|1||College for Creative Studies||Detroit|
|2||Grand Valley State University||Allendale|
|3||Michigan State University||East Lansing|
|4||Eastern Michigan University||Ypsilanti|
|5||Kendall College of Art & Design at Ferris State University||Grand Rapids|
Our 2019 rankings of the top 5 graphic design school programs in Michigan. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
The College for Creative Studies (CCS) was established in 1906 as The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. The school serves 1,425 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. With an enrollment of more than 100 students, the Graphic Design Department is the fifth largest department at CCS. Degree options for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic/Communication Design, Interaction Design or Motion Graphics and MFA degrees in Interaction Design and Integrated Design. Degrees that complement Graphic Design include BFAs in Advertising: Copywriting, Advertising: Design and Fine Arts.
All students have the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or a year in places such as Italy, Austria, Germany, Mexico, Paris, Australia, and more. Graduates of the Design programs at CCS are prepared to work in Graphic Design, Editorial Design, Environmental Design, Information Design, Interactive Design, Package Design, Publication Design, Web Design, and many others.
2. Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan
Founded in 1960, Grand Valley State University (GVSU) serves 25,460 students enrolled in nearly 200 programs through eight colleges. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) houses the Department of Visual & Media Arts, which offers a BFA in Graphic Design. The 128 credit hour program consists of University General Education courses (43), Foundation Studio courses (18 credit hours), Graphic Design courses (37), Studio electives (15), Art and Design courses (12), and the Graphic Design Senior Project (3).
Course highlights include 3D for Graphic Design: Exhibition and Packaging Design, Advanced Typography, Digital Prepress, Graphic Design: Logo/Visual Identity, Graphic Design: Print Layouts and Publications, Interactive Studio, Internet Media & Programming, Making and Meaning In Art and Design, Marketing Management, Time Studio, and Writing for the World Wide Web.
Per the school, at their fourth year, courses are “designed to the design of holistic experiences that encompass print and digital spaces, while preparing the student's portfolio for graduation. The student's capstone experience – Senior Project — occurs in the student's final semester.” The project is “disseminated to the University community in a group exhibition with all students in the same graduating class.”
3. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University (MSU) was founded in 1855. The school serves more than 50,300 students from all 83 counties in Michigan, all 50 states, and 141 other countries. More than 200 programs of undergraduate, graduate, and professional study are offered through 17 degree-granting colleges. Programs for aspiring graphic designers are administered through the College of Arts and Letters, Department of Art, Art History, and Design.
Options include a BFA degree and a Minor in Graphic Design, as well as an MFA with a Focus in Graphic Design. Per the school, the BFA “is a professional degree that prepares students through intensive, immersive, upper-level study in several areas within the discipline to be successful in the field of graphic design.” Sample courses for the 120 credit hour program include Graphic Design, Printmaking, Electronic Art and Intermedia, and Photography.
The 15 credit hour Minor in Graphic Design “offers students the opportunity to have introductory exposure to concepts, vocabulary, and methods of the discipline of graphic design without requiring the intensive, immersive upper-level studies associated with concentrating in the field as a major.” The program requires completion of five classes. They include Color and Design, Concepts of Graphic Design, Digital Graphic Design: Tools and Methods, Drawing I, and History of Graphic Design.
The MFA program consists of 60 credits, at least 30 of which must be in the student’s declared Focus. In addition to studio credits, MFA students also enroll in an MFA seminar courses (nine credits) and art history courses (six credits). All MFA students will mount a solo exhibition in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design galleries located in the Kresge Art Center during the Fall semester of the second year.
Graduates of the Graphic Design programs at MSU work as Art Directors, Communications Coordinators, Creative Producers, Graphic Designers, Media Managers, User Experience Designers, and Web Designers. They have been hired at companies such as Campbell Ewald, General Motors, Leo Burnett, Quicken Loans and TechSmith Corporation.
4. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Founded in 1849, Eastern Michigan University (EMU) serves more than 20,000 students enrolled in over 200 undergraduate majors and 150 graduate programs through the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Health and Human Services, and Technology, and the Graduate School and Honors College. The College of Arts and Sciences, School of Art & Design administers the BFA and MFA Programs in Graphic Design (Concentration).
The BFA program requires up to 126 credit hours of Foundation, Art History, Studio, Concentration and Art Studio Elective courses. Sample courses include Design for Web and Interaction, Design Systems and Series, Digital Media, Experimental Typography, Image Making, Poster Design, and Typographic Systems.
Other course highlights include the Graphic Design Workshop, which explores different topics and issues related to graphic design, the Graphic Design Practicum, which gives students direct experience in the field of graphic design by working on client-based projects both on and off campus, and the Capstone. The Capstone focuses on preparation for a required senior exhibition, the development of a professional portfolio, and the creation necessary written documents to support the student’s professional career.
Per the school, the MFA curriculum “fosters experimentation, intellectual risk-taking, and critical thinking through studio work, and seminar and cognate courses.” MFA work also “stresses the effects of diverse cultural influences on art, the role of the artist in society, and the relationships between studio practices and art and design history and theory.” Students in the program may choose a Concentration such as Graphic Design, Printmaking, Time-Based Media, Drawing, Interdisciplinary and many others. This full-time, 60-hour program culminates in an exhibition and an optional written thesis.
Graduates of the Graphic Design programs at EMU have been hired as Art Directors, Creative Directors, Graphic Designers, and Illustrators at local, national, and international firms, as well as Web Designers and more.
5. Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) is one of the eight colleges of Ferris State University. Founded in 1884 as Big Rapids Industrial School, Ferris State University began its 2017-2018 academic year with a total enrollment of 13,798 students across all campuses, including 9,860 on the main campus in Big Rapids. Ferris offers more than 190 educational programs through its eight colleges.
Kendall College of Art and Design was established in 1928 and serves around 1,071 students. The school prepares students for leadership in the visual arts, design, art history, and art education through 16 undergraduate BFA programs, one BS program, eight graduate MA and MFA programs, and two certificate programs. Among KCAD’s undergraduate programs is the BFA in Graphic Design. Per the school, students will begin the program by “exploring foundational design elements such imagery and visualization; typography and voice; the power of color, composition, and grid; and concept and content development; creating meaningful messages and bringing stories to life that challenge, educate, inspire, and entertain.”
Sample courses for the program include Advertising Design, Branding-Identity-Promotion, Concept Development, Digital Prepress, Graphics Studio, New Media Design, Package Design, Publication Design, and Typography. Other program highlights include an integrative learning environment, instruction using the latest industry-standard software applications, collaborative projects, critique and presentation of ideas and finished work, and professional experience such as an internship, study away experience, or course-driven professional project.
Students will also benefit from the Graphic Design program's "strong ties" to local chapters of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF), and the Interaction Design Association (IxDA).” Access to industry interactions, guest speakers, design forums, and other events hosted by Design West Michigan (a KCAD organization that explores and advocates for design as an economic building block in the region) are other program highlights.
Graduates of KCAD’s Graphic Design Program are positioned to continue their education at the graduate level or seek positions in a wide variety of areas such as advertising, branding, and design or in-house for corporations or non-profits, and freelance or contract work. Some graduates launch their own successful businesses, while others land positions in highly specialized fields such as UI/UX design, packaging, and publishing.