Graphic Design Degrees in California (A-M)

California is known for their movie stars, their film makers, their painters, and their art community in general. For those interested in pursuing a career in art, specifically in graphic design, there are few better places to look than California. America’s culture reflects that of California, and when seeking a career in an area that is as fluctuating unpredictable as culture itself, it makes sense to look to the source. The following are Bachelor and Associate level Graphic Design programs (A-M) located in California.

Academy of Art University

School of Graphic Design

The Academy of Art University is known as the school founded by artists for other aspiring artists. Located in San Francisco, California, the Academy of Art University’s School of Graphic Design offers both traditional and online teaching formats. It was recently featured in an Adobe ad focusing on the diversity of artistic platforms, and its faculty have worked for companies such as Disney, Yahoo!, Warner Bros, and IBM. The Academy of Art University’s School of Graphic Design is a top-ranked program that ensures its students will graduate with both the knowledge and the skills necessary to establish and maintain a successful career in the graphic design industry.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree in Graphic Design

The Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design program provides its students with coursework relevant to the real world and with experience that spans beyond the classroom. This rigorous degree program requires students complete 45 units of Liberal Arts, 9 units of art electives, and 78 units of major coursework, totaling in 132 units by graduation. Learning outcomes include professional readiness, formal and conceptual skills, and creative and critical thinking. Students are asked to consider cultural aspects of graphic design, as well as elements important to consider such audience and technical aesthetics. Although demanding, this program is also rewarding, as students receive hands on instruction from faculty who have been recognized as top professionals in their field and walk away knowing they are as prepared, if not more so, than anyone else starting off for the first time. In order to graduate successfully, students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree in Graphic Design

The MFA Degree in Graphic Design offers continued study for candidates seeking employment in the graphic design field. The program is a combination of graduate Liberal Arts courses that focus on written, oral, and visual communication, and studio courses that concentrate on the cultivation and enhancement of the skills required to put the knowledge acquired in Liberal Arts courses to use in the real world. Learning objectives include strategic thinking, conceptual skills, and expert application of acquired knowledge. In order to successfully complete the MFA Degree in Graphic Design program, candidates must complete a Final Thesis Project, maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA, and earn a minimum grade of C in all required 63 units.

Contact Information

Academy of Art University
79 New Montgomery Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105-3410
(800) 544-2787

At the Academy of Art University, students receive a well-rounded education that eliminates courses irrelevant to the student’s interests. Students are able to focus all of their attention on what matters most to them: acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in the graphic design industry.  Link 

Art Center College of Design

Department of Graphic Design

Located in Pasadena, California, and dedicated to the creation and understanding of all forms of art, the Art Center College of Design boasts one of the top graphic design programs in the nation. The Department of Graphic Design at the Art Center College of Design is ranked number seven by US News. The department’s programs infuse manual skills, such as drawing and the employment of graphic software, with conceptual skills, such as problem solving, in order to ensure students receive a comprehensive learning experience that will increase their rate of success in the graphic design industry. Students in the Department of Graphic Design go on to work for companies such as Apple and NASA, though many choose to establish their own businesses.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

At the BFA in Graphic Design program, the students focus on hands-on craft, as well as conceptual art. Students are required to enroll in 132 credits, including courses focused on narrative writing, art history, typography, motion design, identity systems, and portfolio preparation. The curriculum is split into theory and practice, ensuring students’ abilities are not reserved to the classroom alone. Additionally, students seeking their BFA must complete a total of 24 non-Graphic Design credits, 6 of which must be in science and technology. Learning objectives focus on understanding the equilibrium of media, audience, creator, and consumer. Students who successfully complete the program may obtain employment in fields such as Branding and Corporate Identity, Environmental Graphics, Interface Design, Printing, Typeface Design, and Web Design and Development – to name a few.

Master of Fine Arts in Media Practices

The MFA in Media Practices program prepares candidates for the challenges of entering an ever changing, culturally-influenced industry. Unlike most traditional graphic design programs, the MFA in Media Practices program reaches across different disciplines in accordance with the individual candidate’s aspirations. Successful graduates from this program have obtained employment as design analysts, creative directors, media analysts, UX directors, and community design liaisons. The program is divided into the “lab track,” and the “field track,” and candidates have the option of which track to take, depending on their desired career. The first focuses on the design aspect of the field; whereas, the second track focuses on the social issues affiliated with graphic design. Both programs require between 95 and 98 course units, and each candidate must complete a final thesis project.

Contact Information

Art Center College of Design
1700 Lida Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 396-2373

The Art Center College of Design’s Department of Graphic Design challenges the very foundations of the industry. Their faculty and students push boundaries and take risks, and as a result of their innovation, they remain one of the top schools in the nation.

California Institute of the Arts

School of Art

Located in Valencia, California, the California Institute of the Arts is a private, coed university whose programs range from Dance and Theater to Film and Creative Writing. It is ranked 6 overall in the nation in Fine Arts and tied for 7 in Graphic Design by US News. With a faculty of artists and performers-turned-professor, the California Institute of the Arts School of Art has a student to faculty ratio of 7:1, ensuring each student receives the amount of one-on-one instruction required to thrive in his or her respective field. Particularly for students interested in graphic design, the California Institute of the Arts provides students with the opportunity to learn from visiting designers from around the world.

Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The BFA in Graphic Design is one of the most rigorous and selective in the nation. Its curriculum is centered on a core that encompasses the many facets of graphic design, both in theory and in practice. It is a cumulative program that establishes a firm foundation in design history, typography, and image making, and continually builds upon that foundation. The program allows for students to enroll in specialized classes in areas such as web design and type design. On average, the BFA in Graphic Design program admits 15 students per year and requires each admitted student pass yearly faculty reviews in order to remain in good standing. Similar to most MFA programs in Graphic Design, the BFA in Graphic Design requires students to complete a final project at the end of their fourth year of study, and students with exemplary performance have their work showcased at an annual gallery event.

Masters of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The MFA in Graphic Design program provides candidates with two options: the two-year MFA track and the three-year MFA track. The former is structured in such a way that the first year of study is dedicated to exploring pre-existing projects and theories, and the second year is spent developing individual, unique projects based on the fluid environment that is media and specifically graphic design. What makes this program particularly interesting is that designers from around the globe visit students in the MFA in Graphic Design program and act as adjunct professors, providing wisdom and advice unobtainable elsewhere. This program also offers a specialized concentration in Motion Graphics, for those with an interest in this sub-category. The MFA in Graphic Design program accepts approximately eight students for the two-year program and five students for the three-year program per year. This selective process ensures that students will receive an adequate degree of attention and guidance from professors and supervising faculty.

Contact Information

California Institute of the Arts
24700 McBean Pkwy
Valencia, CA 91355
(661) 253-7801

The Graphic Design degree programs at the California Institute of the Arts are designed for driven individuals with an eye for visual art. Though selective, these degree programs are two of the best in the state. Link

California College of the Arts

Department of Graphic Design

Located in San Francisco, California, the California College of the Arts is a small private school with approximately 2,000 students enrolled per academic year. Due to its selectivity, the student to faculty ratio is 10:1, ensuring classes are small enough for concentrated study but large enough for cooperative learning. Ranked at number 11 by US News, the California College of Arts’ Department of Graphic Design is just one of the many award winning departments students have to choose from. For those who do choose to study Graphic Design, the California College of Art’s department boasts a demanding program designed to produce award winning Graphic Design graduates such as Andre Andreev who has worked for companies such as MTV and Adobe.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The BAF in Graphic Design program is comprised of 126 credit hours and reserved for those who strive to make it through the selective admission process. The 75 core credits that make up the program are divided evenly over the course of eight semesters, and as students advance in their degree progress, their classes become more rigorous and real-world applicable. The curriculum demands its students complete an additional 51 Liberal Arts credits in order to fulfill the degree requirement, thus resulting in students whose knowledge expands beyond graphic design. As a reward and a further challenge, for-credit internships are available and encouraged to level four students; students who successfully complete these internships not only gain professional experience but also have an opportunity to network with some of the most influential men and women in the ever-changing industry.

Contact Information

California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 703-9500

The BAF in Graphic Design program at the California College of the Arts emphasizes an encompassing education that prepares its students for the real world. Graduates of the program are well versed in history, math, sciences, and humanity courses other than merely graphic design. This program prepares students to succeed. Link

Chapman University

Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Located just thirty miles outside of Los Angeles, California, Chapman University is a private institution with enrollment of approximately six thousand undergraduate students per academic year. Its campus is nestled on 78 acres, and in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges list of Regional Universities, it was ranked 7 in the West. Students choose from one of eight schools within Chapman University, one of which is the Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences – home of the Graphic Design discipline. Graphic Design at the Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences is divided into a minor and a major track, and for students who choose to pursue a career in the field, Chapman University offers its students unique opportunities.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The BFA in Graphic Design program highlights conceptual design methods, art history, verbal communication, the importance of writing, and technological advances. The program is structured in such a way that students have opportunities to explore many different facets of graphic design, including typography, illustration, web design, motion design, and packaging. By the completion of the program, students will have the capability to write competently and analyze visual and graphic design. They will be able to research the works of others and create their own unique works. Dedicated faculty and the close supervision of advisers ensure each student receives an adequate amount of attention and guidance in regards to where he or she wants to go within the field of graphic design. Furthermore, Chapman University’s BFA in Graphic Design is the only program in the country that sends their students to work on international projects such as the 2012 Olympics in London.

Contact Information

Chapman University
1 University Drive
ORANGE, CA 92866
(714) 997-6815

Chapman University’s Graphic Design program stands out from the crowd in that the curriculum is structured so that graphic design can be taken as a major or as a minor. Furthermore, the opportunities granted to students at Chapman are unique – there are few other programs in the country that send their students around the world in order to work on projects alongside world-renowned graphic designers. Link

Laguna College of Art + Design

LCAD Graphic Design + Digital Media program

Located at Laguna Beach, California, Laguna College of Art + Design is an exclusive private school with an enrollment total of less than 500 undergraduate students per academic year. With a retention rate of about 73%, Laguna College of Art + Design’s mission is directed specifically toward aspiring artists in a variety of different fields. Students leave Laguna College of Art + Design as well-trained artists and designers who have perfected the following skills: representation, observation, and concept development. Laguna College of Art + Design’s Digital Media program, which encompasses the Graphic Design discipline, combines studio work with academia in order to produce professional artists.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design (with optional specializations)

The Graphic Design + Digital Media program is multidisciplinary in its methodology. Courses taught in this program encompass web, video, iPad development, 3D, motion, and package and action sport design. Graduates of the program will leave with the recognition that graphic design in the modern age cannot be pegged down to one form of media, so the program emphasizes the importance of utilizing all media platforms. Combining well-recognized theories with new, innovative technologies is one of the most important skills students leave the program with. The Graphic Design major offers specializations Graphic Design w/Illustration Emphasis and Graphic Design w/Action Sport Design Emphasis. Students typically complete their degree within four years, and many go on to work for well-known companies such as ESPN, Nike, and Google.

Contact Information

Laguna College of Art + Design
2222 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 376-6000 x270

At Laguna College of Art + Design, over 98% of graphic design students graduate with job offers, many receiving them before graduation. For students seeking a degree in graphic design and hoping to find one that offers a specialization, this college is the way to go.  Link

Loyola Marymount University

College of Communication and Fine Arts: Department of Art and Art History

Loyola Marymount University is a Catholic college located in Los Angeles, California. With approximately 10,000 students enrolled each academic year, Loyola Marymount University offers 60 different majors, 56 minor undergraduate degrees and programs, and 41 master’s degree programs. Although there are approximately 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled at any one time, the average undergraduate class size has approximately 20 students. The small class size ensures students receive ample, individualized guidance from the faculty who provide each student with an individualized plan for academic and professional success.

Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts with an Emphasis on Graphic Design

Loyola Marymount University does not have a specific major solely devoted to graphic design, because graphic design is an interdisciplinary field of study. Instead, students interested in studying graphic design major in Studio Arts and devote their 30 elective courses to those that focus on graphic design. For those who successfully complete the program, they will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts with an Emphasis on Graphic Design, a degree that is essentially a very well-rounded Graphic Design degree. The campus caters to students enrolled in the Studio Arts program, with studio facilities open and available to enrolled students twenty-four hours a day. The Studio Arts program allows aspiring graphic designers to explore various media and use different technological developments in order to create images and products suitable for the ever-changing industry.

Contact Information

Loyola Marymount University
Department of Art and Art History
1 LMU Drive,
Los Angeles, California 90045
(310) 338-7424

Although Loyola Marymount University does not have a specific department or program dedicated solely to the study of graphic design, its multidisciplinary art department allows for graphic design students to branch out in their academic life and use what they learn in other disciplines in their independent time spent in the studio, working on their graphic design specialization.

Graphic Design Degrees in California (N-Z)

For information on earning your graphic design degree online, take a look at “Top 10 Online Graphic Design Degree Programs“.

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