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The 9 Best Graphic Design Schools if You Live in Oregon

Looking to become a graphic designer in Oregon? The Pacific Northwest state is a truly beautiful place to choose to study. Oregon boasts some of the most amazing scenery in the whole of the United States, and some of its most prominent mountain peaks, including the incredible Mount Hood. Though, it’s not just about nature, Oregon is also home to some great urban centers, most famously Portland—a hub of culture, food and trailblazers. On top of all this, there’s also some top places to study graphic design.

We’re going to take you through the 9 best places to study graphic design in Oregon to help you make the best decision for your future.

Though, did you also know that you don’t actually need a degree to be a graphic designer? There are some excellent graphic design short courses and bootcamps out there that mean you can become a graphic designer without investing the huge amount of time and money it takes to gain a degree. The best of these courses is Shillington’s innovative graphic design course that gets you fully prepared to work as a graphic designer in a seriously short amount of time.

1. Shillington Education

Location: Online (including an US West Coast option—perfect for students in Oregon)

Course Duration: 9 months

Shillington’s graphic design bootcamp was founded in Sydney, Australia in 1997 and has been providing high quality graphic design education ever since. Shillington’s online graphic design course is unlike any other. Over three nights a week for nine months, Shillington’s dedicated, experienced teachers (who are also working graphic designers!) guide you through Shillington’s unique course in real time. With Shillington’s online graphic design course, you’ll learn all the essential skills and programs—Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop and Figma—used by graphic designers, as well as an in depth understanding of how to work as a designer, in l online studios that perfectly replicate a working studio environment. 

Shillington online students graduate as talented, well-rounded graphic designers ready to work in a design studio or take on the world of freelance graphic design. What’s best is that the Shillington online graphic design course is offered live in four different time zones—UK (GMT/BST), US East Coast (EST), US West Coast (PST) and Australian East Coast (AEST)—with the US West Coast ideal for budding designers in Oregon!

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2. Oregon State University

Location: Corvallis, West Oregon

Course Duration: 3-4 years

Founded in 1868, Oregon State University, also known as OSU, is a public land-grant, research university based in Corvallis, a small city in West Oregon. Home to around 35,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, OSU offers over 200 undergraduate programs. Amongst these, is an Graphic Design Undergraduate Major. This is offered by OSU’s School of Visual, Performing and Digital Arts, part of the College of Liberal Arts.

 Before embarking on OSU’s Graphic Design Undergraduate Major, students must complete a one year pre-professional Graphic Design program so they have the correct skills to undertake this professional program. Though, once enrolled on the program, students can expect to learn the foundations of graphic design, including design theory and history, as well as various relevant graphic design modules. These include but are not limited to branding and visual identities, information design and package design—which all help to make OSU one of the best design schools in Oregon. 

3. Portland State University

Location: Portland, West Oregon

Course Duration: 4 years

Portland State University (PSU) was founded in 1946 as a post-secondary educational institution for World War 2 veterans. Nowadays, it’s a public research university with around 21,000 undergraduate and 5,000 postgraduate students. Made up of nine different colleges, PSU is able to offer degrees in 23 different fields. Though, the one we’re interested in is PSU’s Graphic Design bachelor’s degree (BFA), which is ranked among the top public graphic design programs in the USA.

One of the best graphic design courses in Oregon, PSU’s bachelor’s focuses on exploratory, experimental and collaborative approaches to graphic design to help prepare their graphic design students for the professional world. The degree combines designing for print and designing for digital, including user experience design (UX). PSU also provides students opportunities for professional internships and summer study abroad experiences.

4. George Fox University

Location: Newberg, North-West Oregon

Course Duration: 4 years

The largest public university in Oregon, George Fox University (GFU) was founded in Newberg in 1891. As well as its main campus in Newberg, GFU also has centers in Portland and Redmond in Central Oregon. A smaller university of around 4,000 students, GFU has 60 majors, minors and pre-professional programs across six different schools. As part of their arts offering, GFU have a bachelor of arts degree (BA) in Graphic Design.

GFU’s Graphic Design degree helps make the university one of the best colleges for graphic design in Oregon. Students learn user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, branding, print and packaging design and lots more across the 4 year degree program. GFU students are also taught in small classes which encourage peer engagement and critique. Every student also has to undertake a professional internship in order to graduate. 

5. Pacific Northwest College of Art (Willamette University)

Location: Portland, West Oregon

Course Duration: 4 years

The Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) is the art school of Portland’s Willamette University. PNCA was founded in 1909 and is now housed in Portland’s 511 Federal Building, an art deco former post office that is on the USA’s National Register of Historic Places. A small college of between 600 and 700 students, PNCA has 12 undergraduate bachelor of fine art (BFA)  programs across the creative spectrum. Most importantly it offers a graphic design BFA, making it one of the best schools for graphic design in Oregon.

In their own words, PNCA’s graphic design degree program is expanding the boundaries of traditional graphic design. Their curriculum begins with the fundamentals of graphic design before pushing graphic design students to find their own path in design—encouraging experimentation and collaboration with some of the other programs that PNCA offers. As an art college, PNCA also has specialist student facilities, such as printing presses, a risograph printer and book-making equipment.

6. Western Oregon University

Location: Monmouth, West Oregon

Course Duration: 4 years

Public university Western Oregon University, that’s known colloquially as WOU, was founded as Monmouth University back in 1856. After a name change in 1997, Western Oregon University now offers bachelor’s degree programs through its two colleges: the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The latter offers  bachelor of arts (BA) in Art & Design, in which students can opt for a Visual Design Concentration—which focuses particularly on graphic design and digital media.

One of the best graphic design colleges in Oregon, WOU’s BA blends hands-on studio-based design work and practical knowledge, built on a base of design fundamentals and relevant art history. As we said, the Visual Design Concentration focuses on graphic design and digital media, so students can expect to learn about print and editorial design, digital design and more.

7. Mt. Hood Community College

Location: Gresham, West Oregon

Course Duration: up to 5 years

Named after Mount Hood, the mountain peak that dominates the skyline outside of Portland, Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC)  is a public community college in Gresham, just outside of Oregon’s largest city. Founded in 1966, the college is home to around 30,000 new students every year on its large campus in Gresham. Among its varied degree programs and majors, MHCC offers a degree in Integrated Media: Graphic Design which earns the college its status as one of the best graphic design colleges in Oregon state.

MHCC’s graphic design degree can be taken full-time or part-time, though must be completed in a maximum of five years. Students at MHCC are taken through a detailed curriculum—starting with the principles of graphic design and culminating in a graphic design portfolio—giving them a rounded graphic design education. Students also learn relevant complementary skills, such as sound and video editing and photography.

8. Chemekta Community College 

Location: Salem, West Oregon

Course Duration: 2 years

Located in Oregon’s State Capital Salem, Chemekta Community College is a public community college founded in 1969. The name Chemekta translates as “gathering place” in Kalapuya, the local Native American language. Chemekta offers its 30,000 students 90 different degree courses and certificates, including an associates’ degree in Graphic Design as part of their Visual Communications program. 

As one of the best graphic design schools in Oregon, Chemekta’s associate of applied science (AAS) degree gives students the opportunity to turn their creativity into a career. On the course, students are taught design, color theory, illustration, typography, layout and software and have the opportunity to work on a live brief with external clients. All students leave the course with a graphic design portfolio ready to take on the industry.

9. Portland Community College

Location: Portland, West Oregon

Course Duration: 2 years

One of the best graphic design colleges in Oregon, Portland Community College (PCC)  is a public community college in Oregon’s biggest city that is home to over 50,000 full-time and part-time students. Started in 1961, PCC has four campuses across the city but it is at its biggest Sylvania Campus, in South-West Portland, that is the most important to us—it’s where PCC has its graphic design program. 

Like Chemetka, PCC offers an  associates’ degree in Graphic Design. Across the 2 years of study, students will learn essential skills and tools, like the Adobe Creative Cloud—InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. The course also teaches more specific skills such as print production, video and web design to help turn their students into well-rounded graphic designers. All PCC graphic design graduates leave with a graphic design portfolio ready to apply for jobs! 

Which graphic design school should I choose?

There you are! Nine options to study graphic design in Oregon. Though, if you want to learn all the essential skills, theory and knowledge to actually change careers and become a graphic designer, and if you want to learn in real-time from practicing designers in a studio environment, there’s only one place to do that: Shillington.

Learn more about the Shillington Graphic Design Course now or chat to one of our dedicated Course Advisors to hear more about studying with us. 

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Oliver Stevenson
February 8, 2023

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