Are you seeking a holistic introduction to the design industry, theory of practices, more exploratory projects for self-discovery or would like to become an artist with graphic abilities? Then a graphic design college or university may be for you! Criteria vary, but many consider the length of the program, student teacher ratio, job placement and quality of work, just to start. So which graphic design college in New York is best for you?
The importance of education itself isn’t highly debated but the risk and cost-benefits are constantly weighed for many seeking creative careers or industry changes. New York has a range of learning environments between upstate and city central. Shillington offers a combination of both—studying online or on campus could save you time and money with a bootcamp sure to prepare students for the ever-changing design industry. Any of these schools could help elevate your graphic design, whether you’re a traditional student, seeking a career pivot or sharpening skills. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 11 Graphic Design Schools in New York!
1. School of Visual Arts
Location: NYC–Lower Manhattan
Course Duration: 3 months to 4 years
Founded in 1947 by Silas Rhodes and Burne Hogarth as the Cartoonists & Illustrators School, the School of Visual Arts was announced in 1956. Their programs for full proficiency in graphic design are housed within their Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program; students can specialize in graphic design, motion graphics, interaction design or three-dimensional design. The program is considered multidisciplinary, quoting their site “there are no cookie cutter portfolios here”, leaving plenty of opportunities for students to craft their own body of work. SVA offers continuing education courses in graphic design, these courses seek to build on a previous understanding of design principles and software. Admission to SVA’s degreed programs requires a portfolio submission, while continuing education courses may be subject to prerequisites and special requirements before registration. The School of Visual Arts is located on 209 E 23rd St in the Flatiron/Chelsea area, offering undergraduate, graduate programs, housing accommodations, financial aid and study abroad opportunities.
2. Rochester Institute of Technology
Location: Rochester, NY
Course Duration: 4 years
Beginning as a merger in 1891 between a literary society, Rochester Athenæum, and The Mechanics Institute school of practical technical training, Rochester Institute of Technology became a full-fledged research university in 1944. Graphic design at RIT integrates technology and design thinking into a hands-on program that teaches students to solve problems and communicate ideas using visual elements, the latest tools, technology, creativity and design principles. Their design and applied arts program is ranked number 13 amongst other schools by national news surveys and is considered a top choice for learning graphic design. Programs are offered in four and two year graduate programs, and continuing education is a highly customized experience within the school—presented as an opportunity for those balancing work, family and college studies to move forward. Rochester Institute of Technology is considered a university of firsts— establishing the first fully online program (‘91), first information technology degree program (‘93), and first in the nation to create a department dedicated to computing security (‘12). RIT is a trailblazer.
3. Parsons School of Design
Location: NYC—Lower Manhattan and Online
Course Duration: 6 months to 4 years
Parsons School for Design has held a strong footing in design education for 125 years, more recently as one of the five colleges that complete The New School. Founded as a private institution for individualistic artistic expression, the school is known for its teachings in fashion design, advertising, interior design and graphic design. The School of Art, Media and Technology houses the communication design, design and technology, fine arts and photography programs. Their undergraduate program in communication design teaches the theory and craft needed to visually transmit information and project human experiences in print, on screen and in space. Parsons offers five types of degree options, continuing and professional education courses are an opportunity for learners of all ages to benefit from intimate classes aimed towards those committed to a certificate, upskilling or lifelong learning. Admission to Parsons’ degreed programs requires a portfolio submission, while continuing education and certificate courses may be subject to prerequisites, statement of intent and submission of a creative assignment before registration.
4. Syracuse University
Location: Syracuse, NY
Course Duration: 4 years
Within the elite Newhouse School of Public Communications where every known form of information is embraced, Syracuse’s graphic design program prepares students for creative careers in digital, motion, print, immersive and emerging fields. Their curriculum accounts for visual design as only part of the graphic process—interweaving ethics, law insights, critical thinking, photography and writing into their program; Syracuse aims to prepare graduates to think on a big picture level with an understanding of granular choices. Their traditional university program boasts many opportunities for practical experience through internships with the Daily Orange newspaper, Citrus TV Station and other on campus media organizations. Students must pursue an undergraduate degree for the instruction of graphic design, part-time or full-time on their renowned upstate campus. The Newhouse School is one of the best colleges for graphic design in New York as they train communications professionals that shape the rapidly-changing media industry.
5. General Assembly
Course Duration: 2 months to 6 months
Considered a pioneer in education and career transformation, General Assembly specializes in today’s most in demand skills, making them one of the go to places for training, staffing, career pivots and growth in the professional community. Their programs in web development, data science, user experience, digital marketing, project management and graphic design contribute to the robustness of their graduates. GA’s global community includes fifteen in-person campuses, spanning six countries and 25,000+ employees belonging to Fortune 500 companies. Each campus runs unique in-person on-campus events and workshops, mostly free of charge to introduce students to their working-teaching professionals. Gaining the vocabulary and tools to tackle diverse design challenges on the job, with an emphasis on portfolio and responsive web designs, their graphic design course is considered one of the best schools in NYC for communicators of campaigns, products and presentations.
6. Pratt Institute
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Course Duration: 4 years
Pratt Institute is a private university located within the Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn, New York. Their motto “be true to your work, and your work will be true to you” is captured through the school’s accolades. The undergraduate communication design program prepares students to be effective visual communicators, inspired makers, critical thinkers and versatile creative professionals. This is considered one of the best graphic design schools in NYC because of its project-based coursework, vibrant studio culture and understanding of the larger impact of design principles on people. Their curriculum aims to equip students with the conceptual and practical skills needed to successfully position themselves and their work in the interdisciplinary industry. Under the umbrella of communication design, students can opt for graphic design, illustration or advertising art direction—emphasizing that their program is adaptable to the many directions within the craft.
7. Hunter College
Location: NYC–Upper Manhattan
Course Duration: 1 year
Hunter College offers a certificate program in graphic design that consists of thirteen required courses for theoretical knowledge and hands on application of graphic design. Guided through Adobe essentials, the program aims to help students illustrate their ideas, develop concepts, produce videos for publication and study the business of graphic design. Their dual certificate programs in graphic design and web programming/web design teach the fundamentals of using common coding programs and designing user-friendly applications. As a public university within New York City, this college is considered one of the top graphic design schools for its affordability and program options. Prospective applicants can request a presentation of the course curriculum and meet with Hunter admissions representatives in a virtual open house.
8. Flatiron School
Location: NYC–Lower Manhattan
Course Duration: 2.5 months to 15 months
Founded by Adam Enbar, passionate financier of education and Avi Flombaum, a self taught teacher/coder, the Flatiron School is an accelerated programming school focused on the latest tech skills. The school’s name derives from the intimate, second floor walk where the courses are located within the Flatiron District of Manhattan. Students of the program have access to scholarships, tech fellowships aimed at underrepresented groups, and a strong alumni network across Google, Apple, and Black Rock just to name a few. Flatiron School recognizes that technology is reshaping the way we learn, study, work, which translates to offering classes in product design, cybersecurity, software engineering, and data science. They are proud to be at the forefront of steering through their graduates into the ever-changing industry with a mission of making no little plans, radiating positivity, encouraging scrappiness, and nurturing difference. Learn technical design with graphic abilities in their full time course of 15 weeks or through their flexible course spanning 20, 40 or 60 weeks.
9. The Cooper Union
Location: NYC–East Village
Course Duration: 4 years
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art was founded in 1859 by inventor and industrialist Peter Cooper, nationally recognized as one of the oldest, distinguished institutions in the education of art, architecture and engineering. Their mission, captured in an equally intricate logo, celebrates the tension, synergy, harmonic imbalance and explosive creative potential that occurs when all three disciplines of the flagship schools converge. Students seeking to study graphic design can apply to their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, spanning eight semesters where they are holistically guided toward an artistic medium after completing the first-year foundational program in general techniques and theories. The Cooper Union is considered one of the best colleges for graphic design in New York because of its approach to art making, encouraging students to work with the humanities to enhance their typographic, publication and open studio coursework. Admission to Cooper Union’s degree programs requires a portfolio submission, completion of a home test, questionnaire and the Common Application. The Cooper Union is located at 30 Cooper Square in New York’s historic East Village.
10. DesignLab UX Company
Course Duration: 1 month to 7 months
In review of a design exercises book, an online learning platform/school was founded and named DesignLab in reference to the cycle of feedback and iteration within the design process essential to growing designers. This short-term project based, mentor paired community of aspiring designers is considered one of the best graphic design schools providing mentorship by professional designers and essential feedback throughout projects. This learning environment believes in creativity, lifelong learning and passion for work, emphasizing these insights to hopefully guide you towards meaningful creative work. They offer short courses in design 101, user-interaction design, user experience research, strategy, interaction design and a combined pathway of courses called UX Academy. Students of the program learn the design process, hone skills through 35 hands on projects, and develop portfolio work while keeping in conversation with industry. Entry into the program requires foundational design experience which can be gained through their user experience academy foundations course or demonstrated through a design brief issued through the school.
But what does it really take to become a graphic designer? Are you seeking a sole introduction to the software, creation of portfolio work, introduction to industry standards in a condensed timeline—then a bootcamp or short-term graphic design school, may be for you!
Location: NYC–Midtown, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Online
Course Duration: 3 to 9 months
Founded in 1997 by Andy Shillington, this short-term vocational school is known as the Original Graphic Design Bootcamp. Alumni of the program speak of rigorous training, passionate teachers, and remarkable student work in a short amount of time. Shillington’s mission is to prepare designers with practical, conceptual skills, and a solid portfolio upon completion to begin working in the field. This refined goal of the program makes it one of the best graphic design schools in New York City. No prior graphic design experience needed, just a readiness to learn a new visual language, in an inspiring environment with working designers as your teachers. In just 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time on campus or online—you could become a designer. If you’re ready to dive into design right now—hear from global graduates and find out more.
Graphic design can take you into a number of exciting directions, this list offers a range of programs meant to spark your imagination on ideal location, length of course, type of results and cost!
Shillington offers three intakes a year, enrollment is on a rolling basis but it’s recommended to secure a seat three to four weeks before the start of term to prepare for the time commitment and career transition. The best decision is one where you feel supported in your decision, assured with your direction, and ready to tackle the tasks ahead. Attend one of our info sessions or speak with a Shillington campus Experience Manager to find the right course for you.