Top Graphic Design Schools in Tennessee for Aspiring Artists

Are you searching for the best graphic design schools in Tennessee? This article provides a comprehensive look at the top institutions, their unique programs, and what you can expect from each. Discover which school suits your career goals in the design industry.

  • TCAT Murfreesboro’s Digital Graphic Design program emphasizes both technical skills and creative problem-solving, preparing students for entry-level graphic design positions with a comprehensive education in traditional and contemporary design techniques.
  • Nossi College of Art offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design, integrating courses like drawing, conceptual thinking, color theory, and web design, with an emphasis on advanced skills and a mandatory capstone project to build a professional portfolio.
  • UTK College of Architecture + Design’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design provides a research-intensive curriculum focusing on creative and intellectual thinking, with important features such as collaborative design studios, study abroad opportunities, and a strong alumni network in top companies.

Selecting an appropriate graphic design school in Tennessee is a key step towards acquiring the skills and qualifications needed for a prosperous career in the design industry. With a variety of schools offering unique programs that cater to different learning preferences, aspiring designers can find a perfect match to suit their career goals.

Evaluating the top schools and their offerings can significantly influence your career trajectory, providing you with the foundational skills, advanced techniques, and industry connections needed to thrive.

TCAT Murfreesboro: Digital Graphic Design

TCAT Murfreesboro’s Digital Graphic Design program is designed with a clear objective: to prepare students for entry-level positions in the graphic design industry. The curriculum emphasizes both technical skills and creative problem-solving, providing a diverse background of design concepts.

This program merges visualization and technical skills, effectively preparing students to confidently join the workforce as proficient graphic designers.

About the Program

TCAT Murfreesboro’s Digital Graphic Design program is designed to offer students an all-inclusive education encompassing both traditional and contemporary design techniques. The curriculum integrates visualization, creative problem-solving, and technical skills to form a solid foundation for employment in the graphic design field. Students are equipped with a broad range of design concepts, including typography and interactive design, which are essential for today’s dynamic job market.

In addition to the technical skills, the program places a strong emphasis on creative problem-solving abilities, ensuring that graduates are capable of tackling real-world challenges with innovative solutions. Upon completing the program, students will have compiled a professional portfolio demonstrating their skills and creativity, effectively preparing them to captivate potential employers.

Campus Locations

The main campus of TCAT Murfreesboro is conveniently located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, at 1303 Old Fort Parkway. This central location offers accessible education to students from the region, making it easier for them to commute and benefit from the resources available on campus.

Meet the Instructors

At TCAT Murfreesboro, the quality of education is significantly enhanced by the expertise of its instructors. Jon Bellucci, one of the program’s key instructors, brings a wealth of practical industry experience to the classroom. His background in the graphic design field ensures that students receive education that is both relevant and practical, directly applicable to real-world scenarios.

The instructors at TCAT Murfreesboro not only teach the curriculum but also provide invaluable insights and mentorship, helping students to develop their skills and navigate their future careers. This hands-on approach to teaching ensures that students are well-prepared to enter the graphic design industry with confidence and competence.

Nossi College of Art: Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design

Nossi College of Art offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design that is both comprehensive and forward-thinking. This program spans a plethora of courses, including:

  • Drawing
  • Conceptual thinking
  • Color theory
  • Web design

This guarantees students receive a comprehensive education in every facet of graphic design.

The curriculum is designed to prepare students for various roles in the design industry, making it an excellent choice for those looking to build a successful career in graphic arts using Adobe Illustrator.

Curriculum Highlights

The curriculum at Nossi College of Art is meticulously crafted to provide students with a strong foundation in design principles. Courses like Basic Drawing emphasize accurate observations of shapes and forms, using a variety of mediums such as pen and ink, graphite pencils, and charcoal. This approach ensures that students develop a keen eye for detail and precision, essential skills for any graphic designer.

Additionally, the Conceptual Thinking course integrates artificial intelligence techniques to explore innovative design approaches and possibilities, including concept art. This amalgamation of conventional and contemporary techniques equips students with the creative thinking skills and adaptability needed to meet the changing demands of the graphic design industry, all while engaging in the creative process.

The Color Theory course further enhances their understanding of color relationships and applications, using various techniques and mediums.

Advanced Courses

Nossi College of Art offers a range of advanced courses that allow students to specialize in different areas of graphic design. The Advanced Typography course, for instance, enables students to practice choosing appropriate fonts, sizes, and colors for real-life projects, enhancing their ability to communicate effectively through design.

The Layout Design course focuses on layout composition, grid systems, and hierarchy, teaching students how to create clear and sophisticated communicative designs. These advanced courses not only expand students’ technical skills but also refine their creative processes, preparing them for complex design challenges they may face in their careers.

Capstone Projects

The capstone course at Nossi College of Art is a pivotal part of the curriculum, focusing on professional portfolio development and self-branding. Students are required to create or refine their personal brand, start a portfolio website, and undertake new projects to build a diverse and impressive portfolio. This comprehensive approach ensures that they are well-prepared for the professional world.

Senior students participate in a mandatory Portfolio Review, where they showcase their:

  • Portfolios
  • Resumes
  • Business cards
  • Self-promotional materials

to industry professionals and potential employers. This experience not only provides valuable feedback but also opens doors to networking and job opportunities, including entry level employment, giving graduates a significant advantage in the job market.

UTK College of Architecture + Design: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is a research-intensive program that emphasizes creative and intellectual thinking, diverse problem-solving, and innovative investigations in communication. This program is dedicated to meaningful action and creative experimentation, preparing graduates to enter the design field with a robust set of skills and experiences.

Four-Year Program Structure

The curriculum at UTK College of Architecture + Design is crafted to nurture creativity and strategic thinking from the outset. It starts with a Design-Centered Foundations program that focuses on concept development and strategic thinking, providing a solid base for further studies. Students undergo a Portfolio Review at the end of their first year, which serves as a benchmark for accessing upper-division courses.

Additionally, the program includes opportunities for study abroad and service learning, allowing students to expand their horizons and develop global perspectives. These experiences are integral to the curriculum, helping students to build connections and gain insights that are invaluable in the design industry.

Studio Access and Alumni Success

One of the key features of the UTK program is the access to collaborative design studios, which serve as the core of the curriculum. These studios are equipped with amenities such as a small library, light table, and lighting equipment, providing students with all the necessary tools to explore their creative processes through drawing, modeling, fabrication, and construction.

The program also boasts a strong alumni network, with graduates working at top companies like:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • IDEO
  • Boeing

This network not only highlights the success of UTK’s graduates but also provides current students with valuable connections and opportunities in the industry.

Belmont University: Graphic Design Major

Belmont University’s Graphic Design Major is part of the Design Communications program, which combines core design classes with additional courses in:

  • Typography
  • Web design
  • Interaction design
  • Design history

This holistic approach guarantees that students acquire a multifaceted education that readies them for diverse roles in the graphic design industry.

Comprehensive Curriculum

Belmont University’s curriculum is structured to endow students with a solid grounding in design principles. Foundational courses such as Introduction to Design Principles and Principles of Web Page Design lay the groundwork for more advanced studies. These courses cover various aspects of design, including typography, web page design, interactive media, design history, and more, ensuring students develop a comprehensive understanding of the field.

As students progress, they encounter advanced courses such as:

  • Typography: Kinetic
  • Identity and Branding
  • Narrative and Advocacy Design
  • Senior Exhibition/Portfolio

These courses not only enhance their technical skills but also prepare them for real-world challenges by emphasizing practical applications and creative thinking.

Industry-Relevant Skills

Belmont University prioritizes imparting industry-relevant skills that are indispensable for a thriving graphic design career. Courses like Design Empathy focus on human-centered design and the importance of understanding users’ needs and behaviors. This empathetic approach to design ensures that students create solutions that are both functional and user-friendly.

Additionally, students participate in workshops and master classes every semester, gaining hands-on experience in real-world communication and interactivity problem-solving through courses like Interactive Media.

The course ‘Business Marketing for Creatives’ helps students develop the skills necessary for starting a successful freelance operation, covering topics such as protecting creative property and ensuring payment.

Internship Opportunities

All B.F.A. students at Belmont University must complete at least one internship for college credit, providing them with valuable real-world experience. These internships can be in various fields such as advertising, publishing, or galleries, and can provide up to six credits towards the degree.

The capstone course prepares students for securing field sponsorships, ensuring they are ready to take on professional roles after graduation.

Watkins College of Art: Graphic Design Program

Watkins College of Art presents an all-inclusive graphic design program with a focus on cultivating both creative and technical abilities. The program integrates traditional art techniques with contemporary digital tools, providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for various roles in the graphic design industry.

Program Overview

The graphic design program at Watkins emphasizes a comprehensive art education, combining practical design skills with theoretical knowledge. Students learn to integrate traditional art techniques with contemporary digital tools, ensuring they are well-equipped to meet current industry demands.

Faculty Expertise

At Watkins College of Art, students benefit from the expertise of seasoned professionals who bring extensive industry experience to their teaching. James Pierce, the Dean of Watkins College of Art, serves as a Professor of Experiential Design, while Dan Johnson, the Program Director for Design, is a Professor of Design at the college. Their diverse backgrounds and practical experiences enhance the learning environment, providing students with valuable insights and knowledge.

Additionally, Dan Brawner, an Associate Professor specializing in Design & Illustration, integrates lectures, discussions, and practical applications of design theories in his courses. This hands-on approach ensures that students develop a deep understanding of design concepts and are well-prepared for professional challenges.

Student Work Showcase

Student projects at Watkins College of Art often reflect a blend of technical proficiency and creative exploration. Notable projects include:

  • Advertising campaigns
  • Branding portfolios
  • Innovative magazine spread designs
  • Unique logo creations

These projects showcase the skills and creativity of Watkins’ students, making them stand out in the competitive graphic design industry.

Middle Tennessee State University: Graphic Design Program

Middle Tennessee State University’s graphic design program offers:

  • Professional roles as graphic designers
  • Preparation for pursuit of a graduate degree
  • Diverse range of course offerings
  • State-of-the-art facilities

This ensures that students receive a comprehensive education that prepares them for various roles in the design industry.

Diverse Course Offerings

MTSU’s graphic design program includes courses in typography, web and interaction design, and design history, providing a well-rounded education. The curriculum covers essential skills and advanced topics, with courses tailored to various specializations such as branding, digital art, and web design.

Students can also take courses in areas like interactive design and motion graphics, preparing them for roles such as Art and Creative Director, Branding Specialist, and Motion Graphics Designer. This diverse range of courses ensures that graduates are well-prepared to take on various roles in the graphic design industry.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

MTSU provides state-of-the-art facilities for graphic design students, equipped with the latest technology and tools to enhance learning experiences. The Department of Art and Design includes advanced digital labs and studios, providing students with the resources they need to explore and develop their creative processes.

Career Support Services

MTSU offers career support services to help graphic design students find employment opportunities post-graduation. These services aid students in securing roles in various sectors such as:

  • advertising
  • branding
  • digital art
  • web design

This ensures that they are well-prepared for the professional world.

East Tennessee State University: Digital Media Program

East Tennessee State University provides a Bachelor of Science in Digital Media, highlighting an interdisciplinary approach that integrates graphic design, animation, and web design. This program provides students with a well-rounded education that bridges the arts and sciences, equipping them with both technical skills and an understanding of aesthetics.

Interdisciplinary Approach

ETSU’s Digital Media program takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining graphic design, animation, and web design to provide a comprehensive education. The program offers concentrations in:

  • Digital Animation
  • Game Design
  • Visualization
  • Visual Effects

This allows students to specialize in areas of their interest.

By bridging the arts and sciences, the Digital Media program ensures that students gain both technical skills and an understanding of aesthetics, preparing them for diverse roles in the digital media industry.

Hands-On Learning

ETSU emphasizes hands-on learning experiences through practical projects and real-world applications. Students engage in practical, hands-on projects as part of their learning experience, ensuring they gain essential industry skills and are well-prepared for professional challenges.

Alumni Network

ETSU boasts a strong alumni network with graduates finding success in various roles across the digital media industry. Notable alumni have worked on high-profile projects such as The Mandalorian, World of Warcraft, and The Avengers, showcasing the program’s ability to prepare students for successful careers.