Study Design in the USA: Top Schools, Courses, and Tuition fee

by Shishant Kumar

There are more than 1.8 million international studentsstudying in the U.S.A. Out of all the courses that they prefer to study, a latest trend that has been observed is that many international students flock in to the country to pursue design courses. As of 2016, 1,855 design degrees have been awarded in the United States.

These design courses in the United States offer a wide range of disciplines such as drafting technology, architecture, visual communication and fashion. These courses are available in all levels of study, from certificate to doctoral level. Also, they are provided by both public and private universities.

Study in the U.S.A: Design School Selection Criteria

Students should make a note of the following information before selecting their design school in the U.S.A.

  • The design programs taught in the U.S.A includes fashion design, architecture, engineering, interior design, graphic design and art. Students should choose the course that caters to their career interests.
  • The designing courses in the U.S.A should be accredited by a professional organization.
  • Students should find about the pass rates before opting for any design course.
  • It is recommended that students check up on the art studios and the computer labs of the university of their choice and ensure that it is of high quality before they opt for different universities and courses to study in the U.S.A.

Types of Degrees: Designing Courses in the U.S.A

Depending upon their qualification, students can choose to opt the kind of degree that they wish to pursue.

Study Designing in the U.S.A: Associate Degree Programs

  • Duration: 2 Years
  • The course provides an introduction to the field of design
  • The degree is generally opted by students prior to graduation
  • Students will have to work as designer’s assistants and can also apply the credits they earn in their Bachelor’s degree.

Study Designing in the U.S.A: Bachelor’s Degree Programs

  • Duration: 2-3 years
  • The degree serves as a basic requirement to get a job as a graphic designer, interior designer, industrial designer or a fashion designer in the U.S.A.
  • The course equips students with a comprehensive overview of the design field.

Study Designing in the U.S.A: Master’s Degree Programs

  • Duration: 2 Years
  • The course gives students a detailed understanding of the field of design. It helps students in understanding the niche of their choice.
  • At the end of the degree students are requested to give a thesis or a final design project.
  • A few design schools in the U.S.A also offer Master of Design (MDes) programs.

Study Designing in the U.S.A: Doctoral Degree Programs

  • Duration: 4-5 years
  • This degree is for students who wish to conduct advanced research in the aspect of design that they choose.
  • Students are required to conduct supervised research and then publish them.
  • After graduating students can enter the field of academic research, nonprofit work, consulting or top positions at design companies.

Study Designing in the U.S.A: Certificate Programs

  • Duration: Less than a year
  • Both graduate level and undergraduate level certificates are given to students.
  • Students are taught basics of a specific area of design.
  • These courses are generally taken up by professionals who are looking to add value to their skill sets.

Top Design Schools in the U.S.A

Once a student has decided to pursue a specific degree and a design course in the U.S.A., what he needs to know now are the top universities in the U.S.A offering design courses. One has to note that the application process for studying in the U.S.A may differ from university and course to course. A student needs to research about the same properly before applying.

UniversityQS Ranking (2018)
Parsons School of Design at the New School#2
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)#3
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)#4
Pratt Institute#7
School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)#8
Carnegie Mellon University#13
Art Center College of Design#14
California Institute of Arts#15
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)#20

Design Schools in the U.S.A: Course Details

Parsons School of Design at the New School

  • Course name: BFA in Communication Design
  • Application deadlines for fall term early applicants is November,1 while application deadline for fall term Regular Priority Applications is January, 15.
  • Students are required to send applications through the common application portal.
  • Application fee: USD 50
  • Students also need to submit their portfolio at the university through slide room.
  • Test and scores accepted are, TOEFL (92, IB), IELTS (Band of 7.0) and PTE (63)

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

  • Course name: BFA in Industrial Design
  • Students need to send their applications via the common application portal and pay USD 60 as the application fee
  • Before applying for the course, a student needs to ensure that his portfolio is strong enough
  • Students needs to score a minimum of 63 marks in TOEFL and a band of 6.0 in IELTS
  • A letter of recommendation is mandatory for the course.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • Course name: Integrated Design and Management (IDM)
  • Application deadline for the fall semester is February 1, 2019
  • Students needs to apply for the course on the university website directly
  • Documents required for the application are resume, statement of purpose and portfolio of recent work.
  • Application fee is USD 75
  • GRE score required for the same is 3537
  • Student needs to submit three letters of recommendation

Pratt Institute

  • Course name: M.S. in Package Design
  • Application deadline for fall semester is January 5, 2019.
  • Students need to apply for the course directly on the university website
  • Application fee is USD 60
  • IELTS score required for the course is 6.0-6.5 whereas PTE score required is 53
  • Portfolio and letter of recommendation is a must to apply for the course.

School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

  • Course name: Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
  • Application deadline for fall semester is January 15, 2019
  • Student needs to check the portfolio format for the university website before applying for the course.
  • Application fee is USD 65
  • IELTS score required is band of 6.5
  • Letter of recommendation is a must for applying to the course

Carnegie Mellon University

  • Course name: Master of Arts (MA) in Design
  • Student needs to apply for the course on the university website directly
  • Application fee for the course is USD 75
  • A student needs to have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university before applying for the course.
  • A statement of intent and a letter of recommendation is mandatory to apply for the course.
  • Minimum IELTS score required 7.5, whereas for TOEFL it is 102 (iBT)

Art Center College of Design

  • Course name: MSc in Environmental Design
  • Student needs to submit their application directly on the university website
  • Application fee for the same is USD 70
  • Student needs to submit their portfolio through SlideRoom
  • Letter of recommendation is mandatory for the course
  • Test score accepted for TOEFL is 100 (iBT) whereas for IELTS a student needs to have a band of 7.0

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

  • Course name: MFA in Media Arts
  • Applications for the course are only accepted for the fall quarter
  • To apply for the course, students must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university with a GPA of 3.0
  • Students must submit their portfolio with 20 still images
  • Application deadline for fall semester is January 9, 2019

Cost of Studying in USA for International Students

  • The cost of studying for international students in USA ranges between $11,810- $17,620 per year.
  • The lower range is for students on a low budget whereas the higher range suits students with a moderate budget.
  • More than 50% of this living expenditure is spent on housing and accommodation.
  • The cost given above includes housing, utilities, food, transportation and other costs incurred by students not inclusive of the college tuition fee.

Estimated Cost for Design Courses in USA

College NameTuition Fee (per year)Total Cost Estimate (per year)
Stanford University$48,987$69,109
School of Art Institute of Chicago$46,560$60,800
Pratt Institute$47,986 (UG)
$51,390 (PG)
$66,808
Rhode Island School of Design$48,210$62,000
Parsons The New School for Design$45,240-46,820$60,300

International students can avail merit-based scholarships offered by different colleges. They can also apply for educational loans or and should mention the need for financial aids while applying to different colleges.

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