Top Graphic Design Schools in South Dakota for Aspiring Designers

Considering a career in graphic design and looking for graphic design schools in South Dakota? In this article, we highlight the best graphic design schools in the state and what each has to offer in terms of programs, facilities, and career opportunities.

  • Black Hills State University provides a comprehensive BFA program in graphic design, covering essential topics like drawing, photography, and web design, along with a wide range of electives to tailor education to student interests.
  • The University of South Dakota offers state-of-the-art facilities and a curriculum focused on real-world skills such as brand identity and web design, with an emphasis on conceptual development and professional mentorship.
  • Southeast Technical College’s Media Design Technology program emphasizes practical, hands-on experience with industry-standard software, preparing students for various roles in graphic design through a comprehensive curriculum and a Capstone Project.

Black Hills State University – Comprehensive Graphic Design Education

Black Hills State University stands out for its well-rounded Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program, which provides a solid foundation in various aspects of graphic design. The program requires 60 semester hours, covering essential areas such as:

  • Drawing
  • Graphic communication
  • Photography
  • Web design

This comprehensive approach ensures that students gain a broad skill set, preparing them for diverse roles in the design industry.

In addition to the core courses, students at Black Hills State University can choose from a variety of electives that allow them to tailor their education to their interests. Electives include Typography, Digital Illustration, and Professional Practices in Graphic Design, which provide deeper insights into specific areas of the field. These courses are designed to enhance students’ creative and technical abilities, making them well-rounded designers.

Supportive electives from categories like Social Sciences and Humanities further enrich the learning experience by providing broader perspectives that can influence design thinking. Advanced courses such as Advanced Graphic Communication and Advertising Media Communications are also part of the curriculum, offering students the opportunity to delve into specialized topics. This combination of core and elective courses ensures that graduates are well-prepared to meet the demands of the graphic design industry.

University of South Dakota – Real-World Skills and Facilities

The University of South Dakota (USD) is renowned for its state-of-the-art facilities and resources, making it a prime choice for aspiring graphic designers. The campus boasts 27” iMac studio spaces with 24/7 access, equipped with the full Adobe Creative Cloud suite and the latest design software. Additionally, resources such as a letterpress and type shop, large format printers, 3D printers, and a large platform laser cutter are available to students, ensuring they have the tools needed to bring their creative visions to life.

USD’s curriculum is designed to equip students with real-world skills that are directly applicable in the industry. Courses cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Brand identity
  • Typography
  • Digital design
  • Web design
  • Package design
  • Publication design
  • Portfolio design

Graduate students have the flexibility to customize their programs with advanced courses in typography, digital and print studio, and more, allowing them to focus on areas that align with their career goals in graduate studios.

What sets USD apart is its emphasis on:

  • Conceptual development
  • Visual and verbal skills across various platforms
  • Expressing themselves visually through print publications, UX/UI-focused apps, and websites
  • Integrating design thinking into both self-initiated and client-associated projects

This helps students develop a professional approach to problem-solving and creativity.

The faculty at USD are distinguished and professionally active members of the industry, providing students with invaluable insights and mentorship. The personalized learning experience and one-on-one interactions with professors ensure that students receive the guidance needed to achieve their career aspirations. The Department of Art also encourages students to engage with other art forms through visiting artists and exhibitions, fostering a well-rounded artistic education.

Southeast Technical College – Media Design Technology Program

Southeast Technical College offers a unique Media Design Technology program that includes:

  • Combining art and technology to create compelling visual content
  • Located at the George S. Mickelson Center on the Sioux Falls campus
  • A 66-credit associate degree program
  • Emphasizes practical, hands-on experience
  • Training in creating websites, advertisements, business reports, and brochures
  • Utilizing a range of tools and technologies

The program ensures that students become proficient in industry-standard software, such as:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • Acrobat
  • Dreamweaver
  • XD

This proficiency is crucial for modern graphic designers who need to navigate a digital-first world. The curriculum also includes a Capstone Project, where students present their work at a Portfolio Show attended by industry professionals. This real-world experience is invaluable for students as they transition from the classroom to the professional world.

Courses in the Media Design Technology program cover a wide array of topics, including:

  • Design Fundamentals
  • Media Writing
  • Portfolio Design
  • Motion Graphics
  • Design Development

This comprehensive curriculum ensures that students are well-prepared to tackle various challenges in the graphic design field and excel in their careers, armed with a graphic design certificate.

South Dakota State University – Diverse Art and Design Programs

South Dakota State University’s School of Design offers a rich array of programs that cater to a variety of interests within the field of design. Whether you’re interested in:

  • architecture
  • interior design
  • studio art
  • graphic design
  • landscape architecture

SDSU provides a robust educational foundation. This diversity allows students to explore different facets of design and find their niche.

The School of Design offers Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degrees in Studio Arts, Graphic Design, and Art Education. Within the Studio Arts major, students can specialize in areas like Ceramics, Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture, allowing them to develop a deep understanding and skill set in their chosen medium. This specialized education is complemented by a comprehensive graphic design program that includes courses in computer graphics, typography, design thinking, design problem solving, and interactive web design.

Graphic design students at SDSU benefit from:

  • A highly competitive environment
  • Recognition of their portfolios in national and international design competitions
  • Added value to their educational experience
  • Enhanced employability
  • Diverse programs

This combination makes SDSU an excellent choice for aspiring graphic designers.

Dakota State University – Digital Arts and Design

Dakota State University offers a Digital Arts and Design program that focuses on the intersection of technology and creativity. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for careers in digital media and advertising by emphasizing proficiency in interactive, multi-media, and audio software. This focus ensures that graduates are well-equipped to handle the demands of the modern digital landscape.

Students in this program have access to state-of-the-art animation software and video production tools, providing hands-on experience with industry-standard technology. This practical training is crucial for developing the technical skills needed to excel in fields such as digital photography, animation, and web design. The integration of publishing platforms and content management systems into the curriculum further enhances students’ digital design capabilities.

By combining creative and technical education, Dakota State University’s Digital Arts and Design program prepares students to become versatile and skilled professionals in the digital age. The program’s emphasis on practical experience and modern technology ensures that graduates are ready to take on a variety of roles in the industry.

Augustana University – Fine Arts Focus

Augustana University’s Art Department offers a fine arts-focused education that nurtures creativity and artistic expression. The department supports a community of passionate artists and provides disciplines in:

  • Art history
  • Ceramics
  • Drawing
  • Graphic design
  • Painting
  • Printmaking
  • Photography
  • Sculpture

This broad range of visual arts disciplines allows students to explore different mediums and find their artistic voice.

The university provides state-of-the-art facilities for its art and graphic design students, ensuring they have access to the following tools and resources needed to develop their skills:

  • High-quality art supplies
  • Professional-grade graphic design software
  • Design studios equipped with the latest technology
  • Photography and printmaking labs
  • Exhibition spaces for showcasing student work

These facilities, combined with the guidance of experienced faculty, create an environment where students can thrive and grow as artists. The faculty work closely with students, offering personalized instruction and mentorship to help them achieve their artistic goals.

Augustana University’s commitment to fine arts education makes it an excellent choice for students who want to immerse themselves in a creative and supportive community. The combination of diverse disciplines, state-of-the-art facilities, and experienced faculty ensures that students receive a well-rounded and enriching education.

Hands-On Learning Opportunities

Hands-on learning opportunities are a vital component of graphic design education, providing students with real-world experience and professional development. Internships are a key part of the curriculum, offering students the chance to work with companies like Fresh Produce, Daktronics, and IBM Design,. These internships allow students to apply their skills in practical settings and gain valuable industry insights.

The South Dakota Art Museum offers paid summer internships where students design marketing collateral for exhibitions and events, maintaining brand consistency. Internship roles can include creating promotional materials such as print ads, social media graphics, posters, and videos. The application process involves submitting a resume, a graphic design portfolio, and a writing sample. These internships provide students with hands-on experience and enhance their professional portfolios.

Professional development opportunities extend beyond internships. Students can join clubs such as:

  • American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)
  • Art Club
  • Advertising Club
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Club

These organizations offer leadership opportunities, networking, and professional growth. Additionally, students can connect with local designers and participate in field trips and workshops, further enhancing their knowledge and understanding of the graphic design industry.

Cost and Financial Aid

Tuition costs for graphic design programs in South Dakota can vary significantly between institutions. On average, tuition is calculated at $255 per credit hour, in addition to applicable fees. While these costs can add up, there are numerous financial aid options available to help students manage their expenses.

Financial aid options for graphic design students include:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Work-study programs
  • Student loans

Students may apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for federal and state grants. Additionally, some schools offer specific scholarships for students majoring in graphic design, providing further financial support.

It’s important for students to explore all available financial aid resources and apply early to ensure they receive the maximum amount of assistance. By taking advantage of these opportunities, students can focus on their education without the added stress of financial burdens.

Career Paths for Graphic Designers in South Dakota

Graduates of graphic design programs in South Dakota have a wide array of career paths available to them. They can pursue roles such as:

  • Art director
  • App designer
  • Branding designer
  • Teaching at the college level

The skills acquired during their education prepare landscape architects for diverse positions in the design industry.

Graphic designers in South Dakota can find opportunities in various industries, including advertising, publishing, and digital marketing. Notable employers of graphic design graduates include globally recognized companies like IBM, Disney, Google, and NBC Sports. Additionally, recent graduates have found employment at Lawrence and Schiller Advertising, Lemonly, Blend Interactive Web Strategies, and Daktronics.

The potential salaries for graphic design roles in South Dakota are competitive, with art directors earning a base pay range of approximately $133,600 to $282,200 per year. This financial reward, combined with the creative satisfaction of the work, makes graphic design an attractive career choice for many.

How to Choose the Right School for You

Choosing the right school for your graphic design education is a crucial decision that can shape your future career. One of the first factors to consider is the curriculum. Ensure that the program covers areas of interest to you, such as typography, web design, or illustration. A well-rounded curriculum will provide you with the skills needed to excel in the industry.

Another important factor is the school’s alumni network and career support services. A strong network can provide valuable industry connections and job opportunities post-graduation. Research the faculty’s background and expertise as well, as experienced and respected instructors can significantly impact your education.

Location is also a key consideration. Schools located in cities with vibrant design communities can offer additional inspiration and opportunities.

Finally, assess the school’s approach to design education—whether it emphasizes traditional techniques, modern technology, or a blend of both. This approach should align with your career goals and personal interests.