Graphic Design Bachelor of fine arts degree

4d6dbb88-6566-4a2c-ad65-79827ff9a859 | 129547

Overview

Integrate design principles, methods, concepts, images, words, and ideas to convey distinct, visually compelling messages to an audience.


A graphic design degree is perfect for students who eat, breathe, and sleep design, and would like to apply their talents in a hands-on way. In the graphic design major, you’ll learn how to use design principles, methods, concepts, images, words, and ideas to convey distinct messages to specific audiences. You’ll walk away knowing that designing is not just about how something looks, but rather the experience you create.

Graphic designers are visual problem-solvers who use a wide variety of concepts and media to inform, direct, promote, entertain, engage, and educate specific audiences. The graphic design major prepares students to integrate design principles, methods, concepts, images, words, and ideas to creatively convey visual messages meant to produce specific responses from diverse audiences.

Graphic design students are exposed to a full range of topics throughout their curriculum, including information design, web and interaction design, branding and identity design, design systems, exhibit and wayfinding design, user experience design, and professional practices. With a balance of history, theory, problem solving approaches, conceptual exploration, applied problem solving, human interaction, and the integration of technology, students gain the knowledge and skills needed to create innovative and effective design solutions for a wide range of media and audiences. Access to RIT's world-renowned Vignelli Center for Design Studies, the Cary Graphic Design Archive, and the Cary Library enables students to further enhance their learning and inquiry.

Alumni and guest speakers, along with opportunities for internships, co-ops, and freelance experiences further enhance the program. Additionally, interdisciplinary and collaborative projects within RIT and with outside organizations result in innovative and meaningful hands-on projects that encourage students to explore the social, ethical, and environmental impact of design. Graduates are well prepared to pursue positions within design firms, advertising agencies, corporations, and technology companies around the world.

Plan of study

The graphic design major integrates major courses, studio and free electives, liberal arts, and graphic design history electives. Aspects of business, professional practices, computer-based skills, collaborative projects, and workflow are also integrated into the curriculum.

Studio electives

Students may select elective courses that enhance their studies or allow them to pursue an area of personal or professional interest. Elective credit can be earned through studio-based courses offered in the College of Art and Design.

Graphic design history electives

Students are required to select three graphic design history electives to broaden their understanding of the historical development of the visual arts.

Industries


  • Design

  • Advertising, PR, and Marketing

  • Internet and Software

  • Fashion

Typical Job Titles

Graphic Designer Art Director
Visual Designer UI/UX Designer
Junior Designer Digital Product Designer
Presentation Designer Freelance Designer
Interactive Designer

90%

outcome rate of graduates

$43.8k

median first-year salary of graduates

Featured Work

Featured Profiles

Latest News

  • April 1, 2019

    A couple stands outside the residence hall where they met.

    Tiger Love: Love at first double-take

    Shortly after Marcy (Thurman) Brenner ’87 (new media marketing) arrived at RIT in the fall of 1984, she caught a glimpse of Chris Brenner ’87 (graphic design) skateboarding down the Quarter Mile. They later learned they lived on the same floor in Community Service Clubhouse. 

Curriculum

Graphic Design, BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ARTH-135
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic): History of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval
The subject of this course is the history of western art and architecture from Prehistory through the Middle Ages. We will examine the form, style, function, and meaning of important objects and monuments of the past, and consider these in their social, historical and cultural contexts. A chronological study will allow us to recognize when, where and by whom a given object was produced. Once these decisive factors are established, we may try to determine why the object was made, what it meant in its time, place and culture, and whose ideology it served. Since we are dealing with visual information, the primary goals of this class are to learn how to look, and how to describe and analyze what we see. At the end of the term, students will be prepared to pursue additional courses in the discipline, for they will have gained a foundational knowledge of the object, scope and methods of art history. The knowledge obtained in this introductory course will also guide students in their own creative endeavors.
3
ARTH-136
LAS Perspective 3 (global): History of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern
The subject of this course is the history of western art and architecture from the Renaissance through the early 20th century. We will examine the form, style, function, and meaning of important objects and monuments of the past, and consider these in their social, historical and cultural contexts. A chronological study will allow us to recognize when, where and by whom a given object was produced. Once these decisive factors are established, we may try to determine why the object was made, what it meant in its time, place and culture, and whose ideology it served. Since we are dealing with visual information, the primary goals of this class are to learn how to look, and how to describe and analyze what we see. At the end of the term, students will be prepared to pursue additional courses in the discipline, for they will have gained a foundational knowledge of the object, scope and methods of art history. The knowledge obtained in this introductory course will also guide students in their own creative endeavors.
3
FDTN-111
Drawing I
This course is an introduction to the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, and assigned projects. Designed to provide a broad introductory experience, students will experiment with a wide variety of media, tools, techniques and subjects to develop drawing expertise and problem solving skills related to design and composition. Course work will be assessed through critique, facilitating self-assessment, and the growth of both a visual and verbal vocabulary. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication.
3
FDTN-121
2D Design I
This course is a structured, cumulative introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design. Organized to create a broad introductory experience, the course focuses on the development of both a visual and a verbal vocabulary as a means of exploring, developing and understanding two-dimensional compositions. Concepts are introduced through lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, assigned projects and critiques. The course addresses a wide variety of media, tools, techniques both traditional and technological, and theoretical concepts to facilitate skill development and experimentation with process. Visual comprehension, the ability to organize perceptions and horizontal thinking that crosses other disciplines and theories, are key foundational components to the development of problem solving skills. Accumulative aspects of the curriculum included the exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience.
3
FDTN-131
3D Design I
This course presents a progressive study over two-semesters in terminology, visual principles, exploration, concept generation, process, and techniques of three-dimensional design. Using hands-on problem solving, student will develop an informed understanding of the 3D form and space with an emphasis on the elements and principles of visual design and their function as the building blocks and guidelines for ordering a 3D composition. A heightened awareness of form and space will be developed through lecture, assigned projects, and critiques. Students will also develop a personal awareness of problem seeking and solving, experimentation, and critical analysis. **Note: May be taken as a one-semester offering**
3
Choose one of the following:
3
  FDTN-112
   Drawing II
This course is an introduction to the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, and assigned projects. Designed to provide a broad introductory experience, students will experiment with a wide variety of media, tools, techniques and subjects to develop drawing expertise and problem solving skills related to design and composition. Course work will be assessed through critique, facilitating self-assessment, and the growth of both a visual and verbal vocabulary. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication.
 
  FDTN-212
   Drawing II Workshop
This course is an investigation of the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. This workshop provides students with the opportunity to learn more about a particular experience in drawing while still covering required foundation elements. Different topics may be taken in the same semester. Topics may only be taken once. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research and assigned projects.. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication.
 
GRDE-106
Graphic Design Studio I
Introduction to basic visual communications in the field of graphic design. Lectures will cover graphic design topics and information ranging from typographic terminology and design principles to methods of visual organization. Assignments will be undertaken in the studio where hands-on introduction to graphic design studio skills and practices will occur. Through formal studies and perceptual understanding, including aesthetics, graphic form and structure, concept development problems and visual organization, students will design solutions to visual communication problems. Assignments will explore aspects of graphic imagery, typography, hierarchy, and layout. Students will refine their computer skills through applications requiring digital formats.
3
GRDE-107
Motion Design
This course will introduce the concepts, principles and techniques of motion design and animation. Topics covered are planning and organization methods in the form of storyboards, kinetics, animation principles, sequencing, composition, visual variables, and forms of narrative storytelling. Focus is on the integration of time and media, such as illustration, photography, video, audio, animation and type, to communicate a moving message. This course will emphasize design from a problem-solving point of view and explores the production-timeline.
3
YOPS-10
RIT 365: RIT Connections
0
 
First Year Writing (WI)
3
 
Wellness Education*
0
Choose one of the following:
3
 
   LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry)
 
 
   LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles)
 
 
   LAS Perspective 7 (mathematical)
 
Second Year
GRDE-201
Typography I
This course is an introduction to the fundamental principles of typography (the visual representation of language) to effectively convey information and ideas to specific audiences. This course also builds on the brief basic intro of typography that is integrated into the 2D Graphic Design course. Focus is on the communicative function and aesthetic nature of typographic problem-solving. Exercises help students understand typographic hierarchy, grid structure, form and communication. Lectures cover typographic terminology and anatomy, history of typography as well as type classification, type measurement, and issues of legibility and readability. Once students are introduced to the fundamentals of typography, they will include imagery as appropriate. Students will also refine their skills in using relevant software.
3
GRDE-202
Graphic Design Studio II
This course will focus on the analysis, creation and use of imagery for communication purposes. Processes and techniques for creating images are explored. Projects incorporate symbolism, concept development and integration of image and text. This course will build upon the principles and theories learned in Graphic Design Studio I with project solutions developed for print media, motion and digital use.
3
GRDE-205
History of Graphic Design (WI)
This course will focus on the development of graphic communication from prehistory through the present. This course will provide students with knowledge and understanding of the places, people, events; historical and cultural factors; and technological innovations that have influenced the practice of graphic design. Lectures are complemented by guest speakers, archive visits, videos, research projects, critical essay writing, and discussion.
3
GRDE-206
Typography II
Students will expand upon the principles of grid theory, text and display typography, sequence, page layout, and type and image integration as they relate to a range of design applications: posters, instructional materials, brochures, magazines, books, etc. Visual organization and message communication are stressed. This course builds upon the content taught in Typography and Design Imagery courses. Appropriate layout and imaging software skills are integrated.
3
GRDE-207
Interactive Design I
This course is an introduction to the basic theories, general principles, and design methodologies of interactivity. Students will explore concepts and principles in website design and mobile application design with the focus on user experience and user interface, and how to apply these models to interactive projects. The course will include instruction in building pages and creating interactive tasks with HTML, CSS, and web production software. Software will be introduced to allow students to create interactive solutions through creative prototyping. Students will create navigable interfaces and systems that allow audiences to achieve meaningful goals through compelling content, connecting people to people and people to information and environments.
3
GRDE-213
Design Production
This introductory course provides students with the fundamental understanding of the key variables, systems and phases of production workflow. Emphasis will be placed on job planning, implementation strategies and decision-making processes for print and e-media production workflow. Projects will allow students to optimize their work for specific production requirements as well as to optimize content and workflow strategies for cross-media applications.
3
 
CAD Studio Electives†
6
 
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
3
 
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
3
Third Year
GRDE-301
Graphic Design Studio III
This course will explore information design. Problem-solving focuses on functional requirements, information transmission, accessibility, and design structure across a range of formats. Applied problems are solved through principles of systems thinking, structure, diagrammatic interpretation, and the visual display of information. This course will build upon the principles and theories learned in Graphic Design Studio II with project solutions developed for print media, motion and digital use.
3
GRDE-302
Interactive Design I
This course will focus on the application of design methodologies in the planning and implementing of interactive, instructional projects across multiple platforms. The theories of UX and UI are explored and implemented in design solutions. Student projects will incorporate methods of investigative research, measurable objectives, systematic thinking, and information architecture through visual design. Students will be introduced to web design concepts and principles in site design, page design, GUI, and usability. The course will include instruction in building pages and creating interactive functions with HTML, CSS, and web production software. The course will also incorporate socio-cultural issues in new media.
3
GRDE-306
Professional Practices
In this course students will learn about strategies to obtain internships and permanent employment in the graphic design profession. Emphasis will be placed on learning about the various types of positions available to designers, the designer/client relationship, business aspects of design, and professional ethics and expectations. Information about promotional materials, including resume and portfolio design, and implementation will be covered in order to prepare students to present themselves and their work effectively and professionally.
3
GRDE-307
Design Systems I
This course will provide students with conceptual, organizational, and aesthetic problem-solving methods to create unified and effective design systems. Research, concept generation, visual symbolism, and relevant aesthetic principles will be emphasized. The value and roles of design constants and variables in project development and implementation will be explored. Students will employ evaluation methods within key phases of each project. Presentation skills are emphasized in relation to systems explanations and integration. Design writing, professionalism and technical proficiency are also stressed.
3
GRDE-308
Experiential Graphic Design
This course will focus on design problem solving for three-dimensional spaces and environments. Design process, initial concepts, and final design solutions are developed to assist users in negotiating various interior and exterior environments. Areas of application may include: architectural graphics, signage systems, exhibit design, themed museum experiences, and dynamic environments. Two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and digital design attributes are incorporated using appropriate materials and software.
3
 
Art History Elective
3
 
CAD Studio Electives†
6
 
LAS Immersion 1 (WI), 2
6
Fourth Year
GRDE-421
Design Systems II
This course will provide an overview of branding and identity design. Processes, theories, design methods, brand strategies, positioning, touch-points, research, and management are introduced in creating comprehensive branding and identity systems. Case studies will provide students with historical context. Students will explore current and future trends related to branding.
3
GRDE-411
Graphic Design Studio IV
This course will provide the skills necessary to design and present a professional portfolio of design work in the pursuit of a creative career. Students will identify and target viable and appropriate employment prospects, and design a format for the continual inclusion of subsequent work. Students will engage in a large-scale, comprehensive project intended to showcase their strengths and support their professional goals. A digital portfolio component is required. This course will draw upon the knowledge and skills students have gained through their major program courses in the graphic design curriculum to produce a professional portfolio.
3
GRDE-402
Graphic Design Capstone
This course will demonstrate the culmination of students’ working knowledge of graphic design through a comprehensive capstone project. The content of each capstone project will vary depending upon each students' focus/direction and approval from their instructor. Process and in-progress development is shared via class presentations. A final formal presentation is required.
3
 
Senior Graphic Design Major Electives
6
 
Free Electives
9
 
LAS Immersion 3
3
 
LAS Elective
3
Total Semester Credit Hours
120

Please see General Education Curriculum–Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) for more information.

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.

† CAD Studio Elective courses are those designated with studio/lab hours listed in the course description.

Electives

Senior Graphic Design Major Electives
Course
GRDE-401
Collaborative Design
This course offers students the opportunity and challenge of working on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams to create professional level projects, which are collaborative, competitive and cooperative in structure and implementation. The content of the course will vary depending upon faculty expertise and coordination between departments, schools and colleges, as well as possible outside non-profit clients.
GRDE-418
Visual Storytelling I
This course will explore the role of a graphic designer in developing effective and innovative communication for editorial design. Students will work on interdisciplinary teams (with photographers and/or illustrators) to create visual solutions for in-class projects and/or a magazine produced by the class. Design development processes and aspects of production methods will be implemented, and innovative techniques in digital publication design will be explored.
GRDE-422
Interactive Design III
Students will apply advanced interactive methods using design concepts, principles and processes. Students will develop and refine skills in project planning, research, interface design and methods, UX/UI, and usability. Students will explore structured as well as experimental approaches to merging content with interactive design while also incorporating socio-cultural issues.
GRDE-423
Typography III
This course will instill a broader awareness and a deeper appreciation for typographic design and the transmission and reception of information. Problem-solving, functional requirements, information transmission, accessibility and design structure are emphasized. Advanced applied problems are solved through principles of concept, language, and typographic structure. Solutions will be developed for both print media and digital use.
GRDE-428
Visual Storytelling II
This course will explore the role of the graphic designer in developing communicative design for advertising. Emphasis will be placed on effective communication of the concept development and client’s message. Advertising will be addressed in a broad context, and the course will include the relationship and use of typography, photographic imagery and layout for advertising impact. At times this course will collaborate with an upper-level advertising photography class to better understand and experience the working relationship between the photographer and the designer. Some projects will be with outside clients, such as non-profit organizations or the Ad Council.
GRDE-431
Packaging Systems Collaborative
This course focuses on the design of physical packaging for the protection and marketing of goods. Aspects of visual, structural, ergonomic and environmental issues are considered in the design of rigid and flexible containers. Taught as a team/collaborative course, students from graphic design, packaging science, and industrial design will work together to develop effective packaging design solutions.
GRDE-432
Packaging Systems Projects
This course will focus on the design of physical packaging for the protection and marketing of goods. Aspects of visual, structural, ergonomic and environmental issues are considered in the design of rigid and flexible containers, in order to develop effective packaging design solutions.
GRDE-448
Graphic Design Senior Internship
This course allows students to earn credit through internships pre-approved by faculty advisor. Students work under the guidance of art directors, creative directors, senior graphic designers, or marketing communications managers in professional design environments. Upon completion of the internship, documentation and presentation of the experience to their faculty advisor are required. A final review is obtained from the employer. This course is for senior graphic design majors and may be counted toward a senior elective requirement.
Graphic Design History Electives
Course
GRDE-322
Women Pioneers in Design
This course will center on the contributions made by Modernist women designers. Emphasis will be placed on their unheralded pioneering efforts. Exemplars from the field will be presented, set in a historical context. Lectures are complemented by guest speakers, videos, participatory exercises, discussion, and critical essay writing.
GRDE-326
20th Century Editorial Design History
This course is a thematic approach to the history of magazine design and provides a necessary historical basis for students in the visual arts and design. The course involves lectures on editorial designers, other pioneering Modernist designers, and design from other countries. Exemplars from the field are presented, set in a wide historical context. Lectures are complemented by guest speakers, videos, participatory exercises, discussion, and critical essay writing.

Admission Requirements

Freshman Admission

For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.

Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations

• Studio art experience and a portfolio of original artwork are required for all programs in the schools of Art and Design. A portfolio must be submitted. View Portfolio Requirements for more information. 

Transfer Admission

Transfer course recommendations without associate degree

Courses in studio art, art history, and liberal arts. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information.

Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer

Related programs or studio art experience in desired disciplines. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information. Summer courses can lead to third-year status in most programs.

Learn about admissions and financial aid 

Additional Info

Professional memberships

The School of Design maintains memberships in a variety of professional organizations, including Industrial Designers Society of America, ACM Siggraph, Society for Experiential Graphic Design, American Society of Interior Designers, American Institute of Architects, ICOGRADA, American Institute of Graphic Arts, International Interior Design Association, and Rochester Advertising Federation.