Top Graphic Design Schools

Graphic design is one of the fastest growing industries in the country. Because the internet has allowed for more media rich video and photographic content on business' webpages and in advertising efforts, businesses that fail to brand and associate themselves with visually striking content will get left behind. Social media demands visually appealing content to drive sales leads and graphic designers are in increasingly high demand to help businesses stay ahead of their competition.

Directory of Graphic Design Schools by state:

Directory of Graphic Design Schools by city:

Design Principles

The cornerstone of any graphic design school education is learning design fundamentals. Formatting, sizing, and color selection all play an important role in how customers interact with a brand. Graphic design students learn the importance of these elements and how they interact with each other to create final products for marketing, fashion, and advertising industries.

The best graphic design schools in the country focus on project based learning as opposed to traditional classroom instruction models. Learning by doing helps students not only build a portfolio while still in school, it also helps to hear peer reviews of their work and learn from their mistakes.

In entertainment hubs like New York and Los Angeles, many teachers in these schools are also former industry executives, bringing with them knowledge of their industries that they can pass along to students about dos and don'ts of particular advertising and branding exercises. Teachers previously employed in design centric industries also provide an excellent opportunity for students to make connections for potential job placement. While schools in these high-cost living centers may be more expensive than a more remote schools, interacting with design professionals directly connected to the industry can open many more doors than a school elsewhere in the country.

Additionally, students are introduced to the newest software available in the design industry. Design aided by software is a growing industry trend that will likely entirely eclipse traditional drawing and sketching in just a few years. Learning applications like Photoshop, InDesign, and CAD are essential to landing a job after graduation. Most businesses expect moderate to expert level experience with these applications and often ignore candidates who don't possess the necessary software skills. While an impressive portfolio may get you in the door, being unable to work with a business' software suite may lose you the job.

Industry Centered

Cities built around media and consumption like New York and Los Angeles have some of the best graphic design schools in the country. Certificated programs in these cities help students not only learn, but also find jobs after graduation. In some cases, local businesses partner with graphic design universities to work on projects with current students. Their hands-on learning environments not only show businesses what students are capable of, they help make connections to people within the graphic design industry to help students have higher chances of job placement after graduation.

In addition to traditional bachelor's and master's programs offered at schools, new programs are emerging that offer certificates for completion of basic graphic design classes. These certificated programs allow those looking to work in the industry the ability to forego a 4 year degree program in favor of just taking fundamental design classes instead. After completing these classes, students are awarded an official certificate from the university to prove their knowledge and competency of the subjects. As student loan debt rises, certificates are cheaper and faster alternatives to going back to school for an additional degree.

In some cases, local businesses will partner with graphic design universities to find students for summer internships to give them work experience before graduation, a growing trend among college graduates. Lacking job experience is one of the primary reasons new college graduates fail to find jobs immediately after graduating. Internships are also testing ground for new employees and can often turn into a job at the same company post-graduation.

Graphic Design Salaries

The salaries earned after graduation depend largely on the graduate's location and willingness to relocate to another part of the country for a job. Salaries in Los Angeles for graphic designers average about $55,000 per year, while salaries in midwestern states like Kansas are much closer to $47,000 per year.

Recent studies have shown that of 15,000 graphic design jobs in 2014, an overwhelming 82% of them preferred candidates with a bachelor's degree in the field to someone who had learned the minimum. The average median salary for graphic designers with a bachelor's degree from an accredited school to designers who learned the trade independently was $10,000 more, with degree-holding designers making an average of $52,000 a year compared to their uneducated counterparts earning $42,000 per year.

Graphic design isn't just learning the use of software. A large problem with the design industry is that applications like Photoshop and InDesign have allowed independent learners to pick up a few tricks they can use to throw logos or brochures together and call themselves experts. Graphic design school curriculums not only include software instruction, they also teach about the emotional responses of colors, font sizes, and how a combination of colors and fonts can produce a brand representative of what a company is trying to sell or promote. Traditions and industry standards also exist within many jobs. As industry professionals migrate to teaching students in new design schools, they bring with them a host of knowledge of their respective field that can only be known through years of experience.

While going to school can be expensive, the resources available to students are often invaluable when trying to find a job. Schools around the country offer a variety of graphic design degree programs, including both certificates and four year paths, to help future designers find their way in the industry.
Hello Yashar.