Education

Best Art and Design Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Art and Design programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Art and design degrees are interdisciplinary programs that combine the study of art, media, and design. Art and design degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in the arts, including graphic design, advertising, and fashion design.

Art and design degrees offer a broad overview of the arts, covering topics such as art history, studio art, and design. Students in art and design degree programs learn about the different aspects of creating art, and how to use art to communicate messages.

How to Choose the Right Art and Design Program

When it comes to choosing the right art and design degree program, there are many factors to consider. Cost, location, and time to degree are just a few of the things you’ll need to take into account.

The cost of an art and design degree can vary depending on the institution. When considering costs, be sure to research tuition, fees, and associated expenses such as housing, commuting, and parking. Public schools usually offer a lower tuition rate for in-state residents.

Location is another important factor to consider. It can affect the ability to gain internship opportunities and network for jobs after graduation. If you’re looking for a program in a specific location, be sure to check out the schools in that area.

Finally, the time to degree may make an expensive program less costly if you can transfer in college credits. If you’re looking to graduate sooner, research programs with accelerated tracks or generous credit transfer policies.

By considering these factors, you can find the art and design degree program that best fits your interests and career goals.

Best Bachelor’s in Art and Design Programs

The best programs for Art and Design ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Suffolk University
Boston, MA

The Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from Suffolk University is designed to help students prepare for a creative career in the visual arts. The major offers an immersive studio experience integrated with academic programming that focuses on arts-related career pathways. Students in the program will engage in a comprehensive studio experience in the center of Boston, while pursuing career opportunities in related fields. The program philosophy combines an extensive exposure to materials and techniques with critiques and discussions that focus on developing each student’s unique artistic voice.

Rank 2
California State University-Long Beach
Long Beach, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Arts & Design from California State University-Long Beach is a 120-unit program that is designed for students who want to gain a broad understanding of design. The program offers a variety of courses in design theory, art and design history, and object- or space-oriented design. Students can also choose to focus in a specific area of study, such as display and exhibition, environmental communication design, furniture design, computer modeling, lighting design, or design history. The degree is also beneficial for students who want to pursue study in a graduate program.

Rank 3
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Newark, NJ

The Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design from New Jersey Institute of Technology is a four-year program that provides students with the technical skills, creative opportunities and confidence to become leaders in a multitude of design fields. Students have opportunities to showcase their work through competitions and curated exhibits.

Rank 4
Iowa State University
Ames, IA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art & Design from Iowa State University is a non-studio based degree program that explores academic paths in art and design. This degree is ideal for students interested in double majoring. Students in this program first complete the Core Design Program, then declare a major in Art & Design. The BA curriculum has two options: Art & Culture and Visual Culture Studies. Both options offer flexible curricula and the freedom to select courses outside the Art and Design major.

Rank 5
University of North Georgia
Dahlonega, GA

The Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from University of North Georgia is a degree that prepares students for careers in fields such as advertising, illustration, web design, motion graphics, package design, publication design, and digital photography. The program includes an 18-credit hour elective block that can be used to earn either of the following: a minor in Art History, any minor outside the Department of Visual Arts, or elective courses outside the Department of Visual Arts.

Rank 6
Adelphi University
Garden City, NY

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design from Adelphi University is a creative and interdisciplinary degree provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to teach art to diverse learners across a range of educational settings. Students in the program take courses in studio art, art history, and contemporary art, and are eligible for New York state certification in visual arts education upon graduation. The degree is flexible and allows students to tailor their studies to match their unique passions, from art therapy to animation or museum education.

Rank 7
Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Millersville, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Interactive and Graphic Design from Millersville University of Pennsylvania is a cutting-edge degree that offers both breadth and depth of study in the field of design. The program provides students with opportunities to learn best practices and design with new technology. By keeping current with technological demands placed on the discipline, graduates can work in different environments that contribute to local, regional, and global economic vitality. The online program is typically completed part-time and courses are offered year-round to allow students to complete their degree faster.

Rank 8
California Baptist University
Riverside, CA

The online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Digital Media degree program at California Baptist University is designed to prepare students for a career in graphic design or to help them advance their career by improving their skillset and knowledge in the field. The program is based around hands-on projects and portfolio building, and covers a wide range of topics in design and digital media.

Rank 9
The University of Montana
Missoula, MT

The University of Montana’s Bachelor of Arts in Art, Bachelor of Arts in Art degree is a great choice for students interested in a career in the arts. The program provides a solid foundation in the principles of art, with courses in drawing, 3-D foundations, digital imaging, and film editing. Students can also choose to specialize in art history, theory, and criticism, or pursue a teaching certification in art. The program is flexible and can be tailored to the student’s specific career goals.

Rank 10
Campbellsville University
Campbellsville, KY

The Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design from Campbellsville University is a program that teaches visual literacy, communication, and expression, while training students in the necessary skills, processes, and technologies to thrive in the areas of art and design. The program consists of Art History and Aesthetics requirements of 15 hours, core studio requirements of 26 hours, and a choice of emphasis in one of the following areas: Animation, Graphic Design, Two Dimensional Studio, and Three Dimensional Studio. Each of the emphasis areas are 35 hours.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Art and Design Program

Students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in art and design can expect to take courses that cover a wide range of topics related to the field. These may include classes on art history, studio art, graphic design, digital media, and more. Most programs also require students to complete an internship or practicum in order to gain real-world experience.

In addition to coursework, students in an art and design program will also have the opportunity to develop their portfolio. This is often done through class projects, but some programs may also require students to complete a separate portfolio course. A portfolio is important for students who wish to pursue a career in the field, as it allows them to showcase their skills and abilities to potential employers.

When choosing a bachelor’s program in art and design, students should consider their career goals. Some programs may be more focused on the technical aspects of the field, while others may emphasize the creative side. Students should also consider the type of portfolio they wish to create, as some programs may be better suited to certain styles or mediums.

Common Art and Design Courses

A typical art and design degree program will offer a variety of classes in different mediums, allowing students to explore different areas of interest before specializing in one particular field. Many programs also require a foundation in art before students can take advanced classes in their chosen area of focus. The following list includes some of the classes that are commonly offered in art and design degree programs.

Digital Photography

This course introduces students to the basic concepts of digital photography and its related software applications. Students explore the elements of design as they relate to photography, and learn to use a digital camera and editing software to create digital images. Topics include file formats, color management, resolution, cropping, scanning, retouching, and outputting images. Upon completion, students should be able to use a digital camera and editing software to create digital images that demonstrate an understanding of the elements of design.

Sculpture

This course covers the elements, principles, and materials of three-dimensional design as they apply to sculpture. Emphasis is placed on the study of form, space, and volume. Upon completion, students should be able to create three-dimensional designs that express content through the manipulation of form, space, and volume.

Graphic Communication

This course covers the methods, materials, and processes of graphic communication. Emphasis is placed on the use of visual elements to communicate messages through print and digital media. Topics include typography, layout, color theory, digital design, and production methods. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of graphic design to create effective visual communication solutions.

Fashion Design

This course covers the design process of creating a line of clothing from initial concept to final presentation. Emphasis is placed on developing a personal aesthetic, exploring design principles, understanding the garment construction process, and flat patternmaking. Students will work on a variety of projects including a portfolio, mood boards, and sketches. Upon completion, students should be able to create a line of clothing that reflects their personal aesthetic and demonstrates an understanding of design principles and garment construction.

Drawing

This course introduces various dry and wet drawing media, techniques, and processes. Emphasis is placed on the development of perceptual, technical, and expressive skills. Upon completion, students should be able to apply a variety of dry and wet drawing media, techniques, and processes to create both representational and nonrepresentational images.

Career Options for Art and Design Graduates

Graduates of art and design programs work in a variety of industries, including advertising, fashion, and architecture. They may also work in fields such as graphic design, web design, and interior design.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers use text, images, color, and space to create visual representations of ideas and messages. They may design for both digital and print media, including web sites, mobile apps, advertising, books, magazines, and posters. Graphic designers often work with a team of other designers and developers to create a final product, such as a website or app. They may also work with clients directly to understand their needs and come up with the best design solution.

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers create clothing, accessories, and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and oversee the production of their garments. Some designers create a line of clothing, while others create one-of-a-kind pieces. In addition to design, fashion designers also typically handle marketing and sales, and they may oversee the production of their garments from start to finish.

Art Director

Art directors are responsible for the overall visual style and appearance of a publication, an advertising or marketing campaign, a movie, a television show, or a stage production. They work with a team of designers and illustrators to come up with the look of a project and then oversee its execution. Art directors typically have a background in graphic design, fine arts, or a related field.

Illustrator

Illustrators create original artwork using a variety of mediums, including pen and ink, watercolor, and computer software. They work in a variety of fields, including advertising, book publishing, and magazine publishing. Illustrators often specialize in a particular type of illustration, such as medical illustration or fashion illustration. Their work might include creating charts and graphs, designing logos, or illustrating children’s books.

Multimedia Artist

Multimedia artists use computer software to create two- or three-dimensional images that simulate real life. They work in a variety of industries, including video game development, movies, television, and advertising. Multimedia artists typically specialize in one area, such as modeling, animation, or effects. They use their skills to create characters, design sets, or animate scenes.

Insights From an Art and Design Graduate

Damari Chan is an Art Director at Leo Burnett. She has a bachelor’s degree in art and design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Damari has over 10 years of experience in the advertising and design industry.

ClimbtheLadder: What would you recommend that students do in addition to their degree program, in order to stand out to employers?

Damari Chan: I would recommend that students take on internships while they are still in school. This will not only give them the opportunity to learn more about the industry and the specific field they are interested in, but it will also give them a chance to network and make connections. Additionally, I would recommend that students get involved in extracurricular activities, such as clubs or sports teams. This will show employers that they are well-rounded and have a variety of interests.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in an Art and Design career?

Damari Chan: I think that a successful person in an Art and Design career is someone who is passionate about art and design, and who is also willing to continuously learn and grow in their field. I think it’s important to be proactive and to always be looking for new opportunities to learn. Additionally, I think it’s important to be a good communicator and to be able to work well with others, as a lot of times in this field you will be working on team projects.

ClimbtheLadder: Was there anything about your Art and Design program that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

Damari Chan: I didn’t expect the program to be so hands-on. I thought I would be sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures most of the time. But I was pleasantly surprised that the program was very hands-on and that I got to use my creativity every day.

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