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11 Best Graphic Design Schools In Ohio (2022 Update)

Want to become a graphic designer? If you’re looking for a good place to study design then the great state of Ohio has a lot of excellent graphic design courses. Ohio, which takes its name from Seneca meaning ‘good river’, has some true cultural gems across its towns and cities—including the Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. It’s also home to over 30 art institutions, most notably the Cincinnati Art Museum which is home to over 100,000 pieces. Combined with some top sports teams—LeBron James started his career at the Cleveland Cavaliers—and some serious beauty spots, most notably the Appalachian Mountains, Ohio is a great place to study.

On top of all this, Ohio boasts some of the top colleges to study graphic design. We’re going to take you through 13 of the best design colleges in Ohio to help inform your decision—whilst also offering some intriguing alternatives.

Though, did you also know that you don’t actually need a degree to be a graphic designer? There are some excellent graphic design short courses and bootcamps out there that mean you can become a graphic designer without investing the huge amount of time and money it takes to gain a degree. The best of these courses is Shillington’s innovative graphic design course that gets you fully prepared to work as a graphic designer in a seriously short amount of time.

1. Columbus College of Art & Design

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Course Duration: 4 years

Columbus College of Art & Design is located in Ohio’s State Capital, Columbus, handily located next to the city’s prestigious art museum. As well as being one of the best colleges for design in Ohio, it is also one of the oldest design colleges in the country, founded over 140 years ago in 1879. CCAD, as it’s known, offers an undergraduate degree in Advertising and Graphic Design so you can master two life skills in one. Students on CCAD’s course will be able to use the college’s computer labs complete with the latest software, a print lab, photography student and more—so there’s no shortage of ways and places to create. CCAD students also have an exclusive community, AdGraph Collective, who are all connected through a mutual love of design. Another unique thing about the school is that they have a 100 feet tall, 101 feet wide statue of the word ART—which weighs in at a whopping 24,000 pounds.

2. Cleveland Institute of Art

Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Course Duration: 4 years

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, the City of Cleveland is home to the Cleveland Institute of Art. Founded as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women in 1882, the school moved to its current location of Cleveland ten years later. CIA offers students the chance to major in graphic design. On the course, students will be taught a range of methods and skills including typography, print and web design, packaging design and wayfinding, as well as the essential skills—the whole package for a first step into becoming a graphic designer. The college prides itself on being in step with any changes and trends in the design industry and adjusting its curriculum accordingly. CIA also offers its students the opportunity to collaborate with students from the college’s Industrial Design and Interior Design departments on exciting projects. All of this makes CIA one of the best design schools in Ohio.

3. Art Academy of Cincinnati

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Course Duration: 4 years

The Art Academy of Cincinnati is one of the best design schools in Ohio. Founded in 1869 as the McMiken School of Design, the college was closely tied to the city’s art gallery for much of its history before becoming independent in 1998. The Art Academy is based in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine and played a huge part in the area’s reinvention as an arts district and subsequent rejuvenation. Students at the Art Academy of Cincinnati have 24 hour access to the college’s facilities, as well as guaranteed studio spaces for students in their last two years of study. The Art Academy offers both a Design Major and an Associates’ Degree in Graphic Design. On the Art Academy’s Design Major course, students learn everything they need to know to make it in the world of design, including letterpress design and typographic design, and other important modules such as social practice in the arts.

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4. The Ohio State University

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Course Duration: 4 years

The college with the largest enrolment in the state of Ohio, Ohio State University is one of the best ranked public universities in the United States. With such a large student body, around 50,000 undergraduate students, OSU has an extensive and impressive student life program, which includes student organizations and sports teams. Their football team Ohio State Buckeyes is valued at $1.5 billion, the highest in the country! All in all, Ohio State University is a very impressive university. Though, on top of this, it’s also one of the best colleges for design in Ohio. OSU offers a degree in Visual Communication Design (another way of saying graphic design) that provides students with the knowledge and means to become graphic designers. Across the four year course, OSU students will learn Design Fundamentals, Typographic Design, Collaborative Design and more. Visual Communication students are also encouraged to produce printed materials such as posters, books and packaging.

5. The Modern College of Design

Location: Kettering, Ohio
Course Duration: Up to 4 years

Based in the town of Kettering, just out the city of Dayton, The Modern College of Design is a private college dedicated solely to graphic design. Founded in 1983, Modern College’s aim is to train artists to become graphic designers and web designers through its singular offering of an Associate’s Degree and Bachelor’s Completion in graphic design. Its specific focus, of course, makes it one of the best colleges for graphic design in Ohio. The curriculum—which can be taken part time, accelerated and online—covers a variety of design-related subjects such as web design and the ethics and business of design. It also features some modules that complement these design modules, such as photography, creative writing and psychology. The Modern College also boasts state of the art facilities, which was renovated and reopened in 2018. The campus features a library with both print and digital resources, a print resource centre, a photography studio and several common rooms for that all important down time.

6. University of Cincinnati

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Course Duration: 2 years

The University of Cincinnati is a public research university founded in 1819 unsurprisingly in the city of Cincinnati. It’s home to over 44,000 students. UC is spread across four campuses across Cincinnati, the main and medical campus in Clifton Heights and two branch campuses in Clermont and Blue Ash. The latter houses the college’s Art & Visual Communication Design Department, which in turn offers an Applied Associates’ degree in Applied Graphic Communication—an essential step towards becoming a graphic designer. UC’s course is tailored towards students who are looking for jobs in the design industry and the curriculum is heavily weighted towards just that. The course produces graduates who are creative thinkers who solve problems visually and that makes it one of the best graphic design schools in Ohio. UC’s course requires its students to have their own MacBook Pro and DSLR camera, which will be used throughout the duration of the course.

7. Kent State University

Location: Kent, Ohio
Course Duration: 1-4 year(s)

Kent State University is a public research university spread across seven campuses around the city of Kent and surrounding Northeastern Ohio. First established in 1910, Kent State has grown to offer over 300 degree programs, including a minor and Master’s degree in User Experience Design, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Visual Communication Design and a minor in Web Design and Development. Combined these three options make Kent State one of the best colleges for design in Ohio. KSU Visual Communication students learn a comprehensive curriculum which covers 2D and 3D design, as well as photography and illustration—allowing students to make their own path in the creative industries after graduating. One such path could be onto KSU’s own User Experience Master’s course which prepares students to go out and work in the UX field. The Master’s teaches the core components of what is needed for a career in UX, such as information architecture, usability and content strategy. Finally, KSU’s minor in Web Design and Development opens up the world of designing for the internet to students who want to go into the field—a perfect accompaniment to the Visual Communication degree.

8. University of Dayton

Location: Dayton, Ohio
Course Duration: 4 years

Founded in 1850, the University of Dayton is a campus university that spans both sides of the Great Miami river in Dayton, Western Ohio. One of UD’s five colleges is the College of Arts and Sciences which offers 50 different degree options, one of which is Graphic Design. Their Graphic Design offering gives students the opportunity to undertake art and design foundation courses before embarking on a full graphic design curriculum. It works too—86% of UD graduates are employed within a year. Students at UD also get the chance to work in their newly renovated studio, The Hub, collaborating on real world briefs with clients both on the UD campus and further afield in Dayton. There’s also opportunities for internships with partners in the city in the final year of study—Dayton is truly their oyster. As well as the design facilities, UD students can also get involved with some excellent aspects of campus life—the basketball team Dayton Flyers play in the NCAA Division 1. All of this combined makes the University of Dayton one of the best colleges for graphic design in Ohio.

9. University of Akron

Location: Akron, Ohio
Course Duration: 4 years

Founded as Buchtel College in 1867, before ownership was transferred to the city of Akron in 1913 and the University of Akron as we know it today was born. Interestingly, University of Akron was the first institution in the world to offer studies in rubber science due to the college’s links with Akron’s famous tire and rubber industry. But we’re not here for rubber, we’re here for graphic design and University of Akron is one of the best graphic design schools in Ohio. The college’s Mary Schiller Myers School of Art offers a BFA in Graphic Design—the largest of the school’s offerings. Modules on the BFA include core graphic design electives, including typography, motion design and loads more, as well as supplementary modules in other departments, namely photography and art history. University of Akron aims to create well rounded graphic designers. An aim which is supplemented by the university’s in-house design studio, Design x Nine, which employs graphic design students to work with clients both on and off campus.

10. Bowling Green State University

Location: Toledo, Ohio
Course Duration: 4 years

Bowling Green State University or BGSU as it is known is a public research university in Bowling Green, a town about 15 miles south of the city of Toledo. BGSU was founded in 1910 and now has a student population of just under 20,000, with around 6,000 of those students living on campus. Its sports teams the Bowling Green Falcons play in the NCAA Division 1 as a member of the Mid-American Conference. BGSU also contains its own School of Art which offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design—and the college is one of the best graphic design schools in Ohio. Their graphic design major is centred around design thinking, a process which is at the heart of every project that BGSU students work on. The rest of the curriculum covers all the graphic design essentials—information graphics, typography, emerging media, creative placemaking and even community engagement. Graduates from BGSU have gone on to work as creative directors, web designers and environmental designers. The college also has close ties with the Toledo branch of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and an amazing alumni network.

11. Cleveland State University

Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Course Duration: 4 years

The newest college on our list, Cleveland State University founded in 1964 and is one of the colleges for graphic design in Ohio. Home to the Cleveland State Vikings, CSU is a public research university in central Cleveland—just a short walk from the banks of Lake Erie. Amongst the 70 majors the university offers is a BA in Graphic Design and CSU also offers a Graphic Design Minor and a Graphic Design Certificate. CSU students are lucky enough to study in the recently renovated Middough Building which features multiple computer labs, a photography darkroom and a printmaking studio—all you need and more. The design focussed BA builds from the base up—starting with introducing students to typography and visual technology, before building on the students’ skills with web design, corporate identity and more essential graphic design knowledge—making CSU one of the best graphic design colleges in Ohio. Given that GSU is right in Downtown Cleveland, it’s a great choice if you want to experience the bustling city right on your doorstep and it’s also very close to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if that’s your sort of thing.

These may be some of the top graphic design schools in Ohio but what if we told you that there was a cheaper, faster way of becoming a graphic designer? One that fully prepares you for a job in the design industry? Well, look no further…

12. Shillington

Location: Online, New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
Course Duration: 3 months or 9 months

Shillington’s graphic design course covers everything you need—from design theory to design programs. Whether on campus or online, you’ll learn from experienced, practicing designers before immediately applying your skills in a studio environment. And, this all happens in just three months full-time or nine months part-time. There’s six campuses around the world—in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane—so you can choose your nearest campus or even study abroad. Or, if you’d rather study online, there’s three different time zones to choose from so you can study whenever works best for you.

Learn more about the Shillington graphic design course today or come along to one of our Info Sessions (either online or in person!) to learn about the course and chat to some teachers and graduates.

Resources

Oliver Stevenson
February 4, 2022

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