The U.S. has many graphic design schools to choose from. Different focuses, skills and unique career access are offered at each, and can make choosing difficult! The key to picking the right graphic design school for you comes down to one question. What are you going to do with your graphic design education? Some schools focus on social justice, and some teach more artistic and classic design. Still, others are concerned directly with commercial design and advertising. Any prospective graphic designer can find the perfect fit for them with the answer to this question.
Check out the list of the top 10 graphic design schools in the country, listed in no certain order. Graphic designers searching for their education will find schools that offer all brands of learning. From theory to practical application and East Coast to West, the variety here is stunning.
The Rhode Island School of Design, An Elite Graphic Design Education
A highly recognizable name among graphic design schools, The Rhode Island School of Design is incredibly discerning about which students make it in. The acceptance rate for this school is well under 50%, but that doesn’t stop prospective students! the campus is internationally acclaimed and regularly sees collaborators and corporations from all over the world. With modern facilities, studios, mentors and top-rated professors, RISD is a top choice for a graphic design education.
Famous alumni include actor and director James Franco, TV producer Seth MacFarlane and international glass artist Dale Chihuly.
Parsons The New School of Design, An International Competitor of Graphic Design Schools
Parsons, The New School for Design is located in the heart of Manhattan and keeps its finger on the pulse of the commercial, art and fashion world of New York. The school has consistently ranked in the top five on the QS World University Rankings list in its’ field. It holds its own against programs in London and Europe with a unique combination of technical and commercial application.
The Pratt Institute, Where Fashion, Architecture and Graphic Design Meet
Housed in New York, Pratt made a name for itself as an incubator for the graphic designer. Pratt has two campuses in New York City and Manhattan, but education quality in art and technical expertise doesn’t vary between them! Pratt offers well-known fashion and architectural design curriculum, and Communications Design projects often cross into these fields.Rob Zombie, Robert Redford, and Terrence Howard are all celebrities who graduated from this historic campus.
Carnegie Mellon School of Design, the School for Many Interests
Carnegie-Mellon is a prestigious research school and will surprise some with its place on this list. The school offers a Bachelor of Design, as well as an interdisciplinary degree. If you’re a graphic designer with multiple interests, the interdisciplinary degree is perfect!. In this path, you will combine a design degree with another field at Carnegie-Mellon. The prestige of this school combined with your degree will open many doors in your career.
California Institute of the Arts, An Education for the Disney Fan
CalArts is in Valencia, CA and boasts a founder that may draw more students than even the most famous on this list! Walt Disney and his brother Roy formed the vision for CalArts in 1961, and the school opened a decade later. The brothers had a vision for an intimate, workshop-style school between art disciplines. The school offers many disciplines besides its graphic design school, and many graduates soon work in Hollywood. CalArts is highly competitive and only admits under 30% of the small program each year. Each incoming class is approximately 20-24 students strong. The list of famous alumni is long and features John Lasseter, Tim Burton, and Dustin Hoffman.
University of the Arts, the School for Practical Application
UArts offers an incredibly functional graphic design education. Traditional design concepts are taught, but UArts preps its design students for current commercial design. Education is practical, and many students take on projects in the Philadelphia area for local businesses. UArts also brings in notable guest speakers, lecturers, and workshops to educate its’ students.Jared Leto and Joe Dante are alumni of this school, and many fashion designers and producers.
Yale University School of Arts, the School for Theory and Craftsmanship
An Ivy-League education is in the cards for some graphic designers. Acceptance rate is low, but Yale University School of Arts‘ degree in Graphic Design is hard to beat. The school focuses more on theory, art and craft in its curriculum. This creates a valuable education but isn’t for those looking for a commercial application. Some of the most influential artists, sculptors, photographers and more have graced the halls of Yale School of Arts.
Otis College of Arts and Design, the School for the Corporate Designer
Otis offers one of the most functional educations in Graphic Design on this list. Based in LA, students in the Commercial Design program work closely with advertising elements.This is a wonderful program for graphic designers who want to work in the corporate sphere. Otis alumni have gone on to Apple, Target, Conde Nast and other major companies.
School of Visual Arts, The Networkers Dream
The School of Visual Arts also makes its’ home in Manhattan, but it offers competitive advantages to other schools in the area. The school’s main claim to fame is its’ networking and graduate promotion. Whether utilizing the internship programs offered or having portfolios sent out to major companies every year, students are exposed to industry leaders often. The school also offers precise concentrations, such as book jacket or website design.
California College of the Arts, The Social Justice School
California College of the Arts boasts a high acceptance rate and an internship program that gives real professional experience. CCA is located just outside of San Francisco and focuses heavily on social justice. This shows up in design practice and helps to round graphic designers out into skilled and socially-minded professionals.
Want to impress admissions for any of these fiercely competitive schools? Arrange your portfolio in one of our sleek booklets or catalogs to showcase your style, skill, and expertise!
While you are here, do not forget to apply for our annual Graphic Design Scholarship!