Graphic Design Major Requirements with Course Information

Graphic design majors learn to communicate visually through the use of type, color, photography and graphics, which are applied to print, web or multimedia formats.

Essential Information

Graphic design bachelor's programs teach students to create visual images for advertisements, packaging, print publications, logos and websites. In addition to standard coursework, students may create a final design portfolio and participate in an internship. Prerequisites to begin a graphic design program include a high school diploma or equivalent and some visual arts experience. Some programs require two years of art and design prerequisites and a portfolio.

Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design

The curriculum in a graphic design bachelor's degree program teaches students basic and advanced design concepts, in addition to the latest design software. For example, coursework might include two-dimensional design, computer graphics, animation and typography. Graphic design majors take general art classes in addition to courses that are specific to their field of study. The following coursework is typical in a bachelor's degree program in graphic design.

  • Principles of design and color
  • Desktop publishing
  • Two-dimensional and three-dimensional design
  • Graphics for the web
  • Digital photography
  • Multimedia and animation

Career Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts little to no growth in the graphic design field between 2014 and 2024. Designers with web design and animation skills will be most in demand; graphic designers who work with print will have more competition for jobs. Graphic designers earned a median annual salary of $46,900 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education

Professional graphic designers who want to advance their careers may pursue a graduate degree, such as a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Graphic Design, a master's in visual communication or a related degree. Additionally, many colleges and universities offer continuing education classes in graphic design that can help designers keep their skills updated or learn new design software. Designers can also take advantage of career development resources offered by professional organizations, such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

Bachelor's degrees in graphic design help students learn the skills and software required to work in the industry. These programs typically include foundational design courses as well as general education coursework, and they may culminate in a professional portfolio. Graduates of these programs may pursue entry-level graphic design work or master's degrees.

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