What Are the Top Visual Communication Schools?

Learn what makes a good visual communication degree program. Find out about the top three schools with programs in this field, including school ranking information. Schools offering Communication Design & Interactive Media degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Visual Communication School?

Visual communication, communication design and graphic arts are all names to describe programs that teach traditional and computer-based graphic design skills. Your program should have a solid grounding in basic art concepts, such as color, design and materials. You'll want to look for schools with a curriculum that covers computer and multimedia skills, as well as traditional methods of creating designs, such as drawing and painting. A school with a low student-faculty ratio, teachers who also produce their own work and internship opportunities are all things you might want to consider when searching for a program.

Three Top Schools With Visual Communication Programs

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), a private, not-for-profit school, has received multiple recognitions from U.S. News and World Report, including a graduate school ranking of fifth for graphic design in 2016. CMU's School of Design offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in communication design.

Pulling together concepts from the sciences, liberal arts and a variety of creative disciplines, you'll learn to communicate visually using physical and digital tools and storytelling. There are also programs offered in product development and interactive design at the graduate level. Your degree options that relate directly to visual communication include:

  • Bachelor of Design in Communications
  • Master of Design in Design for Interactions

Rhode Island School of Design in Providence

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a private university focusing on art and design. RISD's 2016 graduate school rankings from U.S. News and World Report included fourth for its fine arts program overall and first for graphic design.

RISD encourages you to think about communication and design in new ways. The undergraduate curriculum focuses on helping you develop your own design language and problem-solving methodologies. The career-focused graduate program offers a choice between 2- and 3-year tracks, depending on whether or not you have an undergraduate degree in graphic design.

RISD also offers the Summer Institute for Graphic Design Studies, which is a program available to undergraduate and graduate students that includes short workshops. RISD offers two degree programs with visual communication studies:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
  • Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA)

UCLA is a public university that has received recognition for many of its programs, including a 2016 ranking by U.S. News and World Report of second among the top public schools across the country.

UCLA's Department of Design Media Arts, part of the School of Arts and Architecture, offers you undergraduate and graduate program options in design. The department prides itself on its renowned faculty and use of a multidisciplinary approach to the media arts.

The undergraduate program starts you off with classes in areas like drawing, typography, form, color and design history. You'll also learn about 3-D modeling, sound, video and animation. The 2-year graduate program allows you to focus on personal artistic development and culminates in a thesis project. The following degree programs are available:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Design Media Arts
  • Master of Fine Arts in Design Media Arts

Ten More Visual Communication Schools

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocation
Art Academy of Cincinnati4-year, PrivateCincinnati, OH
New York University4-year, PrivateNew York, NY
Maryland Institute College of Art4-year, PrivateBaltimore, MD
Kean University4-year, PublicUnion, NJ
La Roche College4-year, PrivatePittsburgh, PA
California College of the Arts4-year, PrivateSan Francisco, CA
University of Delaware4-year, PublicNewark, DE
Texas State University4-year, PublicSan Marcos, TX
Northern Arizona University4-year, PublicFlagstaff, AZ
Iowa State University4-year, PublicAmes, IA

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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