Study Design Abroad

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A Guide to Studying Design Abroad

Whether you’ve got a fashion crush on Alexander McQueen or a penchant for Prada, follow fashion week as it arrives in Europe with awe or your graphic design portfolio needs a little international facelift, you gather inspiration from the incredible colors and patterns of advertisements in Rio or garner an appreciation for cartoon animation in the heart of Tokyo, you clearly love design. What ever area of design entices you, take your skills to an international level by studying design abroad will no doubt be beneficial. From photography to PR to merchandising, choosing to study design abroad could be the key to a huge array of exciting career opportunities.

Why Study Design Abroad

Are you ready to wander the fashion capitals of the world and rub elbows with the fashionable elite? Maybe you’re looking to study graphic design abroad in the fast-paced metropolis of London or settle into a more laid back lifestyle down-under with photography courses along Australia’s Gold Coast. Transform your portfolio and engage your creativity globally by studying design abroad in some of the biggest capitals of the world! From the traditional influences of China’s typography to the Haute Couture elements in Paris, the world is full of inspiration, and studying design abroad will give you the chance to see it all.

Unique design study abroad programs will prepare you for your post-college career by teaching you the building blocks of tech, business, and design. Not to mention, your work will show for it! You’ll be able to immediately apply your new skills positions after you study design abroad; it won’t take a design genius to recognize your creative genius.

As notoriously fast-paced and competitive as a field like design is these days, the chance to bolster your skills with a study abroad is great for your CV. Studying design abroad gives you hands-on experience and international networking-prowess that will make you highly sought-after. Design study abroad programs allow students to experience design from an insider’s perspective by exploring the history of ground-breaking art and design firsthand.


With a plethora of options, choosing where to study design abroad may very well be the most difficult step in the whole process. Are you looking for the cutting edge of high street fashion or an classic renaissance-inspired aesthetic to your advertising? Do you want to learn the ins-and-outs of Europe’s textile production or the nuances of advertising and marketing? No matter the area of design you want to pursue, a thriving metropolis awaits you. 

The most popular destination to study design abroad is Italy. More specifically fashion design programs are very popular choices in Italy, with it’s historic fashion houses stretching the coast of the Mediterranean. You can spend a semester studying under the shade of the Il Duomo in Florence or eat your lunch outside the Colosseum in Rome while you sketch street style. These Italian centers of excellence are as high quality as Italian leather!

Students interested in photography or graphic design can’t ask for a more photogenic setting than Australia or it’s neighbor New Zealand. Take your skills underwater to capture the Great Barrier Reef in her coral glory or study the landscapes of New Zealand’s southern Alps. 

If your influence tends to be a little more cutting edge, with an urban twist, look no further than the United Kingdom. London is ideal for independent artists who crave a vibrant environment for their passion to come to life. You can spend an afternoon on high street or draw inspiration from the costumes on the West End; London is undoubtedly a designer's’ playground. If you are an artist looking to add a gothic edge and a flare of individualism to your portfolio, you will be happy to know that Edinburgh will offer you a constantly changing perspective with her neo-classical influence and modern architectural flare.

For the Francophiles out there, the design schools of France can’t be beat. While Paris may be known as the fashion capital of the world, art and design courses in Paris aren’t solely for fashionistas. Some of the best design schools in all of France offer study abroad courses in visual arts and graphics design, relying on the city’s history to help students explore and learn from the millennia-old arts and cultures that have shaped their practice. Design study abroad programs in France help students acquire technical skills while simultaneously deepening the foundation of their design knowledge. And with the Eiffel tower sparkling in the background, the setting doesn’t hurt either!

Design Study Abroad Programs

Students who study design abroad will generally be immersed in an intensive academic environment that extends beyond the main classroom. Creative inspiration comes from every experience and every day; no opportunity can be missed and no inspiration can be too obscure! Lecture halls are replaced with studios and hands-on trips to local museums and galleries where they can draw from the masters. Design courses, taught by leading industry professionals from the world’s top design capitals are usually offered every day for several weeks, but can extend to longer terms. 

The emphasis in many of design study abroad programs is placed on the operational aspects of managing the culture of design at the corporate level, as well as the technical side of manufacturing. You will learn about business strategies and decisions from professionals who have actually implemented them. In studio courses, you will work on designs and the developing of textiles, including the color, pattern, and motif. International students may even learn how to develop their signature style and create a brand as recognizable as Chanel during their time abroad. 

Focus on one area for a short term or extend your stay and branch out into several. Many design study abroad programs offer several options that will fulfill your core study requirements. After you study design abroad, you may even be able to secure internships or employment at some of the best companies in the fashion industry! 

Benefits & Challenges

Certainly some of the stereotypes behind design are true; fashion is a competitive industry, so each job opening has “a million girls who would kill for it,” which means that an ambitious and hardworking nature is needed to survive. Digital designers are faced with the challenge of having to thrive in an ever-changing industry, which means they are constantly having to learn cutting edge techniques and styles. And artists specializing in photography and illustration are having to prove their skills in an age when anyone with a smartphone thinks they have just as much talent. Studying design abroad gives students the chance to see their competition, as well as learn from professionals who have dealt with these challenges, making them better equipped to for a long-term career in design.  

While the benefits of studying design abroad make it sound like a dream, the hard parts cannot be ignored. You may have imagined an experience where you spent most of your time traveling, but students are give a tough workload, demanding time and effort. Professors expect excellence from their students, because they know what they are up against, so students should not go into study abroad with any misconceptions. You will be expected to learn the material, while simultaneously adjusting to life in a new place. The culture shock may hit you hard, but design study abroad programs also have a strong support system in place to help. 

In today’s world, global marketing makes design an international career. Trends coming out of London are being replicated on the streets of San Francisco. If you study design abroad you will be exposed to some of the most influential trends around the globe, which will push you beyond what you thought possible. No matter the country you choose to pursue your degree in, we know that you’ll “make it work!”

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Banner Report 2018

A Guide To
Studying Design Abroad


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