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Master’s in Graphic Design in the USA : The Complete Guide

Updated on 15 April, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

The United States of America houses the most prestigious universities that award prestigious master in graphics design degrees. The US universities provide world-class education and equip the students with advanced technology and practical exposure. They also get access to excellent opportunities worldwide after completing a master’s in graphic design from the USA. 

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Why Study Graphic Design in the USA? 

The USA is the best education provider in the world. It is known for its high standard and academic excellence. There are several reasons to choose the US for pursuing a master’s in graphic design.

  •     Global Recognition – The US universities are recognized worldwide for their top-class and advanced teaching methods. The country has the best technologies available for the students. Also, the US houses the best graphic designers in the world. Hence, US degrees provide access to the best jobs worldwide.
  •     Academic Excellence – The US ranks number one for its education. The US universities are known worldwide for their education standards. The course focuses on the overall development of the student by providing top facilities and practical exposure. 
  •     Cultural Diversity – People from around the world work and reside in the USA. The campuses are full of students from various cultures and countries. The US is a welcoming country and respects everyone’s traditions.
  •     Excellent Support Structure – The US provides all the necessary facilities and support to its students. For financial aid, there are several scholarships and financial grants. The universities assist in the application, visa, and admission processes. There are counselors in the schools who provide emotional and mental support to the students.

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Top Universities for Master’s in Graphic design in the USA   

Here’s a list of the top 15 design colleges in the USA:

1) Yale University, New Haven, CT 

Yale University is among the top design universities in the US. It has an average class size of less than twenty. At present, it offers a two-year MFA in Graphic Design. Prospective students should have substantial professional experience in visual studies. 

2) Rhode Island School of Design 

Rhode Island School of Design currently enrolls under 2500 students. It is one of the world’s best art schools. The MFA program has an excellent faculty and state-of-the-art facilities in this university.  

3) North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 

It is the largest college in North Carolina in the US. The Master of Graphic Design (MGD) program offered by NC State is equal to an MFA program. Its alumni work in prestigious companies such as IBM and Nike. 

4) California Institute of Arts, Valencia, CA 

It is home to nearly 1500 students and comprises six professional schools. CalArts offers two-year and three-year MFA programs. Selected students can also study for an inter-school degree (double major) in this university. 

5) Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Baltimore, MD 

MICA is one of the top 10 art schools in the US and number four in graphic design. MA in Graphic Design is one of its prestigious programs. The program is suitable for experienced professionals. 

6) Boston University, Boston, MA 

The private university guides over 32,000 students from across the world. It has 22 schools and colleges and 250 fields of study. As part of the MFA in Graphic Design course at BU, students are allotted individual work areas with a spacious studio. 

7) Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, PA 

The private university offers a two-year master of the design program. The master’s in the design program at CMU also provides a wide range of electives. For non-designers, CMU offers a one-year master in design program as an elective.

8) Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design is home to over 10,500 students. It offers the prestigious MFA in Graphics Design and Visual Experience course. The program is for students who already have experience in the field. The college also offers a 45-hour MA in Graphic Design for interested students.

9) Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI 

With only 126 graduate students and ten artists-in-residence, the academy is the top graduate-only program in architecture, design, and fine art in the US. 

10) ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena CA With nearly 2100 students, the private art school offers 18 graduate and undergraduate degrees. The college also provides spaces for students to show their work. Currently, you can enroll in its MFA Graduate Graphic Design Program. 

11) Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA

With around 1,100 students from 20 countries, the Otis College of Art and Design offers only four Master of Fine Arts degree programs, including Fine arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing.

12) Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

The public research university, home to about 29,000 students, is among the US’s top 25 public graphic design schools. It also has a campus in Qatar. Here, students can enroll in its MFA in Graphics Design/Visual communications.

13) California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA

The college has only about 2000 full-time students. It offers 23 undergraduate and 11 graduate programs. One of which is the MFA program. If you don’t have related experience in the field, you can opt for a three-year MFA program.

14) Academy of Art University, San Francisco CA

The academy offers an MA in graphic design and digital media. It also has a 63-unit Master of Fine Arts in Graphics Design degree. The Academy of Art University holds student and alumni art shows in San Francisco. 

15) University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

The public university has over 52,000 students. Offering a two-year Master of Graphic Design program, it is among the top public universities. The university requires all Chicago-based students enrolled in this program to attend the Basel School of Design summer workshop in Switzerland.

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Cost of Studying MS in graphic design in the USA 

The international students must calculate all the expenses beforehand from application to arrival. The costs include visa registration fee, SEVIS fee, IELTS fee, TOEFL fee, GRE fee, and one-way airfare. In addition, the student should add tuition fees and living costs. Tuition fees range from 35,000 USD to 60,000 USD (INR 26.09-44.73 lakh) annually. And average living costs in the USA range from 1000 to 2000 USD (INR 74,000-1.49 lakh). 

Admission Requirements 

All the applicants should complete the following requirements to study in the USA. 

  • Candidates should have at least a 3.0 GPA score in their undergraduate courses. 
  • The student should have the undergraduate course certificate with them. 
  • The student should also have above 6.5 band scores in IELTS and above 70 scores in TOEFL. 
  • The average GRE must score above 160 for reading and 4.5 for writing. 

Further, students must also submit:  

  • One identification certificate. 
  • Two Letters of Recommendations to study in the US.
  • Four passport size photographs of the applicants. 
  • Your valid passport. 
  • Recommendation letter (not mandatory). 
  • Submit the transcripts of your previous education. 
  • Statement certificate to study in the US. 
  • Updated CV. 

Job Prospects after a Master’s in Graphics Design 

After a master’s in graphics design in the USA, you can get a job as a: 

  • Design Manager: This is a senior-level post. They manage the design team of a company. 
  • UX Designer: They work with various designers to improve user experience. 
  • Product Designer: These professionals design products according to the requirement of a company. 
  • Industrial Designer: They plan, create, and manufacture automobile goods. 
  • Fashion Designer: Designs clothes and apparels as per the client’s wish. 
  • Interior Designer: They design indoor spaces as the client wants. 

Other jobs for a graphics designer include photo editor, advertisement designer, art director, logo designer, packaging designer, web designer, publication designer, and multimedia designer. 

Visa Process 

To study in the USA, you need a student visa. 

The steps to apply for a visa are as follows: 

  • Apply to a SEVP-approved design school in the US. After approval, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) will register your name.
  • Get Form I-20 after paying the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • Initiate visa application in the US embassy. 
  • Complete the online non-immigration visa application, DS-160. 
  • Print the confirmation page.
  • Schedule an appointment for your visa interview.
  • Pay the visa application fee.
  • Submit all the required documents and Form I-20 and the DS-160 confirmation and give the interview.
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Scholarships Offered

Universities, the US government, private organizations, and agencies provide various scholarships to assist students financially. Some of them are:

  •     CFDA Design Scholar Award
  •     National Costumers Association Creative Event Scholarship
  •     Print and Graphics Scholarships Foundation
  •     Mary Abdoo Fashion Memorial Scholarship
  •     VCUarts Talent Scholarships
  •     ‘Two Ten Footwear Design’Scholarship 


Graphics designing in the USA is a highly rewarding field. There are innumerable career opportunities for the students completing a Master’s in Graphic Design in the USA. The US provides an excellent educational platform and access to the best jobs in the world. Even though the cost is high, several scholarships are available to assist students.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is graphic design course in demand in the US?

The careers in graphics design in the US are expected to grow by 4.2 % by 2026. Presently, about 2,66,300 designers work in the field. Further, companies will recruit 16,700 more graphic designers in the next ten years. California, New York, and Florida are the most demanding states for graphic designers. The demand for industrial designers will increase by 6%. And around 6,000 new fashion designing jobs may be filled by 2029.


Do graphics designers make good money?

The salary ranges from 35,000 USD to 60,000 USD for an entry-level specialist. For a senior-level graphic designer with over four years of experience, the salary ranges from 60,000 USD to 74,000 USD. If you have more experience, you could even get as high as 100,000 USD. Web designers with a degree can start making around 50,000-60,000 USD with just a year of experience.


Which types of graphic designers are in demand?

Top demanded graphic design jobs are:

Brand Graphics Designer: They create logos, signs, and other recognizable graphic elements for a company. The average salary for them is 68,000 USD.
Motion Graphics Designer: They combine art and IT technologies to create short graphic videos representing an idea or concept. The average salary for them is 70,000 USD.
Environmental Graphics Designer: They combine graphic design and architecture to design public spaces that resemble the personality of a company. The average salary for them is 38,000 USD.
Package Graphics Designer: They design packages for industrial products. The average salary for them is 59,000 USD.
Typeface Graphics Designer: They create readable text fonts. The average salary for them is 45,000 USD.

How much money do graphic designers earn with a master’s degree?

You can boost your career as a graphics designer with a master’s degree. A graphics designer with a master’s degree earns about 49,000 USD more annually than those without.


Is a graphics design job hard to find?

Nowadays, most companies are interested in graphic designers having at least two-three years of experience. But there is an enormous market for freelance graphic designers.


Is a master’s in graphic design worth it?

Companies are interested in recruiting designers having two or three years of experience. A master’s degree in graphics design will help you gain experience. Also, designers with a master’s degree earn more than those without. Further, the field of graphics design in the USA will experience increasing demand in the coming years. Then a master’s degree may help you get a senior-level job.


upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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