Graphic Art Major and Undergraduate Degree Program Information

The term 'graphic art' is synonymous with graphic design. Students who wish to pursue a career as a graphic artist can enroll in either an associate's or a bachelor's degree program in the field.

Essential Information

Some graphic arts degree programs may include an interactive or website design component, since the two fields are very closely related. The coursework of such programs might focus on topics such as print production, graphic design, visual perception and art history. Students might be required to develop portfolios of their graphic art that they can present to hiring managers.

Prerequisites for admission may include a high school diploma or equivalent and SAT or ACT scores, with high school art and design classes recommended.

Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Art

The field of graphic art combines technical components, such as advanced software programs, with artistic ability. Many associate's degree programs in graphic art are split into graphic arts courses and computer graphics classes. The purpose of the graphic arts classes is to study the fundamentals of design, which incorporates areas such as composition, color theory and typography. Some courses also introduce design theory and its practical applications to various industries.

Computer graphic arts courses will introduce students to topics such as website management, digital page layouts, illustration and digital imaging. Students begin on these courses only after completing general education classes in math, science and the humanities.

Possible courses include:

  • Manipulation of images
  • Composition and typography
  • Color theory and visual perception
  • Fundamentals of design
  • Portfolio development
  • Adobe InDesign

Bachelor of Science in Graphic Arts

A bachelor's degree in graphic arts provides students with a thorough introduction to the field. Students enrolled in the degree program will learn to think visually. They will learn to utilize their own artistic ability and technical proficiency with computer software programs to communicate a message by using graphics. However, before a student gets to this point, he or she must first understand software programs used in graphic arts, such as the Adobe Creative Suite, and learn basic skills in photography, page layout and illustration. Some programs also address portfolio development and require that students have a polished and professional body of work to show to potential employers upon completing the requirements of the degree.

Classes emphasize hands-on experience. Specific courses address how the field of graphic art is important to industries such as advertising and the basic principles of graphic design. Some courses may include:

  • Fundamentals and advanced techniques of illustration
  • Business and management
  • Print production
  • Vectors in graphic design
  • Design and color theory
  • Art history

Popular Career Options

Students who graduate from an associate's degree program in graphic art can work in many different industries. Some of these industries include advertising and publishing. Possible career outcomes include:

  • Website developer
  • Marketing specialist
  • Graphic artist

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The employment of graphic designers (including graphic artists) according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( is expected to increase by 1% for the period between 2014 to 2024. The mean annual salary according to the BLS was $51,640 as of May 2015.

Aspiring graphic artists can check out associate's and bachelor's degree programs in the field that provide theoretical instruction in the craft while allowing students to gain experience with graphic art tools and software. Graduates can pursue careers in graphic art as well as website development.

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