Graphic Design Colleges in Kentucky

6 Best Graphic Design Colleges in Kentucky


Kentucky, known for its rolling hills and legendary horse farms, is also home to a thriving educational scene that fosters creativity and innovation. Among the various academic offerings, graphic design has emerged as a field of significant interest for students with a flair for the visual arts. The state’s graphic design colleges offer a blend of traditional artistry and cutting-edge technology, preparing students to make their mark in the dynamic world of design.

From the bustling city of Louisville to the scenic campus of Murray State University, graphic design colleges in Kentucky are equipped to launch the next generation of graphic designers. Let’s embark on a journey through the Bluegrass State to discover the programs that are shaping the future of visual communication.

Graphic Design Colleges in Kentucky

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky’s College of Fine Arts offers a dynamic and comprehensive graphic design program that is deeply rooted in the study and practice of visual communication. This program is designed to challenge students to create sophisticated and compelling solutions to visual problems by dynamically integrating text and image, thoughtfully applying information hierarchy, and exploring concepts visually. The curriculum includes the classes introductory to advanced levels, which provides help to students in developing their unique design voices and developing and honing their skills in both creating and formatting content.

Students at the University of Kentucky have the opportunity to engage with the expanded field of art and design, often combining graphic design courses with other studio courses such as digital illustration, photography, printmaking, and fibers. The program boasts excellent production facilities and equipment for designers, including six computer labs with drawing tablets, large format printers, and 2D and 3D scanners. Additionally, the digital fabrication lab with 3D printers, a CNC router, and laser cutters/engravers, along with a media center equipped with DSLR and video cameras, provides the students with all the necessary tools to bring their creative ideas to life.

The faculty at the University of Kentucky are accomplished and multi-disciplinary, leading students to create engaging and exciting design work in a new, state-of-the-art facility. Graduates of the Digital Media Design program have found success designing for corporations, universities, design firms, start-ups, and museums, showcasing the program’s ability to prepare students for a variety of career paths in the creative industry. The University of Kentucky’s graphic design program is a testament to its commitment to nurturing creativity and technical proficiency, making it an excellent choice for those aspiring to become influential designers and communicators.

Murray State University

Murray State University in Kentucky is celebrated for its exceptional Graphic Design Program, which has been ranked #1 in the state for 2021 and among the top 25 in the South by Animation Career Review. The program offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Art with a Graphic Design Track, accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). This distinction underscores the program’s commitment to maintaining high standards of education and professional preparation.

The curriculum at Murray State is comprehensive, covering a wide spectrum of graphic design, from traditional print material to digital technologies such as web design, app design, film, television, video, and computer-related imagery. The program is designed to interest, inform, persuade, or sell, and often these objectives are achieved simultaneously, making the work of graphic designers multifaceted and impactful.

Students have access to a graphic design computer lab with 22 Macintosh computers running current versions of Adobe Creative Suite, two Xerox Phaser graphics printers, and one large format Epson poster printer. The dedicated studio space of 1,616 square feet is complemented by flatbed scanners, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, 3D printers, 3D scanners, and CNC routers, providing students with the tools they need to excel.

The faculty, including Professor Jim Bryant and Assistant Professor Scott Cook, are accomplished educators who guide students through a rigorous program that includes courses like Introduction to Graphic Design, Type and Image, Layout and Introduction to Design Systems, and Senior Portfolio. The program also offers flexibility with a Major in Studio Art with an Emphasis in Graphic Design, available as a BFA, BS, or BA degree, and minors in Game Design and Graphic Design for students from other majors.

Murray State’s Graphic Design Program is not just about acquiring technical skills; it’s about fostering a creative mindset that enables students to produce innovative design solutions. The program’s graduates are well-equipped to enter the professional world, ready to contribute to various sectors, including corporate, educational, and design firms, as well as start-ups and museums. The program’s success is reflected in its graduates, who are known for their sophisticated design sensibilities and ability to communicate effectively through visual means.

West Kentucky Community and Technical College

West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC), located in Paducah, Kentucky, offers a robust Visual Communication program that is designed to train students in the art of animation, audio/video production, web design, and graphic design. This program is tailored to meet the needs of the multimedia industry, where creative strategies are powered by technology, and visual solutions are paramount.

The curriculum at WKCTC is focused on the design process, the importance of text and color, and the industry-standard software used to create visual solutions. Students enrolled in the program will have the opportunity to create content for video and television production, print and web design, or digital illustration and digital design. The program offers several tracks, including Digital Design, Multimedia, Video Production, and Web Design, allowing students to specialize according to their interests and career goals.

WKCTC prides itself on its affordability and the financial aid options available to students, making it an accessible choice for many. The college emphasizes the practical application of skills learned in the classroom, ensuring that students are well-prepared for the workforce upon graduation. The program can be completed in two years if students maintain full-time status, providing a fast track to a career in visual communication.

The Visual Communication program at WKCTC is not just about learning to use tools; it’s about understanding the principles that make effective and engaging visual communication. With a hands-on approach to education, WKCTC prepares students to make creative, eye-catching multimedia for today’s fast-paced world. Graduates of the program are equipped with the skills to excel in various sectors of the industry, from advertising agencies to television studios, making WKCTC a valuable stepping stone for aspiring designers.

Graphic Design Colleges in Kentucky

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University in Kentucky offers a multifaceted Art and Design program with a strong emphasis on graphic design, providing students with a comprehensive education that blends visual literacy, communication, and expression. The program is designed to equip students with the necessary skills, processes, and technologies to thrive in the competitive fields of art and design.

Students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts (BA) with a graphic design emphasis, which requires 36 hours of coursework, or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with a graphic design emphasis, which is more extensive at 76 hours. The BFA program, in particular, is notable for its depth and breadth, covering art history and aesthetics, core studio requirements, and a choice of emphasis in animation, graphic design, two-dimensional studio, or three-dimensional studio.

The graphic design emphasis within the Art and Design program includes courses such as Graphic Design I-IV, Illustration I-II, and Graphic Design and Animation History, ensuring that students receive a well-rounded education in both the history and practice of graphic design. The curriculum is structured to foster creativity and innovation, with a focus on the design process, the importance of text and color, and the mastery of industry-standard software used to create visual solutions.

Campbellsville University’s commitment to providing a quality education is evident in the program’s rigorous coursework, experienced faculty, and state-of-the-art facilities. The program prepares students for a variety of career paths in the creative industry, including corporate, educational, and design firms, as well as start-ups and museums. Graduates of the program are known for their sophisticated design sensibilities and ability to communicate effectively through visual means, making Campbellsville University a prime destination for aspiring graphic designers.

Somerset Community College

Somerset Community College (SCC) in Kentucky offers a comprehensive Visual Communication: Multimedia program that is tailored to the evolving relationship between business and technology. This program is designed to prepare students with the skills necessary to produce multimedia presentations, which are increasingly crucial in today’s digital landscape.

The curriculum at SCC is rich and varied, providing instruction in foundational design elements as well as hands-on classes for the most widely used Adobe desktop publishing programs, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat. By combining textbook knowledge with specialized exercises, students learn to take their ideas from concept to creation.

The program emphasizes the use of design to manipulate text and art for maximum graphic impact, a skill that is highly valued in the multimedia field. Students at SCC are trained to translate their natural talents to the computer and the web, defining their skills in a way that makes them marketable in a range of industries.

SCC’s graduates find employment in diverse areas such as website design and management at schools, businesses, hospitals, and colleges. Others utilize their digital photography and computer design skills in photography studios, screen print businesses, newspapers, and freelance work.

The Visual Communication: Multimedia program at SCC is a two-year area of study focusing on print media, which translates easily into web use due to the digital nature of today’s print technology. As all courses are online, students must have access to the Adobe computer programs being taught. This online format provides flexibility and allows students to adapt their learning to fit their schedules.

In summary, Somerset Community College’s Visual Communication: Multimedia program stands out for its practical approach to design education, preparing students to meet the demands of the multimedia industry with creativity and technical proficiency. The program’s graduates are well-equipped to enter the professional world, ready to contribute to various sectors with their refined skills in visual communication.

Western Kentucky University

Western Kentucky University (WKU) offers a vibrant and comprehensive graphic design program that is tailored to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the field of visual communication. The program provides a blend of theoretical understanding and practical application, ensuring that students are well-versed in the latest trends and technologies in graphic design.

The curriculum at WKU includes a Graphic Design Certificate Program, which is a condensed version of the Art Department’s 24-hour minor in graphic design. This certificate program is designed for students who desire an official certification on their transcript or who seek increased flexibility in their overall curriculum. Students in this program learn the basic tenets, strategies, and tools of visual communication and graphic design, including how to generate and edit images and visually-based multimedia content for digital, print, and web applications.

Courses cover a range of topics, including page layout, image editing, and illustration, and students gain experience in creating assets for book and scientific illustration and layout, advertising or marketing campaigns, and infographics. The elective courses within the program allow students to cater to more specific interests, such as illustration, if desired.

In addition to the certificate program, WKU also offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Visual Arts with concentrations on Animation, Graphic Design, Studio, and UX (User Experience). This professional arts degree requires 79 credit hours of Art, Design, Animation, and/or UX courses, depending on the concentration, and Art History courses. The BFA Graphic Design prepares students for careers in the field of visual communications, including but not limited to web design, print design, illustration, and new media.

The program at WKU is known for its commitment to teaching students to become more effective visual communicators. With industry-standard tools and software, students learn both analog and computer-aided design for a variety of applications. The hands-on approach ensures that students are ready to create compelling visual content that resonates with audiences across various platforms.

Graduates of WKU’s graphic design program are well-prepared for the professional world, equipped with a robust educational foundation and a keen sense of design innovation. They are capable of solving real-world design problems and are sought after for their ability to produce sophisticated and impactful visual solutions.

Ending Notes

As we conclude our exploration of the graphic design colleges in Kentucky, it’s clear that the state is not just a bastion of natural beauty and equestrian heritage but also a nurturing ground for creative minds. Each institution we’ve discovered offers a unique approach to visual communication, ensuring that students can find a program that resonates with their personal and professional goals.

The blend of traditional artistry and modern technology across these colleges equips graduates with the tools to craft compelling narratives in the visual space. Kentucky’s commitment to fostering the next generation of graphic designers promises a future rich with innovation and design excellence. So, whether you’re just beginning your journey or looking to refine your skills, Kentucky’s graphic design colleges are ready to turn your creative passion into a thriving career. 

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