Graphic Arts Schools in Los Angeles with Degree Program Overviews

There are at least eight schools near Los Angeles that have graphic arts degree programs. Read an overview of the programs, requirements and admission info for three schools 20 miles or less from downtown and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Los Angeles Graphic Arts Schools

The field of graphic arts is also known as graphic design, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While there are no colleges in the LA area offering programs specifically in graphic arts, there are many schools that offer graphic design programs. This article looks at three of those colleges, none more than 25 minutes from downtown, and at the programs they offer. Also included here is a table of facts about the schools that individuals considering them should know, such as tuition, enrollment and the graduation rate.

  • Los Angeles City College offers an associate's program in graphic design. This school is about four miles from the city center.
  • Approximately 13 miles from downtown LA, the Art Center College of Design has a bachelor's program in graphic design and a master's programs in media design practices.
  • Otis College of Art and Design, 20 miles from downtown, offers a bachelor's program in communication arts with a concentration in graphic design and a master's program in graphic design.

Comparison of Schools

Prospective students should examine many aspects of the schools they are considering. This table compiles important information in a format that makes it easy to compare these three institutions.

Los Angeles City College Art Center College of Design Otis College of Art and Design
School Type 2-year; public 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 13,827* 2,251* 1,115*
Campus Setting Large city Midsize city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $1,220 in-state; $7,538 out-of-state* $42,008* $45,620*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2016-2017) 72%* 60%* 90%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) Open admissions* 70%* 91%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 65% for full-time students; 35% for part-time students* 80% for full-time students* 80% for full-time students*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (for those who began their studies in 2011-14) 21%* 68%* 55%*

Source: *NCES, College Navigator.

Los Angeles City College

Located in East Hollywood, LA City College offers degree, certificate, career training and transfer programs with small class sizes. Although a bachelor's degree is generally needed to become a graphic designer, an associate's degree can still lead to a job as a graphic design assistant.

Associate of Arts in Art/Graphic Design

Students in this 2-year career program complete 36 units of graphic design coursework and take general education classes in seven areas. The program includes foundational courses in 2-D design, illustration, drawing and digital imaging. Students also complete three levels of graphic design classes, as well as courses in life or perspective drawing, 3-D computer graphics and art history.

Art Center College of Design

This art college has several art and design programs, and students interested in the graphic arts can choose a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program. Students enrolled in the BFA program learn traditional and digital techniques to create graphics or magazine layouts. The MFA program lasts 2-3 years, and students can choose either the lab or field track.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Students study hand lettering, current industry software, 3-D graphics and advertising design. Courses in structure, color and drawing can develop students' traditional artistic skills. Students also take courses in motion design, typography, motion typography and identity systems, to name a few. Additionally, every student develops a portfolio in preparation for job hunting. This program is meant to prepare students for eventual positions as communication design leaders.

Master of Fine Arts in Media Design Practices

This graduate program has two different track options. The two-year track requires the completion of 63 credits while the three-year track requires 90 credits. Topics include creative technology, worldview critiques and media design. Other courses might include colloquiums, labs, critical practices and/or field projects.

Otis College of Art and Design

Aspiring graphic artists can enroll in undergraduate or graduate programs at Otis College of Art and Design. All undergraduate students complete a foundations year, taking coursework in areas such as drawing, form/space, life drawing, design and creative practices to improve their basic art skills. Graduate students can participate in a variety of projects and lectures.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Arts with a Concentration in Graphic Design

Coursework in the design concentration includes typography, drawing, painting and graphic design history. Students also complete a senior project, capstone and research paper. The communication arts program also offers an advertising concentration and an illustration track.

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

This 2-year degree program requires the completion of 60 credits. Students take part in lectures and workshops, which are attended and taught by guest artists. They also have the opportunity to work with mentors to develop personal projects. Two symposia projects are also required. Coursework in the program covers topics like entrepreneurship, issues in graphic design and graphic design critiques.

Other School Options

Students in the Los Angeles area can also consider the certificate and associate degree programs in arts graphic communication available at East Los Angeles College, which is situated just over six miles from downtown Los Angeles. Another local option is Pasadena City College, which is about 9.5 miles from downtown. This school offers a Certificate of Achievement in Digital Media - Graphic Design. Additionally, aspiring graphic artists can investigate Santa Monica College, which offers a certificate and an associate's degree program in graphic design. The school is nearly 13 miles from downtown.

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