graphic design write a thesis.

Also available is a post-baccalaureate certificate in graphic design (30 credits), in addition to a graduate certificate program product design.

Bristol Community College

At this Fall River community college, students can earn a transferable Associate of Arts in graphic or Web design and media arts, and each degree requires 65 credits to complete. The graphic design curriculum covers topics in 2-D and 3-D design, computer graphics, electronic imaging and typography. Courses required for the Web design program include character animation, motion graphics and contemporary art.

Bristol also offers two 63-credit Associate in Science in Computer Information Systems in game development degree programs that provide training in modding (hardware and software modification), visual concepts, game-level building and programming. The two concentrations are in game creation and game programming.

Bunker Hill Community College

Boston's Bunker Hill Community College offers various programs in design. Certificate programs include the Object Oriented Computer Programming And Design Certificate Program (computer programming and design), and the Gaming/Computer Simulation In Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, a 24-credit program. Associate in Science degree programs include the Graphic Design Option, the Gaming/Computer Programming Track Simulation Option, and the Gaming/Computer Artist Track Simulation Option. A 64-credit Associate in Science Interactive Design Option is also available. Concentration courses in this program will cover areas like typography, digital imaging, and digital publishing.

Middlesex Community College

Middlesex Community College in Bedford has an Associate of Science program in graphic design, as well as a certificate program. Students will be required to take 64 credits' worth of courses for the AS program, while the certificate program will require 27 credits. The AS program includes an internship and a portfolio presentation.

An Associate in Science in Engineering Technology-Computed Aided Design is also available, in addition to its counterpart as a certificate program. The former will require the completion of 60 credits, while the latter will require 24 credits of coursework. Solid modeling will be covered. The certificate programs will require the completion of three electives, as well.

Northeastern University

The College of Arts, Media and Design at Boston's Northeastern University offers a BFA in Digital Art and Game Design program. Other undergraduate programs include BFA programs with concentrations in Graphic and Information Design, Interaction Design, and Experience Design. Half-majors are available in Graphic and Information Design and Interaction Design. Minors are available in Experience Design, Graphic and Information Design, and Interaction Design. Graduate programs include a MFA in Information Design and Visualization.

Quinsigamond Community College

Worcester's Quinsigamond Community College has an Associate of Science in Interactive Media-Digital Design Option. This is a 65-credit programs with coursework that covers topics like motion graphics, digital design, and digital photography.

Quinsigamond also offers a 25-credit certificate in CAD for students who are interested in acquiring some quick credentials in computer-aided design.

Salem State University

Salem State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Art with eight concentrations, including those in graphic design and interactive media. The graphic design curriculum provides training in electronic illustration, media and publication design, and aspiring professionals also complete a portfolio. Unique to the program are a combination of courses in calligraphy, lettering and typography.

Similar courses can be found through the interactive media specialization, and undergraduates also learn about animation, multimedia art and advanced Web design. Along with the degree programs, the university offers minors in 2-D and 3-D studies, graphic design and interactive media.

Suffolk University

Through the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston's Suffolk University, students can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic or interior design. In addition to first-year foundational courses, undergraduates in the graphic design program can pursue topics in corporate branding, environmental graphics, socially conscious design and graphic novels. Future interior designers study the history of architecture and furniture, while learning about construction codes, lighting and materials. Students in both design programs participate in an internship.

At the graduate level, Suffolk University offers a studio-based Master of Arts in Graphic Design that, depending on an applicant's undergraduate background, can require 30-102 credits to complete. Students pursuing the Master of Arts in Interior Architecture can specialize in one of four tracks and take advanced courses in 2-D and 3-D studies, environmental graphics and sustainable design (30-99 credits). Similar coursework can be found in the 60-credit Master of Fine Arts program, and the requirements for either degree in interior architecture include a thesis, an internship or a practicum.

University of Massachusetts - Amherst

The University of Massachusetts in Amherst offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture with an optional concentration in design studies. In addition to courses in general education and graphics, the concentration covers topics in design history and theory, furniture design and housing technology.

Design-related courses can also be found in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art program. Through the concentration in digital imaging, students have the chance to work with computer animation, printmaking and time-based media.

At the graduate level, mid-career architects and designers may be interested in the 36-credit Master of Science in Design. Requirements for the degree include core coursework in history, research and technology, as well as a concentration in architectural writing, community engagement or historic preservation.

University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

At the North Dartmouth campus of the University of Massachusetts, students can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Design. The 124-credit undergraduate program includes concentrations in digital media, graphic design, illustration and photography. Through the digital media curriculum, aspiring professionals acquire a background in 2-D and 3-D animation and modeling, interface design and virtual reality. Students in the graphic design program have the chance to complete projects in information, letterform, publication and Web design.

The 60-credit Master of Fine Arts in Visual Design programs include studio work, a visual thesis and a report. Areas of concentration are similar to those in the undergraduate program and allow for a specialization in typography.

Graduate students may also be interested in the 12-credit Certificate in Web and Interaction Design, most of which can be completed online.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Design Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Boston University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts (costume, graphic, lighting, scene or sound design),
Master of Fine Arts (costume, graphic, lighting, scene or sound design),
Post-Baccalaureate in Graphic Design,
Graduate Certificate in Product Design
$48,436 (undergraduate);
($48,082 graduate)*
Bristol Community College 2-year, public; small city Associate of Arts (graphic or Web-design and media arts),
Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems - Game Development with concentrations in Game Creation and Game Programming
$4,296 (in-state);
$9,240 (out-of-state)*
Bunker Hill Community College 2-year, public; large city Object Oriented Computer Programming And Design Certificate Program,
Gaming/Computer Simulation In Entrepreneurship Certificate Program,
AS Graphic Design Option,
AS Gaming/Computer Programming Track Simulation Option,
AS Gaming/Computer Artist Track Simulation Option,
AS Interactive Design Option
$3,576 (in-state);
$8,520 (out-of-state)*
Middlesex Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate in Engineering Technology-CAD Design,
Certificate in Graphic Design,
Associate in Science in Engineering Technology-CAD Design,
Associate in Science in Graphic Design
$4,514 (in-state);
$9,458 (out-of-state)*
Northeastern University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts (digital art and game design, various concentrations, half-majors, and minors),
Master of Fine Arts in Information Design and Visualization
$45,530 (undergraduate)
$22,061 (graduate)*
Quinsigamond Community College 2-year, public; midsize city Manufacturing Technology Certificate in Computer- Aided Design,
Associate of Science in Interactive Media-Digital Design Option
$5,302 (in-state);
$10,246 (out-of-state)*
Salem State University 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Arts in Art $9,246 (in-state);
$15,508 (out-of-state)*
Suffolk University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Certificate in Graphic Design,
Bachelor of Fine Arts (graphic or interior design),
Master of Arts in Graphic Design,
Master of Arts in Interior Architecture,
Master of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture
$33,934 (undergraduate)
$31,170 (graduate)*
University of Massachusetts - Amherst 4-year, public; town fringe Bachelor of Fine Arts (architecture or studio art),
Master of Science in Design
$14,171 (in-state);
$30,504 (out-of-state)
$14,754 (in-state graduate), $29,974 (out-of-state graduate)*
University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth 4-year, public; midsize suburb Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Design,
Graduate Certificate in Web and Interaction Design,
Master of Fine Arts in Visual Design
$12,588 (in-state undergraduate);
$26,173 (out-of-state undergraduate)
$14,699 (in-state graduate), $20,727 (out-of-state graduate)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator


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