Top 7 Graphic Design Schools in North Carolina for Aspiring Designers

Looking to pursue a career in graphic design and considering North Carolina? This article highlights the top 7 graphic design schools in North Carolina. We’ll explore the unique strengths of each program to help you decide which fits your career goals best.

  • North Carolina State University’s Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design program emphasizes conceptual thinking and creative problem-solving, offering diverse coursework and access to advanced facilities.
  • Appalachian State University’s BFA in Graphic Design combines academic and practical skills, with opportunities for networking, study abroad, and showcasing work, preparing students for successful careers and further education.
  • East Carolina University’s graphic design program offers concentrations in interactive design and illustration, with a strong focus on typography, public presentations, and portfolio development through capstone projects.

North Carolina State University – Raleigh

North Carolina State University’s Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design program stands out for its strong emphasis on philosophy before technical ability. This unique approach fosters the development of a solid foundation in conceptual thinking, creative problem-solving, and typographic expression, cultivating a mindset that thinks like a designer, beyond just mastering software tools.

The coursework is meticulously designed to cover a wide range of projects, including:

  • Product packaging
  • Signage
  • Books
  • Identity systems
  • Magazines
  • Applications
  • Websites

This broad curriculum equips students with knowledge in various design disciplines, readying them for the diverse nature of the graphic design industry.

Students at North Carolina State University have access to state-of-the-art facilities that greatly enhance their learning experience. Some of these facilities include:

  • The Materials Lab, equipped with both traditional hand tools and modern CNC equipment, supports work in wood, plastic, concrete, and fabric.
  • The William Keating Bayley IT Lab provides resources for data backups, reserving equipment, 3D printing, and digital critique spaces.
  • The Experience Design Lab focuses on virtual and augmented experiences, offering a cross-disciplinary approach.

These facilities provide students with the tools and resources they need to excel in their studies.

Career Services at North Carolina State University are robust, providing students with critical support for:

  • career exploration
  • internships
  • job searches
  • applications for further education

This extensive support guarantees graduates’ readiness to confidently and competently step into the professional world.

Appalachian State University

At Appalachian State University, the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program is known for fostering a deep understanding of conceptual approaches, research, and production methods. This program is tailored to cultivate the sensitivities and skills necessary for a successful career in graphic design.

The curriculum combines comprehensive academic knowledge with practical and technical abilities, encouraging students to develop innovative personal methodologies for solving design problems. This blend of theory and practice equips students with proficiency in design techniques and the capability for critical and creative thinking.

Appalachian State University offers numerous opportunities for students to engage outside the classroom. Organizations like the AIGA and Art History Club provide platforms for students to expand their networks and gain additional insights into the design world. Moreover, regional, national, and study abroad trips further enrich the learning experience, exposing students to a variety of design practices and cultures.

Graduates from Appalachian State University are well-prepared for competitive careers in graphic design and for admission to prestigious graduate programs. Success stories like those of alumni Kameron Neal and Jake Flowers, who have excelled in multidisciplinary art and advertising, illustrate the program’s effectiveness.

East Carolina University

East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design offers a dynamic graphic design program with concentrations in interactive design and illustration, providing students with an excellent art education. This program is designed to give students a solid foundation in both traditional and contemporary design practices.

The capstone courses are a highlight, requiring students to undertake a semester-long thesis project that culminates in a public presentation and the creation of personal portfolios. These projects undergo thorough examination and discussion, underscoring the significance of thoughtful critique and ongoing improvement.

Students receive a strong grounding in typography traditions, ensuring they are well-versed in the fundamental aspects of graphic design. The program also encourages participation in exhibitions at the Frankie G. Weems Art Gallery, allowing students to showcase their work and engage with the broader artistic community through various art programs.

Queens University of Charlotte

Queens University of Charlotte’s BA in New Media Design is a comprehensive program that bridges traditional and contemporary graphic design techniques. The focus on digital media tools and cross-collaborative projects prepares students for the evolving demands of the design industry.

The program includes coursework in digital imaging, web design, and interactive media, providing students with hands-on learning experiences using industry-standard software. These practical skills lay the foundation for students’ success in various design roles, ranging from digital marketing to user interface design and digital design.

Cross-disciplinary projects are a key component of the program, encouraging students to integrate various design disciplines and enhance their overall skill set. This comprehensive approach guarantees that graduates are adaptable and well-equipped to handle the versatile nature of the graphic design field.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The BFA in Graphic Design at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is a NASAD accredited professional degree that offers a holistic approach to design education. This program covers a wide array of design disciplines, ensuring that students graduate as well-rounded creative professionals.

The curriculum includes the following courses:

These diverse courses provide students with a comprehensive understanding of various aspects of graphic design, preparing them for multiple career paths in the field of graphic design degrees.

Elective courses, including general education courses, offer additional opportunities in:

  • Illustration
  • Photography
  • Video editing
  • Animation

This flexibility is a significant advantage for students looking to specialize in particular areas of graphic design, such as rapid prototyping techniques, or become a graphic designer.

Located in the heart of Charlotte, the studio art program provides access to a variety of design studios, ad agencies, and arts institutions, offering students ample opportunities for networking and professional growth.

Campbell University

Campbell University’s Graphic Design program is distinguished by its focus on the design process, typography, and critical thinking. Students learn about visual communication, perception, interpretation, and understanding in a studio-based environment.

The program emphasizes hands-on experience, with students engaging in professional internships with notable employers such as NASCAR, Charlotte Hornets, and Krispy Kreme. These internships provide invaluable real-world experience, helping students build a strong portfolio and professional network.

Additionally, students must submit to the Candidacy Portfolio Review for admission to the Graphic Design major, ensuring that only those with demonstrated potential progress in the program. This selective process maintains high standards and fosters a community of dedicated and talented designers.

Meredith College

Meredith College’s Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design program is designed to meet the needs of clients, audiences, and designers alike. The curriculum integrates traditional art concepts with computer design and typography skills, teaching students to create effective and creative communication pieces.

Students learn to design a variety of materials, including:

  • Logos
  • Posters
  • Magazines
  • Websites
  • Brochures
  • Book jackets
  • Product packaging
  • Advertising campaigns

Exposure to a wide variety of projects guarantees that graduates are adaptable and ready to take on diverse design roles.

Meredith College supports its graphic design students with exclusive scholarships, such as talent and study abroad scholarships, and provides opportunities to work with real clients through the Circus Design Studio. These experiences allow students to apply their skills in professional settings, enhancing their readiness for the job market.