Top 20 Best Affordable Graphic Design Degree Programs 2014

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graphicGraphic designers work across industries, designing everything from websites, to advertisements, to resumes, to individual communications. To become a graphic designer it takes expertise, experience, skill, and a good education.   Finding a good (and affordable) degree program can sometimes be a challenge which is why we compiled the list for you.  

Because here at Graphic Design Degree Hub we are interested in a bang for the buck, this article delves into the topic of the 20 best affordable graphic design degree programs.

 

Convenient Online Alternatives

If your schedule could prevent you from attending campus classes to get your degree, you may want to consider these convenient online alternatives.

Ranking Methodology

In order for a school to be considered for this ranking, it has to be accredited and has to appear in at least two of the following major rankings:

  • Graphic Junkie
  • Us News
  • BlouinArtInfo
  • Business Insider
  • GDUSA
  • Animation Career Review
  • Synonym

From among the schools that met this standard, we selected the 20 with the least expensive out-of-state undergraduate tuition.  The programs are presented in order of tuition cost, from the most expensive to least expensive.  We consider all these schools to be a tremendous value for graphic design students seeking a high quality, affordable degree program.

#20. Pratt Institute

Pratt-Institute-Communication-Design

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Communication Design

Bachelor & Master Programs

Pratt Institute offers a Communications Design major, which the only program in the country “that recognizes and embodies the convergence and integration of Illustration, Advertising, and Graphic Design as the primary forces for the visual expression of ideas. Words, images, strategies, motion, and sound—whether on a page, wall, television, laptop, or phone—are the tools you need to communicate a message across all platforms.”  Link

New York
$41,092

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • Business Insider
  • GDUSA
  • Animation Career Review

The Communications Design Department at Pratt prepares their students to become leaders in the field of visual communications. They focus on a development of  skills that include;  Graphic Design, Illustration, and Advertising .

#19. Parsons School of Design

Parsons-School-of-Design-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Associate, Bachelor, & Master Programs

The Parsons School of design offers a variety of Undergraduate design programs with specific concentration in Art, Media, Technology, Communications, Fashion, Illustration, Interior Design, Photography, and Architectural.  Their graduate programs are complementary and build upon the skills taught to enable the student to become a mastery at their desired specialty.  Link

New York
$39,368

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • Business Insider
  • GDUSA

Parsons was founded in 1896 and has been a leader in the design world for educating their students in not only art and design, but also in becoming community leaders.

#18. Maryland Institute College of Art

Maryland-Institute-College-of-Art-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor & Master Programs

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) offers a major in graphic design that offers students creative, intellectual, and technological skills to become design visionaries of the new century. Students will learn to develop content of media across the spectrum of publishing, which is anything from the printed page to the Internet.  Link

Maryland
$39,340

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • GDUSA

MICA is a leader in the education of artists and designers by allowing students to expanding their own vision and perspective through rigorous study and community learning.

#17. School of the Art Institute of Chicago

School-of-the-Art-Institute-of-Chicago-Visual-Communications-Design

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Visual Communications Design

Bachelor & Master Programs

The Visual Communication Design degree offers an undergraduate  and graduate program.  It’s curriculum is structured to encourage the development of both generalized and specialized activities. Students will acquire a understanding of the implications, strategies, and roles of visual messages as well as the visual abilities necessary for conceptualization.  Link

Chicago
$39,020

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News

SAIC is one of the most historically significant accredited independent schools of art and design, which is located in one of the greatest American cities, Chicago. SAIC has received recognition from Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism survey as “the most influential art college in the United States” and has had a consistent ranking among the top three graduate fine arts programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

 #16. California Institute of the Arts

California-Institute-of-the-Arts-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor & Master Programs

California Institute of the Arts, also known as Cal Arts, is a combination of six art schools in one.  Their School of Art offers programs in Art, Graphic Design, Photography & Media, and Art & Technology.  The Graphic Design programs prepares students for a wide range of professional careers that could be anything from publication design to web design, from film title and broadcast design to exhibition design, from type design to a career in design education. Link

California
$39,014

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • BlouinArtInfo

CalArts was established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney and is the nation’s first higher education institute to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts.

#15. California College of the Arts

California-College-of-the-Arts-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor & Master Programs

With a San Francisco and Oakland location, the California College of the Arts offers myriad degrees at the graduate and undergraduate level in the arts including graphic design. The offering here is solutions-based, with curriculum that uses an inquiry-based approach to help the student develop the skills from ideation to problem solving. Link

California
$38,798

Major Rankings
  • US News
  • Business Insider

California College of the Arts is an art, design, architecture, and writing school founded in 1907. It has campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, and it enrolls approximately 1,500 undergraduates and 500 graduate students

#14. Otis College of Art and Design

Otis-College-of-Art-and-Design-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor & Master Programs

Located in Los Angeles, Otis College of Art and Design offers an excellent reputation and degree in Graphic Design, with a straight undergraduate offering in the Communication Arts Department. Research, development, and polished projects and portfolios are the central forces. Link

California
$38,300

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • GDUSA

Otis College of Art and Design is a great opportunity on our Affordable Graphic Design Degrees list and is known as a workshop-oriented, hands-on degree from a strong school.

#13. University of California – Los Angeles

University-of-California-Los-Angeles-Design-Media-Arts

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Design Media Arts

Bachelor & Master Programs

This preparation from UCLA offers an undergraduate degree in Design Media Arts, with a focus on digital, mass media, and an emphasis on and enrichment through public research. Link

California
Out of State: $35,570 In State: $12,692

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • GDUSA

The UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture is a professional school at the University of California, Los Angeles. The school plays a vital role in the cultural and artistic life of the campus and the community.

#12. Art Center College of Design

Art-Center-College-of-Design-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor & Master Programs

An accelerated approach describes the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. This program focuses on formal design principles, with an emphasis on craft and aesthetics. Specialization in a single area finishes out the degree. The curriculum combines manual art with computer-based design to help students explore and experiment with everything from magazine layouts to 3D. Link

California
$35,552

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • BlouinArtInfo
  • Business Insider
  • Animation Career Review
  • Synonym

The Art Center College of Design was founded in 1930 in downtown Los Angeles as the Art Center School.  Art Center offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide variety of art and design fields, as well as public programs for children and high school students, and continuing studies for adults in the Los Angeles metro area. It is one of the few schools to offer a degree in Interaction Design.

#11. Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester-Institute-of-Technology-Graphic-Arts

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Graphic Arts

Bachelor & Master Programs

R.I.T. in Rochester offers an undergraduate degree in graphics arts, which is a contemporary offering concerned with visual movement, navigation, sound, and digital and print presentations and projects. Combining creativity, critical thinking, research, and problem-solving, this degree seeks to inspire and educate. Link

New York
$33,258

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • Business Insider

Rochester Institute of Technology is a private university located within the town of Henrietta in the Rochester, New York metropolitan area. RIT is composed of nine academic colleges, including the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

#10. Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah-College-of-Art-and-Design-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor & Master Programs

This versatile offering in Savannah, Georgia, offers everything from the B.A. to the M.F.A. as well as certificates and a minor. The classes are theory and practical-based, with courses that train, educate, and inspire designers to meet the demands of an ever-changing, dynamic job culture. Link

Georgia
$32,405

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • Business Insider

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978 by Paula S. Wallace, Richard Rowan, May Poetter and Paul Poetter. In 1979, SCAD opened with 71 students and offered eight majors. In May 1981, the first graduate received a degree.

#9. Kansas City Art Institute

Kansas-City-Art-Institute-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor Program

Kansas City Art Institute, in Kansas City, offers a strong degree in graphics arts, emphasizing on foundational preparation in the main aspects of design, including the manual arts such as drawing and print-based medium. Located in Kansas City, the school also offers programs for the community. Link

Kansas
$31,992

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • GDUSA

As students move through the Graphic Design program they will sharpen their visual, artistic and technical skills.  Additionally, they will participate in internships and build their portfolio’s in preparation for starting their careers.

#8. Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis-College-of-Art-and-Design-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor Program

Offering a direct, comprehensive, clear program full of clean lines, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minneapolis, MN, prepares students for designing everything from magazine print ads to new apps. Ideation, typography, and visual composition are the areas that students try to master, with deep study, inquiry, and exploration into each. Offering a B.S., B.F.A. and masters-level degrees. Link

Minnesota
$31,650
Major Rankings
  • US News
  • Animation Career Review

For more than a century, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design has been a catalyst for creativity in the Twin Cities, the region, and the nation.

#7. School of Visual Arts

Design

Bachelor & Master Programs

The School of Visual Arts, located in New York, strives to teach and prepare students in all aspects of visual literacy, particularly visual communication. As the website touts, the school strives to “help students understand scale, texture, symmetry, tension, line, color, tone, balance, contrast, pattern and perspective” and prepare students in a “multidisciplinary major that includes graphic design, interactive design, product development design, motion graphics and 3D design.” For more information, see admissions@sva.edu.

New York
Average graduate student tuition and fees for academic year
2015-2016: $39,200

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • GDUSA
  • Animation Career Review
  • Synonym

The Design programs focus on teaching visual communication problem solving, a skill that can open the door to a host of rewarding careers. School of Visual Art’s programs are offers three separate majors that include Graphic Design, Motion Graphics and 3D Design.

#6. Boston University

Boston-University-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor & Master Programs 

Boston University School of Visual Arts Graphic Design program is a traditionally based program. Students will learn anything from photography to critical evaluation of the print.  They will also study typography as an element of design; and learn to relate three-dimensional graphics to architectural and package design. Link

Massachusetts
$30,000

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • Animation Career Review

Boston University College of Fine Arts was established in 1954 and offers professional training in the arts in conservatory-style environments for undergraduate and graduate students.

#5. Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Massachusetts-College-of-Art-and-Design-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor Program

The Massachusetts College of Art and Design is interested in combining work and knowledge of print design with information design, branding, dynamic media {experience design). This hands-on approach is a studio-based approach that helps students gain expertise and solid foundations. The emphasis is on form, surface, and form as well as with professional interactivity, a part of the designer’s job after graduation. Link 

Massachusetts
Out of State: $27,500 In State: $10,400

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News

Massachusetts College of Art and Design opened its doors in 1873 to anyone with talent and the will to succeed-at a time when access for everyone was all too uncommon.  MassArt continues to envision all that is possible and strives to reach it.

#4. University of Cincinnati

University-of-Cincinnati-Graphic-Arts

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Graphic Arts

Bachelor & Master Programs

The University of Cincinnati College of Design takes a global approach, preparing designers for a global, and not just national community. As the website says, “The School of Design aims to prepare its students to be skilled professionals who can ably work in local and global markets while respecting the diversity of the human community. Link

Ohio
Out of State: $25,816 In State: $10,784

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • Business Insider

The programs within the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning are, year-after-year, ranked among the very best in both a world and national class.

#3. University of Illinois at Chicago

University-of-Illinois-at-Chicago-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Master Program

The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design offers a unique degree at the undergraduate and graduate levels, one that aims to educate and inform people about visual communication and how it impacts our lives with our media-rich environments. 

Illinois
Out of State: $25,512 In State: $13,122

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • Business Insider
  • Synonym

The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design (UIC) MFA in Graphic Design is a globally-oriented graduate professional degree addressing the evolving applications of graphic design and visual communication and their relationship to international practice and academic research.

#2. Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia-Commonwealth-University-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Bachelor Program

Offering a standard B.F.A. in graphics arts, the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts offers a solid, straightforward traditional degree in the area, including studio classes and traditional preparation revolving around a portfolio that is submitted as an end project. Link

Virginia
Out of State: $23,913 In State: $9,886

Major Rankings
  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • BlouinArtInfo

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate degrees in design, fine and performing arts, with a unique emphasis on creative immersion.

#1. Academy of Art University

Academy-of-Art-University-Graphic-Design

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Graphic Design

Academy of Art University offers an online environment that allows the student to interface with his or her materials and take charge of his or her learning, preparing students for challenging careers in the graphics arts. Link

California
$18,650

Major Rankings

  • Graphic Junkie
  • US News
  • BouinArtInfo

The Academy of Art University, formerly Academy of Art College, is a privately owned for-profit art school in San Francisco, California, USA. It was founded by Richard S. Stephens in 1929, and is now owned by the Stephens Institute.

Rankings Consulted

Graphic Junkie
US News
BlouinArtInfo
Business Insider
GDUSA
Animation Career Review
Synonym

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