If you’re creative, innovative, and detail-oriented, one of the best bachelor’s in graphic design may be your answer to a rewarding career in this vibrant field.
Some people are born to be designers. They notice the font style and graphics in advertising. They see the power behind the branding. They have a knack for the creative and can see deeper than what meets the eye. They realize that behind every picture is a message. If this sounds like you, graphic design may be your future. Graphic designers are experts in visual strategies and communication and work to meet the evolving demands of businesses and organizations in the 21st century.
What is a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design?
A Bachelor’s in graphic design may be a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Science (BS), a Bachelor of Design (BD), or the most common, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). Most bachelor’s in graphic design require at least 120 credit hours, divided into general education credits, major credits, and electives. In addition, most programs also require internship experiences and all programs entail a final project/portfolio.
Graphic design is a hands-on field, which is why good graphic design programs require both lecture and studio courses. You will learn about the history and theory of the industry, but you will spend the majority of time creating your own projects. Sample courses include Graphics and Layout, Typography, Digital Graphic Design, Drawing, and 3D Modeling and Motion, to name a few.
Each university’s admission requirements vary, but you typically need to take art and design prerequisite courses and a portfolio to submit to be accepted into a graphic design program.
Careers for Graphic Design Majors
The most obvious career for a graphic design major is a graphic designer! You may be wondering, what exactly does a graphic designer do? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics describes the job description this way: Graphic designers “create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and reports.”
Graphic designers can work for businesses and organizations like advertising and public relation firms, publishing companies, specialized design companies, or they may work as freelancers. Some graphic designers start their own businesses, which is why some graphic design programs offer a concentration in business.
However, graphic design is a broad industry that encompasses a handful of career options. Graphic design majors can become art directors, production artists, desktop publishers, web developers, digital designers, marketing specialists, product developers, or any related field.
Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Degree Salary Potential
So, do graphic designers get paid well? It can be difficult to predict salary in the graphic design field simply because your salary will depend on where you live, where you work, your level of experience, and of course, your education. However, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers earn a median salary of $53,380 each year. The highest 10 percent earn more than $93,440, while the lowest 10 percent earn less than $31,720.
Other areas of graphic design can bring in even more income. For example, web developers and digital designers earn a median salary of $77,200, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $146,430 per year! Graphic designers can accelerate their earnings through earning certification in software and platforms like Adobe and Autodesk. Additionally, you can always expect a higher salary potential when you earn advanced degrees in graphic design or a related field.
What are the Best Bachelor’s in Graphic Design?
At CollegeRank, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals. Please feel free to visit our dedicated methodology page for a step-by-step breakdown. For questions, comments, badge downloads, or data corrections, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. Check out these best universities for graphic design in the U.S.
University of Florida
The University of Florida is the best university for graphic design. UF, a top-ranked public research university in Gainesville, is made up of the Gators, known as “people of purpose” and “an unstoppable force.” UF’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design emphasizes critical thinking, research, communication, technology, and creativity—the knowledge and skills necessary for a thriving career in the graphic design field.
As a UF graphic design student, you will take both lecture and studio courses like Drawing, Visual Methods and Processes, Digital Imaging, and Typography. This best bachelor’s in graphic design program’s goal is to teach both theory and application, so all coursework leads to your professional portfolio capstone, which comes in handy when applying for jobs after graduation.
Graduates enjoy careers in any type of design, like branding, experience, and UX/UI, and some current alumni are working for notable companies such as Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Walt Disney Imagineering. UF’s graphic design program is limited access, and you can officially apply before your junior year through a portfolio review.
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles is consistently ranked among the top-tier universities, and also the most applied-to school in the country! With more than 125 majors and 90 minors to choose from, UCLA literally has something for everyone. UCLA’s BA in design media arts uniquely focuses on experimentation, social outlook, and personal growth in its multidisciplinary program.
Through UCLA’s DMA program, you will take a dynamic combination of lecture and studio courses such as Tangible Media, Word + Image, Game Design, Network Media, and 3D Modeling and Motion. Your senior project will be based on your interests within topics of interactivity and games, video and animation, and visual communication and image.
UCLA’s DMA top program accepts students for the Fall semesters only. To apply, you must first apply to the University of California and complete the DMA undergraduate supplemental application, which includes a portfolio requirement. To prepare for this program, you will need to take prerequisite courses like Drawing and Color, Form, Motion, and Interactivity.
University of Houston
Established in 1927, the University of Houston is known as a “powerhouse of innovation,” seen through all its top-notch academic programs, award-winning faculty, and devoted students and alumni. UH’s School of Art features a BFA in graphic design with a low student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring that you will be a part of a small, collaborative community of creatives.
UH’s program emphasizes critical thinking, technical skills, and creativity, all while developing the student as a designer. You will take courses in design history and theory, research, and concept development and build skills in collaboration, presentation, community outreach, all crucial for the graphic design field. Your senior project is the most exciting part— an exhibition that showcases “a diverse portfolio of environmental, interactive, motion, print and web projects.”
Applying to UH’s BFA program takes several steps. First, you will apply to UH, and once admitted, you will take the core curriculum classes followed by four studio fundamental courses and an array of studio courses. These perquisites will prepare you for a competitive portfolio review to determine whether this program is a good fit for you.
North Carolina State University
NC State is currently ranked as the top public university in the state for educational quality, socio-economic mobility, alumni success, and value by Money Magazine. Through NC State’s College of Design, you will find a bachelor’s in graphic design, a degree that provides a strong design foundation and plenty of hands-on experience to produce well-rounded, professional designers.
During your first year at NC State, you will take basic design and studio courses, and starting with year two, you will complete a core sequence that pairs a six-credit studio course with a co-requisite typography studio course. During your final year, you will apply the concepts, methods, and techniques you learn through real-world experience with clients and organizations.
Graphic design students have many exciting opportunities through this program, including the option to study abroad for either a semester or summer at the NC State Prague Institute. Alumni work as senior designers and creative directors for their own businesses or for internationally known organizations such as NBC Universal, Apple, Nike Creative, and Microsoft, to name a few.
Penn State University
Penn State University consistently ranks among the top research universities, and with 16 colleges, more than 275 undergraduate degrees, and 300+ graduate and professional programs, it’s easy to see why. Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture features a bachelor’s of design in graphic design that offers all the benefits of a top research university within a close, tight-knit creative community.
Penn State’s graphic design program is rigorous, diverse, and life-changing! You will complete 121 credits in an array of design studio courses like Time and Sequence, Applied Communication, and Typography. You will be placed in an internship after your third year, giving you hands-on experience in leading firms and brands like Michael Kors, TIME magazine, Billboard magazine, and more.
Penn State graduates are enjoying graphic design careers in design studios, advertising agencies, and corporate organizations all over the globe. In fact, Penn State reports that “nearly 100%” of its graphic design students are employed within three months of graduating. To apply for Penn State’s B.Des. program, you will need to take a handful of prerequisite courses and submit a portfolio for review.
Founded in 1884, Temple University holds a rich history and boasts plenty of milestones to reach what it is today: “an international powerhouse in higher education.” As a top-tier research school in iconic Philadelphia, Temple offers over 500 academic programs across its 17 schools and colleges, including a unique BFA in graphic and interactive design.
Temple’s BFA program takes graphic design to a whole level through its focus on interactive design. Gone are the days where graphic design refers to print design. Through this program, you will learn how to create “research-driven concepts across all platforms, including illustration, typography, packaging, websites, social media, virtual reality and real-life spaces.”
Studying graphic design at Temple gives you access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources while surrounded by the artistic culture of Philadelphia. While you will enjoy the excitement that comes with a top-ranked research university in a notable city, your experience in Temple’s GAID program includes a tight-knit community of students and faculty.
Appalachian State University
Nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains, Appalachian State University is a premier public academic institution ranked among the “Best” in the country and “Best for Your Money” according to U.S. News & World Report and Money Magazine. With an emphasis on conceptual approaches, research, and production methods, ASU’s BFA in graphic design prepares students for professional design careers.
While you will complete 120 credit hours in both lecture and studio courses like Digital Imaging, Photographic Design, and Motion Graphics, a huge focus at ASU is on hands-on learning. Along with internship opportunities, you will get involved with organizations such as the AIGA and the AMO. You also have the opportunity to travel internationally!
ASU graphic design graduates are in high demand and working in design fields all over the world including for well-known organizations like McCall Publishing Company, Skyline Films, Amazon, and CreateSpace. If you’re interested in ASU, first apply to the university, and then during your sophomore year, you will submit a portfolio for review.
Michigan State University
For more than 160 years, Michigan State University has been “pushing the boundaries of discovery to make a better world while providing students with life-changing opportunities.” A Top 100 Global University with nearly 50,000 students, MSU is worth checking out! The dynamic BFA in graphic design focuses on visual communication and problem-solving.
MSU’s BFA in graphic design requires 120-credits through a sequence of courses in Studio Art, Graphic Design and Art History and Visual Culture. You will gain real-world experience through internships, MSU’s Design Center, and the AIGA (the professional association for design student group) as well as attend lectures of notable designers all over the country.
MSU graphic design alumni are well prepared to begin careers as graphic designers, art directors, media managers, web designers, creative producers, and communications coordinators in the industry. You may apply for this program after you complete the general education requirements and two graphic design prerequisite courses. A portfolio review is required for admission.
West Texas A & M University
Founded in 1910, West Texas A & M University boasts a long history of making a difference through innovation and service. WTAMU is one of the cheapest graphic design degrees on the list with an In-State Tuition of$7,935 and Out-of-State Tuition of $9,304. Among the design programs at WTAMU is a dynamic BFA in graphic design, one with loads of opportunities.
The BFA in graphic design entails a course sequence of Foundation ARTS, Intermediate ARTS, and graphic design. You will take courses like Two and Three Dimensional Design, Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, and Computer Art. You will complete an internship during your junior or senior year to gain experience working in museums, art galleries, and other graphic design settings.
WTAMU graphic design students get their work out there and noticed, as seen in many awards won and the Art & Design Student Exhibition. Check it out for some true inspiration! If you think WTAMU sounds like a good fit for you, check out the application requirements here and schedule a visit soon.
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Founded in 1869, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a land-grant university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and classified in the “Highest Research Category” through Carnegie. UNL’s School of Art, Art History & Design offers several design programs, including a BFA in graphic design with optional minors in studio art or art history.
UNL’s BFA in graphic design teaches students to “critically investigate the world, conscientiously engage in change, and design creative, impactful communications while becoming passionate life-long design thinkers.” As a student at UNL, you will learn from professional, devoted faculty in state-of-the-art classrooms equipped with DSLR cameras, Wacom tablets, and advanced lighting equipment and video cameras.
You also have the opportunity to collaborate with peers and faculty in collaborative research projects, join networking groups like the AIGA, and attend regional and national conferences. UNL graphic design alumni find careers in all things design like branding and identity, product package design, mobile application design, environmental graphics, interactive media, advertising design, and more!
Texas Tech University
Founded in 1923, Texas Tech University is a top-ranking university that has earned the “Very High Research Activity” category from Carnegie Classification. TTU’s School of Art holds a rich history of innovation and creativity, dating back to 1967. Among several design programs through the School of Art is a BFA in Art with a specialization in graphic design.
TTU’s graphic design program focuses on the backbone of design: finding problems and solving them. You will learn about topics ranging from conceptual development, design history, and integrating form and information for successful communication. The program entails strategically sequenced courses, including topics in art foundations, graphic design, studio art, and art history to meet 123 credit hours.
TTU alumni are ready to hold notable positions in design firms, in-house design studios and advertising agencies, including SW Airlines, Fossil, The New York Times, AT&T, and Nike. Admission to the graphic design program is limited and includes a “rigorous portfolio and interview process.” If you’re interested in TTU, your first step is to apply to the school and complete the required prerequisites.
California State University, San Bernardino
California State University, San Bernardino, a “preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity” was established in 1965. CSUSB is highly diverse, with the second highest African American and Hispanic enrollments in the state. CSUSB’s Department of Art and Design offers a Bachelor of Fine arts in design with four unique concentrations to customize your degree.
CSUSB’s BFA in design includes concentrations in interface design, 3D design, motion design, or marketing. This program requires 121 units with 72 units in major requirements. You will take courses like Digital Applications Basics, Typography and Layout, Business of Creativity, and Art History Methodologies. Twelve units are devoted to your chosen concentration, and you will wrap up your degree with a design capstone thesis research project.
As a graphic design student at CSUSB, you will learn from devoted professionals and be trained on state-of-the-art equipment. This program prepares you for the evolving field of graphic design, both in traditional media and online. If you think CSUSB is in your future, check out application details here.
Virginia Commonwealth University
If you are #RamProud, then you are a part of Virginia Commonwealth University, one of America’s premier research universities that encompasses a culture of hard work and grit. Located in the heart of Richmond, VCU includes over 29,000 students, 2,5000 faculty, and nearly 205,500 alumni! Check out VCU’s BFA in graphic design, a program that sees design as a historical and evolving continuum.
VCU’s program is centered around the premise that “the strength of design is its ability to respond to the needs of today and to speculate on forms of the future.” You will complete
122 credit hours, divided into general education, major requirements, ancillary requirements, and electives. Notable courses include Theory Inquiry, Multi Studio, Dialogues, and Surface Research.
Additionally, you can choose from an array of electives to further tailor your program to match your design interests. Much of this degree is spent collaborating with others, which reinforces effective communication—a vital skill in the graphic design field. VCU alumni land all sorts of design careers like creative directors, interface designers, broadcast/film designers, exhibition designers, and environmental graphic designers.
Boise State University
Here’s a fun fact: a NASA astronaut currently teaches at Boise State University, a doctoral research institution with 200+ academic programs! BSU’s Department of Art, Design, & Visual Studies features a BFA in graphic design, influenced by design thinkers like Gunnar Swanson who states, “Design should be about how meaning and how meaning can be created.”
BSU’s graphic design program provides both rigorous and comprehensive training with a heavy concentration on liberal arts. In addition to the general education requirements, you will complete 83 credits of major courses and electives including Graphic Design Studios, Creative Photography, Illustration, and History of Visual Rhetoric. A capstone project is also required during your last year.
If you’re interested in BSU, first you must be admitted as a student to the university. Once you finish 40 credits of university level coursework (including six art prerequisite courses) with a 2.5 GPA or above, you can apply for upper-division art admission through a portfolio review of six images of your most recent artwork.
University of Northern Iowa
The University of Northern Iowa is not only ranked “The Best in the Midwest” according to U.S. News & World Report but also known for its value and commitment to making college affordable for everyone. UNI offers a handful of art and design programs including the notable Bachelor of Arts in graphic design.
UNI’s BA in graphic design will give you a close-knit group of like-minded peers while you learn from faculty who are successful designers and artists. This 120 credit program starts with courses in visualization, analysis, and production, which prepares you for specialized graphic design courses. Along with lecture and studio courses, you will enjoy frequent guest speakers and workshops hosted by the Friday Symposium.
UNI graphic design graduates have no problem finding work in the field. In fact, UNI reports that 96% of last year’s graduates are employed or pursuing further education. Common careers include freelance designers, photographers, team leaders, web designers, and social media managers. If you’re interested in UNI and all it has to offer, check out application details here.
University of Wisconsin-Stout
A comprehensive polytechnic university, UW Stout is the very first higher education recipient of the Malcolm Baldridge Award, a prestigious recognition of leadership, strategic plans, and people of integrity. More than 9,500 students call themselves Blue Devils and you could be one of them through UWUW-Stout’s BFA in graphic design and interactive media, a degree with “a vibrant creative culture, hands-on learning experiences, and a progressive curriculum.”
UW-Stout’s graphic design program allows you to choose between two concentrations: communication design and interaction design. The communication design emphasis is for those who want to pursue graphic design in advertising, publication, packaging, and motion graphics, whereas the interaction design emphasis focuses on interactivity across the internet, mobile apps, and screen-based design.
This 120 credit program entails 40 credits in general education and 80 credits in concentration requirements. In addition to maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA, halfway through the program, you are required to submit a portfolio review. An experiential learning component, whether it be an internship, international study program, or field experience, is also required.
California University of Pennsylvania
With a rich history of academic excellence and student-focused learning, it’s no surprise that Princeton Review consistently ranks California University of Pennsylvania as one of the Best Colleges in the Northeast. Cal U’s Bachelor of Science in graphic design is part of the school’s new Department of Communication, Design, and Culture—worth checking out!
At Cal U’s graphic design program, you will focus on “how and why a designer creates” while focusing on visual thinking and experimentation. You will take courses like Multimedia Foundations, Augmentation and Debate, Video Production, and Radio/TV Commercials, all to train you to provide creative solutions in the graphic design field.
Not only will you have access to cutting-edge graphic design labs 24/7, but you will have many internship opportunities to foster professional connections. Through this program, you will create a final portfolio of work that best represents your abilities, one that you can present to future employers. If you’re interested in starting your graphic design journey at Cal U, check out admission details here.
Carnegie Mellon University
One of the oldest and most notable in the nation, Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design offers a bachelor of design (BDes) in communications (graphic design), and you can customize this program to match your interests and future career goals. The results of Carnegie’s design BDes speak for themselves; alumni are associated with design projects including the Starbucks logo, the Pinterest interface design, and the title sequence of the movie, Spiderman!
You will waste no time getting into graphic design at Carnegie—starting with your first year, you will begin with collaborative studio courses. Your second is spent studying communications within graphic design, and your final years are spent working in teams and applying your knowledge and skills to capstone projects that focus on design for service and/or innovation.
This program is based on a holistic framework of how design affects the natural world, as well as how the field has changed throughout the years. You are taught how to meet design needs in a plethora of situations by focusing on service, social innovation, new paradigms, and research.
Drexel University is one of the nation’s largest private academic institutions, one with global outreach and located in one of the nation’s most iconic cities—Philadelphia! Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design’s programs consistently hold top rankings, and one of the best ones to check out is the Bachelor of Science in graphic design.
Drextel’s BS in graphic design provides a blend of theory and application in a rigorous, collaborative program. You will develop critical thinking, creative problem solving, and effective communication skills, all essentials in the design field. This program requires 183 credits to graduate, more than the average bachelor’s degree, but you will be able to explore advanced electives, like Web and Motion Graphic Design and Environmental Graphic Design.
You can also tailor your degree by choosing one or more minors such as product design or virtual reality and immersive media. As you can see, Drexel has a lot to offer in its design programs. If you’re interested in Drexel, check out the undergraduate virtual experience to see if you’re a good fit.
A nationally recognized private university 22 miles from St. Louis, Missouri, Maryville is currently named the second-fastest growing university by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Maryville offers over 90 academic programs and boasts just a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. One of these programs is the BFA in graphic design, a degree bustling with opportunities to grow as a designer!
Through Maryville’s graphic design program, you will receive personalized attention through small courses as well as a life coach to further personalize your degree. The degree entails 128-132 credit hours, and 90 of those are in art and design core, graphic and interactive design, and art/design history courses. During your senior year, you will create and present a capstone project to a panel of professional designers.
At Maryville, you will feel at home while a part of a supportive, collaborative community in classes that build your creative problem solving, critical thinking, and presentation skills. In addition, this BFA program includes one of the “most active and engaged AIGA student chapters” in the graphic design schools in Missouri!
A private, nonprofit academic institution, Herzing University is committed to offering career-focused academic programs with flexible learning options, including online, on-campus, or hybrid formats. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Herzing’s 30+ academic programs are offered across ten campuses and seven states! The Bachelor of Science in graphic design (BSGRD).
Herzing’s BSGRD degree will give you the knowledge and technical skills for a wide array of graphic design careers. You can either pursue a general BS in graphic design, or you can choose a concentration in print design or web design. You will complete at least 124 credit hours in courses such as Illustration Fundamentals, Color Theory in Design, Corporate Identity Design, and Web in Motion.
During your final semester at Herzing, you are required to either complete a capstone project or an internship. Graduates are ready to find jobs as graphic designers, graphic artists, desktop publishers, and design directors. To apply for this program, you must first complete a minimum of 40 general education credit hours, including at least nine upper level courses.
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a private research institution with rich history and traditions, like the climbing tower, which is over 100 years old! Mercer is one of the nation’s oldest universities, and with more than 9,000 students across 130+ academic programs, you will see why its Bachelor of Arts in graphic design made our ranking.
As a Mercer graphic design student, most of your time will be spent in studio courses that mimic real-life work environments. Whether you are learning Photoshop and InDesign in the state-of-the-art Mac computer lab or collaborating with classmates in a round table discussion, you will be a part of a dynamic, close-knit community of designers.
Mercer’s graphic design program is described as modern, comprehensive, and holistic, meaning that you will study “contemporary directions in art, imaging, and visual communication in a wide range of media, including print, interactive, web-based, and motion graphics.” If you think Mercer University is in your future, check out admission details here.
Founded in 1924, Harding University is a private, Christian university with nearly 5,000 students from 49 states and 62 countries. With more than 100 majors, generous financial aid options, and a mission committed to faith, learning, and living, Harding is worth checking into. Harding’s Art and Design Department offers a BFA in graphic design, one that “strongly emphasizes tomorrow’s professional environment.”
At Harding, you will be challenged through innovative courses, class projects, internships, and student organizations like the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The program includes a blend of lecture and studio courses like Design Foundations, Color Theory, Motion Design, and Photography. The new computer lab includes MacOS and Adobe software and SLR cameras.
Your sophomore year (after you have completed 15 credit hours of art coursework) will entail a portfolio review. This experience will give you valuable feedback on your strengths, abilities, and growth. Harding graphic design graduates encompass a variety of careers in branding, environmental graphics, packaging design, advertising, web design, publication, and editorial editing.
Southern Adventist University
A private institution grounded in the beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventist church, Southern Adventist University holds the award of “Top Tier” institution for 19 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. Among the design programs from SAU is a well-rounded BFA in graphic design, one that meets the needs of the 21st century.
This BFA program blends design history and theory with collaborative skills in studio settings. You will complete 124 credit hours, which includes courses like Motion Design, Foundations-Plane and Color, Illustration Methods, and Contemporary Art. A strong portfolio is crucial for a graphic designer, and during your time at Southern, you will create a website and portfolio for future clients and employers.
In addition to this BFA, SAU also offers an AS in graphic design, a BA in graphic design, and a BS in public relations and graphic design. You could also pair your program with a minor. Many students minor in subjects such as computer science, marketing, photography, creative writing, advertising, or business.
A nationally ranked private Christian institution, Messiah University may be on the smaller side (3,370 current students), but this school offers loads of life-changing opportunities! You will find more than 150 undergraduate and 30 graduate programs, offered in flexible formats. Messiah’s NASAD accredited BFA in graphic design will take you places!
Messiah’s graphic design program is diverse, rigorous, and innovative. While you will gain a solid foundation of graphic design, you can further tailor your program through electives like digital imaging and interactive and print-based media. The program requires 127-129 credit hours and includes a capstone, a sophomore review, and an internship, all while maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA.
You will also have the opportunity to travel, either to major art and design centers in New York City and Washington D.C. or internationally to Rome and Italy. As we mentioned, Messiah’s graphic design program is rigorous, but graduates are ready to go places. In fact, 100% of graduates are employed or in graduate school within 6-9 months of graduation!
Founded in 1935, Southeastern University, a Christian liberal arts school, is named one of the fastest-growing universities in the country by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Since 2010, student enrollment has increased by 215%! Southeastern’s College of Arts & Media features both Bachelor of Arts in graphic design to give you the training for the competitive and professional design industry.
Southeastern’s BA in graphic design entails 124 credit hours, which includes 55 major core credits like Drawing, 2-D Design, Color Theory, and Introduction to Web Design and Development. You have 15 credits of electives to choose from, courses like Advanced Digital Imaging, Advanced Illustration, and Sculpture. A graphic design capstone project is required during your senior year.
As a Southeastern graphic design student, you will become proficient in software like Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator, as well as programs to teach you how to write code for websites. You will attend studio courses in the 2D/3D design room and the MAC lab, where you have access to cutting-edge design equipment.
Bethel University is a top-ranked Christian academic institution with nearly 4,500 students. Students come to Bethel from all over the world, as many as “47 states and 22 countries, and have represented nearly 50 Christian denominations.” Bethel’s BA in graphic design is an innovative interdisciplinary program with three emphasis areas to choose from.
This 126-129 credit program allows you to choose an emphasis in business, communication, or digital humanities. You will enjoy small, personalized classes of an average of just 11 students. In addition to gaining knowledge in essential graphic design principles, you will gain proficiency in everything design-related, from typography to web design.
Hands-on experience in the graphic design field is vital to success, which is why you the opportunity to participate in the R.E.A.L. Experience, a program designed to give you relevant experience to be successful after you graduate. Bethel also offers many awards, grants, and scholarships to help you fund your education and receive recognition for your work.
The top-ranking private university, Lesley University “uniquely focuses on the human arts, with programs that live at the intersection of education, counseling, and the visual arts.” Over 90,000 Lesley alumni are changing the world all over the globe in service roles such as counseling, teaching, and designing. The College of Art & Design is where our #28 ranking comes from, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design.
Whether you want to be a mobile app developer, book illustrator, commercial graphic designer, or information architect, Lesley’s BFA in graphic design will help you get there. In the classroom, you will learn how to use 21st century design tools for print, motion, and interactive mediums, as well as gaining experience with real clients.
Internships are a core requirement at Lesley, and students gain internships through companies like New Balance, Puma, American Repertory Theater and more. If you want to customize your program further, consider choosing a second major or one of the 45+ minors offered at Lesley. For example, you could major in graphic design + political science or graphic design + sports marketing. The combinations are vast!
Lesley University also offers an online a BS in User Design Experience for those wanting to check out an online graphic design degree program.
Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college with huge impacts. U.S. News & World Report named Champlain a “Most Innovative School,” for five consecutive years, and you will soon see why. Champlain College’s motto, “Where learning and experience converge” is seen in all its academic programs, including this the BFA in graphic design and digital communication—the perfect combination.
Champlain employs an Upside-Down curriculum, meaning you begin taking major classes, like Form & Color and The Digital Image, during your first year. Within this degree, you can also choose between a motion graphics and publishing concentration and choose a minor to make your program unique to you.
A perk at Champlain is you begin working on your capstone during your first year, so you have all four years to perfect your final project. In addition, you will complete an internship as early as your second year. If you’re itching to travel, Champlain’s study abroad program to Dublin and Montreal, are built right into the curriculum! If Champlain sounds like a fit for you, check out admission details here.
A private Christian college with a global impact, Judson University is described as “quaint” as it is nestled along the Fox River in Elgin, Illinois. However, Judson is also state-of-the-art and vibrant and has been visited by world leaders like George E. Bush, Tony Blair, Queen Noor of Jordan, and Caroline Kennedy. At Judson, you can earn a BFA in graphic design with optional minors in studio art or photography.
As a Judson graphic design student, you will gain knowledge in print, package, web, installation, and multi-media design, all essential skills in the graphic design industry. You will complete 79 credit hours in courses like Three Dimensional Design, Themes & Concepts, Digital Tools, and Web Design. You will complete both an internship after your second year, as well as a senior project.
A perk of being at Judson is you will become a part of the AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, which will allow you to network with others as well as connect you to future employment opportunities. Judson graphic design graduates become graphic designers, web designers, game designers, art directors, and project managers, to name a few.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Graphic Design?
Look around. Anywhere you look, you see the work of graphic designers—from creative advertisements on billboards and stunning graphics on websites to business logos, product labels, business cards, book covers, and mobile apps. Think about the work behind these images and words. A graphic designer created that!
The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) defines graphic design as “the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content.” In other words, graphic design is all about communicating messages visually using images and words.
While the definition may be straight-forward, the actual graphic design industry is incredibly complex and involves in-depth artistic elements coupled with a solid grasp of communicating emotion and messages. Graphic design encompasses elements such as shape, color, typography, texture, size, space, balance, proximity, and more.
Years ago, graphic design meant creating images and text to communicate to an audience. However, today with the virtual world, graphic design is multifaceted and includes different specializations. Some common areas are corporate design, marketing and advertising design, environmental design, packaging design, and web design. Most graphic designers use both traditional and digital design processes in their work.
Is Graphic Design a Dying Career?
You may have heard that graphic design is a “dying career.” The reason behind this idea is not that graphic design is dying (as selling products and ideas will never die!) but that the original field of print media is evolving into online media.
For example, pre-internet graphic design included print advertisements and billboards. While we still see print media, the majority has shifted online, which is why top graphic design schools offer courses in technology and digital marketing. Top graphic design colleges incorporate training in interactive media, 3D, augmented reality, and more. In other words, graphic designers’ work is needed more than ever but much more complex than ever before.
Almost every industry needs and uses graphic design—healthcare, marketing, advertising, entertainment, education—so the answer to “Is Graphic Design a Dying Career?” is a resounding no! Every aspect of selling will always require the work of graphic design, so graphic design is not a dying career but a shifting career—shifting into the virtual world!
Is a Graphic Design Degree Worth It?
Some professions require formal education to be successful. Then there are some, like the field of graphic design, where you hear about successful self-taught designers and you wonder, do I need a formal degree?
So, is a graphic design degree worth it? As with all degrees, there are pros and cons to a graphic design degree. When it comes to graphic design, many top graphic design schools are expensive and the courses are rigorous. Then again, some of the best graphic colleges also offer financial aid and scholarships, and grants. If you know that this field is for you, don’t let the cost or the rigor deter you because graphic design degrees can pay off big time.
A bachelor’s in graphic design arms you with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the design industry. While you will hear of some graphic designers without a bachelor’s degree, it is much harder to find a job, especially one with a top design firm, without one. You need a design portfolio to present to future employers, and while in a graphic design bachelor’s program, you will develop your portfolio under industry experts. In addition, you have the opportunity to network and collaborate with professionals in the field, which makes finding employment after graduation a quicker process. Not only will a bachelor’s degree in graphic design teach you the ropes, you will be more likely to find a job you love while earning a decent salary.