Graphic Design Colleges in Ohio

6 Best Graphic Design Colleges in Ohio


Ohio, known for its rich cultural heritage and bustling cities, is also a beacon of education in the arts, particularly in graphic design. From the shores of Lake Erie to the rolling hills of the Appalachian, the Buckeye State is home to a plethora of esteemed institutions that nurture the next generation of creative minds. These graphic design colleges in Ohio not only offer state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge technology but also boast a faculty of renowned artists and designers who bring real-world experience into the classroom.

Whether it’s the historic Columbus College of Art and Design, the innovative Cleveland Institute of Art, or the diverse programs at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio’s graphic design colleges are at the forefront of combining traditional artistry with modern digital techniques. Join us as we delve into the heart of the Midwest to discover the top graphic design colleges in Ohio, where education meets creativity, and passion becomes a profession.

Graphic Design Colleges in Ohio

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati’s Myron E. Ullman, Jr. School of Design is a cornerstone of the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), offering a rich and immersive educational experience in graphic design. The school’s Bachelor of Science in Design with a concentration in Communication Design is renowned for its rigorous approach to visual problem-solving and design thinking. Students are immersed in a curriculum that covers typography, photography, drawing, video, animation, and audio to inform, persuade, educate, and entertain.

The program is distinctive for its world-class professional practice (co-op) program, which integrates academic learning with real-world experience. This allows students to reinforce their skills through hands-on work in interaction design, graphic design, and motion design, preparing them for the demands of the industry. The sequential design studios form the core of the curriculum, helping students develop critical and visual thinking along with essential design processes.

The University of Cincinnati is committed to fostering diversity and innovation, and this is reflected in the opportunities it provides to its students, including scholarships and fellowships aimed at supporting under-represented students in design. The P&G Diversity in Design Scholarship & Fellowship Funds, for example, offer financial support and mentorship opportunities, enhancing the educational experience for those who qualify.

As the oldest university-based design school in the US, the Ullman School of Design at the University of Cincinnati stands as a testament to the enduring value of a comprehensive design education. It prepares students to work in local and global markets while respecting the diversity of the human community. With innovative teaching methods, interdisciplinary projects, and solid corporate partnerships, the school continues to be a leading institution in the field of design education.

Ohio University

Ohio University’s School of Art + Design offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Graphic Design that is distinguished by its commitment to fostering a designer’s personal and social responsibility, critical thinking, and innovation. The program places a strong emphasis on understanding graphic design within a cultural context, which is an essential component of a designer’s education. Students at Ohio University are encouraged to engage in visual research across various disciplines, including printmaking, sculpture, digital art, ceramics, painting, and photography, while honing their design skills in studio classes.

The curriculum is designed to prepare students for immediate goals, such as design practice, as well as long-term goals like intellectual, personal, and creative growth. This is achieved through a combination of studio classes within the Graphic Design program and liberal arts courses that contribute to a well-rounded education. The studies of Graphic Design at Ohio University is known for its emphasis on sustainability and how it can create a social impact, as well as developing a capacity for critical thinking in the students, along with problem-solving abilities, and innovative thinking.

Prospective students are encouraged to submit a portfolio for talent scholarship consideration and those wishing to pursue a B.F.A. degree in Studio Art, Interior Architecture, or Graphic Design should submit a portfolio at the time of application. Upon graduation, many designers from Ohio University secure positions within top design firms nationally and internationally, thanks to the rigorous academic studies and practical training they receive.

The program culminates in a group exhibition in the Ohio University School of Art + Design Gallery, providing students with an opportunity to showcase their work and the skills they have developed throughout their studies. This comprehensive approach ensures that graduates are not only equipped with the necessary design skills but also possess a deep understanding of the role of design in society and its potential for creating positive change.

Cedarville University

Cedarville University offers a distinctive Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication Design with a concentration in Graphic Design that integrates a traditional field with a Christian perspective. The program is designed to equip students to influence society positively through Christ-honoring visual solutions. At Cedarville, the graphic design curriculum is not just about mastering the tools and techniques; it’s about creatively expressing, evaluating, developing, and communicating visual design in a way that reflects a commitment to faith.

The program emphasizes the importance of understanding the role of visual communication in our society and the potential it holds for impact. Students are trained to apply their creative abilities to design solutions that effectively communicate to specific audiences on a mass scale. The course sequence includes a blend of academic learning and creative practice, ensuring that students develop critical-thinking skills, technical abilities, and the capacity to empathize with their audience.

Cedarville’s graphic design program stands out for its focus on preparing Christian designers for a God-honoring life, fostering a supportive and rewarding environment that teaches art and design in a Christ-centered way. This approach helps students make creative breakthroughs and cultivate artistic talent, preparing them for a lifetime of professional success and personal growth.

The program’s graduates are known for their mix of technical skills, work ethic, project management, faith integration, creative thinking, and room for failure, making them well-equipped for careers in various design fields. Cedarville’s commitment to a biblical worldview, mentoring by Christian faculty, and exceptional facilities contribute to a comprehensive education that prepares students to create compelling visual solutions and impact positive change in our culture.

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University’s (BGSU) School of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design that is as comprehensive as it is innovative. The program is designed to educate and shape students into visualizers, collaborators, and leaders in the field of graphic design. The curriculum at BGSU merges design ideologies and research practice with aesthetic and communication methods, ensuring that students are well-versed in typography, information graphics, interactive design, systems-based design, emerging media, community engagement, and creative placemaking.

The BFA program emphasizes design for social impact and entrepreneurial spirit, preparing students to make sense of the information that surrounds us daily. By the means of and by utilizing both the practical and theoretical approach, students are taught to be mindful professionals for the profession and in turn for the world. With a 14:1 faculty-to-student ratio, graphic arts students receive close faculty attention in Ohio-based progressive digital lab facilities, making spaces and galleries.

Courses such as Drawing Studio: Perception & Color, Graphic Design History, Principles of Typography, Design for Social Impact, Survey of World Art, Time-Based Graphic Design, and Interactive Graphic Design are part of the curriculum. These courses are designed to create thinkers with curious minds who are ready to tackle the varied problems of our society, which require multiple disciplines to solve.

BGSU graphic design alumni have gone on to work in prestigious places like Nike Global, Obama for America Campaign, Abercrombie & Fitch, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., showcasing the program’s success in preparing students for impactful careers in design. The critical and design-thinking skills developed through the BFA in graphic design at BGSU empower graduates to succeed in a world where every organization wants to be design-led.

Cleveland Institute of Art

The Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is a premier college of art and design, offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design that is both rigorous and expansive. The tuition for the graphic design program reflects the institution’s commitment to providing an exceptional education that prepares students for the demands of a rapidly evolving industry. For the academic year 2024–25, full-time students enrolled in 12-18 credit hours can expect to pay $22,800 per semester, amounting to $45,600 for the full year. Part-time students are charged $1,950 per credit hour.

In addition to tuition, students are required to pay a technology fee of $330 per semester for full-time enrollment or $35 per credit hour for part-time, which supports access to the latest digital tools and software. A facilities fee of $700 per semester for full-time or $60 per credit hour for part-time helps maintain the state-of-the-art facilities that CIA provides. Other fees include a health service fee and optional medical plan, student activities fee, and various housing and meal plan options for those who choose to live on campus.

CIA’s graphic design curriculum is comprehensive, covering editorial and publication design, event and exhibition design, interactive and motion graphics, print, marketing, and advertising design, among others. The program emphasizes real-world experience, with students engaging in projects with external partners or clients, providing invaluable professional exposure before graduation.

The cost of attending CIA is an investment in a future career as a designer. With alumni going on to become founders, associate partners, film directors, web designers, and more, the tuition fees are a gateway to a world of opportunities in the creative industries. Financial aid and scholarships are available to help students manage the costs, ensuring that passionate and talented individuals from all backgrounds can access the high-quality education that CIA offers.

Columbus College of Art and Design

The Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design that is designed to leave a powerful impression on both people and the world. At CCAD, students are trained to create designs that influence decision-makers and propel social movements through distinctive branding and design solutions. The program is structured to help students develop technical skills, learn to consider design from a user’s perspective, and build a professional network as they learn both in and outside of the classroom.

CCAD’s graphic design students engage in real-world assignments with real-world clients, such as Airstream and Red, White & BOOM!, and participate in events like the American Advertising Federation-sponsored event “The Pitch,” which focuses on social change projects. The college also encourages students to join the AdGraph Collective, a group for students who love design (and pizza), and to connect with local professional organizations, such as the Columbus Society of Communicating Arts.

The campus is equipped with facilities like a video and photography studio, computer workstations with dual monitors and industry-standard software, image scanners, and Wi-Fi-enabled black-and-white printers. Students also have access to the Tad Jeffrey FabLab, the CCAD Print Lab, and open-access computer labs which helps them in taking their concepts to a professional level.

The faculty at CCAD includes accomplished professionals like David Bennett, Chair of Graphic Design, and Eunice Delaquis, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, who guide students along their creative and professional journey. The curriculum includes courses like DESIGN CONCEPTS, where students learn design principles and how to promote products and services through a user experience perspective, culminating in a portfolio that displays their advertising and graphic design work as well as their marketing strategies.

CCAD’s graphic design program is recognized for its ability to win top awards in regional and national advertising and graphic design competitions. Graduates from the program are known to make work that makes change around the world, and the college’s location in Columbus, a growing design hub, provides ample opportunities for alumni to be actively recruited by agencies. This comprehensive education at CCAD equips students with the skills and understanding to influence decision-makers and make a significant impact through design.

Ending Notes

As we conclude our exploration of Ohio’s graphic design colleges, it’s clear that the state is a fertile ground for cultivating design talent. Each institution we’ve discussed offers a unique approach to graphic design education, blending traditional artistry with the latest digital techniques. Ohio’s colleges are not just teaching students how to create visually appealing designs; they are instilling in them the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to thrive in a competitive, ever-changing industry.

The Buckeye State’s commitment to excellence in graphic design education is evident in the success of its graduates, who leave equipped with a potent combination of creativity, technical prowess, and practical experience. Whether they choose to join prestigious design firms, start their own businesses, or contribute to the social good, alumni of these programs are making their mark on the world.

In Ohio, the journey from student to professional designer is filled with discovery, innovation, and inspiration. For those ready to embark on this journey, the state’s graphic design colleges stand ready to open doors to a world of possibilities. Ohio beckons aspiring designers to join its ranks, where the canvas of opportunity is vast and the potential for impact is limitless.

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