A question I often get asked via email is “Which graphic design school / university should I attend?”. To be honest it’s a very hard question to answer as everyone has different needs, however, today we have Brian Jenkins* here to highlight some of the top US design schools. If you are not from the US please do share the top design programs in your country, in the comments below.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2008, there were about 286,100 graphic design jobs in the USA . Employment growth for graphic designers from 2008 to 2018 is forecasted by the BLS to be about as fast as the average for all occupations. Keen competition is expected for positions in the field. According to the BLS, those with website design and animation experience will have the best job opportunities.
Recent college graduates will have to depend on their educational credentials and portfolio to convince employers to hire them so it’s vital to select a recognised graphic design degree program to ensure you get the education you need. Some important factors for employers – after your body of work – are the school’s reputation, the quality of the graphic design program, and accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. These certainly not the only credentials, but it does help.
When choosing a school, consider schools that have up-to-date design software and technology as employers are looking for candidates who know how to use them. Find out if the schools you’re considering have connections in the graphic design industry and if they provide internships. Internships give valuable experience and networking opportunities, and oftentimes employers will their hire talented interns.
US Top Rated Design Schools
The following schools’ graphic design graduate programs were ranked in the top ten by U.S. News & World Report in 2008. These schools also offer quality undergraduate degree programs that include the vital elements of graphic design:
- The Rhode Island School of Design: This school is widely regarded as one of the best stand alone design schools in the nation.
- Cranbrook Academy of Art: This school doesn’t have faculty, but instead has artists-in residence. The program focuses on the core of art and design. Cranbrook provides a very unique experience.
- Yale University School of Art: This fine school is tied #2 in the U.S. News & World Report list.
- Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU): VCU offers a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Graphic Design. The program includes a range of design-specific classes.
- Carnegie Mellon University: Graphic design students attend the university’s College of Fine Arts. The college emphasizes hands-on learning.
- Maryland Institute College of Art: It’s one of the nation’s oldest art colleges. The school is included among the top 25 design schools by ID magazine.
- California Institute of the Arts: CalArts, founded by Walt Disney, offers a graphic design program that places an emphasis on the practical and conceptual sides of graphic design. Students have access to studios 24/7. The school has a extremely accomplished faculty.
- Pratt Institute: The Institute’s School of Art & Design faculty is made up of numerous recipients of prestigious awards including Fulbright, Tiffany, and Guggenheim fellowships. Pratt is a member of the Association of the Independent Colleges of Art and Design which consists of 36 of the premier art schools in the nation. It has been regarded as one of the leading art schools in the nation since its founding in 1886.
- School of Visual Arts: This school offers a graphics design undergraduate program that works in 3D, 2D, and digital media.
- California College of the Arts: CCA provides internships at publishing and printing firms, nonprofit organizations, and technology companies.
Here’s a list of other US notable schools:
- University of Delaware
- Penn State University
- Kansas City Art Institute
- Academy of Art University
- Parson Schools of Design (see their Graphic Design Degree)
- Cleveland Institute of Art
- UCLA School of Arts and Architecture
- University of the Arts
- University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design
Remember that not one school is right for every individual. Do the research to find out what’s best for you & try your best to get there!
Notable Schools In Other Countries
- Billy Blue College Of Design – Australia
- Hyper Island – Sweden
Have a recommended design school in your country? Please let us know in the comments.
*Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of topics related to education and careers for BrainTrack, including careers in graphic design & online graphic design degrees.
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