Top 10 universities with a graphic design major

Updated February 21, 2017

Graphic design programs and top-tier universities don't always go hand in hand. The most highly ranked research universities often lack design programs, and the most acclaimed design programs are often housed at specialised art schools and institutes. However, there are 10 places in the U.S. where highly-regarded universities intersect with vibrant design programs.

Yale University School of Art

Yale is consistently in the top three of U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of universities, so it's no surprise that it would be the most highly rated American university with a design program. The Yale School of Art offers a broad-based art major with courses in design, and its graduate program includes a Master of Fine Arts in graphic design.

Yale University School of Art 1156 Chapel Street New Haven, CT 06511 203-432-2600

University of Pennsylvania

The second Ivy League school on the list, the University of Pennsylvania, falls just below Yale in the U.S. News rankings. The school's fine arts department offers an undergraduate degree in Communication Design, a contemporary, holistic approach that encourages students to think of design in broad social terms.

University of Pennsylvania 114 Charles Addams Hall 200 South 36th Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-898-6757

Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts

The Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis offers undergraduate majors in several design areas, including Communication Design, and its core requirements for all art majors place a strong emphasis on design education.

Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts One Brookings Drive St. Louis, MO 63130 800-638-0700

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame is about more than football, and its Department of Art, Art History and Design provides undergraduates with the opportunity to major in graphic or industrial design. Regularly ranked among the top 20 American universities by U.S. News, Notre Dame is also one of the strongest academic institutions in the country.

University of Notre Dame 306 Riley Hall of Art & Design Notre Dame, IN 46556 574-631-7602

Carnegie Mellon University

Not only is Carnegie Mellon ranked in the top 25 universities in America, its design program is considered one of the best in the country as well, making the school hard to beat for aspiring designers seeking an academically powerful institution. The school of design offers a full range of degrees, from undergraduate through doctoral, and a minor in design is also available.

Carnegie Mellon University School of Design 5000 Forbes Avenue MMCH 110 Pittsburgh, PA 15213 412-268-2828

University of California-Los Angeles

UCLA's Department of Design|Media Arts pursues a thoroughly modern philosophy of design, emphasising communication design and mastery of digital media. Its B.A. program begins with a foundation in the basics of design and incorporates education into the social aspects of design. Advanced courses focus on developing design trends.

UCLA Design|Media Arts Broad Art Center 240 Charles E. Young Drive Suite 2275, Box 951456 Los Angeles, CA 90095 310-825-9007

University of Southern California

The design program at USC's Roski School of Fine Arts prepares students to be effective designers by providing them a broad education in the arts that is as focused on the place of design in the world as it is with the technical fundamentals of design itself.

USC Roski School of Fine Arts Watt Hall 104 University Park Campus Los Angeles, CA 90089 213-740-2787

University of Michigan

The School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan offers both B.F.A. and B.A. degrees in art and design. These programs focus on broad art education, without requiring specialisation in a particular discipline, but students are encouraged to pursue their talents and interests in specialised areas, including graphic design.

University of Michigan School of Art & Design 2000 Bonisteel Boulevard Ann Arbor, MI 48109 734-764-0397

Lehigh University

The undergraduate design major at Lehigh University, like all the best design programs, recognises the importance of emerging technologies and concepts in the field of graphic design. Students are expected to master digital media and new technology while simultaneously developing a solid foundation in traditional studio work.

Lehigh University Maginnes Hall 9 West Packer Avenue Bethlehem, PA 18015 610-758-3300

University of Illinois

The B.F.A. program at the University of Illinois includes the traditional areas of specialisation, with students able to choose design majors in either graphic or industrial design. A major in new media is also available as well as majors in all traditional areas of studio art.

University of Illinois 143 Art and Design Building 408 E. Peabody Drive Champaign, IL 61820 217-333-0855

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About the Author

Evan Gillespie grew up working in his family's hardware and home-improvement business and is an experienced gardener. He has been writing on home, garden and design topics since 1996. His work has appeared in the South Bend Tribune, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Arts Everywhere magazine and many other publications.