Top Graphic Design Schools in Alabama | Your Guide to the Best Programs

Looking for the best graphic design schools in Alabama? This guide covers the top programs to help you make an informed decision. From Auburn University to Huntingdon College, discover what each school offers, including program details, faculty expertise, and career opportunities.

  • Auburn University’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design offers highly respected programs accredited by NASAD, emphasizing hands-on studio experiences, industry collaboration, and advanced prototyping tools.
  • The University of South Alabama’s Department of Art & Art History provides a focused Graphic Design concentration that includes mandatory internships, preparing students for varied careers in branding, web design, and print design.
  • Spring Hill College emphasizes a combination of theoretical and technical skills in graphic design, with a curriculum that promotes small class sizes, community engagement, and faculty expertise.

Auburn University – School of Industrial and Graphic Design

Auburn University’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD) is a beacon of creativity and innovation, being the oldest NASAD accredited program in Alabama. Founded in 1945 within the School of Architecture and Applied Arts, SIGD offers comprehensive programs in both Industrial and Graphic Design, preparing students for professional practice through hands-on studio experiences and the use of advanced prototyping tools like laser cutters and CNC routers.

B.F.A in Graphic Design

At Auburn University, the B.F.A in Graphic Design is a comprehensive program with a focus on visual communication and a wide range of design disciplines. It equips students with skills in numerous areas such as typography, branding, and UI/UX, effectively preparing them for diverse career paths in the design industry.

The program emphasizes the development of conceptual skills and creative technology proficiency, ensuring graduates are equipped to tackle contemporary communication challenges.

Industrial Design Programs

Emphasizing product innovation and commercial environments, Auburn’s Industrial Design programs offer focused courses. The Bachelor’s program concentrates on aspects like marketing design and branding, whereas the Master’s program trains students to consider factors like human interaction and environmental impact, preparing them to shape a sustainable future.

Industry Collaboration

SIGD students gain real-world experience by:

  • Collaborating with corporate clients and industry professionals
  • Participating in studio experiences that replicate the relationship between product design teams and manufacturers
  • Gaining valuable insights and practical skills

Such collaborations not only enhance their design portfolios but also prepare them for successful careers in the industry.

University of South Alabama – Department of Art & Art History

The University of South Alabama’s Department of Art & Art History offers a Graphic Design concentration that equips students with critical and problem-solving skills essential for producing work in branding, web design, and print design. The program emphasizes proficiency in design principles and the Adobe Creative Suite, preparing students for a dynamic career in the design industry.

Career Opportunities

Upon graduating from the University of South Alabama’s graphic design program, students can explore a vast array of career paths. Opportunities abound in fields such as print design, web design, advertising, marketing, and illustration. As graphic designers, potential job titles include UX/UI Designer, Interactive Designer, and Social Media Marketing Designer, each offering unique challenges and creative outlets.

Internship Requirements

Graphic design students at the University of South Alabama must complete a graphic design internship to gain practical experience. These internships can be undertaken:

  • locally
  • out of town
  • out of state
  • internationally

and must be performed under the guidance of a senior designer at the design studio.

Students are required to work a minimum of 12 hours weekly during their internships, which are typically undertaken during the summer between their junior and senior years.

Spring Hill College – Graphic Design Bachelor Degree

Offering a blend of theoretical understanding and technical skills, Spring Hill College’s Graphic Design Bachelor Degree program creates a nurturing, close-knit learning environment with its on-campus delivery and small class sizes. Integrating a liberal arts core, the program encourages curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, essential for professional designers.

Program Objectives

Spring Hill College’s program is designed to foster a thorough understanding of various design principles, including:

  • Branding
  • Typography
  • Color theory
  • UX/UI

Courses are designed to equip students with both theoretical knowledge and technical skills, preparing them to succeed in various design fields.

Additionally, the program encourages community engagement through projects that involve creating promotional materials for local organizations.

Faculty Expertise

Spring Hill College’s graphic design faculty bring a wealth of expertise to the program. The faculty members include:

  • Rachael Hatley, an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, who focuses on teaching communication and creativity skills
  • Wanda Sullivan, a Professor of Art and Director of the Eichold Gallery, who offers practical and creative insights to students
  • LaVada Raouf, an adjunct faculty member, who supports the development of problem-solving skills.

Collectively, the faculty members significantly enhance the program through their diverse knowledge and experience.

Samford University – Department of Art

Offered by Samford University’s Department of Art, the B.F.A in Graphic Design is a comprehensive program with a strong focus on art and graphic design subjects. The curriculum dedicates about two-thirds of the credits to these areas, assuring an in-depth education.

The program culminates in a senior capstone project, providing students with the opportunity to showcase their skills and creativity.

Curriculum Focus

The curriculum at Samford University covers a broad range of design areas, including:

  • branding
  • identity
  • typography
  • web and interface design
  • design history
  • user experience design
  • motion graphics for broadcast and film

This comprehensive graphic design curriculum ensures that students are well-prepared for the workforce upon graduation, with a deep understanding of both the theoretical and practical aspects of graphic design.

Student Work Showcase

At Samford University, student portfolios are a crucial element in showcasing creativity and technical proficiency. Students create a portfolio book, website, and digital PDF portfolio, which are essential for securing internships and jobs.

The portfolio review at the end of the third semester is a critical step for students to continue in the BFA program, ensuring they are on track to complete their studies successfully.

The University of Alabama – New College

New College at The University of Alabama presents an interdisciplinary graphic design program that merges various fields of study. This versatile approach enables students to delve into both print and digital applications spanning advertising, packaging, and branding.

The flexibility of the program enables students to tailor their education to their specific interests and career goals.

Customizable Pathways

New College’s graphic design program offers customizable pathways, allowing students to combine graphic design with other disciplines. This flexibility is achieved through elective courses that align with the students’ specific interests within the field. By tailoring their education, students can develop a unique skill set that enhances their career prospects and personal growth.

Professional Portfolio Development

A significant emphasis is placed on the creation of a professional portfolio at New College. Through diverse projects and coursework, students build portfolios that are essential for job placement in the graphic design industry.

Practical classes allow students to create work that directly contributes to their portfolios, ensuring they are well-prepared to find internships and jobs upon graduation. These classes are designed to prepare students for real-world challenges in their chosen fields.

Birmingham-Southern College – Art Department

Birmingham-Southern College’s Art Department emphasizes developing visual communication skills through diverse media. The department offers studio classes in:

  • drawing
  • painting
  • printmaking
  • photography
  • sculpture

This provides students with a broad range of skills and experiences.

The Durbin Gallery serves as a space for student, faculty, and community exhibitions, enhancing the learning environment.

Visual Communication Skills

The Art Department at Birmingham-Southern College focuses on enhancing students’ visual communication skills through diverse media such as drawing, painting, and photography. Faculty members, who are practicing artists, provide valuable insights into professional visual communication, helping students build a professional portfolio that showcases their design work in multiple applications.

Community Impact Projects

Art majors at Birmingham-Southern College engage in community projects that have a significant impact. Examples include murals like the Ginkgo mural near the Residential Quad and creative projects during the annual Exploration Term. These projects not only enhance students’ portfolios but also foster a sense of community engagement and real-world impact.

Huntingdon College – Art Program

Huntingdon College’s Art Program combines traditional art techniques with digital media, offering a well-rounded education in graphic design. The program provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the modern design industry, blending classical art training with contemporary digital tools.

Technical Skill Building

Huntingdon College offers courses that include training in vital software like Photoshop and Illustrator, thereby strengthening students’ technical abilities. These courses, such as Introduction to Adobe Creative Cloud, focus on foundational skills in Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop, preparing students for various design challenges.

Creative Problem Solving

With an emphasis on cultivating creativity and innovative thinking, Huntingdon College presents design challenges through courses like Basic 2D Design and Ceramics. By exploring compositional elements and principles, students are encouraged to devise creative solutions for real-world scenarios.

This focus on creative problem-solving prepares students for the dynamic and ever-evolving field of graphic design.