How to Become a Graphic Designer in Texas?

Texas is the second-most populated state in the U.S., with about 29.4 million residents. It’s also the second-largest in terms of land size and draws more and more people to settle down each year in populous cities like Austin, Dallas and Houston.

What You Need to Become a Graphic Designer in Texas?

While having a degree in graphic design isn’t strictly necessary, many companies do require it in their job listings. Graphic design programs are available as certificates, associates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. A degree in this area gives students the foundational knowledge in design, history and theory that sets them up for success in the job force. Many universities also encourage individual aesthetics and the technical aspects of graphic design.

Other individuals may decide to go the route of a freelancer or self-trained graphic designer. While it’s possible to build up a solid clientele without a degree, many clients and companies are reassured by one, showing that a person has trained in specialized and specific areas.

Career Outlook for Graphic Design

Graphic design as an industry is projected to grow by 3% in the next decade. While this is a slower growth rate than average, keep in mind that graphic design bleeds into many aspects of society today. Marketing, in particular, is an excellent division in which to utilize graphic design skills.

Those with degrees in graphic design often focus on web design, product packaging, brand design and more. In large cities – of which Texas has many – companies utilize graphic designers to draw customers to their services and create eye-catching advertisements.

The Best Graphic Design Schools in Texas

Whether you’re looking for a small, out-of-the-way college with a low student-to-teacher ratio or a rambling city university with entertainment around every corner, Texas is big enough to fulfill your dream.

The University of Texas at Austin

Ranked on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Top Public Schools in 2021, the University of Texas at Austin has roughly 50,000 students enrolled at any given time. It’s a large school in one of Texas’ most diverse and popular cities.

Despite the large number of students enrolled at UT Austin, the university has a 32% acceptance rate. They market themselves as “a university of the first class,” so they’re truly looking for the best when it comes to applications.

With over 1,000 student organizations, UT Austin has a flourishing student life on campus. Those living on campus have the choice of 14 different residence halls with learning support centers included. Apartment-style living quarters are also available for graduate students and undergrad students with at least 30 credit hours.

UT Austin has 156 undergraduate programs and 237 graduate programs. The College of Fine Arts offers a BFA and B.A. in Design. This program focuses on solving problems and creating new processes via design. Both the BFA and B.A. are mapped out over a four-year period and include courses such as Freshman Studio, Interaction Design, Industrial Design, Identity Systems and a variety of liberal arts electives.

All students in the design program are required to complete at least one professional internship in their junior year and undertake a capstone design project in their senior year. The senior year may also include a public exhibition of student work.  

University of Houston

Another option for students who thrive in city life is the University of Houston. It is the third-largest university in Texas and has just over 47,000 students. The slightly higher acceptance rate of 63% allows for some breathing room if prospective students are concerned with their GPA.

There is a 23:1 student to teacher ratio at U.H., so students who feel they’ll benefit from focused attention may not do as well in these large class settings. U.H. refers to its campus as “The Powerhouse.” With countless lectures, student organizations, restaurants, activity centers and athletic events happening at all times, students attending U.H. are guaranteed to find their niche.

Aside from specific housing for freshmen students, U.H. also offers loft and apartment living for those who continue on after their first academic year. Housing rates vary per living situation and can fit the financial needs of each individual.

The undergraduate Graphic Design program is designed for success. Faculty focus on group collaboration as well as individual reflection. U.H. also works to connect to the community by involving students in community lectures, project collaboration and social gatherings. Facilities available to design students include gallery spaces and a wide variety of labs in the Arts & Technology building. 

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University is located in College Station, TX, an aptly named city with 113,000 residents. Described as a dense suburban area, College Station is home to many young professionals. It is also located centrally to Houston, Dallas and Austin. Over 69,000 students attend the A&M campus.

In 2021 the Fiske Guide to Colleges ranked Texas A&M University as #1 for national public universities with a superior education at an affordable cost. With over 133 undergraduate programs and 267 graduate programs, A&M has a strong history of academic achievement.

A&M offers students housing on campus but also connects students to housing options in the local communities. The main College Station campus sits on 5,200 acres. Fraternities, sororities, the Corps of Cadets and more are available to students interested in organizations, as well as a Recreational Sports center.

The undergrad program related to graphic design that A&M offers is titled the Bachelor of Science in Visualization. Visualization, according to the university, refers to blending art and science to focus on visual communication. The program is studio-based, and courses include Rhetoric, Principles of Design, 2D Visualization Techniques, 3D Visualization, Research Techniques, Art History, Field Studies and more.

Freshman students enrolled in this program must obtain and maintain a 3.6 GPA in category A courses and a 3.0 GPA in category B courses to move into their sophomore year.

Baylor University

Waco, Texas, is home to Baylor University’s 1,000-acre campus. While Baylor was founded on Christian values, students don’t need to be Christian to attend. More than 20,000 students have enrolled annually in any of the 126 undergrad programs, 80 master’s programs and 47 doctoral programs.

The student ratio faculty is 16:1, with an average undergraduate class size of 28 students. Baylor notes that 39% of its students live on campus across 12 residence halls. The university also participates in 19 varsity sports, with Men’s Basketball achieving the NCAA national championship in 2021 and Women’s achieving the same championship in 2005, 2012 and 2019.

An emphasis in graphic design is available for students pursuing the studio art major. Both a B.A. and BFA are available. While a B.A. is less focused, it contains the essential studio art courses and allows students to explore different mediums. The BFA is directed toward students who are more focused on becoming professional designers in the industry after graduation.  

The studio art program focuses on conceptual development as well as technical skill. Aside from graphic design courses, students pursuing this emphasis are required to take a marketing course as well. Internships are available for those seeking real-life practice before graduation.

Baylor University provides graphic design students with a digital editing lab, iMacs, large-scale printers, print mounting and matting equipment, laser printers and more. By offering both a B.A. and BFA with a concentration in graphic design, the university allows students to choose their level of intensity and specific focus.

St. Edward’s University

St. Edward’s is a private Catholic university in Austin, Texas, that accepts students of all spiritual and social backgrounds. Roughly 3,500 students attend St. Edward’s annually. The close-knit student body also has a 15:1 student to teacher ratio across the 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Students at St. Edward’s are often attracted to the school’s mission to serve everyone regardless of background. Students contribute over 70,000 hours of community service each year. For those looking for a close community in a city setting, this university is a good option. The campus is on the smaller side but is only a few miles away from downtown Austin.

The B.A. in Graphic Design at St. Edward’s focuses on visual identity. The faculty aims to teach students to think critically about how they interact with information. Courses span from traditional to modern technology, and students have the option to work with both mentors and internship programs.

Alumni from this degree program have gone on to work for USAA, FODA Studio, Mood Media, The Barbarian Group and more. Some choose to stay local, as Austin has a prominent branding and marketing industry available to graduates. In contrast, others have traveled as far as New York City. Additionally, graphic design students can also participate in student organizations like Command G or contribute to the campus’ publications.

This major requires 49 hours of graphic design major courses and 57 hours of general education courses. St. Edward’s also has the additional requirement of students fulfilling at least four Mission Marker courses to engage with the university’s mission. The senior year includes a Culminating Experience Project where students demonstrate the depth of learning they’ve achieved throughout their academic careers.