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2023 Best Design & Applied Arts Schools

397 Colleges in the United States
36,301 Design Degrees Awarded
$31,426 Avg Early-Career Salary
Ranked #36 in popularity, design and applied arts is one of the most sought-after degree programs in the nation. This means there are lots of options to choose from when you decide to get your degree.

In 2023, College Factual analyzed 397 schools in order to identify the top ones for its Best Design & Applied Arts Schools ranking. Combined, these schools handed out 36,301 degrees in design and applied arts to qualified students.

Jump to one of the following sections: * Degree-Level Rankings

Choosing a Great Design & Applied Arts School

Best Design & Applied Arts Schools The design program you select can have a big impact on your future. That's why we developed our collection of Best Schools for Design & Applied Arts rankings. In order to come up with a best overall ranking for design and applied arts schools, we combine our degree-level rankings, weighting them by the number of degrees awarded at each level.

You may want to choose one of the degree levels below to find the schools of most interest to you.

Pick Your Design & Applied Arts Degree Level

Since the program you select can have a significant impact on your future, we've developed a number of rankings, including this Best Design & Applied Arts Schools list, to help you choose the best school for you. If you'd like to restrict your choices to just one part of the country, you can filter this list by location.

In addition to our rankings, you can take two colleges and compare them based on the criteria that matters most to you in our unique tool, College Combat. Test it out when you get a chance! You may also want to bookmark the link and share it with others who are trying to make the college decision.

If you want to learn more about how we derive our rankings, see College Factual's Methodology.

Featured Design & Applied Arts Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Best Schools for Design & Applied Arts in the United States

Although we recommend filtering by degree level first, you can view the list below to see which schools give the educational experience for the design degree levels they offer. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list.

25 Top Schools in Design

#1

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN
Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
43 Design Degrees Awarded

Every student pursuing a degree in design and applied arts needs to take a look at University of Notre Dame. Located in the large suburb of Notre Dame, Notre Dame is a private not-for-profit university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #16 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means Notre Dame is a great university overall.

There were about 43 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at Notre Dame in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts degree program at University of Notre Dame earn $23,124 more than the average graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from University of Notre Dame

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
69 Design Degrees Awarded

Carnegie Mellon University is one of the best schools in the United States for getting a degree in design and applied arts. Located in the city of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon is a private not-for-profit university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #8 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means Carnegie Mellon is a great university overall.

There were about 69 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at Carnegie Mellon in the most recent year we have data available. Design & Applied Arts degree recipients from Carnegie Mellon University get an earnings boost of about $55,972 over the average income of design and applied arts majors.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Carnegie Mellon University

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
74 Design Degrees Awarded

It is difficult to beat Washington University in St Louis if you want to pursue a degree in design and applied arts. Located in the suburb of Saint Louis, WUSTL is a private not-for-profit university with a large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #24 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means WUSTL is a great university overall.

There were about 74 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at WUSTL in the most recent year we have data available. Design & Applied Arts degree recipients from Washington University in St Louis get an earnings boost of about $10,151 over the typical income of design and applied arts graduates.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Washington University in St Louis

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
252 Design Degrees Awarded

It is hard to beat Iowa State University if you want to pursue a degree in design and applied arts. Located in the city of Ames, Iowa State is a public university with a very large student population. This university ranks 1st out of 40 schools for overall quality in the state of Iowa.

There were about 252 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at Iowa State in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts major at Iowa State University make $5,639 above the standard college grad in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Iowa State University

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
1,400 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the large city of New York, FIT SUNY is a public school with a medium-sized student population. This school ranks 10th out of 143 colleges for overall quality in the state of New York.

There were roughly 1400 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at FIT SUNY in the most recent data year. After graduating, design degree recipients generally make an average of $29,209 in their early careers.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Fashion Institute of Technology

#6

Syracuse University

Syracuse, NY
Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
102 Design Degrees Awarded

Syracuse is a very large private not-for-profit university located in the city of Syracuse. This university ranks 9th out of 143 schools for overall quality in the state of New York.

There were approximately 102 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at Syracuse in the most recent data year. Design & Applied Arts degree recipients from Syracuse University get an earnings boost of around $8,974 above the typical earnings of design and applied arts graduates.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Syracuse University

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
253 Design Degrees Awarded

UC is a very large public university located in the large city of Cincinnati. This university ranks 8th out of 96 schools for overall quality in the state of Ohio.

There were approximately 253.00000000000003 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at UC in the most recent year we have data available. Design & Applied Arts degree recipients from University of Cincinnati - Main Campus earn a boost of approximately $18,722 above the average income of design and applied arts graduates.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from University of Cincinnati - Main Campus

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
38 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Seattle, UW Seattle is a public university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #38 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means UW Seattle is a great university overall.

There were roughly 38 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at UW Seattle in the most recent data year. Design & Applied Arts degree recipients from University of Washington - Seattle Campus receive an earnings boost of approximately $18,068 above the typical earnings of design and applied arts majors.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from University of Washington - Seattle Campus

#9

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL
Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
87 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the medium-sized city of Gainesville, UF is a public university with a very large student population. This university ranks 1st out of 77 schools for overall quality in the state of Florida.

There were approximately 87 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at UF in the most recent data year. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts degree program at University of Florida earn $11,841 more than the standard college graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from University of Florida

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
104 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Austin, UT Austin is a public university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #52 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means UT Austin is a great university overall.

There were about 104 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at UT Austin in the most recent data year. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts major at The University of Texas at Austin make $21,709 above the standard college graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from The University of Texas at Austin

#11

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA
Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
205 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the large city of Philadelphia, Drexel is a private not-for-profit university with a fairly large student population. This university ranks 12th out of 117 colleges for overall quality in the state of Pennsylvania.

There were approximately 205 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at Drexel in the most recent data year. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts major at Drexel University make $11,637 more than the standard college graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Drexel University

Bachelor's Degree Highest Degree Type
105 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Champaign, UIUC is a public university with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #44 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means UIUC is a great university overall.

There were approximately 105 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at UIUC in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign get $12,927 more than the typical graduate with the same degree shortly after graduation.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
130 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the large city of Minneapolis, UMN Twin Cities is a public university with a very large student population. This university ranks 1st out of 55 colleges for overall quality in the state of Minnesota.

There were about 130 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at UMN Twin Cities in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts program at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities get $9,181 more than the standard graduate in this field shortly after graduation.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

#14

Pratt Institute - Main

Brooklyn, NY
Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
618 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Brooklyn, Pratt Institute is a private not-for-profit school with a medium-sized student population.

There were approximately 618 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at Pratt Institute in the most recent data year. Design & Applied Arts degree recipients from Pratt Institute - Main receive an earnings boost of around $12,551 above the typical income of design and applied arts graduates.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Pratt Institute - Main

#15

Texas Christian University

Fort Worth, TX
Bachelor's Degree Highest Degree Type
43 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Fort Worth, TCU is a private not-for-profit university with a fairly large student population. This university ranks 5th out of 116 schools for overall quality in the state of Texas.

There were approximately 43 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at TCU in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts program at Texas Christian University make $15,275 more than the standard graduate with the same degree when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Texas Christian University

#16

The New School

New York, NY
Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
544 Design Degrees Awarded

New School University is a large private not-for-profit school located in the large city of New York. This school ranks 21st out of 143 schools for overall quality in the state of New York.

There were approximately 544 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at New School University in the most recent year we have data available. Those design and applied arts students who get their degree from The New School earn $12,769 more than the standard design grad.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from The New School

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
67 Design Degrees Awarded

USC is a very large private not-for-profit university located in the large city of Los Angeles. A Best Colleges rank of #18 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means USC is a great university overall.

There were approximately 67 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at USC in the most recent data year. After graduating, design degree recipients typically make around $29,631 at the beginning of their careers.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from University of Southern California

Bachelor's Degree Highest Degree Type
288 Design Degrees Awarded

FIDM Los Angeles is a small private for-profit school located in the city of Los Angeles.

There were approximately 288 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at FIDM Los Angeles in the most recent year we have data available. Graduates who receive their degree from the design program earn around $27,983 for their early career.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - Los Angeles

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
334 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Baltimore, MICA is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population.

There were approximately 334 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at MICA in the most recent year we have data available. Those design and applied arts students who get their degree from Maryland Institute College of Art make $5,726 more than the standard design grad.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Maryland Institute College of Art

Bachelor's Degree Highest Degree Type
228 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the small suburb of Davis, UC Davis is a public university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #57 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means UC Davis is a great university overall.

There were about 228 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at UC Davis in the most recent data year. Those design and applied arts students who get their degree from University of California - Davis earn $6,614 more than the average design graduate.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from University of California - Davis

Bachelor's Degree Highest Degree Type
95 Design Degrees Awarded

BYU is a fairly large private not-for-profit university located in the medium-sized city of Provo. This university ranks 1st out of 14 colleges for overall quality in the state of Utah.

There were approximately 95 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at BYU in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts degree program at Brigham Young University - Provo make $8,498 more than the typical graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Brigham Young University - Provo

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
61 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Los Angeles, UCLA is a public university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #29 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means UCLA is a great university overall.

There were roughly 61 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at UCLA in the most recent year we have data available. Those design and applied arts students who get their degree from University of California - Los Angeles make $8,055 more than the average design student.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from University of California - Los Angeles

#23

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, VA
Bachelor's Degree Highest Degree Type
62 Design Degrees Awarded

Located in the small city of Blacksburg, Virginia Tech is a public school with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #48 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means Virginia Tech is a great school overall.

There were approximately 62 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at Virginia Tech in the most recent data year. Design & Applied Arts degree recipients from Virginia Tech receive an earnings boost of approximately $17,992 above the average earnings of design and applied arts graduates.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Virginia Tech

Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
192 Design Degrees Awarded

ASU - Tempe is a fairly large public university located in the midsize city of Tempe. This university ranks 2nd out of 26 schools for overall quality in the state of Arizona.

There were approximately 192 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at ASU - Tempe in the most recent data year. Those design and applied arts students who get their degree from Arizona State University - Tempe receive $8,619 more than the standard design graduate.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Arizona State University - Tempe

#25

Purdue University - Main Campus

West Lafayette, IN
Master's Degree Highest Degree Type
63 Design Degrees Awarded

Purdue is a very large public university located in the city of West Lafayette. A Best Colleges rank of #47 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means Purdue is a great university overall.

There were roughly 63 design and applied arts students who graduated with this degree at Purdue in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the design and applied arts degree program at Purdue University - Main Campus earn $10,779 more than the average graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in design and applied arts from Purdue University - Main Campus

Rest of the Top Best Design & Applied Arts Schools

#25

Purdue University - Main Campus

West Lafayette, IN
#26

Auburn University

Auburn, AL
#31

Boston University

Boston, MA

#37

American University

Washington, DC
#39

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

#44

Clemson University

Clemson, SC

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Remaining Award Winners

This list represents the rest of the schools awarded a Best Design & Applied Arts Schools badge. Showing in this list means the college was ranked in the top 15% of the 397 different United States design and applied arts schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
50 Belmont University Nashville, TN
51 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
52 Madison Area Technical College Madison, WI
53 University of Delaware Newark, DE
54 Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN
55 California College of the Arts San Francisco, CA
56 San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA
57 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
58 Yale University New Haven, CT
59 Western Washington University Bellingham, WA

Additional Noteworthy Schools

Here are some additional great schools for Design & Applied Arts students that almost earned our Best Design & Applied Arts Schools award.

Rank College Location
60 School of Visual Arts New York, NY
61 Kent State University at Kent Kent, OH
62 California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA
63 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
64 Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA
65 University of North Texas Denton, TX
66 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY
67 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
68 University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL
69 Columbus College of Art and Design Columbus, OH
70 Montclair State University Montclair, NJ
71 Temple University Philadelphia, PA
72 Southern Methodist University Dallas, TX
73 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
74 Ringling College of Art and Design Sarasota, FL
75 Baylor University Waco, TX
76 Bradley University Peoria, IL
77 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
78 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY
79 Oklahoma State University - Main Campus Stillwater, OK

Design & Applied Arts by Region

View the Best Design & Applied Arts Schools for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

View All Rankings >

Design & Applied Arts is one of 10 different types of Visual & Performing Arts programs to choose from.

Design Concentrations

Major Annual Graduates
Graphic Design 8,710
Interior Design 5,840
Visual Communications 5,765
Commercial & Advertising Art 3,597
Fashion Design 3,103
Game & Interactive Media Design 2,692
Illustration 2,538
Industrial Design 1,792
Other Design & Applied Arts 1,336
Commercial Photography 928

View All Design Focus Areas >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Fine & Studio Arts 37,413
Music 25,910
Drama & Theater Arts 17,341
Film, Video & Photographic Arts 16,778
General Visual & Performing Arts 6,355
Arts & Media Management 4,788
Dance 3,288
Other Visual Art 912
Crafts, Folk Art & Artisanry 119
Community/Environmental/Socially-Engaged Art 10

View All Design Related Majors >

Notes and References

  • The bars on the spread charts above show the distribution of the schools on this list +/- one standard deviation from the mean.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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