Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Design Degrees

Space, image, typography, color; those are the tools in a graphic designer’s arsenal. Graphic designers are tasked with effectively conveying messages and ideas through the use of visual elements. What makes graphic designers stand out from anybody with MS Paint, is that they understand the nuanced elements of composition.

As a graphic designer, you understand how colors, fonts, and images could be arranged, in order to maximize their impact. Typically, graphic designers would be responsible for something like a brand’s identity. The logos and other branding aspects would be your responsibility, as a graphic designer.

Or maybe you work for a newspaper or magazine publication, in which case you’d be designing the layout of the cover or front page, or maybe you work for a company that placed an ad in a magazine, in which case you would have designed the ad.

Website graphics, product packaging, posters, and even billboards can be tasks of graphic designers.

Graphic Design and Game Development


Now that you have a better idea of what graphic design actually is, you might be able to see where it could fit into the game industry. Think back to the last time you booted up a game (if you’re like us it was all of 30 minutes ago). Remember what popped up on the screen in the very beginning?

It isn’t uncommon to see logos for the development studio and the game’s publisher flash on the screen. Those logos or animations were likely designed by graphic designers. Once you’re past those quick name drop screens, you’ll typically come to a “Press A” or “Press Start” screen.

This “title” screen usually has the game’s title (go figure). In a game like Mario Kart 64, it also has a still image. In a game like Witcher 3, you see Geralt kneeling by a crackling fire, wind blowing his hair. These screens could fall within the scope of a graphic designer’s tasks.

The concept art that is released for games — as in the actual character concepts or level designs for storyboarding purposes — is more likely to be done by the game designers, rather than the graphic designers.

However, a poster advertising the game — like, say, the double-sided Doom poster featured in the commercial where the video game shop employees are scaring the dentists and their patient — falls more within the scope of a graphic designer.

The in-game content is most likely to be generated by game designers, and the advertising and marketing content is most likely to be generated by graphic designers. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be any cross-pollination of ideas between the two groups.

The game designers would be able to help the graphic designers on things like title screens, and the graphic designers could offer some character concept ideas or other game art concepts. Both occupations are designers, after all.

They will have similar appreciation and understanding of design elements (but that doesn’t mean they’ll have the same design tastes!).

So, you’re liking the sound of this graphic design business… You like the idea of working on the branding for a game developer studio, and the advertising content for video games, or maybe designing some title screens, so what do you do now? Time to look at schools!

We’ll list the top 20 game design schools according to Animation Career Review, who’ve taken the liberty of ranking the top 50 schools for graphic design (feel free to browse their exhaustive list if you want to pull that deeply from the bullpen).

Top 20 Graphic Design Schools

1. Rhode Island School of Design


Website: http://www.risd.edu/academics/graphic-design/
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • M.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
Of the 32 degree programs that Rhode Island School of Design offers, Graphic Design ranks among its top five most popular majors. It is a small school, with only about 2,000 undergraduate students and less than 500 graduate students. Tuition comes in at just about $46,000 dollars.

Also worth mentioning, RISD is graced with the presence of an unofficial mascot known as Scrotie. It is as mesmerizingly disturbing as it sounds, imitating the exact reproductive apparatus you’d expect something named Scrotie to imitate. If you’re going to google it, don’t use your work computer!

If you’re going to google it, don’t use your work computer! Also, the school is excellent, so don’t let fake mascots deter you from looking into it.

2. Parsons School of Design at the New School


Department: School of Art, Media, and Technology
Website: http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/bfa-communication-design/
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Communication Design
  • A.A.S. in Graphic Design
  • Certificate in Graphic & Digital Design

About:
Parsons School of Design at the New School is located in New York, New York. It is another relatively small school, with just under 5,000 students enrolled across all its degree program offerings: associate, undergraduate, and graduate.

Tuition is in the $21,000-$22,500 dollar range per term, putting the two-term yearly cost around $42,000 to $45,000 dollars for undergraduate programs. Tuition is in the $21,000-$22,500 dollar range per term, putting the two-term yearly cost around $42,000 to $45,000 dollars for undergraduate programs.

Parsons School of Design has notable graduates from its graphic design and comdesign offerings, like Robert Wong, CCO of Google Creative Lab, and Ji Lee, creative strategist at Facebook.

3. Maryland Institute College of Art


Website: https://www.mica.edu/Programs_of_Study/Undergraduate_Programs/Graphic_Design/Overview.html
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • B.F.A. with Graphic Design Studio Concentration
  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Humanistic Studies
  • M.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
Maryland Institute College of Art is an old, small school that calls Baltimore, Maryland home. There are less than 1,900 students enrolled across the graduate and undergraduate program offerings. They offer several different degree programs, catering to many different workload preferences.

They offer your standard B.F.A. in graphic design, as well as the dual major in graphic design and humanistic studies, and a studio concentration option, which gives lighter exposure to graphic design than the B.F.A. will. Tuition is about $44,000 dollars.

They offer your standard B.F.A. in graphic design, as well as the dual major in graphic design and humanistic studies, and a studio concentration option, which gives lighter exposure to graphic design than the B.F.A. will. Tuition is about $44,000 dollars.

4. Yale University


Program: The School of Art Graphic Design program
Website: http://art.yale.edu/GraphicDesign
Available Degrees:

  • M.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
Yale University is extremely selective in its M.F.A. enrollment. For an Ivy League school, you would probably expect nothing less. How many students are admitted each year? The cap is set at 10. Up to 10 students are admitted to the two-year program each year.

Yale also offers a preliminary-year program, which has an enrollment cap of a whopping seven students. The Tuition at Yale School of Art comes in around $36,300 dollars.

Yale also offers a preliminary-year program, which has an enrollment cap of a whopping seven students. The Tuition at Yale School of Art comes in around $36,300 dollars.

5. School of Visual Arts


Website: http://www.sva.edu/undergraduate/design
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
Here’s another small school based out of New York, New York. Just over 4,300 students are enrolled in the School of Visual Arts’ 30 plus programs. Students have the opportunity to have their work reviewed by industry professionals once they hit the fourth year of the program.

The SVA also has a DIC (which stands for Digital Imaging Center) which is a 24-hour, 7 days a week, technological resource treasure trove. Tuition is $18,250 per semester for the 2016-2017 school year.

6. Cranbrook Academy of Art


Website: http://cranbrookart.edu/2d-department/departmental-philosophy/
Available Degrees:

  • M.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
The graphic design department is part of the 2D Department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the school only houses around 150 students at a time. Cranbrook has a big focus on actually doing.

Their message states time and again that experimentation and the act of making come first, and all theory, critiques, and critical studies point towards that priority. Tuition for Cranbrook sits around $37,000 dollars for the 2016-2017 academic year.

7. Pratt Institute


Department(s): The School of Art and The School of Design
Website: https://www.pratt.edu/academics/school-of-art/undergraduate-school-of-art/associate-degrees/aos/graphic-design-aos/
Available Degrees:

  • A.A.S. in Graphic Design/Illustration
  • A.O.S. in Graphic Design
  • B.F.A. in Communications Design

About:
Pratt Institute is located in Brooklyn, New York. About 4,500 students attend the institute, which offers a wealth of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs for students to choose from. It’s only the second school on the list to offer a degree specifically in Communications Design.

ComDesign is a degree program that focuses on combining graphic design with illustration and advertising. Tuition and fees for Pratt Institute are around $46,500 dollars. With room and board, and other expenses factored in, it’s over $60,000 dollars.

8. California Institute of the Arts


Department: The School of Art
Website: https://art.calarts.edu/programs/graphic-design
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • M.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • M.F.A. in Graphic Design with a Motion Graphics Specialization

About:
You will find the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. The B.F.A. program usually has an admissions cap at 15 students. At the end of every academic year, you need to pass faculty reviews in order to continue on with the program.

For the graduate programs, the cap is even smaller. CalArts offers both a two-year and a three-year program, accepting eight students for the 2-year, and only five students for the 3-year program. Tuition is around $43,000 dollars per year.

9. Ringling College of Art and Design


Website: http://www.ringling.edu/Graphic-Design
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
You read that correctly. Ringling College. As in one of the Ringling Brothers. John Ringling founded this school back in 1931. It’s grown to encompass 1300 students, offering 11 majors to choose from. The college can be found in Sarasota, Florida.

The Ringling College of Art and Design features great internship and real world experience opportunities. The college offers what they call “The Collaboratory.”

The Collaboratory assigns Ringling College students to work with willing local businesses on all the businesses’ graphic design needs. Tuition and fees land just above $41,000 dollars.

10. Savannah College of Art and Design


Department: School of Digital Media
Website: https://www.scad.edu/academics/programs/graphic-design
Available Degrees:

  • Minor in Graphic Design
  • B.A. in Graphic Design
  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • M.A. in Graphic Design
  • M.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
SCAD has a handful of campus opportunities to choose from. They have a Savannah, Georgia location, an Atlanta, Georgia location, a Hong Kong location, and they offer their programs online as well.

SCAD offers some of the greatest flexibility we’ve seen so far on this list, in terms of locations in which you could learn and in terms of degree offerings. SCAD touts a graphic design curriculum that teaches “mobile technology, interface design, and user experience.”

These are areas that would definitely be worthwhile for a graphic designer in the game design field. Tuition is about $35,000 dollars. This is definitely a school worth checking out.

11. Virginia Commonwealth University


Department: The School of the Arts
Website: http://arts.vcu.edu/graphicdesign/
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • M.F.A. with a Visual Communications Concentration

About:
Located in Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University is the largest University to yet appear on the list. There are over 31,000 students enrolled. The cost is $26,900 for in-state tuition, and for out-of-state the cost nearly doubles with a $45,000 dollar price tag.

VCU Arts prides itself on its curriculum’s focus on awareness across individual, social, and cultural issues. It also expresses its attention to ethical development, as well as the program’s contributions, which span from localized, school-based community efforts all the way to national and international community efforts.

12. Minneapolis College of Art & Design


Website: http://mcad.edu/academic-programs/graphic-design
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • M.F.A. in Visual Studies
  • Certificate in Graphic Design

About:
Only about 800 students attend the Minneapolis, Minnesota college. Tuition, including fees and housing expenses, ends up around $43,000 dollars. MCAD requires all third-year graphic design students to land an internship. That real-world exposure is invaluable in your transformation from student to professional.

In the final year of the B.F.A. program, students participate in the Emerging Talent Showcase, which features your work for potential employers.

13. School of the Art Institute of Chicago


Department: Visual Communication Design Department
Website: http://www.saic.edu/academics/departments/vcd/
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Visual Communication Design
  • M.F.A. in Visual Communication Design
  • Certificate in Graphic Design

About:
SAIC boasts of students being consistently represented in design competitions and publications on a national level. This is another school that understands the importance of graphic design, or in this case visual communication design, and the role that students are preparing to play.

SAIC likes to call it “working at the intersection of art, design, and mass culture.” Tuition comes in around $45,000 dollars per year.

14. North Carolina State University


Department: The College of Design’s Department of Art and Design
Website: https://design.ncsu.edu/academics/graphic-design
Available Degrees:

  • B.A. in Graphic Design
  • Masters in Graphic Design

About:
NCSU’s graphic design page has a worthwhile focus for those looking to pursue graphic design in the game design field: user experience.

The program overview talks about overarching branding strategies, where you, as a graphic designer, will learn to improve user experience and delight users through great interface design, and audience-specific visual communication.

North Carolina residents are looking at about $15,000 dollars in tuition costs. Out of state residents can expect to pay about double that amount, somewhere around $30,000 dollars per academic year.

15. Art Center College of Design


Website: http://www.artcenter.edu/academics/undergraduate-degrees/overview.html
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • M.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
ArtCenter offers you, as a student, the opportunity to “learn by doing in small studio classes.” They have a graphic design curriculum, but they also have an entertainment design curriculum that has a description focusing on animated films, but it could easily apply to video games.

ArtCenter is another school with a strong focus on social and humanitarian needs. This college also offers a unique opportunity for transdisciplinary collaboration between students and teachers alike, across many different majors.

This enticing approach could be great for creative idea generation. Tuition is around $20,000 dollars per term for both graduate and undergraduate students (though undergrads pay about $1,000 dollars less).

16. Otis College of Art and Design


Department: The Communication Arts Department
Website: http://www.otis.edu/graphic-design
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • M.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
Graphic design is one of only three programs that The Communication Arts Department offers. At Otis college, you can expect to work with posters, logo development, websites, apps, and interactive design.

All relevant areas of exploration for a student looking to eventually graduate into the world of game development. Tuition is about $40,000 dollars.

17. California College of the Arts


Website: https://www.cca.edu/academics/graphic-design
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design

About:
Top students in the Graphic Design Program (one of the school’s largest programs) will have access to the Graphic Design Internship Program that the California College of the Arts provides.

Museums, tech companies, publishing houses, and design firms allow students to engage with the designers those companies currently have in their employ. Per credit hour, the undergraduate fee was $1,733 in 2015.

18. Massachusetts College of Art and Design


Department: The Graphic Design Department
Website: http://www.massart.edu/academic_programs/graphic_design.html
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • Certificate in Graphic Design

About:
MassArt brings up a program focal point that few other schools mentioned in their graphic design overview: preparing for team-based environments. A wealth of professional opportunities, especially pertaining to you as you look for jobs in the gaming industry, are going to require some serious teamwork.

MassArt touts its program as one that will teach you to speak intelligently about your work, and also speak effectively about the work of your peers. This is a hugely beneficial skill moving forward, especially considering that just about every project you’ll be involved in during your professional career will be team-based.

For residents of Massachusetts, the price comes in around $12,000 dollars. For residents of New England, the price comes in around $23,600. And for out of state residents, the price comes in at about $32,800 dollars.

19. Carnegie Mellon University


Department: The School of Design
Website: http://design.cmu.edu/programs/undergrad
Available Degrees:

  • B.Des. (Bachelor of Design Degree)

About:
A Bachelor of Design Degree is the equivalent of a B.F.A., but makes the design discipline separate from Fine Art. The Carnegie Mellon design program exposes students to three different design specialties: Comdesign (graphic design), Industrial design (product design), and physical and digital environment design.

You can specialize, or you can combine two of the three disciplines. A combination of comdesign and digital environment design could be very effective in game industry prep. Students can expect to pay around $45,000 dollars for tuition.

20. Temple University


Department: The Tyler School of Art
Website: https://tyler.temple.edu/programs/graphic-interactive-design
Available Degrees:

  • B.F.A. in Graphic and Interactive Design
  • M.F.A. in Graphic and Interactive Design

About:
The Tyler School of Art at Temple requires a sophomore-level portfolio review before a student can be admitted to the Graphic and Interactive Design major.

Temple also offers a highly selective, two-year M.F.A. program for students showing some impressive design chops. For in-state residents, the price tag of Temple tuition is $18,600 dollars. For out-of-state residents, tuition is $29,300 dollars.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply:

*