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Graphic Design Schools in Washington with Degree Program Summaries

Research graphic design programs in Washington State, which currently has more than 15 colleges offering related programs. Read an overview of degree programs, tuition info and program options for ten of the largest of these schools and decide which program is right for you.

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Essential Information

In the state of Washington, aspiring graphic designers can find undergraduate certificate as well as associate, bachelor's or master's degree programs in graphic design, design or visual communications. Programs provide coursework in foundation art, typography, portfolio development and relevant computer programs, such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. In addition to studies in graphic design, students in visual communications courses may also explore techniques for interactive design and motion graphics.

Program applicants may need to submit a portfolio as part of the admissions process. Additionally, a final project and an internship may be required for program completion. The colleges mentioned below are ten of the largest public, non-profit community colleges and universities in the state that offer graphic design or related programs.


Central Washington University

Located in Ellensburg, this university has a bachelor's degree in graphic design through the art department. Students are formally admitted into the program after completing prerequisites and a portfolio review. Courses include layout/design, advertising graphic design, computer art and typography. Students must also complete a studio project and a cooperative education internship. The university provides graphic design resources like Apple computer workstations, software, printers and a dry-mount adhesive machine.

  • Program Offered: BFA in Graphic Design
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $8,925 in-state; $19,557 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: Four-year, public; distant town

Eastern Washington University

Cheney's Eastern Washington University offers a minor, Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in the field of visual communication design through the College of Science, Health and Engineering. Both BA and BFA program students complete coursework in interactive design, Web design, drawing and typography. BA students need to complete a portfolio review and a senior capstone course. BFA students submit a portfolio during the admission process, and they are required to complete a senior exhibition and an internship. Additionally, the art department offers a graphic design bachelor's program, which requires students to complete an exhibition, capstone class and project/internship.

  • Programs Offered: Minor in Visual Communication Design,
    BA in Visual Communication Design,
    BFA in Visual Communication Design,
    BFA in Graphic Design
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $7,933 in-state; $18,678 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: Four-year, public; fringe town

Edmonds Community College

Located in Lynnwood, this college has a graphic design certificate program. Students will receive hands-on training in design. Courses include intermediate graphic design, digital imaging and illustration. An associate's degree in graphic design is also available, although it is designed for students who want to transfer to a four-year program. Students may study two-dimensional design, graphic design, drawing and photography.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Completion in Graphic Design,
    Associate of Arts in Graphic Design
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $4,408 in-state; $9,643 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: Two-year, public; large suburb

Everett Community College

Everett Community College has graphic design endorsement, certificate and associate's degree programs within its visual communication design department. The endorsement program provides minimal education in graphic design and typography topics. The certificate program helps students develop professional portfolios and learn about integral design principles through courses in graphic design, publication design, typography and design elements. The Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) in Graphic Design program includes coursework in media illustration, photography, color and graphic design. Both the certificate and degree program culminate in a portfolio review course.

  • Programs Offered: Endorsement in Graphic Design,
    Certificate in Graphic Design,
    AFA in Graphic Design
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $3,609 in-state; $8,799 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: Two-year, public; midsize city

Highline Community College

This college is found in Des Moines, and it offers certificate and associate's degree programs in visual communications. Students will learn about the basics of graphic design, lettering and illustration. Courses in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are required. Students may complete a cooperative education experience and a portfolio development class.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate in Visual Communications,
    Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Visual Communications,
    AAS - Transfer
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $4,000 in-state; $4,401 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: Two-year, public; large suburb

Seattle Central Community College

Seattle Central Community College offers an associate's degree in graphic design through the Business, Information Technology & Creative Arts Division. Students will learn how to use InDesign, Photoshop, Flash and Adobe After Effects. Students will also study drawing, corporate design and graphic design. Work experience, website creation and portfolio development courses all provide practical experience in the field.

  • Program Offered: AAS in Graphic Design
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $3,893 in-state; $9,083 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: Four-year, public; large city

Seattle Pacific University

The art department at Seattle Pacific University has a bachelor's degree in visual communications. Students will receive an education in art, art history and design. Courses like typography, interactive media, motion graphics and design studio are required. Students must also complete a senior capstone course, internship and portfolio exhibition.

  • Program Offered: BA in Art - Visual Communications
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $32,067*
  • School Type & Setting: Four-year, private not-for-profit; large city

Shoreline Community College

Shoreline Community College offers an associate's degree in graphic design. Students will become adept in computer programs like InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash. Students will take courses in photography, design and drawing. A portfolio development class is required. Within the program, students learn to effectively solve visual communication problems, organize design elements, understand markets and audiences, form visual graphics and use technical equipment.

  • Programs Offered: Associate in Applied Arts and Science in Graphic Design and Production Art,
    AAS - Transfer
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $3,947 in-state; $6,595 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: Two-year, public; large suburb

University of Washington - Seattle

The University of Washington - Seattle has design undergrad and graduate degree programs with concentrations in visual communications design within the School of Art. Undergrad students are required to have a laptop that can run current Adobe Creative Suite software. Students study publication design, typography and interaction design. They also must complete senior projects and develop a portfolio. Ideal graduate candidates should have a baccalaureate degree relating to design. Graduate students must participate in design seminars, develop a thesis for exhibition and complete visual communication design electives.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Design,
    Master of Design
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $12,383 in-state; $29,938 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: Four-year, public; large city

Western Washington University

Western Washington University in Bellingham offers a BA and BFA in Design through the College of Fine and Performing Arts. Both BA and BFA students must submit a portfolio for formal admittance to the programs and declare a minor. BFA students complete additional requirements like a seminar, workshop and internship. Design students may take courses in graphic design, typography, digital media design and visual culture. The university is also home to several resources like Apple computers, design software, recording suites, scanners, printers and photography equipment.

  • Programs Offered: BA in Design,
    BFA in Design
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $8,805 in-state; $19,152 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: Four-year, public; small city

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Graphic Design Degree Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
Central Washington University Four-year, public; distant town BFA in Graphic Design $8,925 in-state; $19,557 out-of-state*
Eastern Washington University Four-year, public; fringe town Minor in Visual Communication Design,
BA in Visual Communication Design,
BFA in Visual Communication Design,
BFA in Graphic Design
$7,933 in-state; $18,678 out-of-state*
Edmonds Community College Two-year, public; large suburb Certificate of Completion in Graphic Design,
Associate of Arts in Graphic Design
$4,408 in-state; $9,643 out-of-state*
Everett Community College Two-year, public; midsize city Endorsement in Graphic Design,
Certificate in Graphic Design,
AFA in Graphic Design
$3,609 in-state; $8,799 out-of-state*
Highline Community College Two-year, public; large suburb Certificate in Visual Communications,
Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Visual Communications,
AAS - Transfer
$4,000 in-state; $4,401 out-of-state*
Seattle Central Community College Four-year, public; large city AAS in Graphic Design $3,893 in-state; $9,083 out-of-state*
Seattle Pacific University Four-year, private not-for-profit; large city BA in Art - Visual Communications $32,067*
Shoreline Community College Two-year, public; large suburb Associate in Applied Arts and Science in Graphic Design and Production Art,
AAS - Transfer
$3,947 in-state; $6,595 out-of-state*
University of Washington - Seattle Four-year, public; large city Bachelor of Design,
Master of Design
$12,383 in-state; $29,938 out-of-state*
Western Washington University Four-year, public; small city BA in Design,
BFA in Design
$8,805 in-state; $19,152 out-of-state*

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics.

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    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
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      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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