How to Become a Graphic Designer in Connecticut?

Graphic Design is an ever-changing and innovative field that an increased number of people is pursuing. It requires creativity and an understanding of client services, new trends, and technology. Graphic Design truly combines both the creative and logical mind.

What You Need to Become a Graphic Designer in Connecticut

While there are no “official” requirements to take on the title of graphic designer, there is a set of basic skills you’ll need to be knowledgeable in to be successful:

  • Current design programs
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Strong knowledge of design theory and practice
  • Media production and communication
  • Visual communication
  • Client relationships

Earning a degree provides all of the above and sets recent grads with polished portfolios to bring into the job market. Degrees range from fast-track certificate courses to bachelor’s and master’s degrees, all of which vary by the school when it comes to curriculum.

Career Outlook for Graphic Design

The job market for graphic designers is expected to grow by 4.2% by 2026. In Connecticut, graphic designers can make anywhere from $35 – $71K a year. Jobs in graphic design include marketing, branding, website creation, product design, teaching, creative director, illustration, freelancing, animation and many more.

The Best Graphic Design Schools in Connecticut

Several well-known schools in Connecticut offer Graphic Design programs of varying intensity. While some are pretty competitive, others are accessible, depending on the exclusivity and mission of the school in question.

Each program has unique requirements and offers a variety of courses, support, and access to modern technology. Whether you’re looking for a four-year degree program, an advanced degree program, or want to get your foot in the door with an associate’s degree, the schools listed below provide a range of options for prospective students.

Yale School of Art

Yale University is one of the most prestigious and well-known schools in Connecticut, and it’s no surprise that their Graphic Design program is top-notch.

Yale was founded in 1701 and has grown to include degrees spanning the arts and sciences. The school has over 145 departments, including the Yale School of Art.

The School of Art was established in 1869 and currently has a relatively small student enrollment of around 100. They offer a B.A. in Art and an MFA degree in Graphic Design. Getting into the School of Art is, unsurprisingly, a competitive process – as is the Graphic Design MFA (Yale GDMFA). The program totals 60 credit hours and accepts only 12 students a year. 

So how do you get into such a respected school and program? MFA applicants should have “substantial and distinguished experience in visual studies and related professional experience.” Support is provided by weekly faculty meetings, studio work, small thesis groups, and individual sessions with tutors. The course also offers conferences, workshops, lectures and presentations – more than enough opportunities to get your foot in the door when it comes to Graphic Design.

Quite a few perks come with the program as well. Students have access to not only a studio loft but a variety of equipment, including wide format printers, a Vandercook press, bookbinding material, and workspaces through the School of Art building.

With such a small number of students accepted each year, and a diverse array of support given to those who make it through the selective process, Yale does everything possible to ensure that MFA students succeed in their desired careers. The Graphic Design MFA program takes two years to complete if students attend full-time.

University of Hartford

The University of Hartford, or UHart to students and faculty, stands by their mottos to “love what you learn” and “see yourself ready.” Their programs are designed for passionate students looking to gain every opportunity to ensure they have the tools they need before diving into the workforce.

UHart has an 8:1 student to faculty ratio and over 100 academic programs, including the Visual Communication Design major. Visual Communication Design is synonymous with Graphic Design, which is apparent in their description of the program: “The visual communication design (VCD) program encompasses all visual languages used to communicate; so your coursework aims strengthen your skills as a designer.” Classes focus on design theory, methods, and history, as well as real-life experience with clients throughout your career at UHart.

The VCD program is a part of the Hartford Art School, which requires all students to provide a portfolio for review. The faculty consists of designers with years of experience under their belt who encourage not just excellence in the field but personal aesthetic as well.

For students interested in participating in this program, they can look forward to independent studios, design-intensive courses, client-focused projects, and networking events. Applicants are required to provide a portfolio as well as complete a foundation year with UHart before joining the VCD program.

University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut, or UConn, is one of the top-ranked schools in Connecticut with campuses across the state with a rich history. This university is a leader in public research and has an impressive array of arts-based degrees as well.

The UConn School of Fine Arts offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts concentration in Graphic Design under their Art & Art History section. The focus of the degree is on verbalizing, visualizing, and communicating ideas – a true 360 view of what this career path can accomplish. Faculty focuses not only on skill but on intellectual creativity to build a strong foundation for future success.

The curriculum at UConn School of Fine Arts is studio-based and focuses on theories, principles, and strategies across an array of platforms. The program offers a wide variety of courses for Graphic Design students to choose from, including photography and video, sculpture and ceramics, illustration and animation, and more. Students will have access to a letterpress studio, darkroom, woodshop, CNC machine, plasma cutter, and other recent innovative technology to give them the best access to modern design.

As an added bonus, UConn also has a Graphic Design program available in London. This education abroad opportunity partners with Saint Martins in London and allows students to participate in CSM Design & Interaction platforms while pursuing their degree with UConn.

Applicants to the Graphic Design BFA must meet the general requirements for UConn as a whole as well as the individual program within the School of Fine Arts. More information can be found via their Admissions page.

Central Connecticut State University

Central Connecticut State University is aptly named, as it is based in New Britain, Connecticut. The university was founded in 1849 and has grown to earn the respect of the public. It’s known for having an accessible campus and being a committed community partner.

Of the five academic schools comprising CCSU, their Graphic/Information Design program is located in the Carol A. Ammon College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences. The Carol A. Ammon College offers too many programs to count, and the Art & Design department offers B.S., B.A., M.S., and M.A. degrees. The Graphic/Information Design degree is a B.A.

Combining Graphic Design, Branding & Identity, UI/UX Design, Multimedia Design, 3-D Digital Imaging, Motion Graphics, and Animation, students get experience in a range of fields. Faculty narrows down the focus of the program to include applied design theory, critical thinking, web & social media design, print media, motion graphics, and more.

No matter where you see yourself when it comes to Graphic Design programs, CCSU has a path that leads to it. CCSU makes its programs incredibly accessible, and the application process requires nothing more than reaching out. Students have the option to run a degree evaluation report, showing their progress toward their degree. This is an easy way to keep track of your progress personally instead of relying on staff who may be handling a few hundred other student files.

To have the best shot at making it into the Graphic/Information Design program, students must receive a score of 85 or better on the comprehensive assessment administered in DES122, maintain an overall GPA of 2.5, and be in good academic standing.

Manchester Community College

Manchester Community College has grown exponentially over the last decade and has become one of the most affordable colleges in Connecticut, with accessible programs for not only conventional students but parents, seniors, and those with busy lives pursuing degrees on their own time. Students interested in beginning their academic career with an associate’s degree in Graphic Design will find MCC to be an excellent choice, as they allow both part and full-time enrollment in the course.

Manchester Community College was the first college in Connecticut to offer an associate’s degree in the arts with a focus on digital media. The program exists within the Liberal and Creative Arts Division (LCA), a division created to expose students to a range of disciplines.

As far as program requirements, there are none – students don’t need to provide a portfolio for review. Faculty pushes the importance of technical skills, understanding of concepts & aesthetics, and application of all of the above.

MCC structures its Graphic Design program to give students real-life experience in co-op placements as well as access to state-of-the-art design and computer labs. Students are presented with real-world problems that need solutions to build their portfolio as they work toward the degree, meaning you’ll end your academic career with work to showcase to future clients.

Students interested in attending Manchester Community College will be able to complete their general education requirements at their own pace and affordable tuition. The campus is easy to access as it is central to the state, and MCC provides direction for students interested in eventually transferring to a 4-year college to pursue other degrees within their specialty.