Top Graphic Design Schools in Georgia: Your Guide to the Best Programs

Looking for the top graphic design schools in Georgia? This guide covers the best programs, what they offer, and how they can help you start a successful career in graphic design.

  • Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers a comprehensive graphic design curriculum that combines theoretical knowledge with practical application through internships and electives, ensuring well-rounded professional preparation.
  • The University of Georgia (UGA) provides a competitive graphic design program with rigorous admission standards and unique study abroad opportunities, fostering a diverse and enriched learning experience.
  • Georgia State University (GSU) emphasizes practical skills, social responsibility, and career development, offering an in-depth 4-year graphic design program that prepares graduates for complex industry challenges.

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has long been a leader in art and design education. Offering a comprehensive range of degrees, minors, and certificates, SCAD’s graphic design program is designed to equip students with the skills needed to excel in the industry. The curriculum includes foundational studies such as Drawing, Design, and Color Theory, which provide a solid base for more advanced courses.

The major curriculum in the graphic design area at SCAD is diverse and covers the following areas:

  • Typography
  • Production for both physical and digital environments
  • Brand direction
  • Portfolio development

SCAD students also have the option to engage in internships, business-focused electives, or SCADpro electives to gain real-world experience. This blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application prepares students for various career paths in graphic design.

General education courses at SCAD further enhance the learning experience, covering:

  • Communication
  • Business
  • Visual culture
  • Digital communication

This holistic approach ensures that graduates are well-rounded professionals ready to tackle the challenges of the design world.

University of Georgia

The University of Georgia (UGA) offers a highly competitive graphic design program that is renowned for its dynamic facilities. Admission to the program is contingent upon a portfolio review process, ensuring that only the most dedicated and talented students are accepted. This rigorous selection process helps maintain high standards and fosters a community of driven creatives.

UGA also provides unique opportunities for students to broaden their horizons through study abroad programs in New York City and Cortona, Italy. These experiences allow students to immerse themselves in different cultures and gain diverse perspectives, enriching their understanding and approach to design.

Georgia State University

Located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia State University (GSU) offers a holistic graphic design program that emphasizes:

  • Practical skills
  • Personal exploration
  • Social responsibility
  • Career development

The graduate program is structured as a 4-year course, offering students ample time to develop their skills and build a robust portfolio.

GSU’s curriculum covers a wide range of topics, from basic design principles to advanced graphic design techniques. This comprehensive approach ensures that graduates are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of the design industry and make meaningful contributions to their chosen fields.

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University’s School of Art and Design offers a 4-year program with a concentration in graphic communications. The program requires a portfolio submission for admission, ensuring that only students with a demonstrated talent and commitment are accepted. This selective process helps maintain a high standard of education and fosters a community of dedicated designers.

The curriculum includes a mix of general studies and graphic design courses, providing a well-rounded education that prepares students for various career paths in graphic design. The School of Art and Design accepts students for both the Fall and Spring semesters, offering flexibility for prospective students.

Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, a 4-year program that requires 124 credit hours to complete. The program focuses on critical and visual thinking, preparing students to address communication problems in various contexts, including commercial, cultural, global, and social. This broad focus ensures that graduates are versatile and adaptable designers.

Students have access to a range of resources, including:

  • Mac computer labs
  • Photography studios
  • Digital cameras
  • Plotters
  • Printers
  • Laser cutters
  • 3D printers
  • The Adobe suite

These facilities provide students with the tools they need to create professional-quality work and develop their skills in both traditional and digital media.

University of North Georgia

The University of North Georgia offers a 4-year Bachelor of Arts with a graphic design concentration. The program focuses on developing visual communication, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving skills, preparing students for various design-related careers in advertising, corporate communications, education, and publishing.

Students at the Lamar Dodd School benefit from state-of-the-art facilities, including:

  • Graphic labs equipped with iMacs and Adobe Creative Suite
  • Access to an on-campus gallery
  • A spring semester-long internship
  • Study abroad opportunities

These perks help students expand their global perspectives and gain real-world experience.

Chattahoochee Technical College

Located in Marietta, Chattahoochee Technical College offers a 2-year graphic design program that emphasizes digital media and hands-on education. The program includes courses such as Promotional Design and 3D Modeling and Animation, providing a well-rounded education in various aspects of graphic design.

Students receive training using industry-standard software like Adobe CC Suite, ToonBoom, and Autodesk Maya. This practical approach ensures that graduates are proficient in the tools and techniques used in the industry, making them highly competitive in the job market and helping to prepare students for success.

The Art Institute of Atlanta

The Art Institute of Atlanta, which closed its doors in 2023, offered a 4-year graphic design course with a comprehensive curriculum. The program began with foundational classes before allowing students to specialize in graphic design, ensuring a solid base of knowledge and skills.

Despite its closure, the institute left a lasting impact on its students and the design community. Many graduates from The Art Institute of Atlanta have gone on to successful careers, thanks to the rigorous education and training they received.

University of West Georgia

Located in Carrollton, the University of West Georgia offers a bachelor’s degree in graphic design that features a low student-to-teacher ratio of 19:1. This ensures personalized learning and ample opportunities for one-on-one interaction with instructors.

The program blends analog and digital processes, providing students with a comprehensive education in graphic design. State-of-the-art Mac lab facilities further enhance the learning experience, allowing students to work on cutting-edge design projects.

Mercer University

Mercer University’s 4-year graphic design program emphasizes collaboration and studio-style learning. Students develop advanced skills in typography, conceptual ability, and collaboration, making them well-prepared for the demands of the design industry.

The program also focuses on mastering industry-standard software, including:

  • Figma
  • After Effects
  • Photoshop
  • InDesign
  • Illustrator

In their final year, students complete a major project that culminates in a graduate exhibition.

Georgia Tech College of Design

Georgia Tech College of Design stands out for its integration of technology into design education. The college offers both undergraduate and graduate programs that focus on creativity, collaboration, and real-world problem-solving.

Students at Georgia Tech learn to combine traditional design principles with cutting-edge technology, preparing them for careers in various industries, including:

  • buildings
  • products
  • lifestyles
  • healthcare

This unique approach ensures that graduates are well-equipped to address contemporary design challenges.

Internships and Professional Associations

Internships and professional associations play a crucial role in preparing students for successful careers in graphic design. Organizations like the AIGA Atlanta Student Board Chapter offer hands-on experience, networking, and mentorship opportunities. These experiences are invaluable for students looking to build connections and gain real-world insights into the industry.

AIGA Atlanta organizes events such as the Annual Pin-Up Show, Portfolio Review, and Type Fight, which allow students to showcase their work and receive feedback from professionals. Monthly meetings and informal community mixers provide additional opportunities for students to network and learn from established designers.

Portfolio Development and Review Process

A cohesive portfolio is essential for admission to graphic design programs and for showcasing a designer’s skills and style to potential clients and employers. The portfolio development and review process often includes specific requirements, such as:

  • artworks demonstrating technical skills
  • imaginative capabilities
  • idea development
  • a ‘wildcard’ piece

Documenting the creative process and including detailed photographs of printed design work can enhance a portfolio. A clear and professional portfolio, whether online or physical, helps potential clients understand a designer’s approach and specialties, increasing the chances of engagement and career success. By effectively using a portfolio to communicate ideas, a designer can showcase their unique talents and expertise.

Career Prospects for Graphic Design Graduates

Graphic design graduates, often coming from a graphic design major, have a wide array of career opportunities available to them. Some of the roles they can pursue include:

  • Creative Services Manager
  • Marketing Director
  • UI/UX Designer
  • Multimedia Artist
  • Web Designer

The demand for graphic designers in Georgia is growing, particularly in industries like advertising, marketing, and digital media, making it a high demand major.

Freelance graphic design is also a viable option, with many clients seeking project-based work. The tech industry’s expansion in Georgia has created additional opportunities for designers in web and app design, making it an exciting time to enter the field.