If you’re looking for somewhere to learn graphic design in BC, Vancouver is a great place to do it. There are many colleges and universities in Vancouver that teach graphic design with programs that are varied enough you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for in a design education. The design schools in Vancouver that teach graphic design in Vancouver are Capilano, Emily Carr, Kwantlen, Langara, Vancouver Community College, BCIT, Vancouver Film School, and Visual College of Art & Design.

For this list, I’m including all the post-secondary schools in the Greater Vancouver area that teach graphic design. Now, here’s a bit more about the kind of education you’ll get at each school.

Universities

Capilano University

Capilano University Building

Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication

Location: North Vancouver

Program Length: 4 Years

The Visual Communication program at Capilano is part of the IDEA School of Design. This is a career-oriented program that gives students a variety of design paths to take. Students will learn a broad range of design specialties. This includes branding, illustration, and interactive design. This program honestly sounds amazing. The quality of student work they show on their site is fantastic.

The courses include design fundamentals, illustration, typography, design thinking, branding, business practices for design professionals, and more. In addition, the IDEA School of Design has their own website so you can learn more about the program and students.

Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Emily Carr University

Bachelor of Design – Communication Design Major

Location: Vancouver

Program Length: 4 Years

Of all the design schools in Vancouver, Emily Carr certainly has one of the most impressive looking campuses. This makes sense since it’s a school entirely focused on art and design.

The Communication Design program at Emily Carr is well known for producing talented graduates. The program contains a mix of core studio and critical studies as well as electives to let students focus their studies.

The first year of the program is a foundation year for all bachelor’s degrees offered at Emily Carr. It’s meant to expose students to new technical perspectives, vital relationships, and critical insights before focusing their studies further.

Emily Carr also offers an Interaction design degree that might be an even better option for design students who want a more digital, interaction-based career path.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Kwantlen University

Graphic Design for Marketing

Location: Richmond

Program Length: 4 Years

The Graphic Design for Marketing program at Kwantlen combines a great balance of design skills and business skills for students. The goal of this program is to give students the conceptual and technical skills to tackle real-world design challenges and the business skills to work with clients and team members

The courses include typography, web design, layout, animation and video, UI/UX, marketing communications, business strategy, and more.

Colleges

Langara

Langara College

Design Formation

Location: Vancouver

Program Length: 2 Years

The Design Formation program at Langara is a multidisciplinary foundation design program that introduces students to many different areas of design. This includes visual and graphic design, merchandising design, interior design, and more. While not strictly a specialized graphic design program, it would provide design fundamentals and introduce students to other areas of design they may not have considered learning.

Students learn a basic design skill set in areas such as sketching, drafting, model making, computer software, and fabrication. Most importantly, students familiarize themselves with the design process of ideation, concept development, design development, and execution.

The courses include things like design for presentation, environmental graphic design, product presentation, retail store planning, set design, and more. In short, it sounds like a really cool program for students who haven’t figured out what area of design they want to focus on. Fortunately, for the students that have, Langara offers another more design-focused program.

Digital and Print Publishing

Location: Vancouver

Program Length: 1 Year (3 terms)

The Digital and Print Publishing program is a more marketing and design focused program than the Design Formation program. It’s divided into three distinct semesters, each with a different focus. The first semester emphasizes design foundations, software, and writing. The second is about the print publishing process, and the third deals with the web.

Courses in the Digital and Print Publishing program include things like Adobe Photoshop, digital illustration tools and software, advanced typography, magazine design, web design fundamentals, and more.

Vancouver Community College

Vancouver Community College

Graphic Design

Location: Downtown Vancouver

Program Length: 2 Years

The Graphic Design program at Vancouver Community College is a diverse 2-year program that focuses on advanced design tools and theory for both print and web design. Students will learn design fundamentals, the Adobe software suite, branding, colour theory, packaging design, web, UI/UX, writing, photography, and business.

Courses include typography, composition, design thinking, brand identity, web design, print production, WordPress, advertising, online marketing, and more. This program seems to be extremely well thought-out in that in includes so many different areas of learning that designers will need to know about when they start their careers.

Specialty Schools

BCIT

BCIT Building

Location: Burnaby

Program Length: 2 Years

The Digital Design and Development program at BCIT introduces students to a solid mix of design, technology, and business courses. I like that this program offers some areas of learning that differ from traditional design programs like ethics, project management, sales, law, leadership, and entrepreneurship. These topics will be tremendously helpful for students who plan to freelance or want an edge in a full-time position.

The courses offered include business communication, storytelling, design fundamentals, Photoshop, marketing, vector graphics, content design, professional sales skills, and more.

Graphic Communications Technology Management

Location: Burnaby

Program Length: 2 Years

The Graphic Communications Technology Management program is unlike any design program I’ve seen. It’s a program that teaches students the production process involved in producing visual media. It focuses on software, business processes, art direction, and production management. There are still many aspects of design to the program, but the emphasis is very clearly on the technology side.

The courses include things like accounting for the manager, imaging technologies, system administration PC and MAC, digital imaging, bindery and finishing, marketing, page design and construction, print process, and more. This is a very unique program that would fit someone interested in art, business, and science.

BCIT also has a number of smaller design programs that are part-time or shorter certificate programs. These include:

Vancouver Film School

VFS Downtown Building

Location: Downtown Vancouver

Program Length: 1 Year (6 Terms)

The Digital Design program at Vancouver Film School is a fast-paced, twelve month program that prepares designers for a career in graphic design. In the second year of the program, students can choose to specialize in either motion design or interactive design.

In my career as a designer, I’ve worked with more designers that went to VFS than any other school in the province. Because of that, I can say that this school produces some very, very talented people.

The courses included in the digital design program are user experience, art direction, stop motion, brand strategy, typography, design thinking, packaging design, and more.

Foundation Visual Art & Design

Location: Downtown Vancouver

Program Length: 1 Year (6 Terms)

The Foundation Visual Art & Design program was designed to introduce students to a variety of art forms that prepare them for a creative career. It introduces students to visual media, screenwriting, drawing, filmmaking, animation, design, acting, and more. It’s designed to lead into a more specialized diploma program at VFS, such as the Digital Design program.

Courses include 2D design, documentary, drawing, acting, innovation design, video editing, programming, writing, motion design, classical animation, directing, sound design, and many more.

Visual College of Art & Design (VCAD)

VCAD Building

Graphic Design

Location: Downtown Vancouver

Program Length: 60 Weeks (Five, 12-week terms)

The Graphic Design program at VCAD is a very focused design program where students learn design software, fundamentals, and the practical skills that will get them a job in design. In addition to graphic design skills, in the fourth term, students start learning about web development and programming languages.

Courses include Photoshop, colour & design, design history, digital photography, life drawing, publication design, packaging design, and more.

Design Schools in Vancouver – In Summary

Well, if you want to learn graphic design in Vancouver, there are lots of options. I knew there were a lot of design schools in Vancouver, but so many of these programs are impressive enough that they make me want to go back to design school.

Overall, I think your choice of design school will be up to your budget for school, how good your current portfolio is, and what type of education do you want. Are you looking for a highly focused graphic design education? Maybe Emily Carr would be perfect. Or are you looking for a more diversified design program? In the case, maybe Langara or Vancouver Community College?

Of all the design schools in Vancouver, which sounds like the best fit for you? Are you planning on attending one of them in the fall? Let me know in the comments below!

Alternatively, if you want to check out the design schools in Vancouver Island, check out this list of Vancouver Island Graphic Design Schools.

Or, if your budget for school is $0, check out my post on The Best Free Courses To Learn Graphic Design Online.


Photo Credits

Photo by Lee Robinson on Unsplash