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Top 10 Graphic Design Schools & Colleges in 2012

Graphic designers combine creative skills and commercial ideals to produce enjoyable, communicative visual products. Top graphic design schools and colleges focus on teaching their students techniques and methods that help them create high-quality professional work. Discover the numerous types of graphic design programs to study before choosing your school.

Both small arts colleges and large universities may have a top graphic design program. These 10 top graphic design schools, ranked according to data from U.S. News & World Report, can help young graphic designers find a place in the competitive field of visual design.

  1. Rhode Island School of Design ranks No. 2 in fine arts and offers a number of specialities, including ceramics, industrial design, and multimedia/visual communications.
  2. Yale University School of Art instructs graduate students in graphic design, offers other art programs for undergraduates, and takes the top spot for its Master of Fine Arts program. Its specialities include graphic design/ painting/drawing, photography, printmaking, and sculpture.
  3. Maryland Institute College of Art garners high ranks for its graphic design, painting/drawing, and sculpture programs and ranks No. 7 in fine arts.
  4. Carnegie Mellon University's College of Fine Arts is home to a top-ranked multimedia/visual communications program and an industrial design program ranked in the top 3.
  5. Virginia Commonwealth University ranks No. 1 for its sculpture program and No. 4 in fine arts and also receives kudos for its graphic design and painting/drawing programs.
  6. Cranbrook Academy of Art bases its program on interpretive design methodology and devotes the majority of its students' schedules to in-studio time. Its ceramics and industrial design programs rank in the top 5.
  7. Art Center College of Design emphasizes Web design and motion graphics alongside traditional graphic design and ranks No. 2 for its industrial design program.
  8. California Institute of the Arts teaches graphic design through small, intimate classes based on debate and discussion and ranks No. 2 in multimedia/visual communications and No. 4 for its photography program.
  9. School of Visual Arts in New York focuses on problem solving in visual communication to help students be better prepared for the professional world. Its photography, industrial design, graphic design, and multimedia/visual communications programs all rank in the top 10.
  10. Parsons The New School For Design is a comprehensive design college that offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in graphic design. Its graphic design program ranks No. 10 in the list.

Of course, no research or ranking of graphic design schools can be considered definitive above all others. These numbers represent the  graphic design colleges featured in the U.S. News & World Report 2012 grad school rankings and do not reflect the personal opinions of Graphicdesignbasics.com or its contributors.


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Master of Arts in Visual Communication Design
  • Liberty University provides a worldclass education from a christ-centered worldview
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AAA in Digital Graphic Arts
Remington College , Fort Worth
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Bachelor of Science, Graphic Design (Online)
  • Located in Hollywood, CA, offering degrees in film, music production, business, animation and more.
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  • Programs taught by award-winning industry professionals in real-world working environments.
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Associate Degree-Computer Graphics and Design
  • Features a public spa where massage students can get real-world experience.
  • Honored by the PennSuburban Chamber of Commerce as Business of the Century in 2013.
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  • Main campus is located in North Wales, Pennsylvania, with satellite campuses in Phoenixville and Warminster.
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Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts with concentration in 3-D

At SNHU, we believe everyone should have greater access to higher education. That’s why we offer over 200 accredited degree programs, flexible class schedules, and some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation. We offer military tuition discounts up to 30% toward online undergraduate and graduate degree programs for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty. 

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