Top 10 Graphic Design Schools in Oregon for Aspiring Designers

Looking for the top graphic design schools in Oregon? This guide covers the best programs, highlighting key features like hands-on learning and internships. Discover which school aligns with your career goals.

  • Oregon offers a variety of graphic design programs, from comprehensive university degrees to flexible community college courses, catering to diverse interests and career paths.
  • Portland State University’s BFA in Graphic Design is highly ranked and provides extensive hands-on experience and professional opportunities, with alumni working at prestigious companies like Apple and IBM.
  • Shillington Education stands out for its unique, fast-track online program that emphasizes real-time teacher guidance and essential skills training, ideal for those looking to quickly enter the graphic design field.

For aspiring designers, finding the right graphic design program is crucial to developing essential skills and launching a meaningful career. Oregon offers a variety of programs that cater to different interests and career paths, from comprehensive university degrees to flexible community college courses. Each program has its own set of strengths, key modules, and unique features that make it stand out.

In this guide, we will explore the top graphic design schools in Oregon, providing detailed insights into what makes each program unique. From hands-on learning opportunities to professional internships and community engagement, you’ll discover the elements that can help you make an informed decision about where to study graphic design.

Shillington Education: A Unique Approach to Graphic Design

Shillington Education offers a unique online graphic design program that stands out for its real-time teacher guidance and essential skills training. Unlike traditional graphic design schools, Shillington focuses on providing an intensive, hands-on learning experience that can be completed in a short time frame, making it ideal for those seeking a quick entry into the field.

Graphic design students at Shillington benefit from:

  • Small classes
  • Personalized feedback
  • Curriculum covering a wide range of topics, including web design, print media, packaging design, and more
  • Well-equipped design skills needed to succeed in various media, whether it’s in advertising, branding, or digital projects

Oregon State University: Comprehensive Graphic Design Program

Oregon State University’s Graphic Design program offers a comprehensive Bachelor of Fine Arts degree that blends design theory, history, and practical skills. Students begin as Pre-Graphic Design majors, spending the first year focusing on foundational courses before applying to the professional Graphic Design program. Once accepted, they embark on a three-year journey that delves deep into visual problem solving, information design, and creative production.

The graphic design program at OSU is designed to prepare students for the diverse challenges they will face as professional graphic designers. The curriculum includes courses in:

  • Typography
  • Branding
  • Illustration
  • Digital design

This ensures that students develop a well-rounded skill set. Additionally, the program emphasizes the importance of understanding the historical and theoretical context of design, which helps students create more meaningful and impactful work.

OSU’s program is particularly noted for its rigorous admission process and high standards. This ensures that only the most dedicated and talented students proceed to the professional level, fostering a highly competitive and motivating environment. Graduates from OSU are well-prepared to enter the workforce or pursue further studies in the field of graphic design.

Portland State University: Top-Ranked Graphic Design BFA

Portland State University’s BFA in Graphic Design is consistently recognized as one of the top programs in Oregon and the nation. Serving nearly 24,000 students, PSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and offers a dynamic environment for aspiring designers. The program emphasizes:

  • Craft
  • Concept
  • Research
  • Design thinking

This provides students with a robust foundation in both the creative and practical aspects of graphic design.

Students in the PSU Graphic Design program gain hands-on experience through A+D Projects, the School of Art + Design’s in-house studio that works on real client projects. The program also includes opportunities for professional internships and summer study abroad experiences, allowing students to broaden their horizons and gain valuable real-world experience. Graduating seniors participate in showcases like Be Honest and Fresh, where they present their work to industry professionals and potential employers.

PSU alumni have gone on to work at prestigious companies such as:

  • Apple
  • IBM
  • Nike
  • Nordstrom

This reflects the program’s strong reputation and career support. The active student groups, such as Friends of Graphic Design and Comma, provide mentorship and foster a sense of community among graphic design students. With its comprehensive curriculum and numerous opportunities for practical experience, PSU is an excellent choice for those looking to study graphic design in a vibrant urban setting.

George Fox University: Integrative Graphic Design BA

George Fox University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design that integrates faith and community engagement into the creative process. This program is unique in that it encourages students to use their creative voices in a Christ-centered approach, participating in community-based events and retreats. The curriculum includes advanced courses in the Creative Suite, focusing on techniques for raster-based image creation and other key design skills.

One of the standout features of George Fox’s graphic design program is its commitment to ensuring students gain real-world experience. Every art and design student is guaranteed an internship placement before graduation, with over 100% participation. This, coupled with the program’s high job-placement rate, makes George Fox an attractive option for those looking to integrate their faith with a practical and successful career in graphic design.

  • Guaranteed internship placement before graduation
  • Over 100% participation in internships
  • High job-placement rate (84% of students find jobs in the field within three months of graduation)

Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA): Experimental and Collaborative Learning

Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design that encourages students to push the boundaries of traditional graphic design. The program is grounded in the understanding of the relationship between medium and message, aiming to inspire action, foster empathy, and create community through design. The curriculum is designed to promote hands-on learning, experimentation, and cross-disciplinary solutions, allowing students to explore various media and techniques.

PNCA places a strong emphasis on both independent and collaborative projects, helping students develop critical thinking, research, and creative practice skills. The program’s experimental approach prepares students to adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of graphic design, making them versatile and innovative designers ready to tackle a wide range of challenges in their careers.

Western Oregon University: Visual Design Concentration

Western Oregon University’s West Coast Visual Design Concentration offers:

  • A combination of traditional art-making techniques and modern digital design tools
  • A well-rounded education in graphic design
  • A studio-based environment for hands-on projects
  • Personalized support for students
  • A blend of traditional and digital approaches to design

This program ensures that students are well-versed in both the fundamentals of design and the latest industry practices.

The small class sizes at Western Oregon University allow for more individualized attention and peer engagement, fostering a supportive and collaborative learning atmosphere. Students gain practical experience with digital tools and techniques, preparing them for a variety of roles in the visual design field. This concentration is ideal for those looking to develop a strong foundation in both traditional and digital design methods.

Mt. Hood Community College: Flexible Graphic Design Degree

Mt. Hood Community College offers a flexible Graphic Design degree program that caters to the diverse needs of its students. The program covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Design software
  • Web design
  • Photography
  • Motion graphics
  • Animation

This comprehensive approach ensures that students with a creative mind gain a broad set of skills that can be applied to various creative fields, including liberal arts.

One of the key features of this program is its flexibility. Students can take general education courses like math, writing, and health during any term, allowing them to tailor their schedules to fit their personal and professional commitments. The Visual Communications program requires application in the spring for entry in the fall term, and all core courses must be completed within five years to earn the degree. This structure makes it an excellent choice for those who need a more adaptable educational pathway.

Chemeketa Community College: Visual Communications Program

Chemeketa Community College’s Visual Communications Program is designed to prepare students for careers in graphic and visual arts. The program is rigorous and serves as a launchpad for creative careers, focusing on essential skills like:

  • graphic design
  • layout
  • typography
  • photography
  • web design

Students also learn to create personal logos and branding, which are integral parts of the curriculum.

Upon successful completion of the program, students graduate with a print and digital portfolio that showcases their work and skills. This portfolio is crucial for entering the job market and demonstrates the comprehensive training students receive at Chemeketa. The program’s emphasis on practical skills and personal branding makes it a strong choice for those looking to make an immediate impact in the graphic design industry.

Portland Community College: Essential Skills Training

Portland Community College’s Graphic Design program provides students with essential skills training to succeed in a competitive job market. The curriculum includes courses on industry-standard software like Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, as well as print production skills. This focus on practical, hands-on learning ensures that students are well-prepared for real-world design challenges.

Students at PCC have access to the same quality computers, printers, and scanners used by creative professionals, allowing them to produce high-quality work. The program also requires students to complete a presentation-quality portfolio of creative projects before graduation, which is regularly recognized by industry awards and publications. This combination of professional-grade tools and a strong emphasis on portfolio development makes PCC an excellent choice for aspiring graphic designers.

Choosing the Right Graphic Design School in Oregon

Selecting the right graphic design school in Oregon involves considering several important factors. First, think about the program focus and whether it aligns with your career goals. Some schools offer traditional degrees, while others provide short courses or bootcamps that may be more suited to your needs. Additionally, look for programs that offer hands-on experience with industry-standard software like Adobe Creative Cloud, as this is crucial for developing practical skills.

Consider the career support offered by each school, such as professional internships and job placement services, which can significantly impact your future success. The location and facilities of the school are also important; for example, Portland is known for its cultural and creative environment, making it an attractive option for many students. By carefully evaluating these factors, you can choose a graphic design program that will set you up for a successful and fulfilling career.