Top Graphic Design Graduate Schools

Students who have received their Bachelor degrees in Graphic Design may want to consider obtaining an advanced degree from one of the top colleges specializing in the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Discover the criteria you can use to choose a school including comparing coursework, faculty awards, and length of time to complete the M.F.A. Below is an overview of three quality schools, including specialized areas of studies and a list of the overall Top 10 schools in the U.S. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look For In A Top Graphic Design Graduate School?

Your choice will depend on your personal objectives. Faculty at top schools will have strong connections to potential employers in advertising and media firms. Others have a strong history in design for motion media, and top graphic design schools typically have distinguished, award-winning graduates.

You'll want to select a school with the studio facilities and laboratories you'll need. Do the schools you're considering provide opportunities to exhibit your work? What venues for art viewing are available? Top schools will also help you learn the business of making a living with graphic design.

What Are Three Top Graphic Design Graduate Schools?

California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA

The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is a private school conceptualized by Walt Disney, with courses taught by his animators. U.S. News & World Report ranked its graduate graphic design program fifth in 2016.

CalArts' School of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), or a Certificate of Fine Arts in graphic design. Students and faculty discuss research and studio projects in a weekly seminar. Coursework covers motion graphics, type design, typography and design history and theory. A graphic design thesis is required.

Each student is assigned to a communal studio; on-campus galleries show student work. The library has a slide collection focused on 20th century and contemporary work. Laboratory facilities include a MacLab, a photo lab, a print lab, a media lab and facilities for 3-D production.

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Graphic Design
  • Certificate of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a private art and design college. In rankings compiled in 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked its graduate program in graphic design first in the country.

The graphic design department offers a 2- or 3-year Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) program, depending on the applicant's professional experience level. You'll take coursework in print, motion and web media topics like typography, image, theory, color and design.

Research assets include the Fleet Library and the RISD Museum of Art. The Fleet Library maintains books and periodicals covering fine and decorative arts and design, dating from the 16th century to the present. The RISD Museum of Art has a permanent collection of objects from all over the world.

  • Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Graphic Design

School of Visual Arts in New York, NY

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) faculty members are successful New York City design professionals. First-year M.F.A. candidates take skills-based courses, along with classes in marketing, advertising, promotion, intellectual property and research. SVA 'Design Entrepreneur' thesis projects must result in a product that the student can take to market.

Design students can exhibit work and thesis projects in the SVA Gallery and on the department's website. Students and alumni are competition and fellowship award winners featured in publication and broadcast media outlets.

  • Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Graphic Design

Top Colleges/Universities for Graphic Designers

College/University Institution Type LocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Yale University4-year, Private New Haven, CT$42,000
Maryland Institute College of Art4-year, PrivateBaltimore, MD$48,000
Carnegie Mellon University4-year, PrivatePittsburgh, PA$44,000
Virginia Commonwealth University4-year, PublicRichmond, VA$14,500
Cranbrook Academy of Art4-year, PrivateBloomfield Hills, MI$38,000
Art Center College of Design4-year, PrivatePasadena, CA$46,000
The New School--Parsons School of Design4-year, PrivateNew York, NY$46,000
Pratt Institute4-year, PrivateBrooklyn, NY$34,000
Minneapolis College of Art and Design4-year, PrivateMinneapolis, MN$39,000
School of the Art Institute of Chicago4-year, PrivateChicago, IL$51,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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Popular Schools

  • Full Sail University

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  • Vermont College of Fine Arts

    Campus Locations:

    • Vermont: Montpelier
  • University of Illinois at Chicago

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    • Illinois: Chicago
  • University of Denver

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    • Colorado: Denver
  • The University of Texas at El Paso

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    • Texas: El Paso
  • Suffolk University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Boston
  • School of Visual Arts

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: New York
  • Rochester Institute of Technology

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Rochester
  • Rhode Island School of Design

    Campus Locations:

    • Rhode Island: Providence
  • Otis College of Art and Design

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Los Angeles