If the world is your oyster, you can choose from the best graphic design schools in the world to either start or finish your education.
Many fine schools exist worldwide and the demand for qualified graphic design artists has no real boundaries.
An aspiring graphic designer can live anywhere, so we looked for the best graphic design schools in the world. Keep reading to see what I discovered!
27 Best Graphic Design Schools in the World In 2023
Royal College of Art in London, UK, is the only Art and Design school in the world that is entirely graduate and postgraduate. Founded in 1837 as the Government School of Design, it became the RCA in 1896.
Accepting only graduate and post-grad candidates means that you will have had to already receive your undergraduate degree in one of the Arts or Design categories.
Often at times, success in the work field after getting a BA or BFA and diving into the work world makes one realize that more education in their chosen field is desirable.
So, a lot of students attending RCA are already established, professionals. This creates a wonderful environment in which you can really add to and accentuate your skills and abilities.
Collaboration with, even competition with, other talented designers is a big part of the continuing education you get from a school like this.
Speaking of competition, just getting into the school is quite an accomplishment. Since RCA is considered one of the best, if not the best, Art and design schools in the world, they can pick and choose who gets to attend. Entry requirements are very strict.
Additionally, the cost of tuition is rather steep, too, especially if you are not a UK or other EU country resident.
The rewards of attending the Royal Academy of Art are as great as one could imagine for the amount of effort to get in.
A Masters or Ph.D. in any of the Arts from RCA is both very prestigious, and extremely beneficial. The reason a degree from RCA is so prestigious is due to the eminent value of the education you receive at this fine institute.
Sitting in Greenwich Village of lower Manhattan Island of New York City is another one of the best Art and Design anywhere, Parsons School of Design, part of The New School.
First established as an art school in 1896 as The Chase School, it became Parsons in 1936.
Parsons was one of the earliest schools to implement a collaborative learning experience for higher education, doing so in the early 1900s.
In other words, instead of just learning from books and completing a project of their own, students work together to complete projects and gain from each other’s talent, ability, and experience.
This is closer to how things actually work in the workforce, so that’s a great method of teaching. Many institutes in the years since have adopted this method as well because it works amazingly well in the fields of Art and Design.
As with any top-tier school, it’s expensive to attend Parsons. Manhattan is a fairly expensive city to live in anyways.
Furthermore, Parsons awards undergraduate and graduate-level degrees.
Rhode Island School of Design is located right next to Brown University and the two schools are actually linked together in many ways.
Students of one college can crossover to the other for studies to enhance their own individual educational paths.
In other words, if you are enrolled at RISD for an Art or Design degree, you can take courses at Brown outside of your major, whatever you choose for your own needs.
Opened in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1877, RISD is easily one of the best graphic design schools in the world. A modestly sized school, it is constantly ranked very high in comparison to Art and Design schools.
Additionally, you can pursue either Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees in various Art or Design disciplines.
This school is also more expensive than a lot of general colleges, but again, the degree programs are designed to really give students what they need to succeed in business.
Politecnico di Milano is a Polytechnical university, so all the degrees are going to be in Science, as opposed to Art or Fine Art.
Spread across several campuses in Milan, Italy, you will need to be fluent in written and verbal Italian, as this school has few courses in any other languages.
Established in 1863, the school is state-sponsored. Students will need the appropriate visas if not Italian citizens.
Being state-sponsored, tuition costs are much lower than other similar schools for Art and Design. Also, Milan is a friendly city for students from Italy or any other country.
Another difference you will find in this technical school as opposed to other colleges is that degree programs are finished in 3 years instead of the usual 4 years.
A relatively new Art and Design school, UAL was established in 1986 and is situated in London, UK.
Tuition is expensive, but there are numerous scholarships available for qualifying candidates, including scholarships for students from other countries. Over 18,000 students from about 130 different countries attend this school.
Teaching faculty is drawn from established professionals in their respective fields, and a collaborative, cross-discipline approach is encouraged.
Awarding either Master’s or Bachelor’s degrees, there are about 80 different departments at UAL for earning a degree. Subjects of focus vary from designing footwear to visual merchandising.
MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA), is not an easy school to get into. Only about 8% of applicants actually get accepted to one of MIT’s numerous degree programs. Besides the rigorous academic requirements, you will pay a lot of money for tuition.
Interestingly, if you are indeed qualified enough to gain entrance to MIT, you just might be able to score one of their merit-based scholarships.
Merit-based scholarships have nothing to do with financial needs. This type of scholarship is awarded based solely on academic merits.
If you are superbly talented in the field in which you want to pursue a degree, in other words, the top few percentage points within that 8% acceptance rate, MIT basically says, “Hey! Come on in!”
Plus, many recognize the name MIT for engineering and science education, but it has a very fine design department, too.
Consider MIT if your design goals are more technical in nature than artful. True, any design is a form of art, but some are more technical than others.
Campuses in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Utica, New York, Pratt is one of the best graphic design schools in the world for several reasons.
Interdisciplinary studies, creativity, and collaboration are among the methods used to prepare students for the work world after receiving a degree.
Plus, both undergraduate and graduate degrees are awarded in several different fields of Art and Design.
As with many of the world’s best schools, it’s expensive to attend Pratt. There are ways around that, though.
Furthermore, both need-based and merit-based scholarships are available for Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees alike.
However, out-of-country applicants do not qualify for need-based, but all are open for merit-based scholarships and endowments.
Aalto University is a recent (2010) merger of several schools in and around Helsinki, Finland. Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics, and the University of Art and Design Helsinki.
The oldest of these schools was founded in 1849, the others are not too far removed in time, so it’s not like the school only opened as recently as 2010.
Tuition fees are reasonable for students coming in from out of the country, but you should be fluent in written and spoken Finnish for a full educational experience.
Classes are taught in English, too. One very attractive aspect of going to school here is that tuition is free for EU citizens, but only the Finnish language classes.
Design degrees can be in several different fields, and either undergrad or grad.
Georgia O’Keefe and Walt Disney both studied at SAIC, a testament to the ability of the school to turn out top people and to turn their natural abilities into successful work skills.
It’s a smaller school, offering degrees from undergrad to postgrad in Arts and design disciplines such as Cinema, Illustration, and Printmaking.
As with other top schools, it’s expensive to attend SAIC. Scholarships are available, merit-based, and need-based. International students aren’t able to apply for need-based aid, but any student can compete for merit-based awards.
One of the more difficult schools to gain acceptance to, Stanford offers undergrad, grad, and postgrad degrees in fields ranging from biology to business to computer science.
Additionally, Stanford’s Art and Design departments are every bit as special and excellent as their Science departments.
Founded in 1891 in San Francisco, Stanford is not hard to get into academically, it’s also as expensive as most of the other top schools on this list. Again, many scholarships and endowments are available for qualified applicants.
The oldest college in South Africa, the University of Cape Town was founded in 1829. Originally established as a boy’s high school, it gradually became a college during the gold and diamond rush of the 1880s and 90s.
Law, Science, Medicine, Business and Commerce, and Arts and Design are all taught here, with degrees available from undergrad to postgrad. The primary class language is English.
Importantly, one of the earliest African institutes of higher learning is beginning to accept women, it also has practiced non-segregation policies, at least on a small scale, since the early 1920s.
It is in the top tier of all African schools and boasts an Arts and Design department that is highly regarded worldwide.
Set up in 1907 by the German government and some German doctors, Tongji is located in Shanghai, China, and is one of the top schools in China.
Well respected for its research facilities and engineering programs, Tongji offers undergraduate to postgraduate degrees in such diverse fields as science, engineering, medicine, arts, law, economics, and business.
Tongji accepts international students, but you will need to know the Chinese language.
13. RMIT University
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology was originally the Working Man’s College of Melbourne Australia, established in 1887. It is a giant college, both in campus size and the number of students, outranking in size of many townships.
As one of the premier schools in Australia, RMIT has an amazing College of Design and Social Context. Along with the Colleges of Business and of Science, Engineering, and Health, RMIT hosts no fewer than 17 school departments providing degrees and continuing education.
Additionally, Art, Communication, and Design are fields of study available as degree programs.
Counted as a separate school because it runs separately from the Australian schools, RMIT Vietnam has campuses in Hanoi and Ho-Chi-Minh City, set up in 2000.
Undergrad degrees and simple diplomas are available in various disciplines, including Design and Communication.
“I want to be a part of B.A., Buenos Aires, Big Apple!” Yes, there are two Big Apples. UBA in Argentina is located in Buenos Aires and was established in 1821.
One of the largest schools anywhere, the university has more faculty than many design schools, about 30,000. The student body population tops 325,000 enrolled.
In a Spanish language school, degrees are offered as an undergrad, grad, and postgrad in fields including Law, Medicine, Business, as well as Design, and Art.
Another fine school on the Australian continent, UNSW Sydney was set up in 1949 as a college for awarding bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
Fields of study include Design, Art, Business, Engineering, Medicine, and Law. One of the top-tier universities in the world, UNSW Sydney is a great place to earn a degree and learn what you need to succeed as a graphic designer.
India’s top schools are also among the best graphic design schools in the world. NID in Ahmedabad was set up in 1961 specifically to offer the best education possible for Art and Design on the Indian subcontinent.
Animation Film Design, Film and Video Communication, Graphic Design, Exhibition Design, and New Media Design are some of the degree programs offered.
In addition to degrees and diplomas, NID has a fantastic online school for either beginning an education or continuing education for established professionals.
Graduate and Postgraduate level courses are offered at Maharashtra Academy of Engineering Education and Research’s Maharashtra Institute of Technology – Art, Design, and Technology University in Pune, Maharashtra, India.
A long name for a very fine school, MITID was set up in 2006 and quickly became a top school for Art, Design, Engineering, and Cinema.
Set up in 1969, IDC is one of the oldest design schools in India, offering a superb education in Design including Graphic Design.
Located in Mumbai, India, this school offers Bachelor of Design and Master of Design degree programs in Industrial Design, Visual Communication, Animation, Interaction Design, and Mobility and Vehicle Design.
Plus, there is also a Ph.D. program for Design. Included in Design are computer technology and new media design.
Also known as Saint Petersburg State University, the university was founded in 1809 in the city of Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Taught only in Russian, degree courses are available in such divergent areas as:
- Philosophy and Theory of Design
- Communication Technology in Design
- Sculpture and Plastic Modelling
- Design Project Development Computer Technology
- Printing Technologies
- Multimedia technology in Design
- Photographic Technologies
- Printing Graphics Techniques.
A long history of design education in Russia dates from as far back as 1724 with the creation of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences by a decree of Peter the Great.
Ranked as one of the best universities in the world, St Petersburg University has a reputation as one of the best graphic design colleges in the world.
Part of Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Tecmilenio teaches in Spanish language only and is located in several cities in Mexico with 40 campuses.
Established in 2002, it offers programs from undergraduate to postgraduate and even has high schools with excellent vocational programs to prepare younger students for the next level.
Detroit, Michigan, USA used to be one of the biggest design centers in the entire world. Everything from Airplanes to military equipment was manufactured and designed there, in addition to the obvious automotive industry.
Plus, graphis design was employed in many, many areas within these industries.
So, a school for graphic design in Detroit should be able to draw on a lot of old-schools and modern knowledge.
CCS was founded in 1909 as an undergraduate school for graphic design and art and has been one of the higher-ranked small schools throughout its existence.
UArts is a small Arts and Design school established in 1870 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Undergraduate degrees are available in Animation, Film Media; Interdisciplinary Fine Arts, Design and Technology, Advertising Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, and Industrial Design. Graduate degrees are offered in those fields as well.
The school mage its reputation in traditional art and performing arts, and its graphic arts programs have been cultivated to the same level as those fields, so it is an excellent place for anyone desiring a small school experience.
Founded in 1946 in Baguio, Philippines, the University of the Cordilleras has a complete curriculum and Graphic Design is included in course offerings.
With a large emphasis on computer technologies, students who earn a BA in Graphic Design are well placed for a successful future in the workforce.
Becoming a four-year college in 1994, this university was originally opened in 1934. Kyoto, Japan was the capital of Japan for a thousand years and is poised to be a major center for Arts and Design for the entire world and especially for Asia.
Art and Design degrees are offered as are degrees in Information Design, Space Design, Environmental Design, and Product Design.
The field of Japanese visual communication design is a huge sector of the worldwide graphic design industry. Tama is one of the biggest and best Arts and Design colleges in Japan.
Founded in 1936 in Tokyo, Tama has become very well respected as one of the best graphic design schools in the world.
CIID is instrumental in educating a future group of graphic designers in interaction design, also known as IxD.
IxD blends digital design with physical design, creating products, environments, and computer systems that implement human and computer interaction.
CIID was founded in 2007 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and only awards graduate and postgraduate degrees.
What exactly is graphic design?
And why does one need a degree or other formal education to engage in this field of work?
Basically, graphic design is taking visual elements and communicating with them through some form of media.
From something as simple as creating a memorable logo for business cards to making a 3D digital rendering of real-world objects to embed in a virtual reality gaming program, that requires graphic design.
So, we pretty much answered the second question too, didn’t we?
Graphic design may require some sort of innate talent, but it also takes a thorough awareness of what goes into effective communication and implementation of ideas. Especially where advanced technology is in the picture.
To be hirable in today’s world that mixes high tech with the simplicity of the concept, a graphic designer needs a great skill set. Such skillsets come from experience, education, or a mixture of both.
The best graphic design schools in the world will provide you with just such a set of desirable skills and abilities.
Our search takes us across several continents. Some schools may only accept citizens of the country they are in, others may accept foreign students but often at a much higher tuition cost.
While many offer a variety of degrees, some may only be Graduate and Post Graduate schools and others may not offer formal degrees but still provide the necessary training for a successful career.