Top Graphic Design Schools in Minnesota

Searching for top graphic design schools in Minnesota? Here, we list the best programs, what they offer, and unique opportunities they provide to students.

  • Minnesota offers diverse graphic design programs across various institutions, such as the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), and St. Cloud State University, each catering to different aspects of design education.
  • University programs emphasize practical experiences and industry connections through internships, faculty relationships, and networking events to help students build portfolios and gain real-world insights.
  • Specialized programs and hands-on learning opportunities in areas like typography, 3D graphics, web design, and motion graphics ensure students are well-prepared for dynamic and varied careers in the graphic design industry.

Minnesota’s graphic design programs offer a broad array of choices. Each institution showcases unique strengths, offering students a range of opportunities to develop their skills and portfolios. Some of the top graphic design programs in Minnesota include:

  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD)
  • University of Minnesota
  • St. Cloud State University
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Winona State University

From innovative thinking to strategic problem-solving, these programs are designed to prepare students for the ever-evolving field of graphic design.

Minnesota State University Moorhead, Bethel University, and Bethany Lutheran College extend various degree options, ranging from Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) to specialized emphases like 3D Graphics, Digital Design, and Motion Graphics. This diversity ensures that there’s a program suited to every aspiring graphic designer’s interests and career goals.

Exploring Graphic Design Programs in Minnesota

Minnesota is home to a multitude of graphic design programs in various universities and colleges. Each program showcases distinct advantages, making it an exciting place to study graphic design. From the bustling Twin Cities to quieter locales, these programs cater to a wide array of interests and career aspirations.

For instance, Bethel University in St. Paul offers a BA in Graphic Design, while Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato provides a BA in Studio Art with a focus on Motion Graphics and Animation. These programs each highlight different aspects of graphic design, from visual communication to digital production, giving students the flexibility to find a program that aligns with their passions.

Additionally, Augsburg College, Concordia University, and The College of St. Scholastica provide specialized programs in areas such as 3D Graphics and Digital Design. This variety ensures that students can find a program that not only meets their educational needs but also prepares them for the dynamic world of graphic design.

University of Minnesota – College of Design

The University of Minnesota’s College of Design offers a range of programs in graphic design, including:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Design with a graphic design track
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Design with a graphic design track
  • Master of Science (MS) in Design with a graphic design track
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Design with a graphic design track

The program emphasizes innovative thought and strategic problem-solving.

The curriculum encompasses key subjects like:

  • Typography
  • Color theory
  • Screenprinting
  • Packaging
  • Web design

The graphic design faculty, with expertise in areas like user experience design, screenprinting, typography, and design history, provide students with a comprehensive education that blends theory and practice. This robust foundation prepares students to tackle real-world design challenges with confidence.

Students benefit from the University’s strong industry connections, facilitated through:

  • Faculty relationships with local firms
  • Class projects
  • Studio tours
  • The College of Design Mentor Program

The College’s Career and Internship Services (CIS) collaborates to offer workshops and panels, while the annual career fairs and portfolio reviews help students network with professionals and secure internships and job opportunities.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD)

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) is celebrated for its emphasis on visual communication and experiential learning. Offering both BFA and MFA degrees in Graphic Design, MCAD’s program emphasizes:

  • The power of typography
  • Form
  • Image
  • Composition

In the realm of creative production and visual communication.

MCAD’s curriculum aims to encourage creativity and critical thinking, with courses that cover both print and digital environments. Students engage in in-class collaboration, critiques, and real-world work experiences, ensuring they develop practical skills alongside their theoretical knowledge. The emphasis on hands-on learning, with courses in typography, web design, and motion graphics, ensures that graduates are well-prepared for the demands of the graphic design industry.

A distinguishing feature of MCAD is its robust relationship with the Walker Art Center, providing students with unique opportunities to engage with contemporary art. This collaboration, along with other local art institutions, enriches the educational experience and helps students build valuable connections within the art and design community.

St. Cloud State University – School of the Arts

St. Cloud State University presents a graphic design program through the School of the Arts that merges technology with print, web, and interactive design practices. Students pursuing a BFA in Studio Art with an emphasis on Graphic Design and Integrated Media learn to communicate visually through typography and images, and develop solutions for design and communication problems.

The program is supported by the Kiehle Visual Arts Center, which provides students with access to large computer labs and a digital project lab. This state-of-the-art facility ensures that students have the tools they need to succeed in both their academic and professional pursuits, making St. Cloud State an excellent choice for aspiring graphic designers.

Bemidji State University – Department of Technology, Art, & Design

The graphic design program at Bemidji State University offers:

  • A focus on the intersection of art and technology
  • A curriculum that covers a wide range of topics, including print design, advertising, branding, packaging, and multimedia
  • Proficiency in layout strategies, typography, production language, and technology

This ensures a well-rounded education for students.

Hands-on experiences are a key component of Bemidji State’s program, with students applying their knowledge in illustrative storytelling through both collaborative and independent projects. This practical approach helps students build a robust portfolio and prepares them for successful careers in graphic design.

Minnesota State University, Mankato – Department of Art & Design

Minnesota State University, Mankato houses an extensive graphic design program within its Department of Art & Design. Students can pursue BA, BFA, and MA degrees in Art with a specialization in Graphic Design, gaining expertise in various content areas such as branding, editorial, web, and motion design. The curriculum emphasizes both historical and contemporary design perspectives, from foundational principles to advanced motion design.

A significant aspect of the program is the hands-on training, which includes courses like Introduction to Digital Media Technology using Mac OS, and advanced studies in typography and web design. This practical training is complemented by a required senior exhibit, where students plan, install, and present their artwork, showcasing their skills and creativity.

Faculty support is integral to the program, particularly in advanced courses that prepare students for entry into the graphic design field. This mentorship and guidance ensure that graduates are well-equipped to tackle the challenges of the professional world.

Related Programs and Opportunities

Minnesota presents a wide range of related programs and opportunities across numerous institutions, each providing unique specializations and concentrations in graphic design. Bethel University in St. Paul offers a BA in Graphic Design, while Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall provides a BA in Art with an emphasis on Graphic Design. These programs cater to a wide range of interests and career goals.

Other notable programs include:

  • Concordia College in Moorhead’s BA in Graphic Design
  • Concordia University in St. Paul’s BA in Design with a Graphic Design emphasis
  • The University of Minnesota Duluth’s BFA in Graphic Design
  • The University of Minnesota Duluth’s BFA in Graphic Design/Marketing

These programs encourage experimentation in drawing and mixed media to enhance creativity.

Additionally, Hamline University offers a digital and studio art major with concentrations in graphic and interactive design, studio arts, and media arts. These diverse programs ensure that students can find the right fit for their educational and professional aspirations in the field of graphic design.

Connecting with the Industry

Establishing industry connections is a significant step for any budding graphic designer. Internships, mentorship programs, and networking events provide invaluable real-world experience and professional connections. For example, Hamline University students can gain experience through internships in various fields, including graphic design and user experience. Positions at organizations like the Federal Reserve Bank, Minnesota Children’s Museum, and Walker Art Center offer practical experience and exposure to the industry.

Bemidji State University connects students with industry professionals, allowing them to build portfolios of real-world design projects. Additionally, AIGA Minnesota offers a mentorship program called Mind to Mind (M2M), which connects design students and emerging designers with experienced professionals for a 10-week program focused on professional development. Events like the annual Design Camp® provide further networking opportunities through workshops and talks by industry professionals.

Such connections and experiences are vital in laying the groundwork for a prosperous career in graphic design. They help students develop practical skills, gain industry insights, and build a professional network that can support their career growth.

The Role of the Advisory Committee

Advisory committees contribute significantly to the molding of graphic design programs by involving professionals and faculty members to align the curriculum with industry standards. These committees include industry experts who bring current trends and practices into the educational framework, providing critical feedback on curriculum development.

The collaboration between advisory committee members and faculty helps in the continuous improvement of graphic design programs. For instance, industry partners serve on the Technology, Art, and Design (TAD) School Advisory Board, providing expertise in the senior portfolio review. This ensures that students gain relevant skills and knowledge to succeed in the workforce.

Preparing for an Exciting Career in Graphic Design

Preparation for a career in graphic design includes portfolio development, proficiency in design software, and keeping pace with emerging trends and technologies. University programs encourage students to build their portfolios through extracurricular activities, freelance gigs, and collaborations. Mastering various design software, including Adobe tools, can significantly enhance a designer’s efficiency and creativity.

Staying updated with the latest trends, technology, and methodologies in the design world is also crucial. Programs prepare students to work in diverse environments, including:

  • design firms
  • publishing houses
  • small businesses
  • large corporations

This comprehensive preparation ensures that graduates are well-equipped to launch successful careers in graphic design.