Graphic Design Schools

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by BD2010, Mar 28, 2008.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2008
    Hello everyone, this is my first post here at Macrumors, and I am looking for some guidance. I want to pursue a career in graphic design, but need to find a good college. I love to make art on the computer, however I do not do it often because my only computer is a 6-year-old PC. I do want to learn though and I am searching for a good college to go to. It is scaring me a little though reading about how hard it is to get a job in graphic design and how little you get paid, but I want to do this so bad it doesn’t really matter to me, ill work as hard as I need to. My dream job would be designing websites and album covers for bands, but I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. So my question to everyone here is what are some good schools for graphic design, and which ones are going to make me stand out from everyone else when I am looking to get a job. Any information is greatly appreciated.
  2. macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2007
    das Fort
    Rhode Island School of Design and California Institute of the Arts are two of the ones that you will probably hear about most, and both are supposedly pretty hard to get into. Texas Christian University actually has a very good graphic design program, as well.

    I hope you have a fat wallet, because you are not likely to find anything worth a damn that isn't incredibly expensive.
  3. macrumors 65816

    Nov 6, 2006
    Norfolk, UK
    well your country might have been useful, as this site covers more than just america
  4. macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2007
    das Fort
    He's new, try cutting him a little slack. I didn't realize this site was so international when I first found it, either.
  5. macrumors 6502


    Sep 11, 2007
    Amsterdam, NY
    You can start out with a Graphic Design program at your local Community College and then transfer to a four year school. This route saves thousands of dollars and you end up with the same degree.
  6. macrumors 65816

    Nov 6, 2006
    Norfolk, UK
    well I know the obvious take on the site is that its american but as the op doesn't say a country we have to assume/guess where he/she is from which inturn could lead to a thread full of useless suggestions if they do in fact come from say australia and everyone suggests american :D
  7. Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    disclosure: i teach graphic design at a Tier A school.

    top schools for GD in the USA (tier A) are generally considered to be

    Art Center

    and to a somewhat lesser extent (high tier B)

    NC State
    Virginia Commonwealth

    Other good tier B programs include

    Kansas City
    Michigan State

    most top design schools will not accept credits from a community college for any design classes, tho they possibly will for liberal arts requirements. the issue is that programs are structured in a linear fashion, so you cannot take some classes without prerequisites; thereby making is hard to impossible to do a 4-year BFA in 2 or 3 years even with transfer credits. lower-end schools may accept more credits than tier A will.
  8. macrumors 6502


    Sep 23, 2003
    Ringling in FL is an excellent school, and at 38k/year VERY expensive. You know its funny, I was reading about the main designers at Pentagram Design and most of them are self taught, or they "apprenticed" under someone else. Being self taught has some advantages IMO, for one you don't get pigeon-holed into creating the same crap that every other college grad is producing. (A fellow designer once told me story about train tracks, one painted black, and one orange with polkadots. They might look different, but theyre headed to the same place, they only go where theyre instructed and inside theyre still cold steel) Not to mention, as an art director, it shows me real dedication; that you were willing to be passionate, slave and sweat for your career/craft, and I know you'll do the same for me.

    Now dont get me wrong, Im not saying "dont go to college," Im saying master the technical mechanics, listen to what profs want to pass tests, but TEACH yourself. I have 2 Bachelors (Soc and Psy) and a MS in Psy ... college is important, I know this from experience ... but the most important thing in design and art is passion and self-motivation.
  9. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2008
    Thanks for all of you help. Sorry about not putting my country in ... i forgot about that but yes, i am in the US.
  10. macrumors regular


    Nov 27, 2007
    NJ / NYC
    Personally, I would recommend Savannah College of Art and Design. They have a very robust design program where you can actually pick which segment of the design industry you want to train & work in. The professors there are amazing and have long backgrounds working in the field (many still do). The courses are very comprehensive and the technology is always up to date. Not so with most community colleges. You also don't waste months toiling away with as many general non-art courses at SCAD. It's very focused, class are very small and personal. When I graduated, I had a complete portfolio in hand and had no trouble in finding a job in New York. The city is beautiful, with a huge art scene and tons of festivals, fairs, and events. I loved living there (always something fun going on, it's minutes from the beach and the cost of living is cheap). I highly recommend it, it's a highly acclaimed, award-winning school and yet cheaper than most of those big name schools. It's also fairly easy to get into, which was nice. Check it out, they have campuses in Atlanta, Savannah and online.

  11. macrumors 601


    Dec 31, 2007
    La La Land
    Hey, 3rd quarter freshmen here, sitting in the dorms right now :) (Atlanta campus)
  12. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    There were many happy working professional designers in 2002. Some of them were lucky enough to be using a computer just like the one you have now

    I hear the same from new photograhers, they think they need the latest gear. I tell them to go look at National Geographic or Sports Illustrated from the 1970's
  13. macrumors 65816

    May 16, 2007
    One thing my professor keeps drilling us on is the fact that great designs aren't born with a mouse and monitor. They come about from pencil on paper. Draw it out first, then use the computer as a tool to produce it. It's been a hard thing to do, but it's been worth it.
  14. macrumors newbie

    Apr 2, 2008
    how can u rank calarts higher than artcenter. YOU FOOL! jk...
  15. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2006
    i felt so cool, just skimming through this post.
    i have friends currently enrolled, or about to attend many of the school mentioned.
    its awesome to know more ppl that are out in the same world as i am, with the same visions and goals.
  16. macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2008
    I am attending DeVry University right now and I really like their Web/graphic design program.
  17. macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2003
    hey there. i don't know if you'd travel out of the US to study but there's some good schools here in canada. i graduated from the york university / sheridan college bachelor of design program. it's a really good program and growing. the profs are always adjusting to meet the needs of the industry & the students. emily carr out in vancouver is also a good program.

    regarding employment and pay, that really depends. don't let people scare you away from that. granted, when you start out, you do pay your dues... designers don't start off that high (at least in canada), but once you work your way up and have a few years on your belt, you'll definitely be fine. if you freelance and have a lot of clients, you can make a lot of money :)

    i work full time for a company and my pay isn't bad. i don't freelance on the side because there's a lot to do that comes with it, but i'm sure i could make a lot more if i did.

    don't worry about that stuff now. if this is what you want to do, pursue it!

    all the best to you!
  18. macrumors member

    May 22, 2008
    i would amend this. great designs start in your head. concepting, concepting, concepting.

    as for the OP, going to a good design school is very helpful, but i would fathom to guess most people really learn good design when they are out in the working world. that's how i did it.

    so if you choose to maybe go to a state school and do their design program, make sure you intern, when you can, within a design studio or ad agency. try to work with as many experienced designers as you can.

    instead of taking a job out of college in-house as the only designer, maybe take a less glamourous production person job in a studio, where you will learn from a number of people.
  19. macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2007
    Warminster, PA

    Drexel has a rather nice graphic design program. Check out the college of media arts and design at
  20. macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    I don't mean this in a rude way at all, but that statement concerns me. Being a designer is FAR MORE work than "making art" -- you need to understand type and color theory, visual communication, working with teams, clients, etc etc. Before you even touch a computer you need to know what the client is looking for, have a plan in place, then the computer is just a means to get it done. In a 9-10 hr day you may only use the computer for an hour or 2. You need to have passion about design and helping others.

    This is good. You won't be disappointed then. Good designers starting out are often paid teachers wages and work longer hours (some evenings, Saturdays, holidays, etc). More than likely you'll need to work as a freelancer (how a studio often "tries out" a designer) and the work is usually unsteady for several years.

    again, concerned here... a) bands never have money to pay a designer so many are done for the sake of doing it and b) web design is becoming a specialized field which is also very hard to get into. economy wise, right not the market is not good. design is VERY effected by the economy. it seems to be one of the first areas companies cut funds.

    did i sugar coat that too much?

    bottom line -- if you want to be a designer, make sure you WANT to be a designer. it is NOT an easy field for most. its like wanting to become an actor -- seems cool and the market is flooded. BUT if you can hang in there (maybe have a back up plan), have the skills needed and get the right break, it can be a great field.

    good luck -- i do mean that!
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2007
    Being a graduate of MassArt, I would not consider the collage to be a tier B school!!! Very hard school to get into. You need artist skills and have better than average SAT scores BEFORE they will even 'consider' you! The entrance exam for art is an all day exam testing you in 4 fields of art.

    Good designers are paid well. Doing band art is something EVERY designer dreams of doing, but usually does not happen.

    As far as pay is concerned, the pay isn't huge to start, but once you have experience the pay is very good.

    After graduating you might want to consider finding a job as a graphic designer at an ad agency or design studio.
  22. macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    Agreed, but the problem is too many people think design is easy and they can do it to. There is a lot of really really bad design out there. Really bad. With everyone now having a computer and knowing what a "font" is, its made it even harder to make clients understand the cost of GOOD design. I've reviewed a lot student portfolios and you can tell who has potential and who relies on the computer to "think" for them.... its similar to what has happened to Photography.

    It comes down to, if you have the passion, drive and God given talent to be a designer and are willing to put in your dues, there is a lot of opportunities out there. Its just not a field for a passive 9-5'er who wants a good job right out of school.
  23. macrumors regular


    Jul 28, 2006
    Richmond, Va
    In terms of proper Universities I know Virginia Commonwealth University was number 1 a few semesters back- I got there for Advertising but the stuff I've seen out of there is quite good. I'd say if you can study at a University so if all else fails you have a proper degree.
  24. macrumors 6502


    Jul 3, 2006
    An obtuse corner of the Triangle
    Yeah, I just moved from Richmond Last year after a 6 year stay there. I heard the same thing and I tend to believe it's a damn good school.... I know it's sculpture/painting programs was rated #1 in the nation (for whatever that's really worth.) The really great thing is - if you live there a year before you apply and get residency, you get in-state tutition... I think it's then only 2 grand-ish per course... or was it 2 grand per semester? I don't remember... nonetheless, worth looking into.

    And Richmond is a suprisingly cool town. I was very suspicious of it before I moved there in 2001... with all the southern rebel crap. disclosure: I'm southern... born in Nashville TN, but to a wild band of hippie artists - not rednecks :)

    Anyway, check it out.

    Ps. I went to SAIC 89-93, Knew some people who went on to Harvard, dated a girl from MassArt and knew alot of folks from SCAD... all great schools and some great artists from each. It comes down to you and your passion, drive and willingness to kick ass in what you do. The education is great - but it ensures nothing. Learn all you can while you can - life is short and truely can end in a flash. Don't let your only mark on the world be skidmarks off a road.
  25. macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2008

    If you are open to the online experience, i would suggest either Art institute of Pittsburgh or the International Academy of Design and Technology.

    I have been conducting a decent amount of research trying to find a new online school to go to and these are the two that have the most appealing programs and methods... just stay away from the diploma mills like Phoenix and Westwood.

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