2017 Best Colleges for Design in America

The Best Colleges for Design majors ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. The ranking compares the top design schools in the U.S.
See how this ranking was calculated
Viewing 1-25 of 100
  1. 1

    Rhode Island School of Design

    • Providence, RI
    • 298 reviews
    College Freshman:Since I haven't yet gotten to RISD, I can only say how wonderful and happy the experience has been applying, visiting, committing, and meeting people. Every current student at RISD is outgoing and very ready to answer any questions and I've gotten messages on Facebook from a bunch of them asking if I need any help and building a small foundation for me to rely on as it gets closer to move in day! I have no doubts about the professors or the classes or the resources because RISD is #1 for design, so it's amazing how perfect everything else around the classes has been as well. I'm so excited to partake in the community and to put myself out there.
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  2. 2

    University of Southern California

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 3,316 reviews
    Sophomore:I love attending the University of Southern California! The school has high caliber academics, a competitive yet fun environment for students of all majors, and a gorgeous campus. USC is a bit expensive however, hardworking students can come in with large scholarships to defray this cost. I definitely think that this experience is worth the cost of living and expenses out here and will truly pay off in the end. I have definitely met life long friends and have made unforgettable memories throughout my time here!
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  3. 3

    Carnegie Mellon University

    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • 1,299 reviews
    Alum:Carnegie Mellon is tough, no doubt about it. But it's also a place where you'll be pushed and surrounded by other talented and passionate people working hard too. You bond over that and I made awesome friends who will always be close no matter the years and distance. It can be very stressful, but making it through did convince me that I could persevere through anything, something that has benefitted me a lot out in the working world. I'll always prefer to hire CMU graduates because I of this.

    Sports? Nah. Don't go there for sports. Campus? A lot better now then when I was there! Dorms? They're OK but moved off campus after 1st year. Parties? Well my group of friends had a lot of house parties but this was more Art, Design, Drama and random stragglers group ;) Pittsburgh? Wasn't convinced at the time (wanted to be in NYC) but it's a good place to go to school - enough to do, fairly safe, pretty cheap to live, plenty of arts and culture if you want it, decent food, etc.
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  4. 4

    Washington University in St. Louis

    • Saint Louis, MO
    • 1,323 reviews
    Freshman:WUSTL is a fantastic university! I first came here because of the prestigious pre-med program, comfy dorms, yummy food, beautiful campus, and great FA. I found all of those here to be true. My experience truly has been an excellent one. Although the academics are undoubtedly challenging, it is equally rewarding.
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  5. 5

    Pratt Institute

    • Brooklyn, NY
    • 727 reviews
    Niche User:I went for a campus tour, and the experience was great! The reception was very nice, got us on a tour very fast. Two tour guides (students studying at Pratt) took us on a 2-hour tour, answering our questions while giving great information about the institution. The campus is beautiful, definitely a calm getaway from the busyness of New York city, with inspiring sculptures around a very green area. The studios looked very professional, and the security system is very fast and trustworthy.
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  6. 6

    Otis College of Art & Design

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 590 reviews
    Freshman:This school was better than I had hoped for, it was surprising to me how little people knew about this school. The school is well connected to the art world, and I have already been in contact with people in my desired field. The teachers here are all working currently in the art field. They go from work to teaching the students. Every class I have taken, although tough, has significantly improved my art and I look forward to seeing more improvement in the future. The school holds many events on the student behalf such as dog distress day to take care and reward their students. The environment at the school is so open and free and has such sweet and caring people. It is a friendly community of students and teachers who support a help each other. The school also has great credibility in the art world, so I know that getting a job will be easier
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  7. 7

    University of California - Los Angeles

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 4,399 reviews
    Freshman:The first thing that comes to mind is the housing here at UCLA. I was lucky enough to receive one of the better, newer buildings, so my experience here has been great. The study and social lounges are equipped with new, comfortable furniture and lights that turn on and off depending on the amount of activity in the room it reads. The food is great. We have restaurants similar to Panda Express and Chipotle, and they are right below my building so it's not much of a walk at all!
    Additionally, there are resources all around campus that are noticeably accessible to me, such as math tutoring from fraternities/sororities, counseling programs, clubs and activities that offer social circles, essay reviewers, and so on.
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  8. 8

    Boston University

    • Boston, MA
    • 3,046 reviews
    College Freshman:Boston University is an institution that within one semester has taught me the value of balance, friendships and motivation. What makes Boston University so unique is the students' ability to be bot intellectual yet socially and culturally aware, well socialized and happy. Yes, towards finals week things may get more stressful and the work is very challenging but through it you get to know a lot about yourself, what you can handle and what you can do to prepare yourself best for a successful experience at the University. Another thing that makes Boston U unique is the fact that there are so many resources on and off of campus that can make your experience more dynamic than just going to another great school in the Northeast. Research labs, internships, corporations and the notable alumni and professors all act as accessible tools to help cultivate and enrich your experience beyond the books.

    If I had the option I would choose Boston University again. Despite this being my first semester at the University, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else. The culture, the overall vibe, the people and the appreciation and longing for academic and cultural enrichment cannot be matched! If you are looking for a University where you can meet the smartest yet most interesting people ever- Boston University is the place. Go Terriers!
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  9. 9

    College for Creative Studies

    • Detroit, MI
    • 501 reviews
    Senior:I love this school even though it can kind of be awful. The resources are fantastic, the technology, the wood shop, metal shop, foundry, ceramic studio, glass shop, just so many great things! It is a very challenging institution, particularly during the freshman year. It is a small school, so it is easy to form a bond with a lot of the students, especially since the students tend to be quite like-minded. The school can kind of stink depending on what major the student chooses. It is a great design school, fantastic for product designers, but the majors that are not so design based kind of get the short end of the stick. I have lived in the student housing for 4 years. They are improving it and renovating it, but unfortunately I have had to live in the construction. The campus is safe, the professors are great (usually), and it is a very inspiring place to be.
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  10. 10

    University of Wisconsin

    • Madison, WI
    • 2,821 reviews
    Freshman:There is something for everyone! The University of Wisconsin-Madison boasts a lot of offerings, not only in academics but in all sorts of opportunities from amazing athletic programs to a myriad of clubs to get into. To the sports enthusiast, UW-Madison has athletic programs in football, ice hockey, and basketball which are renowned regionally, if not also nationally. To the grade-A active student, UW-Madison is also a mecca of infinite opportunities, it is even somewhat of a challenge for any student to navigate the "Org Fair" which displays the many student organizations that are available on campus. Organizations are available for students who are the soon-to-be titans of energy and even for the ones who are almost certainly going to be the consulting executives of the future. No matter what you want to get yourself into, there is always something for you in the land of the Badgers.
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  11. 11

    California College of the Arts

    • San Francisco, CA
    • 339 reviews
    Junior:I am currently a Junior Animation major at CCA. I enjoy the oakland campus and the students who attend. While some students are competitive and cliquey, overall I think CCA has a supportive community. The only struggle so far is the difference in skill level. I had very little art skills before attending the school. While I have improved tremendously, my work is not quite on the level as most of the other students. This has proven to be a problem when working with groups and during critiques. Even though I still need practice, my work is sometimes looked down on by other students. Maybe if there are more collaborative projects as freshmen, the students can learn to not be as competitive.
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  12. 12

    Ohio State University

    • Columbus, OH
    • 4,700 reviews
    Sophomore:Why go to Ohio State? How do I even begin?? Not only are the academics incredible, but campus feels like home. Throughout my senior year, a plethora of people would ask "but aren't you afraid you'll feel like a number?", but the answer is no, and I probably never will feel that way. As buckeyes we are all linked together. We all dislike Michigan, we all love the great state of Ohio (even if you're not from here you'll grow to love it to), and we all worked hard to get where we are. Campus is home. Beyond these facets of campus culture, nothing can describe the amazing feeling of the shoe on game day, or campus as a whole a week before the Michigan game. With all of that said, classes will push you hard and academics aren't easy. But, the professors genuinely care about your well-being. All in all, OSU has something to offer for everyone!
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  13. 13

    Art Center College of Design

    • Pasadena, CA
    • 273 reviews
    College Freshman:Given the average class size is 5 students to 1 teachers makes it far easier to communicate and get your point across during lesson time. It also provides one-on-one teaching which is effective if the student is a quite one like myself. The resources available to students, especially in the art studios, is unbelievable as this allows the students the opportunity to explore and create which broadens the creative horizons of the art students.
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  14. 14

    Georgia Institute of Technology

    • Atlanta, GA
    • 1,817 reviews
    Freshman:Georgia Tech really challenges its students, not only because of its prestige but because it wants to expand the minds and boundaries of those who study there. The university takes advantage of Atlanta, and its connections with industry leaders to exceptionally prepare its students for jobs. While some aspects of the campus leave something to be desired, like the food and the stress, Georgia Tech ultimately provides its students with a wonderfully fun and engaging experience!
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  15. 15

    Rochester Institute of Technology

    • Rochester, NY
    • 2,254 reviews
    Sophomore:I absolutely love RIT! I transferred in last semester after receiving my Associate degree at a community college. They had a great orientation program and a separate one for the transfers. There are so many great employment opportunities, co-ops, and internships. The deaf community on campus is great and its really cool how the deaf and hearing integrate on campus and interact with one another. Also, greek life on campus is very different from other schools (the only reason why i considered and actually did join a sorority) Everyone is very academically focused because RIT is such a nerdy tech school. The only thing that i hate is its FREAZING (and i'm from New England, i know cold). Currently there its 9 degrees and the winter just barely started. If you're thinking about going there, dress warm.
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  16. 16

    Virginia Tech

    • Blacksburg, VA
    • 3,393 reviews
    Junior:When it comes to Virginia Tech, I've got a simple, 3 word phrase that speaks for itself: "This is Home." I never imagine while being away for college I would ever truly feel as if I was at my 'home away from home' but Tech has proved me wrong. Although we have a large student body, everyone seems to find 'their people' which makes this place so personal. The only thing I could think to change is the diversity level; although it seems we are a very diverse campus, when you look at the numbers, it is clear that we are not. Diversity should be incorporated more into our own little culture here at Virginia Tech!
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  17. 17

    Brigham Young University

    • Provo, UT
    • 6,827 reviews
    College Junior:This has been a great college experience - it has offered me an insane amount of options compared to other universities, as far as major selection, teacher-student ratio and involvement, clubs, fine arts, community events, service and volunteer opportunities, and research and work experience. Regular on-campus events include weekly speeches from renowned leaders from all religions, institutions, causes, fields, and industries. This is THE place to be for anyone who wants an academically rigorous, culturally diverse experience (in spite of it being attended mostly by white kids) and the local and international connections that a large university has to offer, with the close-knit feeling of a small campus. It will prepare you well for the outside world if you take advantage of all of the resources it has to offer!
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  18. 18

    California Institute of the Arts

    • Valencia, CA
    • 239 reviews
    Sophomore:CalArts is a welcoming and empowering environment for aspiring artists. They make sure that the students have the tools that they need to create and collaborate with other artists. They have students coming from all over the world---a great way to connect with people coming from different backgrounds and culture. Furthermore, CalArts provides the students with the knowledge that they need to succeed in their chosen metier. However, they do lack in traditional academic classes so the option to have an academic minor is quite limited. Other than that, I think CalArts is a wonderful place for artists like me to grow and learn.
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  19. 19

    Penn State

    • University Park, PA
    • 6,163 reviews
    Junior:Penn State is a great place to learn at. Typically, students can choose to go the 2+2 route which allows them to start at another campus for two years and then transfer up to University Park campus for graduation. Penn state is well known as a research school and provides students with endless resources to further their education. The professors are all professional and are passionate about what they teach. Campus life is amazing as long as you put in the effort to get involved. There are plenty of resources to get you in the zone and allow you to socialize with others, and most importantly future employers. They offer many career fairs throughout the year that is great for getting interview experience, or even internships and employment after graduation. Great place to be! We are PENN STATE!
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  20. 20

    Northeastern University

    • Boston, MA
    • 3,136 reviews
    Freshman:I can't believe it took me until that November before college applications were due to find this school! This is my dream school - A realization I had after starting classes.

    I am in the 6-year PharmD program (2022). This is an accredited pharmacy program that exceeds accreditation requirements to prepare students to be future healthcare leaders. All conversations with upperclassmen in their professional years reflect a rigorous, yet rewarding path towards graduation.

    The student body is passionate and ambitious. There are countless clubs and activities to join. There are opportunities to get involved with other students, faculty, and/or the community every day. The only downsides to the social scene is a lack of "good" parties and Greek life. Go to parties at MIT or upperclassmen house parties in Mission Hill.
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  21. 21

    School of Visual Arts

    • New York, NY
    • 436 reviews
    College Freshman:The variety in courses is phenomenal! Aside from the basic courses that you are required to complete, which all still seem very interesting, there are many different elective courses that are available, expending on into different subject such as history and even science. Seeing different courses that focus on different methods and styles of art only makes me wish that I could be able to apply for all of them! Finding the right professor, however, is not easy, sometimes you'll end up with a teacher that has a sort of teaching style that doesn't help you at all, and the only way you can get a good idea on who the right professor is for you is to rely on other's opinions.
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  22. 22

    Fashion Institute of Technology

    • New York, NY
    • 1,391 reviews
    Freshman:I just completed my first week. I am unable to give a full review, but so far the professors are kind and excellent at teaching hands on. I hear the work load for fashion students is crazy so I imagine the semester will only get more difficult. The campus is great. Its clean and spacious, especially for being in Manhattan. The location is perfect, as it is right next to the garment district and right in the middle of Manhattan. Everything is nearby. The dorms are excellent as well. Kaufman is especially great as the rooms are larger than the rooms in other halls. Overall, my experience is great so far!
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  23. 23

    University of Texas - Austin

    • Austin, TX
    • 5,368 reviews
    Junior:I love being a student at the University of Texas. It is one of the most renowned public education institutions in the world, and has plenty of activities to be involved in outside of academia. There are countless clubs and organizations on campus, and the surrounding city of Austin is one the best places in the country. However, be warned: it may not be for everyone. With around 50,000+ students, the size can be intimidating to some. I personally enjoy the incredible amount of people I can meet and study with, and the size gives me a nice perspective. There is always something going on on campus; whether it's a basketball game, club fair, jam session, food stand, party - you name it - there is always something close to keep you occupied. Being a musician, living in Ausin and attending UT is the best college experience I could've asked for. Come to UT. Hook 'em Horns!
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  24. 24

    University of Washington

    • Seattle, WA
    • 3,756 reviews
    Sophomore:I went to UW because I was a Seattle born girl who has never thought once about leaving the city. Also because all throughout high school I've done programs at UW and completely fell in love. I called it home before I even had the chance to apply. The campus is beautiful. The classes are challenging, I mean come on its college. There are TONS of things you can do at UW besides take classes. I have opportunities here where coming from my background I would never imagine myself doing. Hands down one of the best decisions of my life was to come to this University!
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  25. 25

    Savannah College of Art & Design

    • Savannah, GA
    • 2,785 reviews
    Alum:SCAD is a dynamic school in a beautiful and unique city. I valued my undergrad education there. It retained a small-school feel of community despite its growth during my time there (2005-2009). Make sure to take a close look at the curriculum for each selected program, and compare it to the curriculum of other schools. Some classmates felt the foundations requirements were too unrelated to their program of study. Pay attention to current rankings, as there have been some changes in recent years. Look at acceptance vs. retention rates for patterns in certain programs as well!
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