How to Become a Graphic Designer in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire is one of the most popular states in New England for recreation. It’s a place of excitement, natural surroundings and inspiration. Each year students head north to attend one of 28 colleges and universities in the state. If you’re a fan of the outdoors, history or just looking for a new and beautiful place to get your academic career started, this state is a great option.

What You Need to Become a Graphic Designer in New Hampshire?

Unlike many careers, graphic design doesn’t require a degree. Many people are self-taught via the programs themselves or internet courses. While creativity is a must-have, if you’re willing to do the work on your own time and learn, you can make it in freelance graphic design or find an entry-level position with a company.

However, most companies employing graphic designers are looking for at least a bachelor’s degree in the area. Attending a college or university’s graphic design program will not only give you the technical and creative skills necessary, but it will also open up opportunities to intern with companies and prepare you for tackling the industry after graduating.

Career Outlook for Graphic Design

Although graphic design is a career with a below-national-average growth rate, projected at 3% over the next decade, graphic design is an essential industry that isn’t disappearing anytime soon.

Most companies employ graphic designers for marketing and branding, a necessary part of their business. A career in graphic design can lead to employment as a creative director, production artist, product developer, marketing specialist, user experience designer and more. Freelance graphic design, in particular, allows you to choose from a variety of projects that fit your interests and skill level.

The Best Graphic Design Schools in New Hampshire

With a state population of just over 1.36 million, New Hampshire has both densely populated areas and tracts of wilderness. No matter what kind of college experience you’re looking for in terms of socializing, outdoor activities or access to necessities, New Hampshire offers schools in a variety of settings.

Lakes Region Community College

Lakes Region Community College is in one of the most beloved areas of New Hampshire – Laconia. A public community college, the Lakes Region branch is part of the Community College system of New Hampshire. It’s a financially feasible option for most undergrads looking to start off somewhere small before transferring or save a little money.

LRCC offers over 35 degree and certificate programs to the roughly 1,000 students who attend each semester. Class sizes are small, with ten students to every teacher, ensuring a focused learning environment. Most students at LRCC are New Hampshire natives, but out-of-state students have the option to live on campus in apartment-style housing for an additional cost.

The graphic design program at this college culminates in an Associate degree in Science. An added benefit to LRCC’s program is that they prepare students not only for the job market, but for freelance business building as well. Hands-on classes teach students to utilize the industry software and students leave the program with a portfolio of work.

If Lakes Region Community College feels like a good place to start, undergraduate students also have the option to continue with LRCC in two graphic design certificate programs (each to be obtained in one semester) or transfer to another college, which LRCC offers direction on.

Southern New Hampshire University

For those looking for a larger school with a bigger student population, Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire, has roughly 3,500  undergraduate students enrolled each year. The city of Manchester is located on the Merrimack River and is home to the Currier Museum of art. There are many other art and history-based places to visit, either in the city or just a short drive away.

With both on-campus and online courses available, SNHU has over 200 academic programs, and their tuition rates haven’t risen since 2012. The student-to-teacher ratio is just 13:1, and over 50% of classes have fewer than 20 students.

The campus sits on 338 acres and offers both a residence hall and apartment-style housing for students. All residence halls and apartments are co-ed, but SNHU does offer one all-female floor in their Washington hall.

The Graphic Design & Media Arts BA degree at SNHU is available both on-campus and online. The college focuses not only on the fine art aspects of graphic design but on the business side as well. Classes will include advertising, communication, psychology, technology, and many others.

The graphic design BA is part of SNHU’s Experience More program, which is career-focused and designed to get students real-life industry experience. At least 36 credits in the program are earned through experience, including internships and projects. Alumni of SNHU have gone on to work for Fox News, Timberland, Silvertech and many other regional and national companies.

Keene State College

Keene is a smaller city in the mid-south of New Hampshire. Keene is also home to Keene State College, a public liberal arts college with roughly 5,000 students attending annually. In 2020, Keene State ranked #1 in the 15 Best Affordable Schools in New Hampshire for Bachelor’s Degree.   

The 179-acre campus offers living and learning communities, residence halls, dining halls, dance studios, science labs, a student center and more. Students living on campus have access to suite=style housing as well as several levels of meal plans.

Under the Art & Design Program, KSU has a BFA available in Graphic Design once students complete the BA in Art & Design. The graphic design option focuses on visual communication and hones students’ conceptual, technical and collaborative skills. Students will create a variety of communications, including websites, logos, branding, posters, packaging, animation and more.

To be eligible for the BFA degree in Graphic Design, students have to declare their major in the BA program in Art & Design. You can do so while in your sophomore year of the BA program or on acceptance into Keene State College. Students will be accepted into the BFA program after a portfolio review by the Art & Design faculty.

Colby-Sawyer College

Colby-Sawyer College is located in the small town of New London. Nearby are Lake Sunapee, Pleasant Lake, the New London Barn Playhouse and Mount Kearsarge – all of which draw hikers, skiers and tourists to the town each year. New London is just 90 minutes north of Boston.

One of the smaller colleges on this list, Colby-Sawyer, has roughly 800 undergraduate students enrolled each year. Despite its small student body, the college sits on 200 acres of land and is comprised of 33 buildings. The average class size is 19, with a 15:1 student-teacher ratio.

Of the 33 buildings on campus, there are seven residence halls as well as three apartment-style living halls. Colby-Sawyer has quite a few student-centered activities, including student clubs & organizations, a cultural events committee, the Emerging Leaders Program, Mountain Day and many more.

The Graphic Design program includes both a BFA and BA option, the former being for those already dedicated to a career in graphic design. The BA program is geared toward design knowledge with the flexibility to explore other professions and the option of a double major as well.

Colby-Sawyer utilizes frequent visits to museums, production sites and design studios to get students up close and personal to the design process. Students enrolled in the program will be collaborating with both the community and campus to create real-life client relationships and projects. Each student leaves the program with a Capstone portfolio to showcase their work. 100% of Colby-Sawyer Arts & Sciences graduates complete an internship, and 89% are employed within six months of graduating.

New England College

Henniker, New Hampshire, a resort and college town, is home to New England College. Around 4,500 students are enrolled at New England College each year. Located in a rural area, NEC’s campus was originally established to serve servicemen and women after World War II. Henniker is only 17 miles west of Concord, the state’s capital. The campus features a covered bridge, extensive athletic fields and 30 buildings – many of which feature mid-century architecture.

NEC is well-known for promoting environmental education. Students are drawn to the college by their love of the outdoors, the White Mountains, and recreational activities like hiking, snowboarding and whitewater rafting.

New England College offers 37 bachelor’s degree programs. Among them is the BFA in Graphic and Communication Design. This program focuses on both analog and digital technology when it comes to design. Students use Cintiq tablets for digital projects but will also be encouraged to design by hand to hone their skills and focus on a personal aesthetic.

NEC utilizes their Design NH agency, an in-house agency run by students for actual clients. An internship experience is also available for credit with companies like Disney, Oracle and Segway. The BFA program requires core art courses, a graphic design concentration and a core curriculum of Liberal Arts & Sciences courses as well.