Graphic Design

School of Design

Department of Art & Graphic Design

Department Chair: George Moore, M.F.A.


The Department of Art & Graphic Design within the School of Design grants a B.S. or B.A. degree in graphic design. This major is designed to prepare students for professional practice and graduate study in graphic design or related fields. The courses in the program address theoretical and practical questions about visual literacy, graphic design and visual communication theory, participation in design culture, the complexity of problems and solutions, connecting physical and digital experiences, and career preparation.

Mirroring how design works as a profession, the objectives of individual courses overlap to explore and reinforce the interconnectedness of theory and practice, digital media and physical materials.  The program does not present standalone academic surveys of a specific topic. Classes introduce segments of the continuum that is design discourse and practice.

While acquiring discipline-specific skills, students learn the design process. Initial steps involve working to identify and research a complex problem. Following preliminary work, students devise, test, revise, and ultimately present design solutions to hypothetical and client-based briefs. Each assignment is an opportunity to put into practice principles, skills, and concepts including design fundamentals, graphic design theory, digital production, traditional materials and methods, rich-media experiences, visual storytelling, design thinking, human systems, and collaboration.

Along the way, students produce and present their design work in a portfolio. Students participate in portfolio reviews with faculty members in the first and second year. In the third and fourth year, art and graphic design professionals from outside of the University review student portfolios. In the final year, the portfolio development course affords students the guidance and structure to create professional presentations of their design work and process in preparation for entry into graphic design fields. Successful students acquire the necessary confidence to communicate about how they arrive at design solutions.

Because students in the major explore a breadth of topics, a graphic design degree may lead to many different options for the individual student. From the first-year seminar course through the internship experience and senior portfolio reviews, students are introduced to a wide scope of career possibilities. Students are encouraged to explore career goals while developing their portfolio. The required internship provides students with hands-on professional experience. Graduates from the graphic design program work independently and collaboratively in businesses devoted to design and in creative positions within larger institutions. Potential careers include advertising, marketing communications, electronic or print publishing, web and interactive design, photography and digital imaging, motion graphics, and related fields.


Upon completion of the Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design, graduates will be able to:

  1. Solve design problems by thinking creatively and critically.
  2. Observe and produce media critically.
  3. Apply communication and design theory to design practice.
  4. Justify solutions using research, through written and verbal communication.
  5. Plan, execute, and revise design solutions considering complex and interdisciplinary elements, including

    audience, cultural, ethical, human, media, material, and market factors.
  6. Produce a design portfolio to professional standards.
  7. Exhibit behaviors consistent with the professional and ethical standards of the discipline both within and beyond the classroom.


Graphic Design Policies for Continuance and Progression

Graphic Design student performance is measured by grades earned in general education and major courses and the ability to effectively create, compile, and present a portfolio of work. Students must meet the following criteria to maintain good standing in the GDES program:

  • Minimum cumulative GPA: 2.5
  • Minimum major GPA: 3.0
  • Minimum grade in all major courses: C
  • No student, regardless of major, will be permitted to take an ART, GDES, IAD, ANIM, or PHOTO unless a grade of "C" or better is earned in all prerequisite courses. If a student achieves a grade of a “D” or lower, the course must be repeated and a “C” or higher must be achieved to satisfy the prerequisite requirements.
  • A major course can only be repeated two times during the program to achieve a “C.”
  • If a third grade of “D” or lower is earned in any combination of major courses, the student is automatically dismissed from the program.
  • Please see the specific program requirements for a listing of the required courses.

Progression criteria for students in the program.

  • To progress into 200-level major courses (GDES 210 and GDES 230), students must participate in the first-year portfolio review.
    Students who earn a rating of unsatisfactory in the portfolio review will be allowed to progress to the 200-level courses provided all other criteria are met. These students will be placed on probation in the major.
  • To progress into 300-level major courses, students must achieve a satisfactory portfolio review by the end of the 200-level course sequence.
    Students participate in a Fall Semester Portfolio Review upon completion of GDES 210, GDES 230, and FMI 102. Students who earn a rating of unsatisfactory in this portfolio review are placed on probation and are reviewed again at the end of the academic year. Students who do not earn a rating of satisfactory at this subsequent portfolio review will be dismissed from the major.

Probation: A student who does not achieve a satisfactory first- or second-year portfolio review, who does not meet minimum GPA standards, or who earns two grades of “D“ or lower will be notified in writing by the department chair that he or she is on probation in the major. Students on probation may continue to take courses in the major provided all other progression criteria are met.

Dismissal: A student will automatically be dismissed from the major if any of the following occurs:

  • The student earns a third grade of "D" or lower in any combination of major courses
  • The student does not participate in required portfolio reviews
  • The student is on probation and does not earn a satisfactory portfolio review at the end of the 200-level course sequence

If dismissed from the major, student’s major will be changed to deciding until the student selects another program. Students may seek readmission to the Graphic Design major following the "Policy for Seeking Readmission to the Major."

The department chair has final authority to determine standing in the major.

The graphic design program policies for continuance and progression are distributed to all new students during the First-Year Seminar and transfer advising.

Readmission to the Major: A student who has been dismissed from the Graphic Design program and is seeking readmission to the program must complete the process outlined below. Please recognize that the individual steps alone are no guarantee of readmission to the major.

  • Repeat and earn a C or better in any major course that the student previously attempted but earned a "D" or below.
  • Write a Letter of Appeal to the Department Chair for Art and Graphic Design explaining the circumstances surrounding the poor academic performance, what steps are being implemented to make a change, and what plans are in place for continued success in the Graphic Design program.
  • Within two calendar weeks from the posting of final semester grades to WebXpress, submit the Letter of Appeal  including student ID number.
  • A decision will be communicated by the Department Chair two weeks after the deadline for receiving the Letter of Appeal.
  • If readmission to the major is granted, the student will be required to sign a statement of understanding form. The statement of understanding includes the provision that if any grade below "C" is earned in an ART or GDES course, then the student will be dismissed from the major permanently with no opportunity to seek readmission.


The courses listed below are required for completion of the bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Students must also complete the requirements for the Stevenson Educational Experience (SEE).

Specific pre- and co-requisites for each course are listed in the course descriptions.

Major Requirements

FYS 100First Year Seminar

1 credit

ART 106Introduction to Art History

3 credits

ART 110Fundamentals of Design I

3 credits

ART 113Fundamentals of Design II

3 credits

ART 116Drawing I

3 credits

ART 117Drawing II

3 credits

ART 205Graphic Design History

3 credits

ART 305Topics in Art History

3 credits

FMI 101Cinema I: Storytelling

3 credits

PHOTO 141Basic Digital Photography

3 credits

GDES 125Fundamentals of Digital Media

3 credits

GDES 208Web Design I

3 credits

GDES 210Graphic Design I

3 credits

GDES 211Graphic Design II

3 credits

GDES 230Typography I

3 credits

GDES 290Internship Preparation

1 credit

GDES 308Web Design II

3 credits

GDES 310Graphic Design III

3 credits

GDES 330Typography ll

3 credits

GDES 390Internship

3 credits

GDES 410Portfolio & Professional Development

3 credits

GDES 450Senior Capstone

3 credits

Studio Elective (3 credits)*

Studio Elective (3 credits)*

Studio Elective (3 credits)*

*Studio electives include 200-400 level courses in ANIM, ART, GDES, IAD, PHOTO, or SOD 395. Students must choose courses from at least two different course prefix designators.

Suggested Course Sequence

2020-2021 Graphic Design SCS

Minor in Graphic Design

The minor in Graphic Design requires successful completion of a minimum of six courses and 18 credits of courses in graphic design and related disciplines. Graphic design courses encompass a variety of media from print design to screen-based applications. Students in the minor may participate in collaborative work, client-based projects, interactive development, user-experience design, branding strategies, rich-media experiences, visual storytelling, and problem solving through the design thinking process.

GDES, IAD, and ANIM courses count towards the minor in graphic design. The following courses may also be taken for a minor in graphic design.

All course prerequisites must be met to be eligible to take the selected course for a minor. Please see the chair of the Department of Graphic Design for more information. General information regarding minor requirements may be found in the Minors section of the catalog.

Other Options

BA Option:  Students also have the option of completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design. The student must fulfill all SEE requirements, program requirements, and complete two semesters of a foreign language from the point of placement or completion of 202 level.

Course Descriptions

See Art Course Descriptions

See Interactive Design Course Descriptions

See Animation Course Descriptions

See Photography Course Descriptions

See Graphic Design Course Descriptions

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