From emojis to road signs to the shirt you’re wearing right now, virtually everything we see is the product of graphic design. Skilled artists are employed to help sell a brand, to convey meaningful messages, and create media that is stimulating and intuitive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Graphic Designers make an average annual wage of $52,110.
What Do Graphic Designers Do?
Graphic design uses visual art to communicate with consumers. Most artists in this field use digital illustrations and typography to convey ideas in various forms such as website design and print media. Some designers work with companies to create brand materials like logos, product packaging, and advertisements. Others are responsible for designing attractive websites, mobile apps, or printed materials like books and posters.
What Education Does A Graphic Designer Need?
Designers generally need at least a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or other related fields. Artists with an existing degree in another field may want to obtain a professional certificate in graphic design. Additionally, maintaining a professional portfolio helps show potential employers your creative capabilities.
Interested in learning graphic design online? Use our degree finding tools to find the graphic design schools you’re looking for!
|1||Wichita State University – 78 Points||Wichita, Kansas|
|2||Southwestern Oklahoma State University – 78 Points||Weatherford, Oklahoma|
|3||Arkansas Tech University – 72 Points||Russellville, Arkansas|
|4||Northern State University – 66 Points||Aberdeen, South Dakota|
|5||Cleveland State University – 62 Points||Cleveland, Ohio|
Our Top 15 Affordable Graphic Design Programs
Nobody wants to wait around to get into an overpriced graphic design school. We’ve assembled and ranked a list of accredited degree programs that are affordably priced with a high admission rate so you can start on your career path with confidence. Check out our rankings below!
Wichita State University – 78 Points
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree program at Wichita State University is a 120 credit hour program. It is an applied learning program that includes research into portfolio development and an internship for experience.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University – 78 Points
SWOSU’s BFA in Graphic Design is a four-year bachelor’s program with an in-house Graphic Design Studio internship opportunity. In addition to coursework, students will have the chance to exhibit their work in SWOSU’S Art Gallery. The Graphic Design Club on campus regularly takes field trips to galleries and attends national events such as the National Design Conference in Dallas.
Arkansas Tech University – 72 Points
The BFA program at Arkansas Tech is a 120 credit hour degree which includes a public senior exhibition of the student’s work portfolio. Students have access to many organizational resources, such as the College Art Association, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the Visual Arts Association. They also partner with local industries to provide paid and unpaid internships for students who qualify.
Northern State University – 66 Points
Northern State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic design program which is capstone by a senior written thesis, solo art exhibition, and completion of a resume. All students are required to complete a minimum one semester internship with local businesses. The school also offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in Digital Media, which have graphic design components.
Cleveland State University – 62 Points
Design is a concentration option for the Art Major BA program at Cleveland State University. Students will complete a 1-3 credit hours internship typically with an external institution such as a museum, or a design-related commercial enterprise. The senior capstone project includes the development of a professional portfolio.
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Ferris State University – 52 Points
Ferris State’s graphic design bachelor’s program features the opportunity to take an internship or study abroad as well as real work experience running the school’s own design studio. Students learn to deal with real-life clients and how contracts and sales work in the industry. Graduates from this program have found career placement in well-known companies such as Vogue.
St. Cloud State University – 50 Points
The Graphic Design BFA program at St. Cloud State University features regular professional-led workshops by nationally-recognized artists and an annual juried student art show. After completing their foundational courses, students must pass a Portfolio Review Benchmark with a minimum 2.5 GPA. An internship is required for graduation.
Sacramento State – 46 Points
Sacramento State offers a BFA in Graphic Design that features regular exhibitions and lectures by professional designers, field trips, and the chance to participate in national competitions. In addition to an internship, students have the opportunity to explore independent projects for credit. Graphic Design majors also participate in the Graphic Resources and Information Design Students (GRIDS) group; a student branch of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania – 40 Points
The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design degree at Mansfield University allows students to choose five degree emphasis options from subjects such as photography, advertising, and gallery management. Students may also choose to take an internship or gain experience through an individual project approved by faculty.
Husson University – 40 Points
Husson University’s BS in Graphic/Visual design is a 120-122 credit hour program that gives students the opportunity to work hands-on with real-world clients to develop their professional portfolio. The school also offers a certificate program in graphic design that can be used for professional development or transferred as credits toward a degree. The certificate is a minimum 15 credit hours.
West Liberty University – 38 Points
The Visual Communication Design bachelor’s program at West Liberty University was ranked #2 in the state by Animation Career Review. Internships are not required with this program, but are highly encouraged as the upper level practicum requires all students to work with real world clients. The school also offers a Digital Media Design program.
Lamar University – 32 Points
Lamar University offers two types of graphic design degrees. The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree prepares students for direct entry into the industry by focusing on the graphic communication process, gaining real world experience in the field, and exhibiting work through the Dishman Art Museum. The Bachelor of Science degree combines graphic design with an outside major to prepare students for graduate school study in the arts.
Lindenwood University – 30 Points
Lindenwood University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design with an emphasis in Graphic Design as well as a Graphic Design certificate program. For the BFA program, students will choose between an internship or an on-campus applied art and design work experience in addition to a senior research project. The certificate program is offered only to degree-seeking undergrads.
Northwest Missouri State University – 24 Points
The bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Northwest Missouri State University features a semester-long interactive course where student teams compete to design and present marketing materials to a real-world client. This course is designed to give students career experience in designing and pitching ideas as they would after graduation.
Black Hills State University – 18 points
BHSU gives BFA in Graphic Design students opportunities for direct work experience by running the school’s Jacket Journal newspaper, on-campus television, and radio stations. Students may choose to minor in commercial art. There is also a graphic design certificate program open to all interested students and professionals.
Still unsure which school is right for you? Our listings and tools can help you find your perfect match!
Our Ranking Methodology
We assembled a listing of 15 schools based on a National Center for Education Statistics search for schools offering graphic design programs with a low-cost (sub-$20,000) tuition. We gathered tuition data directly from each school’s website. Admission rate data was gathered from the NCES.
Tuition made up 50% of the ranking and was composed of in-state (25%) and out-of-state (25%) rates. We sorted these rates from lowest to highest and assigned points accordingly, with lower tuition rates receiving higher points. Admission rate made up the remaining 50% and were ranked from highest to lowest. We added the points together to reach a final total. The maximum total possible was 90 points. For more programs, check out our master’s in graphic design page and our associate’s in graphic designs page.
Employees of the schools listed here are encouraged to contact us if they notice any error in our gathered data. We will make corrections as soon as possible.