Shillington is the Original Graphic Design Bootcamp Graphic Design Bootcamp

9 Colleges in Washington State to Get Your Graphic Design Degree

So you want to learn graphic design in Washington? We can see why! The Pacific Northwest state is an incredible mix of city, country and coast—and is routinely voted one of the best states to live in. The state is home to three national parks; Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park and the North Cascades National Park—as well as many other areas of natural beauty. The state’s biggest city, Seattle, is also home to the famous Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and the birthplace of a certain global coffee chain. 

We’re going to take you through the 9 best places to study graphic design in Oregon to help you make the best decision on how to take the next step in your career.

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 Washington)

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 Washington!

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2. University of Washington

Location: Seattle

Course Duration: 4 years

One of the best graphic design schools in Washington, the University of Washington (UW) was founded in Seattle just over 160 years ago in 1861 (ten years after the city itself was founded!). UW can be found in the aptly named University District, where its large campus is home to nearly 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university is home to various schools and colleges, themselves housing 140 departments. Though it’s the School or Art + Art History + Design that  we’re most interested in, it’s there we can find UW’s Visual Communication Design bachelor’s of design (BDes) degree.

The Visual Communication (another name for graphic design) program at University of Washington aims to educate and train designers in the “communication needs of industry and society”. Students at UW are urged to identify the objectives of their designs rather than the process of production, to help develop well-rounded graphic designers.

3. Shoreline Community College

Location: Shoreline

Course Duration: 2 years

Opened in 1964 in the Shoreview Park area of Shoreline, Shoreline Community College serves around 12,000 full-time and part-time students. As a public community college, Shoreline was opened to provide Washington-based high school graduates further education and has since become one of the best graphic design colleges in Washington with its Graphic Design associates’ degree of applied arts and science (AAAS).  

Shoreline’s Graphic Design program is broken down into three stages: foundational training, concentrated study and then specialized study. Throughout these three stages, Shoreline students learn a variety of different graphic design skills, including typography and graphic elements, and other complementary skills, like illustration. All Shoreline graduates leave the course with a graphic design portfolio.  

4. Central Washington University

Location: Ellensburg

Course Duration: 4 years

Central Washington University (CWU) is a public university founded in 1891 in Ellensburg, a city just to the east of the Cascades that run the full length of the state. The college is broken up into four different colleges, catering to its 23,000-strong student body. Among these is the Department of Art & Design, which provides a bachelors’ of fine arts (BFA) in Graphic Design.

CWU’s graphic design program is open to students on the university’s BA in Art during their junior year with 90 credits or more—which acts as a foundation for the graphic design course. CWU graphic students are taught how to think critically whilst exploring both print and digital design. Students on the program also have to complete a summer internship in the design industry in order to graduate. All of this combined makes CWU one of the best design schools in Washington.

5. Spokane Falls Community College

Location: Spokane

Course Duration: 2 years

Named after a waterfall on the Spokane River close to the campus, Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC) is a public community college established in 1967. Located on a former army base, SFCC is now home to around 9,000 students a year on a variety of different degree and certificate programs. One of these is a two year long Graphic Design program—graduating students receive an associates’ degree.

What makes SFCC one of the best design colleges in Washington state is that the course prepares students for entry-level jobs in the design industry—either in a studio or agency or working in-house at a company. Students cover the design fundamentals, the history of design, software and technology before moving on to more in-depth, specific areas of study in their second year. 

6. Western Washington University

Location: Bellingham

Course Duration: 4  years

Based in the city of Bellingham, Western Washington University (WWU) is a public university founded in 1893—starting out initially as a womens’ teaching school. The college has since expanded and is now made up of 8 different colleges serving just over 16,000 students. One of these colleges is the College of Fine and Performing Arts, which includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Design. This degree option makes WWU one of the best design schools in Washington state.

WWU’s Design degree—which could also be called graphic design—revolves around the ideas of design as the visual communication of ideas. Students are encouraged to become creative problem solvers and establish connections between design and culture. WWU students also have access to a design production lab, which has a laser cutter, hydraulic paper cutters, a letterpress and various binding machines.

7. Seattle University

Location: Seattle

Course Duration: 4  years

The largest independent university in the Northwest, Seattle University (SeattleU) was founded in the city just over 130 years ago in 1891. Initially founded as Seattle College, it became the university it is today in 1948—now offering 65 undergraduate programs, 31 graduate programs and 27 certificate programs. As part of its Department of Art and Art History, SeattleU offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Digital Design.

Though it’s not a full graphic design program, SeattleU’s Digital Design degree makes the university one of the best schools in Washington for graphic design. Why? Because SeattleU students still learn many important elements of what it takes to become a graphic designer. SeattleU students learn about typography, graphic design, digital imaging, digital media for print, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design and web design. SeattleU students graduate with a portfolio of the work they have created throughout their degree.

8. Eastern Washington University

Location: Cheney

Course Duration: 4  years

Eastern Washington University (EWU) was founded in 1882 in Cheney, a city in Spokane County. 150 years later, the college now offers over 100 fields of study through its four colleges: the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences; the College of Health Science & Public Health; the College of Professional Programs; and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. The latter is the one we’re interested in as it offers a degree in Visual Communication Design (another name for graphic design).

As one of the best Washington design colleges, EWU presents its students with a BDes (Bachelor of Design) degree that encompasses many different types of design. EWU students get to work in a design studio for many of their courses, whilst they practice drawing, sketching and illustrating and digital tools including the Adobe Creative Cloud and GitHub. Students can also expect critiques and feedback from tutors and their fellow students. 

9.  Seattle Pacific University

Location: Seattle

Course Duration: 4  years

Founded in 1891, Seattle Pacific University (SPU) is a private university located in Washington’s largest city, Seattle. The college has around 3,600 students, a majority of whom are undergraduate students across its five different colleges. SPU’s degree offerings include a Bachelor of Arts (BA) program in Visual Communication which is hosted by the university’s Art Center. 

SPU’s Visual Communication program solidifies it as one of the best colleges for graphic design in Washington. SPU Visual Communication students learn a range of graphic design skills and subjects, including design history, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, brand design, typography and more. The degree also teaches students the proper frameworks and methodologies to become a graphic designer. 

Which Washington based graphic design college should I choose?

There you are! Nine options to study graphic design in Washington. 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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