BFA in Graphic Design

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in graphic design is the professional degree for students intending to enter the field of visual communication and design. The program provides courses in typography, illustration, photography, book design, advertising, package design, computer graphics and design theory.

The study of graphic design develops the ability to solve communication problems within a cultural, aesthetic, technical, ethical and economic context. Designers create visual messages that serve many needs including advertising, packaging, publishing, identity and branding, websites and digital graphics. These solutions require creativity and lateral thinking, as well as the technical, verbal and written skills to solve specific client problems in their communications.

Graphic design has its roots in a variety of disciplines, including sociology, linguistics, art and design history, and technology. The field has traditionally been linked to commerce and the ability of merchants and institutions to communicate with specific audiences. It is also related to philosophical, literary, architectural and artistic movements.

Throughout their course of study, graphic design majors assemble a professional portfolio of work to present to potential employers. Career options include advertising agencies, art studios, corporate art departments and freelance work.

The art foundation studies program and the preparatory coursework in the graphic design program enable design majors to meet criteria for application into the degree after the mid-program review. A limited number of students are accepted into the program based on portfolio review during ARTF 202. Students admitted into the program are required to complete the graphic design emphasis coursework during the four consecutive semesters of their junior and senior years. They are also required to enroll in ARTG 354 each of those semesters for a total of four credits.

In addition to the university’s scholastic, residence and general education requirements, candidates for the BFA in graphic design must complete:

  • art foundation studies curriculum (13 credit hours),
  • art history (12 credit hours),
  • introductory graphic design (12 credit hours),
  • graphic design program studies (28 credit hours), and
  • graphic design electives (13 credit hours).

Program Requirements

A minimum total of 120 credit hours is required for the BFA in graphic design and includes 52–65 credit hours of art and art history courses listed below. Students must also meet the university’s scholastic, residence and general education requirements for graduation.

General Education
Foundation Courses12
Fine Arts3
Social and Behavioral Sciences 6
Natural Sciences and Mathematics6
Advanced Further Study and I&P9
Art Foundation Curriculum 1
ARTF 102Introduction to Art and Design3
ARTF 136Foundation 2-D Design3
ARTF 145Foundation Drawing3
ARTF 189Foundation 3-D Design3
ARTF 202Mid-Program Review1
Art History
ARTH 125Introduction to Visual and Material Culture (Select two different ARTH 125_ courses for a total of 6 credit hours)6
ARTH 300+Select two courses in ARTH at or above the 300 level6
Introductory Graphic Design
ARTG 110Vector Applications1
ARTG 111Pixel-Based Applications1
ARTG 112Layout Applications1
ARTG 216Typography I3
ARTG 234Introduction to Graphic Design3
ARTG 235Graphic Design Concepts3
Graphic Design Program Studies
ARTG 316Typography II3
ARTG 334Exploration of Graphic Design Media3
ARTG 335Sequential Media3
ARTG 337Drawing for Visual Communication3
Take 4 semesters of the following:4
Professional Practices in Graphic Design
ARTG 434Graphic Design Campaigns3
ARTG 435Graphic Design Capstone3
ARTG 490Graphic Design Applications3
ARTG 491Interactive Design3
Graphic design electives should be chosen with the approval of a graphic design advisor. In addition to any graphic design courses, students may also choose electives from other courses offered in the School of Art, Design and Creative Industries including studio arts, art education and art history. Students may also choose classes from other programs within the university including communication, business, entrepreneurship, marketing and theatre.13
Total Credit Hours120

Applied Learning

Students in the BFA in graphic design program are required to complete an applied learning or research experience to graduate from the program. This requirement can be met by completing four semesters of ARTG 354, as well as a sequence of four upper-division studio classes, including a capstone course (ARTG 334, ARTG 335, ARTG 434 and ARTG 435).

Note: 45+ upper-division hours are required for graduation. Model programs of study are available in the School of Art, Design and Creative Industries office and online (