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Surrounded by energetic students and inspiring scholars, designers working in higher education enjoy a meaningful and worthwhile career. Whether by creating student recruitment materials seen by high school students across the country, a billboard promoting the upcoming sport season, or a poster announcing a campus visit from a Nobel Prize winner, the University & College Designers Association (UCDA) believes that designers working in education impact the lives of students, university communities, and beyond.

If you share this belief that design matters, and that university designers and design educators can make a powerful impact in the world, we encourage students to create a poster that visually communicates this idea loud and clear!

Download a call for entries poster that you can share with students or post in your class.


  • Promote one of the most important elements in anyone's life, education
  • Create something that can change people's lives for the better
  • Work and learn from the most brilliant and creative minds
  • Be part of a culture that nourishes openness, creativity and social responsibility
  • Experience variety and diversity day-to day. You never know what you’ll be working on next!
  • Enjoy the best views! Surround yourself in historic, ivy-clad buildings
  • Experience the world! A college campus offers diversity and culture on a daily basis.


  • UCDA Design Conference Registration—the designer of the winning poster will receive free registration to the UCDA Design Conference.
  • Designer Magazine Recognition—the winning poster will be featured in UCDA's award-winning Designer magazine.
  • Honorable Mention—up to ten honorable mentions may also be awarded and displayed in Designer magazine.


  • The words “Design for Education”


  • The UCDA logo
  • The URL:
  • Social media logos (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)


  • 11" x 17" 300 dpi PDF.
  • Leave 1/4" margin/no bleed.


  • April 15, 2018


  • May 15, 2018

Please email your pdf file to: UCDA may request native files of the winning designs.

CONTACT: or 615-459-4559 for more details.

2015 Student Winners
2016 Student Winners
2017 Student Winners
2018 Student Winners



I like working in higher ed because there are so many great stories, from students and faculty alike. Whether it’s the student helping get wheelchairs to third world countries or the faculty member working with students and companies to develop research, you walk away realizing there are some very smart people in the world doing great things. (Plus, we have an agricultural college, and there’s a student organic farm on campus and the veggies are awesome.)
—Christine Ulbrich Prado, Clemson University

I love the variety of things I get to work on as an in house designer and the way I get to pull different mediums of art into my design work. It’s also the ‘all other duties as assigned’ part of the job description that keeps things interesting from day to day.
—Adam Perry, Taylor University

So many reasons. Too many to list, but....No two days are ever alike. One day we might be doing a vehicle wrap, the next an annual report. We help other young designers develop and learn every day. We are surrounded by not only the beauty of the campus but the intellectual environment it also provides, which is a source of constant inspiration. One day, while walking across this beautiful campus, I stopped in the library to watch some Tibetan monks work on a sand mandala. It was like walking on air leaving there and I would have never seen without the university as a backdrop.
—Tina LeMay, Clemson University

I love being a part of something that changes peoples lives for the better. It’s inspiring to watch a young woman (I work at a women’s college—SMWC) walk in as a nervous freshman and leave as a confident leader ready to make a difference in the world. I love hearing stories from our distance students, both women and men, who are aspiring higher in life and their careers. I love being able to create and use my talents to help the institution reach its goals and mission. I work with a great ‘family’ of people. I love higher ed.
—Kristy Fry, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

I like the value of what we promote. Helping to promote tooth paste just does not move my creativity in any of the same ways.
—Jonathan Hooks, Presbyterian College

I love learning. I love academia. I love the fact that one day I am working with a Ph.D. who studies nut dispersal in squirrels, and the next day I am working on enrollment strategies. There is no other in-house job that offers that kind of diversity. One of my favorite things to say is that I wish I could bottle the energy that you feel on campus on the first and last days of school. Its hope, excitement and promise in its purest form. Lifelong learning is such a gift, and to be able to not only watch it happen every day, but be a part of it is so rewarding!
—Lisa Reynolds, Wilkes University

I’ve always felt privileged to work on a university campus. The wisdom of the old buildings and the knowledge of the trees inspire me daily as I walk to my office. The sunlight beaming on the lawn where students will soon be studying creates a warmth like no other. Being able to watch, learn and share the lives of students as they grow and mature into adults is an amazing experience.
—Don Ameye, Drury University

Designing innovative solutions for a university is creative, complicated and sometimes breakneck glacial. UWM is one of Milwaukee’s ‘best products.’ The campus environment is stimulating, edgy and never dull. I studied graphics in college with Leonard Baskin on a Betty Crocker scholarship. I continue to surprise myself.
—Nan Fitzpatrick, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Why do I design for education? To play what little part I can in empowering others to see beyond the constraints to a better solution... whatever the context. Better yet, to question the constraints outright. One hopes thoughtfully, benignly. Why do you?
—Tyler Wilson, University of Washington Tacoma

Design is, in the largest sense, an education. It is up to us to make the education beneficial.
—Wade Lough, Longwood University

My inspiration vessel is crazy overflowing, so here I’ll focus on design inspiration in higher education. When a day feels like work, I look to why I enjoy being in a University setting. All the dots connect and the colors are most brilliant when I see the magic in the smiles of the graduates. Captured hope that carries me through another determined decision or creative moment...Yeah, that resets my clock.
—Joyce Gabriel, Pacific University

Knowing the product I’m selling (education) lasts longer than just a day, it’s real, not a fad and never goes out of style. Knowing the end users who consume this product will be changed because of their experience and the people they’ve crossed paths with.
—Kou Vang, Cardinal Stritch University

Why design for higher education? Simple—I believe in education, its purpose and mission.
—Megan Kean-O'Brien, Missouri University of Science and Technology

For over 20 years, I have been designing for higher education. I am inspired by watching the change of the campus—the trees, the buildings, majors offered, services increased, the leadership, co-workers, and most importantly the students we serve. Watching a woman walk onto campus unsure of herself and her dreams and walking off the campus just four years later confident and ready to take on the world inspires me. Talking to a distance student who is a mom or a working man with responsibilities and hearing their story of how education is changing their life, inspires me. Knowing that my visual designs and direction have helped to bring a student to our campus to achieve their dream and to find their voice inspires me. Also, as a mother working in education with two children, I have been inspired to push my own children, to share the importance of lifelong learning, and to watch them grow and change into educated adults. All of these things in my life have inspired me to design for education.
—Kristy Fry, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

I am inspired by people. Every day, I am moved by the stories of the incredible people that learn, teach, and work here. The students in particular are quite inspiring: They are an extremely talented and driven bunch from all over the globe, and in some cases, overcame jaw-dropping life obstacles just to be here. Every person has a unique story, and I love that the university setting encourages all those stories to come together and become an impressive whole. So when I'm in the midst of designing my umpteenth newsletter and am in need of inspiration, I seek out those stories, and I am inspired to keep going. I am humbled by the mind-blowing things that go on here every day, and I am proud to help support such a unique and transformative place.
—Nancy Kneiss, Harvard University

I work in higher ed because I can relate to its purpose. I’ve spent my entire work life in higher ed (as a translator, editor, writer and graphic designer)... wouldn’t want to work any other place.
—Ute Vergin, Oregon State University

For me, it’s seeing the impact of my designs on our donors. Giving a special touch to a building opening for a million dollar donor is a great feeling!
—Alex Burch, Oregon State University Foundation

I like the fact that we have to design for many different kinds of people. A design for a future student is going to be different than a design for alumni, so it’s interesting to think about these perspectives. I think this is quite rare amongst design jobs, where many companies / agencies might be locked in to the kinds of people that they design for.
—Oliver Day, OSU Interactive Communications


The University & College Designers Association (UCDA) inspires designers working in academia in North America and around the world by delivering relevant programming and benefits in a personal and thoughtful way. With over 1000 members worldwide, the organization provides for the professional and personal growth of its members, and advocates for designer and educators roles within their institution. UCDA works to elevate the importance of design in academia and beyond.

UCDA strongly discourages its membership in the participation in open design competitions for for-profit corporations, often referred to as spec work. This process devalues the designers role as a collaborative partner in the creative process. This position aligns with UCDAs mission of advocacy for, and elevating the role of designers in education.

UCDA does not view the Design for Education poster competition as spec work. This competition was created with the goal of building awareness of design careers within higher education. UCDA will not re-purpose any received submissions with a goal of monetary gain, and all rights will remain with the designers responsible for the submissions.