Best Graphic Design Schools in Colorado for Creative Minds

Looking for the best graphic design schools in Colorado? This guide explores top programs like Colorado State University and Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, detailing unique courses, facilities, and career support each offers. Find the right school to match your creative ambitions.

  • Colorado offers several esteemed graphic design programs at universities like Colorado State University, Colorado Mesa University, Western Colorado University, and Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, each with unique strengths and specialized curricula.
  • Colorado State University’s MFA in Graphic Design provides a comprehensive visual arts education with opportunities for practical and professional development, including participation in the prestigious Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition (CIIPE).
  • Graphic design graduates in Colorado enjoy promising career opportunities in various fields such as UX/UI design, motion graphics, and publishing, supported by a robust job market and a projected growth rate in the industry.

Top Graphic Design Programs in Colorado

Colorado is home to some of the most esteemed graphic design programs, each offering a unique approach to art and design education. At the forefront is Colorado State University, whose Department of Art and Art History offers a Studio BFA with a Graphic Design Concentration. This graphic design program includes a variety of courses such as Typography and Design Systems, Advanced Illustration, and Electronic Art, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience for students.

Colorado Mesa University stands out with its extensive course offerings that span from foundational design principles to advanced UX design and illustration. The university’s curriculum is designed to develop both the creative and technical skills necessary for a successful career in graphic design.

Western Colorado University and Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design also merit attention. Western Colorado University adopts a cross-disciplinary approach, integrating creative problem-solving with technical skills. Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design emphasizes innovative curriculum components, including design research methods and hands-on learning experiences.

Colorado State University – MFA Graphic Design

Colorado State University’s MFA in Graphic Design offers:

  • A comprehensive visual arts program in the Rocky Mountain West
  • Opportunities to master both conceptual problem-solving and technical proficiency
  • An environment rich in creative and professional development

To be accepted into this prestigious program, students need a robust background in graphic design. Once admitted, they are expected to develop an in-depth body of work and prepare a written thesis, showcasing their ability to combine conceptual depth with technical skill. This rigorous process ensures that graduates are well-prepared to impact the field of graphic design significantly.

Graduate students at CSU have unique opportunities to enhance their studio work through employment as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs), and other roles within the department. Such positions not only provide financial support but also enrich their educational experience through practical engagement.

A highlight of the MFA program is the Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition (CIIPE), which offers students the chance to:

  • Participate in an internationally recognized event
  • Gain exposure to global design trends and professionals
  • Showcase their work
  • Gain international recognition

This opportunity is invaluable for budding designers.

Colorado Mesa University – Comprehensive Course Offerings

Colorado Mesa University prides itself on a curriculum that covers a broad spectrum of graphic design disciplines. Students begin with foundational courses like ARTG 122, which explores design as the cornerstone of all visual arts. This course sets the stage for more specialized studies, ensuring that students have a solid understanding of basic design principles.

As students progress, they encounter advanced courses such as ARTG 321 Advanced Typography and ARTG 222 Illustration I. These courses delve deeper into the intricacies of typography and illustration, teaching both traditional and contemporary techniques. The curriculum is designed to enhance students’ creative expression and technical skills, preparing them for various roles in the design industry.

The university also offers a robust selection of UX design courses, including ARTG 290 UX Design II and ARTG 405 UX Design III, which focus on developing functional and aesthetically pleasing websites. Additionally, students can take ARTG 493 Portfolio Development, a course dedicated to helping them compile a professional portfolio that showcases their best work and prepares them for the job market.

Western Colorado University – Cross-Disciplinary Approach

Western Colorado University is known for its cross-disciplinary approach to graphic design education. This program emphasizes the development of creative problem-solving abilities alongside technical and visual skills. By integrating various disciplines, students gain a well-rounded education that prepares them for the diverse demands of the graphic design industry.

The coursework at Western Colorado University includes:

  • Print production
  • Illustration
  • Fonts
  • Packaging
  • Web design

This diverse curriculum ensures that students are not only proficient in traditional graphic design techniques but also adept at modern digital practices, including digital art.

Opportunities for independent study allow students to pursue their individual interests and engage in projects that reflect their personal goals. This flexibility is crucial for fostering creativity and developing a unique artistic voice, making Western Colorado University an excellent choice for aspiring graphic designers.

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design – Innovative Curriculum

At the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD), the curriculum is designed to:

  • Push the boundaries of traditional graphic design education
  • Teach students to evaluate design research methods
  • Develop innovative solutions to complex design problems

This approach ensures that graduates are not only skilled in design but also adept at critical thinking and problem-solving.

The curriculum includes graphic design courses in:

  • Branding and identity design
  • UX
  • Digital illustration
  • Typography

These subjects are crucial for modern graphic designers, who must be versatile and able to adapt to rapidly changing industry demands. RMCAD’s emphasis on reacting to market expectations and human factors in communication solutions prepares students for real-world challenges.

Hands-on learning experiences are a significant component of the program. Students work on real projects and interact with outside design professionals through workshops and presentations. This practical approach to education ensures that graduates are well-prepared to enter the workforce with confidence and competence.

University of Colorado Denver – Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Design

The University of Colorado Denver offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Design, a nationally-ranked program known for its screen-based graphic design focus. This program integrates aesthetic, creative, and critical thinking with advanced electronic media skills, providing a comprehensive education for aspiring digital designers.

CU Denver’s Digital Design program offers hands-on education in various fields, including:

  • Graphic design
  • Interactive media
  • UX/UI design
  • Motion graphics
  • Branding design

This diverse curriculum ensures that students are well-equipped to handle the multifaceted nature of modern graphic design careers.

The program’s national ranking and strong emphasis on practical experience make it an attractive option for students seeking a robust education in digital design. Graduates from this program are known for their creativity, technical proficiency, and ability to think critically about design challenges.

Facilities and Resources for Graphic Design Students

Colorado schools provide state-of-the-art facilities and resources to support graphic design students in their educational journey. These include advanced computer labs, dedicated studio spaces, and specialized labs equipped with the latest technology.

At Colorado State University, the Visual Arts Building offers the following resources for students:

  • 4,000 square feet of studio space
  • A dedicated computer lab with Mac workstations
  • A Digital Fabrication Lab for 3D modeling, printing, laser cutting, and CNC machinery

These resources provide students with the tools they need to bring their creative visions to life, including the Adobe Creative Suite for visual art.

Additionally, graphic design students gain practical experience with advanced technologies through courses like ARTG 427 Lab Assistant, where they learn to utilize the equipment and software used in professional design environments, such as the graphic design Mac lab. These facilities and resources are crucial for developing the technical skills necessary for a successful career in graphic design.

Career Opportunities for Graphic Design Graduates in Colorado

Graduates from Colorado’s graphic design programs find themselves well-prepared for a variety of career opportunities. Common roles include:

  • Graphic designers
  • UX/UI designers
  • Motion graphic artists
  • Video editors
  • Game designers

These positions allow graduates to apply their creative and technical skills in diverse professional practices settings.

The employment outlook for graphic designers is promising, with a projected growth rate of 3 percent from 2022 to 2032. Additionally, there are approximately 22,800 job openings for graphic designers each year, providing ample opportunities for new graduates. The median annual wage for graphic designers was $58,910 in May 2023, reflecting the value of their skills in the job market.

Many graphic designers, including those who work as a graphic designer, find employment in the following industries:

  • Specialized design services
  • Publishing
  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Related industries

These fields offer dynamic and exciting environments where designers can thrive and make significant contributions to visual communication and branding.

Alumni Success Stories

Alumni from Colorado’s graphic design schools have gone on to achieve remarkable success in their careers. Christopher Sweetwood, a 2017 Game Art graduate from RMCAD, credits his instructors for teaching him the critical skills and software needed for his profession. His story is a testament to the practical and impactful education provided by Colorado’s design programs.

Paul Sullivan, a 2003 Illustration graduate from RMCAD, utilizes the skills he learned during his studies daily in his career. Similarly, Nick Spriggs, a 2003 Graphic Design graduate from RMCAD, emphasizes that the foundational lessons from his time at the college continue to influence his work today.

Bill Gillies, a 2012 Graphic Design graduate from RMCAD, and Phil Montaño, a 1988 Graphic Design graduate, both highlight the immersive learning environments and comprehensive curriculums that supported their professional growth. These stories not only inspire current students but also underscore the lasting impact of a quality graphic design education.

How to Choose the Right Graphic Design School in Colorado

Selecting the right graphic design school is a critical decision that can shape your future career. When evaluating schools in Colorado, consider the program’s focus. Does it emphasize:

  • design systems
  • typography
  • electronic art
  • illustration

Understanding the curriculum’s strengths can help you align your interests with the right program.

Faculty expertise and mentorship are also crucial. Look for schools that offer open-studio tours, group critiques, and opportunities for direct interaction with experienced faculty members. These interactions can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout your educational journey.

Career support services, such as internship opportunities and participation in events like the Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition (CIIPE), can significantly enhance your professional prospects. Additionally, explore elective options, study abroad programs, and access to workshops and artist talks to enrich your education.