Best Graphic Design Schools in New Jersey: 2024 Guide

Want to study graphic design in New Jersey? This guide reviews the best graphic design schools in New Jersey, focusing on their programs, facilities, and career opportunities. Discover which school fits your goals.

  • Rutgers University’s BFA in Graphic Design integrates focused studio work and liberal arts courses, providing graduates with comprehensive technical skills and cultural understanding for diverse career paths.
  • NJIT offers a competitive BA in Digital Design with specialized tracks in Entertainment and Interactive Media, featuring state-of-the-art facilities and hands-on training in various design mediums.
  • The College of New Jersey’s BFA in Visual Arts with a specialization in Graphic Design emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach, combining fine arts and graphic design to prepare students for a wide range of creative industries.

Rutgers University – Mason Gross School of the Arts

Rutgers University, situated in the heart of New Jersey, delivers a comprehensive Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. The program skillfully integrates focused studio work and liberal arts courses, honing students’ technical skills in graphic design while deepening their understanding of contemporary culture and art movements. Courses like the Seminar in Contemporary Art A cover a wide range of art movements from Impressionism to the latest exhibitions, providing a solid theoretical foundation.

The curriculum includes hands-on studio work through courses such as Visual Arts Practice, Design A: Type and Typography, and Drawing Fundamentals. These courses enhance students’ perceptual abilities, compositional strategies, and the ability to make verbal language visual. Moreover, the 4-D Fundamentals course teaches students to work with time- and screen-based media, engaging them with contemporary culture through modern technologies like smartphones and audio recording devices.

Graduates from Rutgers University often find themselves well-prepared for diverse career paths, including roles as:

  • Graphic Designers
  • Social Media Designers
  • Brand Designers
  • Website Designers

The program’s integration of theory and practical skills makes it a standout choice for anyone serious about a career in graphic design.

New Jersey Institute of Technology – Hillier College of Architecture and Design

The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) provides a dynamic Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design. It’s a competitive program, demanding a creative portfolio upon admission to confirm students’ foundational artistic skills.

The program kicks off with a Foundation Year where students take design courses together, working with both digital and traditional media to build a robust skill set. From the second year onwards, students can choose between two specialized tracks: Entertainment and Interactive Media. This allows students to tailor their education to their specific interests and career goals.

NJIT students benefit from state-of-the-art facilities, including 24/7 access to Foundation Year Labs and design studios, as well as cutting-edge digital and traditional fabrication tools like laser cutters and 3D printers.

The curriculum includes diverse courses such as environment design in motion pictures, SFX/VFX in movies, and 2D/3D character design and modeling, making it a top choice for those interested in the intersection of design and technology.

The College of New Jersey – Department of Art and Art History

Offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts with a specialization in Graphic Design, The College of New Jersey distinguishes itself with an interdisciplinary approach. It merges the fine arts and graphic design for a comprehensive educational experience. Students are required to undergo a portfolio review and college admission process, ensuring that only the most dedicated and talented individuals are admitted.

The curriculum includes a mix of visual arts, art history, and graphic design core courses. Students engage in graphic design courses covering:

  • Typography
  • Image-making
  • Web and multimedia design
  • Research and portfolio development

This prepares them for a wide range of employment opportunities in publishing, advertising, branding, and more. This comprehensive approach ensures that graduates are not only creative and collaborative but also critical thinkers ready to tackle the challenges of the design profession.

In addition to core courses, students can explore both print and digital media, providing flexibility and a broad skill set. The capstone project, which includes three course units, allows students to showcase their cumulative skills and knowledge, setting them up for success in the competitive job market.

Kean University – Michael Graves College

The Bachelor of Graphic Design program at Michael Graves College, Kean University, aims to nurture visual storytellers. Emphasizing creative and critical thinking for problem-solving in visual communication, it readies students for applying design principles across several mediums. Admission is competitive, requiring a portfolio of at least 10 pieces and a considered essay, ensuring that only the most passionate and skilled students are admitted.

One of the highlights of Kean’s program is the Design Studio Practicum, where students gain real-world experience by engaging in practical projects. The faculty, comprising published authors and accomplished designers, ensures that students receive top-notch education and mentorship. Graduates leave with professional, field-ready portfolios, making them highly competitive in the job market.

Montclair State University – College of the Arts

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design at Montclair State University provides an exceptional fusion of intimate class sizes and a varied academic setting. This four-year program requires a portfolio of 15 pieces for admission, ensuring that students possess a solid foundation in creative capabilities. The curriculum is designed to develop students into persuasive design thinkers, with training in the most current design applications.

The program emphasizes research, analysis, sketching, and concept development as integral parts of the design process. Students are trained in problem-solving, systems design, and conceptual thinking, preparing them for the complexities of the design practice. Advanced level offerings include fine art imaging, narrative photography, typeface design, animation, creative coding, and creative book arts, providing a comprehensive education in visual communication.

This well-rounded approach ensures that Montclair State University students are well-prepared for a variety of career paths in the design industry. The program’s focus on both practical and theoretical aspects of design makes it a strong contender for anyone looking to pursue a career in visual communication.

Monmouth University – Department of Art and Design

With a concentration in graphic and interactive design, Monmouth University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design and Animation is a four-year program, encompassing courses in print, UI/UX, motion graphics, among others. Students receive professional training in these areas, preparing them for a variety of roles within the design industry.

The university provides state-of-the-art equipment, including three full 18-station iMac labs, ensuring that students have access to the latest technology. Monmouth University also emphasizes practical experience through internships and collaborations with public and nonprofit partners. These opportunities allow students to apply their skills in real-world settings, enhancing their learning and making them more marketable to future employers.

Additionally, students are encouraged to engage in community projects and off-site internships, broadening their horizons and providing valuable hands-on experience. This comprehensive approach ensures that graduates are well-prepared for the challenges of the graphic design industry.

Rider University – School of Fine and Performing Arts

Rider University’s graphic design program, a four-year degree, concentrates on enhancing students’ visual communication and graphic design skills, combining foundational coursework with practical experience. The curriculum includes courses in:

  • Typography
  • Color theory
  • Publication design
  • Photography
  • The history and principles of graphic design

The program values a hands-on approach, providing practical experience in digital studios and labs. Students have the opportunity to showcase their work through exhibits, contests, and social media explorations, gaining recognition for their achievements. This emphasis on practical application ensures that Rider University graduates are well-prepared for the demands of the graphic design industry.

Berkeley College – Larry L. Luing School of Business

Situated in Woodland Park, NJ, Berkeley College’s graphic design program presents a thorough four-year curriculum encompassing:

  • web design
  • user interface design
  • motion graphics
  • digital photography

The program is available both on-campus and online, providing flexibility for students with different needs and schedules.

Students benefit from:

  • Small class sizes
  • Personal attention from instructors who have extensive real-world design experience
  • Opportunities for field trips, guest lectures, and internships

These ensure that students gain a well-rounded education and practical experience.

Graduates can pursue careers as art directors, web designers, multimedia artists, and more, making Berkeley College a strong choice for aspiring graphic designers.

Fairleigh Dickinson University – School of the Arts

The graphic design program at Fairleigh Dickinson University offers:

  • A career-centric method
  • A robust business foundation
  • A liberal arts curriculum
  • Coursework in design theory, art history, and industry-standard software like Adobe Creative Cloud

This ensures that students are well-versed in both the creative and technical aspects of graphic design, including creative technology.

Students can choose from three areas of concentration within their graphic design specialization:

  1. Print Design: Emphasizes concept development and technical skills.
  2. Web Design: Emphasizes scripting languages.
  3. Illustration: Emphasizes personal style development.

This diverse approach ensures that graduates are well-prepared for various career paths in the graphic design field.

Rowan College at Burlington County

Offering an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design and Digital Media, Rowan College at Burlington County lays emphasis on establishing a sturdy foundation in design concepts and methodologies. This program emphasizes a deep understanding of visual communication issues, preparing graduates for entry-level positions in the field.

Graduates can pursue roles such as junior graphic designer, designer’s assistant, and production artist. The strong foundation in design principles provided by graduate programs makes it an excellent choice for those looking to start their career in graphic design.

Benefits of Short-Term Graphic Design Programs

Shillington, among others, offers short-term graphic design programs, serving as accessible alternatives for individuals aiming to learn graphic design outside the traditional university setting. These programs are particularly suitable for those unsure of their creative ability, as they remove the obstacles of complex admissions processes, mandatory portfolio submissions, and lengthy commitments.

Shillington’s program, for example, has an open admission policy requiring no creative or academic proof, making it accessible to a wider range of students. The flexible duration options, such as a 3-month full-time course or a 9-month part-time course, cater to different schedules and commitments. This flexibility allows students to gain valuable skills and knowledge in a shorter time frame, making it a viable option for those looking to quickly enter the job market.