How to Become a Graphic Designer in South Carolina?

South Carolina is a historic city full of artistic innovation. From the pastel-colored houses lining city streets to murals and statues, this southeastern state has a deep history that is still brought forth today in its creativity and cultural communities.

South Carolina is home to 61 colleges, including eight historically Black colleges and universities. Students have multiple options to choose from when narrowing down where they want to pursue their education in graphic design.

What You Need to Become a Graphic Designer in South Carolina?

Graphic design is a surprisingly versatile career choice. Many designers are self-taught and decide to pursue freelance work, which requires the additional knowledge of setting up, running and maintaining a business.

However, starting out with a degree program can expose you to a wide variety of techniques and innovations while introducing you to potential employees and experts who are already established in the area. While having a formal education and degree are not necessary to find success in the market, they do make the transition more manageable in the long run.

Career Outlook for Graphic Design

With a thriving tourist population, South Carolina needs quite a bit in the way of design to draw the eye and attention. The state is home to several top design agencies involved in web and product design, digital marketing, branding services and more.

Nationwide, the graphic design industry is projected to grow 3% over the next decade. That’s slower than the national average for job growth, but it’s undeniable that graphic design is here to stay as the technology and advertising industries grow exponentially.

The Best Graphic Design Schools in South Carolina

It’s not surprising that many of the colleges and universities in South Carolina offer a variety of graphic design programs, ranging from certificates to master’s degrees. The coastal state, with a sub-tropical climate and vibrant cities like Charleston, offer an interactive environment for students to learn and explore throughout their academic careers. 

Coastal Carolina University

Coastal Carolina University will likely draw the attention of those students who want to be close to the ocean. Nearby is Myrtle Beach, and the population in Conway – the city CCU is located in – has proliferated over the last decade.

About 10,000 students enroll at CCU each year, with an almost even split of South Carolina residents and non-residents. There’s a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio, with over 100 undergraduate programs and over 30 graduate programs. The campus totals 115 buildings spread across 621 acres.

Students who choose to live on campus have thirteen different communities to pick from. About half of the student body lives on campus, and CCU outlines options visually in their Housing Comparison Chart.

The B.A. in Graphic Design focuses on visual communication through type and image as well as innovative technology. CCU has a few options for students looking for hands-on experience in the form of a publishing lab, Archarios Magazine, and Tempo Magazine. The campus also provides facilities such as a design lab, studio space, an art gallery and a fabrication lab as well.

The B.A. program is designed as a four-year course and requires students to complete foundational courses as well as presenting a juried exhibition and portfolio of work prior to graduation.

Bob Jones University

Bob Jones University is a private university known for its conservative cultural and religious outlooks. Located in Greenville, SC, students will have easy access to art museums, suspension bridges and a variety of outdoor activities.

BJU gathers together about 3,000 students each year across over 100 different programs. 71% of students live on campus in 8 residence halls divided into male and female housing. BJU has a strong foundation in the Christian faith that is intricately linked to the academic experience and student community.

The BFA in Graphic Design at Bob Jones University has foundational courses developed by Emery Bopp, one of the first professors running the Division of Art and Design. Bopp attended Yale and was one of the first graduating graphic design students in their graphic design program.

Even BJU’s graphic design program takes a biblical worldview approach to the industry but makes sure to keep courses realistic with time and energy restraints as well as real-life challenges. The courses offered include essentials such as human anatomy and typography but range into modern software as well.

The religious influence at Bob Jones University may not be for everyone, but the graphic design program supports students with their Career Central job board, internship opportunities and design competitions.

Lander University

Lander University is South Carolina’s second-smallest public university. Located in the northwestern corner of the state, Lander University calls Greenwood, SC home. The university was initially founded in 1872 as a college for women but became co-educational in 1943. Today around 3,000 students attend Lander annually.

While Greenwood may not be the most exciting city on our list, Lander University takes pride in its campus community. The institution provides recreational trips, comedy shows, a fitness center and more for its students. The housing includes ten different options ranging from residential halls to apartment-style independent living.

The College of Arts & Humanities at L.U. offers a Bachelor of Design (BDes) in Graphic Design, to be completed over the course of four years. The program is pretty standard in terms of courses offered but focuses on providing both traditional and innovative media experiences.

Students enrolled in the program must achieve a “C” or better to proceed to the next semester, complete core requirements and complete a BDes Candidacy Review at the end of their sophomore year as well as a BDes Review at the end of their final semester.

University of South Carolina

With its main campus located in Columbia, the University of South Carolina has seven satellite campuses throughout the state. Around 35,000 students attend USC a year so for those looking for peer interaction, this institution may be a great fit.

In part thanks to its size the university is able to offer students an exciting academic and social life. Despite being a research university, USC is also well-known for its women’s basketball team. Clubs, volunteer opportunities and out-of-town recreation trips are just a few of the experiences students can choose from when attending USC. A housing guide is also provided to help navigate the best housing situation for your needs as USC has quite a few to choose from.

The BFA program with a concentration in Graphic Design + Illustration allows students to utilize both analog and digital techniques to create. Research is a large part of even the School of Visual Art and Design at USC. Faculty leading the classes have an impressive track record when it comes to working in graphic design positions for companies like the Florida Marlins, Aeropostale, Stitch, Nike and more.

Applying to the program requires a portfolio submission that takes place every Spring after taking ARTS102. A statement of intent is also mandatory.

Charleston Southern University

A private Baptist university, Charleston Southern University is home to about 3000 students a semester on a 300-acre campus. The university boasts that 100% of incoming students receive a scholarship and the student-teacher ratio is 13:1.

While the mission of CSU is to allow students to gain an academic education under the guidance of Christian faculty, the student body is made up of many faith backgrounds. The focus seems to be more on career goals. CSU has won awards for the Best Online Bachelor’s Program, Military Friendly School and Best South Regional University in recent years.

The B.A. in Graphic Design develops students’ technical and creative skills in small class settings. CSU takes experiential learning seriously and provides students with internships and portfolio classes to prepare them for the industry. During their senior year, students will create newsletters that showcase their individual design talents.

For the undergraduate programs, an application is simple at Charleston Southern University. Students will need to complete an application form, turn in official transcripts and (optionally) provide test scores.

Anderson University

The city of Anderson is the perfect size for students who want to stay active in the community but not be overwhelmed by large populations and bustling streets. Anderson University is a Christian liberal arts university that offers Bachelor’s, Masters and doctoral degrees both on-campus and online. In 2022 the U.S. News & World Report designated Anderson as one of the Best Value schools among southern regional universities.

About 2500 students attend Anderson each year. They have a 59.2% acceptance rate and require interested students to have a minimum GPA of 3.4. Despite the small student body, there are 39 on-campus residence halls available to choose from and 51 student clubs and organizations to be involved in.

The BFA in Graphic Design at Anderson University prepares students to problem solve using visual solutions effectively. They work on building a personal identity, finding common ground and exploring how graphic design can tackle relevant issues. The program results in a professional-level portfolio as well as experience with branding, packaging, user-experience and digital interface design programs.

Students interested in the BFA in Graphic Design program will need to complete a core curriculum and choose from courses such as contemporary issues, graphic design internship, brand identity, methods of ideation and more.