Top 12 Graphic Design Schools in Ohio for 2024

Looking for the best graphic design schools in Ohio? This guide lists the top programs for 2024, offering details on what each school provides. Read on to find out which program fits your needs.

  • Ohio’s graphic design schools are known for their rigorous programs and state-of-the-art resources, offering diverse options from traditional design to cutting-edge digital media.
  • Shillington School of Graphic Design stands out for its flexible course durations, global perspective, and emphasis on real-world experience, preparing students through hands-on projects and client work.
  • Columbus College of Art & Design and Cleveland Institute of Art offer robust 4-year programs with a blend of traditional and modern design methods, providing students access to cutting-edge technology and fostering collaborative environments.

Ohio’s graphic design programs are renowned for their academic rigor and excellent reputation. This makes the state a prime destination for students eager to immerse themselves in the world of design. The diverse array of programs available ensures that there is something to suit every student’s needs, from traditional design fundamentals to cutting-edge digital media tools. Furthermore, Ohio’s institutions are committed to providing state-of-the-art resources, which are crucial for the hands-on learning experiences that are a staple of graphic design education.

One of the standout features of Ohio’s graphic design schools is their emphasis on real-world experience. Many programs integrate internships and co-op opportunities, enabling students to gain practical skills and build professional networks even before graduation. Additionally, study abroad programs further enhance the learning experience by exposing students to global design trends and practices. This guide aims to help prospective students navigate these options by providing insights into each school’s acceptance rates, net prices, and SAT ranges.

Shillington School of Graphic Design

For those seeking flexibility and a global perspective, Shillington School of Graphic Design is an excellent choice. Here are some reasons why:

  • Course durations of either 3 or 9 months
  • Full-time and part-time options
  • Online courses available
  • Campuses worldwide, including one in Ohio

This flexibility allows graphic design students to tailor their education to fit their schedules and learning styles.

Shillington’s program is designed to equip students with essential skills in visual communication design. The curriculum covers a broad spectrum of design disciplines, including:

  • Design thinking
  • Visual systems
  • Interactive design
  • Typography
  • Layout design
  • Branding and identity design
  • Packaging design
  • Web design

This ensures that students are well-prepared to tackle various design challenges and excel in different areas, from print and web design to packaging and corporate identity, becoming a skilled digital designer.

What sets Shillington apart is its real-world focus. Students at Shillington:

  • Work on projects that mimic professional design briefs, providing practical experience and portfolio pieces that are crucial for entering the job market.
  • Have opportunities to work on projects with real clients, giving them a taste of what it’s like to be a professional graphic designer.
  • Emphasize community engagement.

This real-world focus and hands-on experience make Shillington a great choice for aspiring graphic designers.

Columbus College of Art & Design

Located in the heart of Columbus, Ohio, Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) offers a 4-year undergraduate degree in Advertising and Graphic Design. This program is designed to prepare students for various careers in the design industry, from graphic designers to creative directors. With a focus on both traditional and digital media, the curriculum ensures that students gain a comprehensive understanding of visual communication design.

CCAD stands out for its state-of-the-art facilities and vibrant design community. The college provides students with access to cutting-edge technology and resources, including photography studios, digital design labs, and more. This immersive environment fosters creativity and collaboration, allowing graphic design students to thrive and develop their unique artistic voices.

Cleveland Institute of Art

The Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) offers a robust 4-year graphic design program that combines traditional and modern design methods. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, CIA’s curriculum includes everything from typography and print design to web and interactive media. This comprehensive approach ensures that students are well-versed in various aspects of graphic design, preparing them for diverse career paths in the industry.

One of the key strengths of CIA’s program is its focus on practical skills and industry trends. Students engage in hands-on projects that involve:

  • Editorial and publication design
  • Event and exhibition design
  • Branding and identity design
  • Web and interactive design

This real-world experience is invaluable for developing the problem-solving and critical thinking skills essential for success in the design field, as well as honing one’s creative writing abilities.

Collaboration is another cornerstone of the CIA experience. Students have the opportunity to work with peers from other disciplines, such as Industrial Design and Interior Architecture, on interdisciplinary projects. This collaborative environment mirrors the professional world, where designers must often work across different fields and specialties to create cohesive and innovative solutions.

Art Academy of Cincinnati

The Art Academy of Cincinnati, established in 1869, offers a rich art history and a variety of programs tailored to aspiring graphic designers. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, this institution provides a Design Major and an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design, catering to both full-time and part-time students. The Associate of Science in Graphic Design is a two-year program that seamlessly transitions into the BFA in Design, offering a clear pathway for students to advance their education.

The Academy’s programs combine Liberal Arts and Studio courses at the fine arts center, ensuring a well-rounded education that emphasizes both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Students benefit from 24-hour access to facilities, allowing them to work on projects and hone their craft at their own pace. This blend of academic rigor and flexibility makes the Art Academy of Cincinnati an attractive option for many aspiring designers.

The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University (OSU), located in Columbus, Ohio, offers a comprehensive 4-year degree in Visual Communication Design. This program covers essential topics such as design fundamentals, typographic design, and collaborative design. Additionally, students are trained in advanced computing and digital media tools, ensuring they are prepared for the evolving demands of the graphic design industry.

Internships and real-world experiences are integral parts of the OSU program. These opportunities allow students to apply their skills in professional settings, enhancing their resumes and providing valuable networking opportunities. The final projects in the program often address themes like education, health, culture, and social impact, showcasing students’ ability to create meaningful and impactful designs.

Graduates of OSU’s Visual Communication Design program find themselves well-prepared for various career paths, including positions in design consulting offices, corporate design departments, and government design agencies. The program’s focus on human-centered research and problem-solving equips students with the skills needed to excel in the competitive design industry.

The Modern College of Design

Situated in Kettering, Ohio, The Modern College of Design offers both an Associate’s Degree and a Bachelor’s Completion in graphic design. The programs are designed to be completed in up to 4 years, providing a thorough education in various design disciplines. The curriculum includes courses in:

  • web design
  • UI/UX
  • video motion design
  • photography
  • illustration
  • marketing
  • advertising

This ensures that students are well-rounded and versatile designers.

From day one, The Modern College of Design emphasizes developing students into professional design leaders. The college achieves this through:

  • Small class sizes
  • A focused curriculum
  • Personalized attention and mentorship
  • A commitment to real-world experience

These factors foster an environment where students can thrive and develop their unique talents. As a result, graduates are well-prepared to enter the job market with confidence.

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati offers a 2-year Applied Associate’s degree in Applied Graphic Communication, tailored towards students seeking immediate employment in the design industry. The program can be completed full-time in either two or three years, depending on the student’s pace. The curriculum covers both print and web-based media formats, providing a solid foundation in various design applications.

Graduates of the Applied Graphic Communication program are equipped for entry-level design and creative support positions. The program also offers practical training in usability testing methods, such as Think Aloud protocols, performance measurements, and eye-tracking analysis. Additionally, students can transition to the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning’s Communication Design bachelor’s degree program after the first year, offering further educational and career advancement opportunities.

Kent State University

Kent State University offers a diverse array of degree programs in graphic design, including:

  • A minor and Master’s degree in User Experience Design
  • Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Visual Communication Design
  • A minor in Web Design and Development

The curriculum is comprehensive, covering 2D and 3D design, photography, and illustration, ensuring that students gain a broad and deep understanding of graphic design principles.

The Master of Science in User Experience at Kent State University is particularly noteworthy, covering:

  • Design research
  • Usability testing
  • Accessibility principles
  • Information architecture, including organization, navigation, labeling, and search

Students in this program learn about these topics, preparing them for specialized roles in the design industry.

University of Dayton

The University of Dayton, located in Dayton, Ohio, offers a robust graphic design program under the College of Arts and Sciences. The program includes:

  • Foundational art and design courses
  • Specific curriculum on various aspects of graphic design
  • Leads to a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Graphic Design

This professional program emphasizes intensive professional preparation, ensuring that students are ready to enter the job market upon graduation.

One of the standout features of the University of Dayton’s graphic design program is:

  • Its newly renovated studio spaces, which provide an excellent environment for students to work and learn
  • Opportunities to work on real-world briefs with clients on campus and in the city of Dayton
  • The chance to pursue internships in their final year

These experiences are invaluable for building a strong portfolio and gaining practical skills.

University of Akron

The University of Akron’s BFA program in Graphic Design is one of the best in Ohio, offering a comprehensive education that includes core electives like typography and motion design. The program emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving in print, web, and interactive media, ensuring that students are well-prepared for the diverse challenges of the design industry.

Students in the program have:

  • Won over 100 design awards in competitions, showcasing the high level of talent and creativity fostered at the University of Akron
  • Gained practical experience through Design X Nine, the in-house student design studio
  • Completed professional internships in studios, agencies, or corporate environments
  • Achieved an 80% job placement rate three months after graduation

The University of Akron’s graphic design program is a strong choice for aspiring designers.

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University (BGSU) offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, a program recognized for its excellence and comprehensive curriculum. The program takes 4 years to complete and covers areas such as:

  • information graphics
  • typography
  • emerging media
  • creative placemaking
  • community engagement

This diverse curriculum ensures that students are well-prepared for a variety of careers in the design industry.

BGSU’s graphic design program has received numerous accolades, including being ranked No. 21 in the Midwest and No. 5 in Ohio by Animation Career Review in 2023. In addition, two BGSU graphic design students were named to GDUSA’s list of the country’s top emerging graphic designers in April 2023, highlighting the program’s ability to nurture top talent, thanks in part to the bgsu graphic design facilities.

Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University (CSU) offers a comprehensive graphic design education with several degree options, including a BA in Graphic Design, a Graphic Design Minor, and a Graphic Design Certificate. The curriculum starts with foundational courses in typography and visual technology, building upon essential graphic design knowledge. Students gain proficiency in Adobe Creative Cloud software, including InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and AfterEffects, ensuring they are well-equipped to handle modern design challenges.

CSU provides excellent facilities for graphic design students, including:

  • The Middough Building
  • Multiple computer labs
  • A photography darkroom
  • A printmaking studio

The program also emphasizes real-world experience through projects with campus and community partners and professional internships, which earn elective credits. This hands-on approach ensures that graduates are ready to enter the workforce with practical skills and a strong portfolio.