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Popular Graphic Design Courses in the USA

ACAlpina ChariNov 16, 2023

Popular Graphic Design Courses in the USA

Graphic design is one of the most exciting and prominent fields in the internet age. Graphic design is essential for various industries, such as advertising, marketing, education, entertainment, and social media. The USA has always been at the forefront of the design market, since the advent of the advertising economy. The global graphic design market size was 45.8 billion USD in 2021, and the US graphic design market size alone was 12.7 billion USD. Additionally, The USA offers some of the best graphic design colleges, programs, and resources in the world. Studying graphic design courses in the US can provide students with the skills, knowledge, and experience to excel in the field and compete in the global market. 

It is estimated that 68% of digital marketers use visual assets in content creation, and 80% of digital marketers use graphic design in social media marketing. Graphic design can also help businesses stand out from the competition and build brand awareness and loyalty.  The demand for graphic design professionals is predicted to grow by 3% by 2031, as more businesses and organizations rely on digital platforms and online presence. As such, there isn’t a better time to be a graphic designer than now, and not a better place than the USA to study graphic design. 

In this article, we will look at some of the best graphic design programs in the USA, along with their entry requirements, tuition fees, and more. 

Overview of Graphic Design Courses in the USA

No. of Programs  100+
No. of Universities  75+
Degrees Offered  BFA, BA, MA, MFA 
Duration of Study  Bachelors (4 years); Masters (2 or 3 years)
Tuition Fees (2023/24) 40,000-65,000 USD 

Why Study Graphic Design Courses in the USA? 

Quality Education: The US is home to some of the world’s top institutions renowned for their graphic design programs, offering cutting-edge education, experienced faculty, and access to state-of-the-art technology and resources.  

Diversity and Innovation: American design schools often embrace diversity, exposing you to various perspectives and styles. This environment fosters innovation and creativity, allowing you to explore different design approaches.  

Networking Opportunities: The US design industry is vast and well-connected. Studying here provides access to a rich network of professionals, potential mentors, and industry connections that could jumpstart your career.  

Exposure to Industry Trends: Being in the USA immerses you in a culture often at the forefront of design trends and technological advancements. This exposure can keep you updated on the latest tools, techniques, and industry demands.  

Internship and Job Opportunities: Many American design programs have strong ties to the industry, offering internships and job placement assistance. As such many students work while studying in the USA. This can be instrumental in gaining practical experience and securing employment post-graduation. Students can also apply for a work visa after study in the USA

Cultural Experience: Beyond academics, studying in the USA provides a rich cultural experience. Exposure to diverse cultures can significantly influence your design perspective, making your work more inclusive and globally relevant.

Top Graphic Design Courses in the USA 

Rhodes School of Design 

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a private art and design school in Providence, Rhode Island, founded in 1877 by Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs across 19 majors and has a museum with one of the largest college art collections in the US. RISD is affiliated with Brown University and has a dual degree program with it. RISD alumni have received many awards and recognition, such as MacArthur fellowships, Emmy Awards, and Academy Awards.  RISD’s Graphic Design department is one of the largest and most influential in the school, offering a four-year BFA program and a two-year MFA program. The department emphasizes the roles of social context, media, and aesthetics in the production of visible language systems. Students learn the fundamental value of typography, imagery, grids, systems, and more in the course of creating various design projects, from traditional print media to digital and interactive media. The department also provides opportunities for collaboration, internships, and professional development. 

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
BFA in Graphic Design  4 years  58,690 USD
MFA in Graphic Design  2 years  58,690 USD

Suggested Reading: All About the US Student Visa Process

Savannah College of Art and Design 

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a private, nonprofit art institution that was founded in 1978 to provide degrees in programs not yet offered in the southeast of the United States. It has campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Lacoste, and Hong Kong, as well as online programs. SCAD offers more than 100 degree programs and specializations, including graphic design, which is one of its most popular majors.  SCAD’s graphic design program prepares students for professional careers in the creative industry by teaching them the latest technology, methods, and theories of visual communication. Students can choose from a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Master of Arts, or a Master of Fine Arts in graphic design, depending on their level of interest and experience. SCAD’s graphic design program is ranked among the best in the nation by various publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, Communication Arts, and Design Intelligence. SCAD’s graphic design program also offers opportunities for students to collaborate with industry partners, such as Google, Coca-Cola, and Disney, on real-world projects and internships.

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
BFA in Graphic Design  4 years  40,095 USD 
MFA in Graphic Design  2 years  41,085 USD 

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Artcentre College of Design 

ArtCenter College of Design is a private institution that was founded in 1930 in Pasadena, California. It is a global leader in art and design education, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in various creative disciplines, such as graphic design, industrial design, film, interaction design, and more. ArtCenter is ranked #26 among regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report1. Its graphic design department is one of the most prestigious and influential in the world, producing alumni who have shaped the fields of branding, typography, editorial design, and digital media. The department offers a BFA and an MFA in graphic design, as well as a minor in brand design and strategy. The curriculum is rigorous and innovative, combining studio practice, theory, and research. ArtCenter’s graphic design graduates are sought after by leading companies, agencies, and organizations for their creative vision and professional skills.

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
BFA in Graphic Design  4 years  50,606 USD
MFA in Graphic Design  2 years  53,484 USD

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Carnegie Mellon University 

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a private research university founded in 1900 by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. CMU is known for its excellence in science, technology, engineering, arts, and business, and has been ranked among the top universities in the world by various publications. CMU’s School of Design is one of the oldest and most respected design schools in the US, offering undergraduate and graduate programs in communication, product, and environment design, as well as a Ph.D. program in transition design. The school also boasts several notable alumni, such as graphic designer and illustrator John Maeda, interaction designer and author Bill Moggridge, and video game designer and producer Jesse Schell. 

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
Bachelor of Design (Communication) 4 years  62,240 USD 

Suggested Reading: Best Cities in the USA for Overseas Students

California School of the Arts 

CalArts is a private art university in Santa Clarita, California, founded in 1961 by Walt Disney and his brother Roy. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs in six schools: Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater.  The graphic design department at CalArts is part of the School of Art. It fosters the next generation of graphic designers through rigorous inquiry, fearless exploration, and innovative making within a tight-knit studio community. The department offers BFA and MFA degrees in graphic design, with courses in print and publication design, web and interface design, motion graphics, branding, identity and type design, as well as design history and education. The department has a distinguished faculty of practicing designers, artists, and scholars, and a network of successful alumni who work in various fields of design.

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
BFA in Graphic Design  4 years  57,096 USD
MFA in Graphic Design  2 or 3 years  60,180 USD

Suggested Reading: Affordable Cities in the USA for International Students

Admission Requirements for Graphic Design Graduates in the USA 

Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design:  

  • You’ll need to have completed high school or an equivalent educational qualification. 
  • Submission of high school transcripts showcasing academic performance. 
  • A portfolio showcasing your artistic and design skills is crucial. This is often a significant factor in the admission decision. 
  • Some colleges may require standardized test scores like the SAT or ACT. 
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors. 
  • A Statement of Purpose or Personal Essay explaining your interest in graphic design and your career goals. 
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English through tests like TOEFL(90) or IELTS (6.5). 

Master’s Degree in Graphic Design:  

  • A completed bachelor’s degree, often in a related field like graphic design, fine arts, or a related discipline. 
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English through tests like TOEFL(90) or IELTS (6.5).
  • Submission of undergraduate transcripts demonstrating your academic background. 
  • A comprehensive portfolio showcasing your design work and artistic skills. 
  • 2-3 letters of recommendation from professors or professionals in the field. 
  • A Statement of Purpose detailing your motivations, career goals, and how the program aligns with your aspirations. 
  • Some programs might require the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), although this requirement varies. 
  • Some programs prefer or require relevant work experience.

Career Opportunities for Graphic Design Graduates in the USA 

Graphic design is a creative field that involves designing visual communication for various media, such as print, web, animation, and product packaging. Graphic designers can work in a variety of settings, such as design agencies, advertising firms, publishing houses, or freelancers. Some of the common job titles for graphic design graduates in the USA are web designer, illustrator, animator, product developer, creative director, production artist, art director, marketing specialist, or brand designer. These jobs require graphic designers to use the latest technologies and software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe XD. Graphic designers can also work as freelancers, as 90% of graphic designers work freelance.

The salary of graphic design graduates in the USA depends on several factors, such as location, experience, skill, employer, and industry. According to Payscale, the average salary for a graphic designer in the USA is 49,000 USD, with the 10th percentile earning 36,000 USD and the 90th percentile earning 68,000 USD.


In conclusion, studying graphic design courses in the USA can be one of the most significant career decisions you can make! With cutting-edge technologies, you can learn from some of the best colleges and universities in the world, and develop your creativity and problem-solving skills. Graphic design is a field that offers diverse and exciting career opportunities, as well as the chance to make a meaningful impact in visual communication. Whether you want to work for a multinational firm, a local business, or as a freelancer, graphic design courses in the USA can equip you with the practical skills and knowledge you need to succeed. However, it’s important to make an informed choice, considering factors such as scholarships, living expenses, budget, etc. It can be an extremely stressful and complicated process, that’s why we are here to help you. Let our experts at OneApply, guide you to the perfect choice for you. Book your free video call appointment now! 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Most programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, a portfolio showcasing creative work, and proficiency in design software. 

Yes, students can specialize in areas like illustration, web design, motion graphics, branding, or UX/UI design within graphic design programs.

Graduates can pursue careers as graphic designers, art directors, UX/UI designers, or illustrators in various industries such as advertising, marketing, and publishing.

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