Yes, Wisconsin loves football and many residents don’t mind mounting a block of cheese to their heads to celebrate opening day. But what many outsiders looking in don’t know is—there’s more to Wisconsin than cheese. For starters, Wisconsin is one of the nation’s most natural states. It has 7,446 streams and rivers, five state parks, and 250 miles of shoreline in Door County—more than any other county in the country. Next, fun things are always on the menu here. The first Ringling Brothers Circus was staged in Baraboo in 1884, Milwaukee’s Summerfest is the country’s largest music festival, and Bloomer is the Jump Rope Capital of the World.
Finally, if you combine all of the state’s top cities, Wisconsin is home to one of the nation’s largest (and fastest growing) art and design scenes. Just a few popular art venues include:
Anderson Arts Center
Charles Allis Art Museum
Chazen Museum of Art at University of Wisconsin
Gallery @ Racine
Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University
Kenosha Public Museum
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA)
Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM)
Neville Public Museum
Racine Art Museum (RAM)
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
Wisconsin’s top cities are also home to hundreds of design centers and independent art galleries, dozens of performance venues, dozens of creative agencies, and more than a dozen top-tier art and design schools. Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), University of Wisconsin at Madison, Peck School of Arts at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and Carroll University in Waukesha. Continue reading to find out which schools offer the best programs for aspiring designers.
Wisconsin Design Schools
According to the most recent report by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Wisconsin is home to 84 Title IV colleges and universities. More than 300,000 students attend, with more thousands enrolled in the state’s top art and design schools alone. Scroll through the list below to review Wisconsin’s top schools for aspiring designers and what they have to offer.
University of Wisconsin Green Bay – B.A. Communication with Electronic Media or Photography Emphasis; B.A. Design Arts, Studio Arts; Minor in Art
University of Wisconsin Parkside - Degrees Offered: B. A. General Arts, Digital Arts with Concentration in Animation, Graphic Design, Illustration or Web Design; B.A. Design & Technology, Studio Arts with Concentration in Drawing, Printmaking, Crafts; Certificate in Film Studies, World Wide Web Publishing
Viterbo University - Degrees Offered: B. A. Visual Communications, Digital Media, Graphic Design, Studio Art; B. F. A. Studio Art with Concentration in Design & Technical Production, Drawing, Graphic Arts and New Media, Interdisciplinary Studies, Photography, Printmaking; B. S. Communication Studies with Visual Communication Focus; Minor Art
University of Wisconsin Stout - Degrees Offered: B. F. A. Animation, Art, Comic and Sequential Art, Digital Cinema, Entertainment Design, Graphic Design and Interactive Media, Studio Art with Drawing, Printmaking Emphasis; B. S. Game Design and Development, Graphic Communication Management, Professional Communication and Emerging Media; M. F. A. Design; Minor Art, Applied Photography
Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) – B. F. A. Art, Communication Design, Drawing, Illustration, Integrated Studio Arts, Photography, Printmaking, Time-Based Media (Video & Animation); Minor in Animation, Video
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee - Degrees Offered: B.A. Studio Art; B. F. A. Design & Visual Communications, Digital Studio Practice, Film, New Genres, Photography, Painting + Drawing, Print and Narrative Forms, Video; M.A. Studio Art; M.F.A. Film, New Genres, Studio Art, Video; Minor in Art
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh - Degrees Offered: B.A. Radio-TV-Film, Studio Art; B. F. A. Art with Graphic Design Emphasis; B. F. A. Design & Technology, B. F. A. Fine Arts with 2D Studio (Drawing, Photography, Printmaking), 3D Studio (Art metals, Ceramics, Fibers, Functional Design), Design; B.A., B.S. Art; Minor Studio Art
University of Wisconsin Stevens Point - Degrees Offered: B.A. Art with Studio Art Emphasis; B. F. A. Art with 2D (Drawing, Painting), 3D (Ceramics, Sculpture), Communications with Media Studies, Design & Technology, Graphic Design; B.S. Web Design & Digital Media (WDMD) with Design or Technical Focus
Carroll University - Degrees Offered: B.A. Art; B. S. Art, Graphic Communication with Emphasis in Design, Design Management, Graphic Design, Web Design; B. F. A. Photography; B.S. Information Technology with Emphasis in Web Application Development, Game Development; Minor in Graphic Design, Video Production, Web Design
University of Wisconsin Whitewater - Degrees Offered: B. A. Art, Electronic Media, Graphic Design, Multimedia Digital Arts; B. F. A. Art, Design & Technology, Graphic Design; B.S. Media Arts & Game Development (MAGD) with Visual Design Emphasis; B.A. Media Arts & Game Development (MAGD) with Visual Design Emphasis; B.A or B.S. Media Arts & Game Development (MAGD) Communication/Gaming; B.A. or B.S. Media Arts & Game Development (MAGD) Technology Emphasis; Minor in Art, Art Studio, Arts Management, Media Arts & Game Development (MAGD) with Visual Design, Communication/Gaming Emphasis, Multimedia Design, Multimedia
More Wisconsin Design related programs to consider:
Employment and Salary Trends for Wisconsin Designers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific salaries for design professionals as a single group. Designers are members of the “art and design” group. According to the latest report by the Bureau (March 27, 2012), Wisconsin is home to a large community of 32,900 salaried artists and designers. They average $42,470, up from $34,470 in 2002. Employment has increased as well.
Between 2002 and today, the state added 1,860 new members to the talent pool. It is important to note that these figures do not include thousands of independent artists and designers working in multiple industries throughout the state. They may earn more or less than the national average based on a variety of factors from company (size, location, etc.) to location to job title.
Wisconsin designers work in a variety of fields including advertising, architecture, graphic design, industrial design, web design, public relations, interior design, floral design, and more. While employment opportunities may be found in many cities and towns across the state, some of the best opportunities can be found in principal cities such as Milwaukee—the state’s largest city, Madison (second largest), Green Bay (third), Kenosha (fourth), and Racine (fifth).
Several other (smaller) principal cities are worth exploring, especially if you’re interested in teaching, working for an art and design center, or organization. Consider Appleton, Waukesha, Oshkosh, Eau Claire, and Janesville.