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Career Graphic Design

Top 10 Graphic Design Schools Around the Globe – The Ultimate List

Planning on following a career in graphic design? It would be advised to get informed about your options when it comes to studying graphic design. This article is going to present the top 10 options you have when it comes to graphic design schools.

It is a widely-known fact that when you are following better courses in a domain and when you graduate from schools that have a certain reputation you are improving your chances to finding a place to work in a famous international company.

Even though graphic designers can work without graduating from a university or graphic design schools, the job positions that you can opt for when having higher academic studies are paid much better.

When desiring to expand your possibilities, investing in your studies is a must. First of all, you will learn new things and you’ll get to know how to use certain tools and concepts you probably had no idea about beforehand. Secondly, you will obtain a diploma that might weigh more than you think when being interviewed for a job position.

Of course, studying at one of the top universities and schools of graphic design means that you have to be pretty good at what you are doing. Building a compelling portfolio and paying lots of attention to each school’s admission requirements are steps you need to go through.

Until then, have a look at this extensive list of graphic design schools that have a tremendous reputation globally.

10. Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture

For the 10th university of this graphic design schools top, here are some details about the Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture in Finland.

The Aalto University includes many studies for all types of degrees. This is an internationally-known school, considering the many performances of its students, the strategic cornerstones it applies and the educational programmes it offers.

In 2016, the Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture hosted no less than 2400 undergraduate students, 300 postgraduate students and 60 professors.


Students can get their Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees and Doctoral degrees in arts, design or architecture by following one of the studies and programmes available at Aalto University.

More than that, the students have the opportunity to choose what language they want to study in – Swedish or English.

The most popular studies they offer are Game Design and Production, New Media Design and Production, Product and Spatial Design and Collaborative and Industrial Design. Besides these, students can opt for joint master’s programmes.

9. UCLA Design Media Arts

The UCLA Design Media Arts school occupies the 9th place in the top graphic design schools you can choose from.

The department of design media arts is focused on individual exploration, meaning that students should be actively involved in the process of learning. In this sense, UCLA emphasizes practice over theory.

Students can engage in lectures, workshops and extra-curricular events that allow them to apply the notions they learn during the courses. This school works with books, galleries, game consoles and all sorts of technologies that encourage gaining experience and that promote the creative spirit of students.

The University of California has numerous programmes to offer for high school graduates and transfer students.

student sharing notes

In order to apply to one of the programmes at UCLA, you have to fill in an application for a major. All the details can be found on the official website of UCLA.

The art programmes are very complex and they cover a lot of topics. At UCLA, students will study form, color, space, motion, typography, interactivity of design elements and other design-related topics.

Students will also learn about video, visual communication, network media and so on. Also, at the end of the academic year, students can choose their area of interest and focus on one topic only.

8. Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design

The graphic design schools top continues with the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, also known as CIID.

This school considers itself an international hub dedicated to creative minds. Business Insider mentioned that this school offers one of the best programmes for interaction design in the whole world.

This school is different compared to the others mentioned in this top because it promotes an innovative model of education that combines the requirements of the academic environment with the one that graphic designers usually struggle in the industry.

Most schools are focusing on theory, while the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design focuses on practice. Students are exposed to real-work concepts and they are required to create projects that they might encounter later while working in the industry of design.

Plus, CIID also organizes numerous summer camps where students can apply what they’ve learned during the year in a series of modular workshops.

CIID recently signed a cooperation agreement with another school in Denmark that showed great performances in the field of art in the past few years – The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design, and Conservation, also known as KADK.

This way, the students can profit from the expertise of two different design schools at once. All these features propel this school to number 8 in the top of worldwide known graphic design schools.

7. Cranbrook Academy of Art

This school occupies the 7th place in the top graphic design schools known internationally.

They offer programmes for students who want to get a Bachelor’s Degree in arts, including a graphic design subsection. They also give students the opportunity to apply to a professional practice programme to improve the knowledge they already have or they gained during previous years.

student drawing

The subsections offered at the Cranbrook Academy of Art are 2D design, 3D design, architecture, painting, photography, print media and several programmes that include working with various fabrics and materials such as ceramics, fiber or metal.

The fact that the activities are sectioned this way gives the students the opportunity to focus only on the subjects they are interested in. The academy involves reading, discussion groups, guest artists and critics visits and many more other activities that help students understand the notions they are working with.

More than that, the academy offers clear information related to the admission requirements, the fees involved and so on. Also, people who are interested in following these courses can find a series of good practices to follow when putting their portfolio together.

In case you can’t afford to pay the tuition fee, at Cranbrook Academy of Art you can ask for financial aid. You can choose between a non-need based aid or a need-based one and cover the tuition fee for the studies.

You can obtain a scholarship, a grant or a loan, depending on your specific situation.

6. School of Visual Arts—New York City

Number 6 in the graphic design schools top is represented by SVA, the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

SVA offers undergraduate and graduate programmes for students from all around the world. At the same time, you can choose to continue your education in arts or apply for a special programme.

SVA offers summer residency programmes and pre-college programmes for students who want to apply what they already know or what they previously studied.

Anyone who’s interested in applying to SVA can do it by simply accessing their official link and following the instructions they find there. The online application is the first step towards getting admitted to SVA.

From their many programs, some would be worth mentioning:

  • Design Research
  • Writing and Criticism
  • Art Practice (which is a research-based programme that involves autolearning and putting theory into practice), Computer Arts
  • Design (where students can learn more about visual, verbal and textual approaches to design),
  • Fine Arts
  • Illustration
  • Interaction Design (prototyping the ideas and concepts that students come up with and transforming them into actual products and services)

Most programmes are four-semester long and they also include summer residencies for applying the theory learned.

5. Institute of Design at Stanford University

Stanford is a name that doesn’t need much introduction. The developed by Stanford University represents the perfect opportunity for people who want to express their creativity without any boundaries.

The classes at, the Institute of Design at Stanford University are project-based and experiential, meaning that students get to work in teams and to discover by themselves concepts that are generally presented theoretically in other universities and schools.

Both students that previously studied at Stanford and students who come from other universities can take part of the studies at The classes are interdisciplinary and they complement the studies that students already possess.

woman studying on a balcony

This school offers multiple types of classes that can be selected for credit depending on the student’s necessities and preferences.

Core classes involve using skills only, instead of theoretical notions in order to create projects. These classes help the future designers practice their skills in a controlled environment.

Boost classes are theoretical classes that present new instruments and elements that could improve your design toolkit.

Finally, organizes pop-up workshops outside the working days, in weekends and vacations, where students can test their abilities in the real world.

These workshops feature different themes and topics each time they are organized, and they are optional, meaning that they don’t offer actual credits.

4. The New School – Parsons School of Design

Number 4 in the top graphic design is occupied by The New School – Parsons School of Design.

This school has numerous collaborations with universities and industry partners around New York City. The Parsons School of Design is a center of design, art and business at the same time.

The school features non-degree programmes where everyone can apply, ranging from continuing previous education and summer programmes or even pre-college courses.

As for undergraduate studies, the Parsons School of Design offers academic studies in architecture, communication design, design and technology, fine arts, illustration, integrated design, interior design, product design, urban design and many more others.

The programmes at Parsons are very numerous and diverse, they are interdisciplinary and they offer students the possibility to apply what they’ve learned.

Parsons encourages communication and cooperation between their students and professors. Besides the fact that it is an amazing school with so many options when it comes to academic studies, it is also a center of art, organizing multiple yearly events that all people can attend.

The Parsons Festival takes place each spring and it hosts end-of-year exhibitions, presentations and open studios.

As for admission, you can check out their website to learn all the details about applying, about non-degree programs or the options offered for international studies.

Parsons also has several external partnerships that emphasize the research sector. This way, students have the opportunity to participate in competitions, hackathons and brainstorming events.

3. Rhode Island School of Design

The school that occupies the 3rd place in the graphic design schools top is represented by the Rhode Island School of Design.

We should start by mentioning the fact that this school comes with so many options in terms of academic studies that you will find it difficult to choose.

The graduate studies options are so diverse that you will need some time to decide what you like most. The studies are interdisciplinary and very niche-oriented, meaning that what you are going to study will be very specific and it will help you in mastering the career you want.

opened books laying on the floor

Besides graduate academic studies, you can also opt for executive education, continuing education, pre-college programmes or summer programmes.

The Rhode Island School of Design has an amazing reputation throughout the world, which means that the admission is quite tough.

You have to set up your portfolio as good as you can and you might want to participate in the Portfolio Days that the school organizes in order to see what the representatives of the university art departments have to say.

Students will get advice regarding their portfolios so that they can win their spot at Rhode Island without any issues.

As for student life, RISD emphasizes the wellness and safety of their community, offering great housing and dining conditions.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT is on the 2nd place in the global top of graphic design schools.

MIT focuses on 5 different departments, including architecture + urbanism, art culture and tech, building tech, computation or history theory and criticism.

The disciplines studies are diverse and they include both theory and practice. MIT emphasizes the use of technology in people’s everyday lives, managing to encourage the creative use of technology in order to help students express their ideas and expand their knowledge through complex machines.

All departments are multi-disciplinary, a merger between different disciplines that will help students achieve what they want.

MIT has a very serious reputation around the world and the admission process is quite strict. For each program, there are specific admission requirements that you should follow. They are available on the website and they are processed by the department you are choosing.

MIT is mostly focusing on faculty lectures, user-centered research, guest lectures and design workshops where students can apply what they’ve previously learned.

Students will also be required to participate in biweekly activities on different sorts of topics that will end in a team project work. In order to pass a class, students need to participate in the lecture, the workshop for the respective lecture, to complete their team project work and to attend the seminar.

Students can choose between no less than 90 subject units and 24 thesis units.

1. Royal College of Art

Finally, the winner of the graphic design schools battle is the Royal College of Art. This college is considered the most influential one in terms of art of all kinds.

Talking about design only, the Royal College of Art offers extensive studies in design products, fashion, global innovation design and engineering, intelligent mobility, healthcare & design, design pathway, service design, textiles and many more.

The school of communication offers academic studies in animation, digital direction, information experience design and visual communication.

study group from above

RCA emphasizes the variety of their courses. The application process is explained on their website, as well as the tuition fees. Students can apply for financial help in case they need it.

Besides the undergraduate and graduate studies, RCA also offers people the chance to take part in short courses. They are organized during summer and they are finalized with a diploma considering the respective topic.

Some of them are worth mentioning: disruptive market innovation through design, future trends, and global innovation, design thinking and innovation, visual communication.

In addition to these short courses, the college also organizes summer schools, conferences, and workshops. Students have all chances to reach their maximum potential by attending the Royal College of Art.

Final thoughts: Top 10 Graphic Design Schools Around the Globe

Considering all of the universities mentioned above, you should thoroughly think about it and make a decision. High academic performances do make a difference in the way your career is going to evolve. As a graphic designer, is important to stay up to date with the latest trends and permanently improve your knowledge and skills.

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