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Top 10 US Universities for Graphic Design 2015


If you are considering pursuing a career in graphic design, you are in luck. According to recent job growth statistics, the need for creative professionals is expected to continue on an average growth trend. However, the job market for graphic design professionals is highly competitive. In an effort to increase your chances of landing a job at a successful design firm straight out of college, it is imperative that you make an educated choice when selecting a GD university. Some of the top schools for graphic design reside in the U.S.A, and those on our top ten list will not only provide you with the skills you need to become a well rounded GD, but also come with a solid reputation sure to boost your hiring potential.

See also: How to Write a Cover Letter for a Graphic Design Job

1. Academy of Art University School of Graphic Design, San Francisco

This university starts at the top of our list because of its strong emphasis on student portfolio design. To increase your chances of landing your dream job, it is important to have an exceptional portfolio straight out of the gate. Students at AAU begin honing their skills in traditional drawing, painting, typography, print, editorial design, branding, web design and packaging during the very first set of classes. AAU offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees for graphic design, both on campus and online.

2. Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

Founded in 1826, MICA is the oldest degree granting University in the U.S and accepts students from across the world to enter its exquisite GD program. The graphic design program emphasizes a strong focus on innovative learning, which makes it one of the most forward-thinking schools out there. Both students and faculty have earned top ratings in U.S. News and World Report, GDUSA, and ID Magazine. One of the top benefits of attending MICA is its far reaching Alumni programs which stretch across the globe in over 54 different countries. Currently, MICA degrees in GD can only be earned on campus.

3. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles

One of the foremost goals at Otis is to develop each student’s ability to think both creatively and critically. Though classes at Otis are considered more traditional, experimentation and innovation are highly encouraged and appreciated. One of the final tests before earning a GD degree involves individual study and analysis of conceptual, theoretical, and experimental projects while simultaneously meeting in cross-disciplinary teams. This practice helps students to think outside the box and prepares them for working with clients and with their creative teams once in the workplace. Currently, Otis offers degrees in GD only on campus.

4. Carnegie Mellon School of Design

Since its inception, Carnegie Mellon has been considered the cornerstone university for research and development. The traditional-based teaching methodology successfully coincides with the university’s holistic and humanistic approach to learning, making it one of the most well rounded schools for graphic design on our list. Since Carnegie Mellon places such a high value on the human experience, it provides graduates with the advantage of being able to assimilate more quickly and successfully into the GD workforce. CMU offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in GD on campus only.

5. Drexel University, Antionette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

 Drexel University, Antionette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

Students who attend Drexel for a degree in the creative arts have the opportunity to work in a small studio type setting. This approach allows students the opportunity to work closely with both each other and the faculty to further reinforce course material. Studies at Drexel consist of traditional-based art studies as well as the use of cutting edge technologies, as many of the faculty are current industry practitioners who are well informed on the most innovative techniques and tools of the trade. The cross media platforms used during instruction provides students with an expansive portfolio upon graduation. Currently, Drexel offers degrees in GD on campus only.

6. Parsons the New School for Design

Parsons the New School for Design

Parsons offers two degrees for GD, including an AAS in Graphic Design and a BFA in Communications Design. The AAS program is designed to successfully instruct motivated individuals with little or no previous art experience. Once this course is completed, the student can choose to move on the BFA which focuses on typography, print, data mapping, motion, sound, and spatial and environmental graphics, as well as branding, packaging, and advertising. Since Parsons employs the "new school" approach to GD learning, it is no surprise it offers students education on a variety of interesting and useful subjects including the art of persuasion and client-specific concept crafting strategies. In turn, Parsons not only gives students their degree in GD, but it also successfully prepares students for the GD work environment. Parsons offers AAS in GD online and on campus and BFA in Communication Design on campus only.  

7. Pratt Institute

Pratt is a globally recognized institution and is considered one of the most prestigious universities for graphic design and other fine arts. Pratt employs faculty and staff from a variety of artistic backgrounds and only considers individuals who are regarded as masters of their craft as instructors. This, including its rich history of extremely successful alumni, makes it one of the most popular choices for those looking to secure a degree in GD. The Undergraduate program truly sets Pratt apart as it is one of the only undergrad programs to integrate illustration, advertising, and graphic design. Currently, Pratt programs for GD are only available on campus. 

8. SCAD: The University of Creative Careers

SCAD is a private, non-profit university which specializes in comprehensive art and design studies. Located in the U.S., France, and Hong Kong, this accredited university offers over 40 majors and 50 minors specifically geared toward art and design. This allows students to attain a more specialized degree which could lead to more job opportunities once course studies are completed. SCAD boasts that most students are able to secure a position in their chosen field within six months of graduating. SCAD currently offers classes online and on campus.

9. Full Sail University

At Full Sail, students have the opportunity to choose among 40 different majors. It was referred to as one of the best video game design schools by Electronic Gaming Monthly and was hailed as having some of the Best Music Programs currently available in the U.S. according to Rolling Stone Magazine. Full Sail offers students several specialized degrees which include classes which helps students to master animation, advertising, art, music, design, and web development. Their MFA Degree in Media Design can be completed in a whopping 12 months. Full Sail currently offers graduate and undergraduate degrees both online and on campus.

10. Kansas City Art Institute

KCAI is one of the oldest fully accredited private design schools in the U.S. It offers 13 different types of creative degrees including animation, graphic design, art history, ceramics, and sculpture. The curriculum has been described as rigorous and diverse, yet all academic programs are strengthened by top notch student support services and practical learning opportunities. KCAI currently offers a degree in GD on campus only.

See also: Top 10 Exciting Careers For Graphic Designers  

The secret to getting hired directly after graduating university is choosing a school that will give you an edge at the negotiation table. Having a school with a prestigious GD background will help you jump ahead of the competition and put you in the best position for success once you are hired.

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