Design Colleges in USA: Courses, Eligibility, Fees, Scholarships and Scope

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    Anam Shams

    Content Curator | Updated on - Jan 12, 2022

    Design colleges in USA offer some specialized programs such as fashion designing, web designing, interior designing, industrial designing and graphic designing. All these programs are structured to make the user interface impactful and that it communicates the desired message. 

    • Among various disciplines of designing, interior design is the most in-demand specialization for studying in USA. Occupations in this specialization are also projected to have the highest growth rate of 4% till 2028.
    • The average annual salary for arts and design occupations is $48,130 in 2019 which was higher than the average annual salary of $39,810 of other occupations. 
    • The pay scale of the interior designers and graphic designers is also the highest in this field ie. between 36,629 USD to 51,137 USD and 45,000 USD to 55,000 USD respectively. 
    • According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in arts and design occupations is projected to decline by 4% between 2019-2029. Though jobs in USA for animation and visual effects will be on the rise.

    Table of Contents

    Best Design Colleges in USA

    Approximately 37,428 design and applied arts degrees offered by the design colleges in the USA. Over 216 colleges and universities in the USA are specialized in providing design and applied for arts programs. Some of the top-ranking and Best colleges in USA for designing are provided below: 

    Colleges/ Universities QS Global Ranking 2020 Design Program Offered
    Yale University #17 1 Bachelor
    Columbia University #18 2 Bachelor degree
    University of California #35 2 Bachelor degree
    Alfred University #38 4 bachelor degree
    Virginia Commonwealth University #162 4 bachelor degree
    Ohio University #185 1 Bachelor in fashion design, 1 Bachelor in industrial design, 2 Bachelor in art.

    Design Colleges in USA: Specialisations and Degrees Offered

    The designers of the USA get plenty of opportunities to start their career as a fashion designer, web designer, interior designer, graphic designer, or as an industrial designer. A designer as a fresher can earn approximately 35,000 USD per annum whereas an experienced designer can earn 95,135 USD per year. 

    In the following section, the course curriculum of design, offered by the top-ranked universities of the USA is going to be discussed:

    Fashion design and merchandising Fine arts- ceramic
    Communication design System design and development
    Applied drawing (studio art) Interactive media design
    Associate in Arts (AA) Apparel and merchandising- apparel design and production
    Theatre design and technology Fashion studies and retail merchandising

    The scholars can acquire the following degrees in their respective coursework:

    • Undergraduate program: Bachelor of Science (B.Sc), Bachelor of Arts (B.A). Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A)
    • Postgraduate program: Master of Science (M.Sc), Master of Arts (M.A), Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A)
    • Doctoral Program: Ph.D. in design

    Design Colleges in USA: Undergraduate Programs 

    The USA colleges are renowned for offering 143 fashion designing, 70 industrial designing and 441 graphic designing programs for bachelor coursework (as per bachelors portal). Some of the bachelors of design colleges in the USA are: 

    Program College/ University Duration Course Fees (Annually in USD)
    Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Interactive Media Design University of Washington 4 years 36,519
    Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Apparel and Merchandising- Apparel Design and Production Colorado State University 4 years 29, 884
    Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Technology Southern Utah University 4 years 31,136
    B.Sc in Fashion Studying and Retail Merchandising South Dakota State University 4 years 18,750
    Bachelor in Industrial Design Columbus College of Art and Design 4 years 58,749
    B.Sc in Residential Environments and Design Virginia Tech 4 years 61,200
    Bachelor in Graphic Communication Carroll University 4 years 53,938
    B.Sc in Digital Media and Design University of Kentucky 4 years 29,050

    Eligibility for Bachelors in Design in USA 

    In order to get into the bachelor coursework in US colleges, the students must meet the below-mentioned minimum cut off score. Though the required cut off score varies from college to college, the average score is similar for all the institutions.

    • Completed 10th and 12th standard
    • SAT or ACT score; minimum ACT score required is 33-35
    • Proof of English proficiency. The minimum score requirement is: 
      • TOEFL iBT: 70
      • IELTS: 6.0

    Required Documents for Bachelors in Design in USA 

    Do not forget to attach the below mentioned important documents along with the score to the university authority:

    • Official transcripts of your prior academic scores
    • Bank statement

    Fees and Funding for Undergraduate Design Coursework in USA (H3)

    The average fee for studying a bachelor in design from the USA is between 24,000 to 54,000 USD per year. The course fee seems high for bachelor students unless they apply for a scholarship program. In addition, the cost of living in the USA is higher compared to another study abroad destination. Hence, the fellows might find it difficult to bear the survival cost if they do not get concessions through the scholarship program. 

    Design Colleges in USA: Postgraduate Programs 

    The coursework is categorized into 358 Master's program in design in USA, Approximately 3050 (approximately) postgraduate programs for graphic and fashion designing programs and 60 industrial design programs are offered in design colleges in USA at the postgraduate level. This includes 358 Master of Design programs.

    The following table lists the popular universities offering Master of Design in the USA: 

    Program University Duration Course Fees (Annually in USD)
    Master in City Design (MCD) University of Illinois at Chicago 2 years 17,714
    Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Communication Design Texas State University 2 years 15,440
    Master in Graphic Design (MAGD) Suffolk University 1 year 49,674
    Master of Science (M.Sc) in Design and Merchandising Colorado State University 2 years 47,792
    M.Sc in Textile, Fashion Merchandising and Design University of Rhode Island 2 years 47,569
    Master of Arts (M.A) in Costume Design Academy of Art University 2 years 36,018
    M.Sc in Fashion and Apparel Studies University of Delaware 2 years 25,215
    Master in Industrial Design Academy of Art University 3 years 36,018

    Design Colleges in USA: Eligibility for Masters

    Similar to the undergraduate students, the applicants should have the following eligibility criteria in order to apply for US universities

    • You should have at least a 3.0 GPA score in bachelor course work.
    • Bachelor certificate, which is the evidence of completing your undergraduate program
    • Proof of English proficiency. The minimum score required is: 
      • Minimum 6.5 band score in IELTS 
      • The Average cut off score of the TOEFL exam is 78-100. 
    • Average GRE score: Reading 160, writing 4.5

    Design Colleges in USA: Documents Required for Masters

    Irrespective of academic qualification, the students should also submit some essential documents in order to take admission to the masters in the design program. 

    • One identification certificate
    • 2 LORs from your teacher 
    • 4 passport size photographs of the applicants
    • Your valid passport
    • Recommendation letter (not mandatory)
    • Submit the transcripts of your previous studies
    • Statement certificate for the purpose of studying. 
    • Current CV

    Design Colleges in USA: Fees and Funding for Masters

    The average fee for studying a master in design from the USA universities is 30,000 USD to 50,000 USD approximately. It is better for the students to apply for a scholarship program to reduce the excessive burden of earning the cost of study and the cost of living, being a student. 

    Design Colleges in USA: Certificate Courses

    Since bachelors in designing in the USA is a four years long coursework, sometimes the international students prefer to opt for duration certified diploma coursework. Some of the popular diploma coursework in the USA are:

    • Drury University offers a diploma program in graphic design and design arts major in the USA. 
    • The New School: 2 years certificate program on infographics and data visualization. 

    Despite the full-time postgraduate coursework, the colleges and the universities of the USA offer some certificate or diploma programs both for the domestic and international students. Some of the popular certificates or diploma programs are:

    • International Career Institute (ICI): Diploma in IT (web design). It is a ½ year program. 
    • ICI: Executive diploma in graphic design and desktop publishing. It is 8 months of coursework.
    • Boston University: M.A in elective graphic design. It is a 6 weeks program. 

    Design Colleges in USA: Doctoral Programs

    Ph.D. coursework from design colleges in USA universities is streamlined into 3 to 4 years. There are 10 different design programs available in this country. However, Ph.D. in fashion designing, interior designing, and graphic designing are not offered by any of the USA universities. 

    Some of the popular Ph.D. programs are discussed in the following table:

    Program University Duration Course Fees (Annually in USD)
    Ph.D. in Materials Design and Innovation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences 4 years 22,210
    Ph.D. in Apparel and Textile Designing Kansas State University 3 years 24,210
    Ph.D. in Apparel Design Cornell University 3 years 34,972

    Design Colleges in USA: Eligibility for Ph.D. 

    Read the following requirements before you plan to take admission in Ph.D. coursework. 

    • Since the available seats for Ph.D. courses are less compared to the bachelor and master coursework, therefore, it is advisable to get distinction scores at postgraduate level. 
    • Proof of English proficiency:
      • 7 band score in IELTS.
      • 90-100 in TOEFL

    Design Colleges in USA: Required Documents for Ph.D. 

    Apart from the aforementioned academic qualification and cut off score, the applicants should provide some required documents. 

    • Transcripts of the previous academic mark sheets
    • Educational reference letter
    • Current CV
    • Letter of intent
    • Receipt of application fees

    Design Colleges in USA: Fees and Funding for Ph.D. 

    The average cost of pursuing Ph.D. coursework in design from the USA universities vary from 25000 USD to 40000 USD per annum (on average). The students get the flexibility to opt for part-time Ph.D. coursework. It usually takes more time and more course fees to complete the entire program. Nevertheless, some scholarship programs are also available for the Ph.D. pursuing students, which are helpful to minimize the cost burden of completing the study. 

    Design Colleges in the USA: Scholarships

    The course fees for international students are much higher than domestic students. Unless the global students apply for their scholarship program, it will be troublesome for their survival in the US. In addition, the cost of living in the country is also very high. 

    The scholarship programs are available not only for the meritorious students but also everybody can avail this as per their need. Scholarship criteria also differ based on its type. 

    The following are some of the popular scholarships for international students in USA

    Scholarship Scholarship is given to Amount (in USD)
    Clubs of America Scholarship Award for Career Success Both US and international meritorious undergraduate students 1000
    Bienenstock Design Competition Master pursuing students in design 5000
    Maine Graphic Arts Association (MGAA) Scholarship All level of coursework 500
    UNF Gray Scholarship All level meritorious students 4000
    FIDM National Scholarship Competition Both the undergraduate and postgraduate students, who are pursuing fashion designing program Up to 30,955
    Mary Abdoo Fashion Memorial Scholarship Both the undergraduate and postgraduate students, who are pursuing fashion designing program 1000

    Design Courses in USA: Career Scope 

    As per the above discussion, it is clearly evident that the growth rate of the designers across the USA has grown sharply. 

    • Graphic designers in the US can experience a 3% growth rate in their careers by the year 2028. 
    • Approximately 266300 people are engaged in graphic designing in the USA. In addition, by the next 10 years, 16,700 more graphic designers will be recruited. 
    • The most three demanding states in the USA for graphic designers are California, New York, and Florida. 
    • As per BLS, demand for industrial designers in the US will be increased by 4% by the year 2028.
    • Approximately 400 more fashion designers will be recruited by the employers of the US within 2028. 

    Likewise the graphic designers, the fashion designers can also experience a good hike in their pay scale with the booming of the industry in the USA. Being a fresher, a fashion designer can earn 36,420 USD, while an experienced fashion designer can get 72,720 USD (as per the report of BLS). Likewise, the experienced web designer salary in the US is also very lucrative.

    Some of the job designations and their respective pay scales of the designers in the USA are described in the following table: 

    Job Designation Pay Scale (Annually in USD)
    Art production manager: graphic designer 54,088- 86,200
    Apparel manufacturing consultant 70,000- 117,000
    Notion merchant wholesalers 58340- 80,000
    Display designer 35,000- 55,000
    Layout artist: graphic designer 46,890- 64,090
    Industrial designer 58,677-78,000
    Interaction designer 79,170- 101,648
    Aircraft interior designer 60,698- 107,688
    Office space planner 47,500-81,500

    Once the students complete their coursework from the USA, they can get huge opportunities to start their career as a consultant. After five years of experience, they can show their excellence as a manager in respective fields. Hence, design programs from the USA colleges and universities offer you wide options to broaden your career path. So that you can get a handsome return from your jobs.


    8.5 /10

    It is one of the top-ranking universities to study business and finance and as I was applying for masters of France, I applied to MIT along with 4-5 other universities (just to be safe). Getting accepted in such a college was not easy, I worked very hard to get in! The selection process is extremely competitive. I applied to the university through the online application portal, the application fee paid by me was $250.

    Fees :

    The charges for the 12-month program is different from the 18-month program, as I was pursuing the 18 -months program my annual fee for the program was around $1,12,000. For books and supplies, I had to pay around $3,000 and the computer charges were $2000. It is very expensive! Although the university offers several financial aids like Jim and Sara Anderson Fellowship, Linda Archer Cornfield Fellowship, and many more, not all students can manage to secure one.

    10.0 /10

    I was an engineering graduate and founded a startup company with a couple of my friends before pursuing an MBA. However, that company collapsed after 2 years due to chaos and mismanagement in the operation department. So I decided to do an MBA in business operation. I searched online for a good college and then only I came to know about this college and its popularity. I applied through the university's website and paid a $75 application fee. I was also interviewed by video conference. After one month they mailed me that I was selected.

    Fees :

    I have paid nearly $42,700 for this year. Next year's total charge is the same. Total fees include fees for books and supplies, housing, computer and travel. I have to admit that MBA fees in my college are lower than most of the other private MBA programs. Merit-based financial aid, fellowships funded by our university are often endowed to international students. Not only that Scholarships from private organizations are other options for us.

    8.3 /10

    I always knew about the business courses of Wisconsin but I was primarily interested in the MS courses and that is when I found the course of analytics and that it can be completed in a year. So I made the application through the common application portal and the cost of the application is $75.

    Fees :

    The fee for the course is around $45,000 per year. The tuition fee is included in this. This is one of the premium colleges that does not charge over $50,000 per year. To be eligible for a merit-based scholarship one has to submit a form i.e. a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA).

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