Create original graphic design solutions that combine fine arts skills and cutting-edge digital technology.
Design at CCA is dedicated to conceptual exploration alongside practice-based problem solving. We teach students to become leaders in the field by emphasizing collaborative studio work, creative risk-taking, and elegant design solutions that engage with pressing social issues.
Draw inspiration from the Bay Area
The classroom is where the work begins, not where it ends. The Bay Area, known for its legacy of craft and social justice, is one of the world’s most innovative technology and design hubs. Students have the opportunity to intern for design firms, nonprofits, and publishing houses as they work toward a polished thesis project.
Situated within a top art college, the Graphic Design program also benefits from an atmosphere of hands-on making and experimentation. Students are constantly giving and getting feedback and testing their ideas with faculty, visiting experts, and peers.
2020 graphic design school rankings
When compared to hundreds of schools across the U.S., our graphic design program ranks among the best. Academic reputation, admission selectivity, the program’s depth and breadth, and value are all factors that help determine the latest CCA rankings:
Our program is grounded in practical knowledge, critical thinking, and a passion for investigation. You’ll learn to balance observation and research with thinking and making as you work across a broad range of media. We consider the political and social impact of book arts, zines, and muralist traditions, while looking to the future of embedded technologies and systems thinking. The historical and contemporary contexts of graphic design will help you refine your voice and strengthen your design toolkit.
At the core of our curriculum are sequences of three graphic design and three typography courses. These courses teach the foundational concepts of craft and form, engage with exploration and process, and introduce information systems and brand identity. Students also have opportunities to take advanced studios in service design, packaging, type design, and more.
Learn to use industry-leading software
Skills that prepare you for professional practice
- Motion graphics
- User experience and user interface design
- Editorial design
- Environmental graphics
- Interaction design
- Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop
- Print, motion-based, and interactive media
Additional shops, labs, and studios
Our faculty are practicing designers with experience in app interfaces, consumer electronics, exhibition design, motion graphics, publishing, typography-focused work, and more. They’re a big reason why we’re a top-ranking graphic design school. With such diverse viewpoints and practices, they help create a vibrant studio culture that inspires and challenges students.
Chair Rachel Berger is a researcher of cultural artifacts and a practicing designer. Before joining CCA, she was a senior designer at SYPartners, part design studio, consultancy, and leadership advisory. She has worked on projects for a number of high-profile clients, including Virgin America, Levi Strauss & Co., AARP, Hyatt, IBM, Groupon, and AT&T. As a practitioner with broad interests—architecture, feminism, and transportation to name a few—she’s excited to show students how expansive the field of graphic design can be.
Assistant Chair Sara Raffo specializes in civic design, data visualization, and interaction design. In addition to teaching, Sara partners with local governments, community planners, and designers who create inclusive, human-centered environments all around the United States. A longtime supporter of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, she has developed and led national STEM conferences and conducted grant-funded studies that champion the integration of art and design thinking.
Synthesize concept, creativity, and craft
Graphic Design at CCA provides a robust understanding of the professional practice, as well as a fluid skillset for pushing the discipline’s boundaries through interdisciplinary means. Courses teach industry-standard software, the methods for moving projects from concept to creation, and the expression of ideas through visual and graphic elements. View sample course descriptions
Investigate ideas through every dimension
Before diving into their chosen major, every undergraduate participates in the First Year Experience. Students explore a wide range of materials and tools over the course of two semesters. Faculty from different disciplines guide studio projects, group critiques, and theoretical discussions, setting students up for success throughout their major coursework.
Our students graduate from the program with the skills they need to develop their own independent practices or work in larger, collaborative settings. They successfully land roles for companies and studios like IDEO, Facebook, Google, MacFadden & Thorpe, Wolff Olins, Bonfire Labs, Frog Design, California Academy of Sciences, Atlassian, and Snap Inc. Wherever they go, they make well-crafted, thoughtful, and inclusive work.
Potential career paths
- Graphic designer
- Interaction designer
- Visual designer
- Web designer
- Product designer
- Type designer
- Book designer
- UX designer
- Service designer
- Motion graphics designer
- Editorial designer
- Identity designer
The Graphic Design program is a place for many different kinds of students. We look for the curious and creative, those who are eager to achieve a high level of refinement while pushing the boundaries of their craft. At CCA, you’re free to develop an expansive practice, including the exciting fields of physical computing and net art. Your studio work will move audiences to feel, think, and act in completely new ways.