|1||Parsons The New School for Design||New York|
|3||Cooper Union||New York|
|4||School of Visual Arts||New York|
|5||Fashion Institute of Technology||New York|
Our 2019 rankings of the top 5 graphic design school programs in New York City. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York
Founded in 1896, Parsons The New School for Design is home to nearly 5,500 students enrolled in 27 undergraduate, graduate, and associate degree programs. Parsons houses five schools, including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT), the School of Constructed Environments, the School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion. The School of Art, Media, and Technology offers several degree programs for aspiring graphic designers. Offerings include an AAS in Graphic Design, a BFA in Communication Design, and an MPS in Communication Design.
The AAS program provides a “solid foundation in the traditional practices and concepts of graphic design,” while the BFA covers typography and interaction. Sponsored projects are in the areas of publication, interaction design, branding, advertising, type design, information design, motion graphics, and environmental design.
The one-year, 30 credit hour MPS program offers a concentration in Digital Product Design. Per the school, the program “combines instruction in advanced interaction design with coursework that develops your user-experience, design-thinking, and collaboration abilities.” Students will graduate with “industry-ready conceptual and front-end development skills and a network of design professionals to help” them “advance in or enter a rapidly growing field.” Career opportunities include Interaction Design, User Experience (UX) Design, Digital Product Design, and Product Management, to name a few.
Note that Parsons also offers a Graphic and Digital Design Certificate through its continuing education department. The program, which consists of six courses, can be completed online or through a combination of online and on-campus courses.
2. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
Founded in 1887, Pratt institute is home to more than 4,800 students enrolled in more than 20 undergraduate degree programs, 25+ graduate degree programs, and a variety of Certificate and Minor programs across five schools and The Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. Founded in 2014, The School of Design offers “up to four of Pratt’s oldest and most esteemed disciplines,” including Communications Design, Fashion Design, Industrial Design, and Interior Design.
Per the School of Design, the Communications Design program is the “the only program in the country that recognizes and embodies the convergence and integration of Illustration, Advertising, and Graphic Design as the primary forces for the visual expression of ideas.” Students may Concentrate in any of three areas (Illustration, Advertising Art Direction, Graphic Design). The undergraduate program for aspiring graphic designers leads to a BFA in Communications Design with a Graphic Design Emphasis.
The School of Design also houses the Graduate Communications Design Department, which also offers an MFA in Communications Design and an MS in Package Design.
For students who are not yet ready to commit to a degree program, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) offers Certificate Programs in Digital Design including Graphic Design, Computer Graphics, Motion Graphics and others. These programs may be taken individually or “stacked,” producing an “accelerated path to completion.” Like the undergraduate and graduate Communication Design programs, Certificate programs offer the opportunity to complete an internship.
Students in all programs will have the opportunity to enroll on one of more than 20 study abroad programs and international exchange programs in over a dozen locations such as Florence, Milan, Copenhagen, London, and Tokyo.
3. Cooper Union, New York, New York
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (CU) was founded in 1859 by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper. The school offers programs in the areas of Art, Architecture and Engineering, and courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences. With nearly 1,000 students enrolled (2017-2018), CU’s art students account for 32% of the student body.
The School of Art at Cooper Union offers a flexible BFA in Art with a Specialization in Graphic Design. Students in the program may take elective studio classes and seminars, offered on a rotating basis, they may choose to focus their work in one or more areas of specialization, and they may enroll in advanced studio classes with the same course number multiple times. Students are also “encouraged to follow an integrated approach by selecting from various areas while observing a prerequisite system designed to allow in-depth study in specific disciplines.” Other program highlights include Internship opportunities and study abroad opportunities.
4. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York
Founded in 1947 as “Cartoonists and Illustrators School,” School of Visual Arts (SVA) serves nearly 4,300 students from across the U.S. and abroad. The school offers 11 undergraduate and 21 graduate degree programs in areas ranging from fine arts and graphic design to filmmaking and photography. The programs at SVA lead to a BFA, MFA, MA, MAT or MPS degree.
Offerings for aspiring graphic designers include a BFA in Graphic Design that consists of 72 credits of studio art courses, 30 credits in humanities & sciences, 12 in art history, and six elective credits. An internship is part of the program, as well as the opportunity to focus in Package Design, Editorial Design, Information Graphics, Corporate Identity, Publication Design, CD Packaging, Book Jacket Design, Environmental Design, or Website Design.
Students who would like to earn an advanced degree have several options including an MFA in Design and an MFA Design/Designer as Author + Entrepreneur. Per the school, the MFA in Design “emphasizes entrepreneurship as an alternative to conventional practice, and as a means to raise the level of design expertise and achievement. It teaches “a broad set of visual, verbal and textual approaches as foundation for design, and focuses on “creation to optimize the designer’s abilities to rise to the next professional level.”
The MFA Design/Designer as Author + Entrepreneur Program “was the first in the country to emphasize an entrepreneurial course of study that raises the level of design expertise and achievement.” The program is “suited for students and professionals with backgrounds in graphic design.” The school also encourages “those with environmental, product, Web, interaction design, film and photography backgrounds who are interested in further developing their ability to create content of value.”
All graduate students have access to SVA MFA studios, which are open 24 hours a day and “designed to simulate an operational design/media firm with spacious work-stations that allow for individual and collaborative work.”
5. Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York
Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) was established in 1944 as the Fashion Institute of Technology and Design.” The institute, which was located on the top two floors of the High School of Needle Trades, opened with just 100 students. Today, the school serves nearly 9,000 students enrolled in dozens of programs in the areas of Art and Design, Business and Technology, and Liberal Arts. The school also offers graduate programs in Art Market Studies, Illustration, and Exhibition and Experience Design, to name a few.
FIT offers a BFA in Graphic Design that highlights courses such as Designing Identities, Typography and Language, Design in the Cultural Context, Color Voyage, Type as Idiom, Graphic Design in Digital Media, Tangible Publication Design, Signage and Graphics, Graphic Design for Packaging, Graphic Design for Toy Designers, and Environmental Graphics.
Per the school, students in the program will work on “real projects for real clients in the Advertising Design Workshop.” They will also “gain first-hand experience through internships at major institutions and design firms, including MoMA, Pentagram, the Art Directors Club, and many others.” All students will have the opportunity to study abroad in England at the London College of Communication, Chelsea College of Art & Design, or Nottingham Trent University.
The BFA in Graphic Design at FIT concludes with a senior thesis project and a juried design exhibition. Graduates of the program will leave FIT with a “strong portfolio to present to potential employers.”