How to Become a Graphic Designer in Vermont?

Vermont is a relatively small state, with a population of just over 600,000, but it’s a state that has always been synonymous with innovative thinking. Inspirational in terms of fine art and imbued with history, Vermont has a handful of foundational colleges and universities that draw hundreds of thousands of students each year.

What You Need to Become a Graphic Designer in Vermont?

Despite its relatively rural layout, Vermont has a thriving art community throughout the state. From murals to large installations to museums full of history, art plays a large part in the state’s identity.

Graphic design is included in that domain, and the colleges and universities recognize that, offering graphic design programs to get you started out on the right path. While a degree isn’t necessary to obtain a job in graphic design, we can’t stress enough the importance of foundational education and the right environment to foster innovative and creative thinking.

Career Outlook for Graphic Design

Each year about 23,000 new openings are projected in the career of graphic design. The growth of the industry is lower than average – at just 3% – but it’s such a specific area of work that ensuring you have the best education possible in the industry will likely get you many interested employers.

Additionally, graphic design is an excellent choice for those interested in being their own boss. Graphic design freelance work is widespread and relevant, with many small and local businesses looking for graphic designers to get them up and running.

The Best Graphic Design Schools in Vermont

Despite its small population, Vermont has a total of 16 colleges and universities in operation, with five offering master’s programs. Vermont also has a small pocket of art schools that come highly recommended by students and alumni. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a spot to settle in Vermont, whether you’re looking for a more rural area for some relaxation and recreation or more of a small-city vibe.

University of Vermont

The University of Vermont, or UVM, has been around since 1791 – that’s an impressive track record. The University boasts a range of student activities, over 100 bachelor’s programs, 57 master’s programs, 36 accelerated master’s programs and a student population of around 12,000 annually.

The student-teacher ratio is 16:1, not bad for a college of this size. Students won’t feel overlooked, and with 88% of the faculty holding a Ph.D. or higher, you’re bound to learn with experts. As an added bonus, UVM is located in Burlington – a bustling, classic Vermont community.

UVM also ranks #4 for the number of its graduates who join the Peace Corps, proving that students at UVM are socially and culturally minded individuals. If you’re interested in a degree that will set you up with a well-rounded art background, their BA with a Major in Studio Art does just that.

Students in this program will take on a wide array of art courses, including focused areas of graphic design, perspectives on art-making, printmaking, photography, digital art, intro to video art and more. There are also options in the program for independent study. Although not included in the major requirements, students can also choose to participate in internships and teaching assistantships to set them up for potential careers outside of college.

There are quite a few requirements to participate in this degree program, including having a cumulative GPA of 2.00, completing a list of 7 specific courses as well as completing diversity and sustainability courses.

Castleton University

Castleton University, located in Castleton, VT, takes on around 2000 students a year. This college has an 88% acceptance rate but only a 55% graduation rate – so if you decide to attend, be sure you want to stick it out here.

Castleton has a lot to offer, with a 12:1 student-faculty ratio and 75 areas of study. The 165-acre grounds include 21 buildings, with 11 residence halls. Castleton also provides Break Housing for students who intend to stay on campus over holiday breaks.

The undergrad programs at Castleton include a Graphic Design degree. This interdisciplinary program focuses not only on theory but practice. The faculty encourages each student to find their individual styles and learn how to communicate effectively via different mediums.

A big draw to this program is the Castleton Content Lab, which pairs students to local businesses and nonprofits for real-life experience. The Content Lab focuses on stories instead of ads as a way to connect with the community meaningfully.

Facilities available to graphic design undergrads include a graphic design lab with the most up-to-date software. Students will also take field trips to NYC for museum and gallery visits. Requirements for those interested in the program are simple; complete the general education requirements at Castleton and completing foundational Art courses by the second year of attendance.

Castleton also makes applying easy by including an app, an online application process and a printable application as well.

Champlain College

Champlain is the second college on our list located in Burlington, VT. The small, private college overlooks Lake Champlain and has an enrollment of about 2100 full-time undergraduate students. Students looking for a bit of adventure can also attend their Montreal, Canada and Dublin, Ireland campuses.

With an average class size of 16, there’s a 12:1 student-teacher ratio across all areas of study. Champlain has unique student housing – they’ve repurposed older mansions in the area but also employ apartment-style housing as well. First-year students are typically housed in Victorian-era mansions.

The BFA in Graphic Design & Visual Communication utilizes Champlain’s “upside-down” curriculum – first-year students start in design courses immediately, guaranteeing they delve right into learning their craft. Students attending this program also have the option of adding on a Motion Graphics or Publishing Concentration.

As graduation approaches, each student portfolio is critiqued by a group consisting of guest designers from top firms and corporate design centers. They provide direction for students as they leave their academic careers and work toward setting foot in the industry.

Northern Vermont University

Northern Vermont University, or NVU, is a public university located in both Johnson and Lyndon, Vermont. Students have a choice as to which campus they decide to be housed on but can attend classes at both as well as online. NVU was founded in 2018 by the joining of Lyndon State College and Johnson State College. Collectively, NVU has just over 2000 students attending each year.

NVU also houses The Center for Professional Studies; a division focused on teaching their students skills to tackle the job industry once they graduate. Both campuses offer residence halls and apartment accommodations for student housing, as well as a variety of nature-related recreation activities close by.

The Graphic Design program is located mainly on Lyndon’s campus and is available as both a major and a minor. It’s computer-based, ranging into print, web and mobile applications. Students have the option to choose graphic design as a concentration, a BFA, or an associate’s degree.

After an initial year of foundation classes, you can begin the BFA degree in your second year of attending NVU. Classes focus on technique, communication and creating a personal aesthetic. Problem-solving is also a core commitment of the program.

To be formally accepted into the Graphic Design BFA program, students must submit a portfolio of their designs in their third semester of study. Formal Acceptance must also be earned prior to completing 60 credits at NVU. Courses include image manipulation, vector graphics, page layout, sales management, public relations, web design and more.

NVU’s graphic design curriculum differs from many other colleges and universities in that it focuses less on fine art and more on techniques and technology relevant to the career.

Vermont College of Fine Arts

Located in Montpelier, the Vermont College of Fine Arts is a private art school that offers master’s degrees. It’s an excellent fit for students who already hold a lesser degree and are looking to receive their master’s while likely still working. VCFA truly believes that art matters and is an integral part of the human experience. Montpelier, the capital of the state, is known for its historical architectural buildings and fine art collections.

VCFA has one of the smallest student bodies on this list, at just over 300 students enrolled a year. There’s a 4:1 student-faculty ratio, so students are guaranteed personal direction and attention in their studies. Over one million dollars in scholarships is awarded annually to students, and 96% of those enrolled in art programs graduate with a degree.

The MFA in Graphic Design is geared toward students who know what they want out of their careers. A low-residency program, the MFA doesn’t tie students to campus. Residency dates are anywhere from 5 to 7 days in both the spring and fall semesters. Self-motivated students do well in this environment and should already have a background in design, media arts, communications and/or other relevant experience.

Students also have the option to tailor studio space to their needs while engaging with visiting designers. The program has both a 2 and 3-year option to accommodate those currently employed or trying to balance their academic career more appropriately in their lives. While an undergrad degree in design isn’t required, many students have held positions as designers or design faculty at some point. The admissions group considers experience as well as academic achievement.