Our students like to learn and learn to kern!

We have designed our graphic design curriculum to produce highly competent and creative designers, as well as educated and critically-aware professionals and citizens. Our courses stress formal and technical skills, but they also push students to become proficient in creative problem-solving and visual criticism.

A detailed list of program requirements for the BFA in Graphic Design can be found on its Program of Study. The courses there are organized into the following categories:

Graphic Design

Typography, ideation and web design form the backbone of the Graphic Design curriculum.


Our three-course typography sequence takes students from the basics of type and document design all the way to advanced editorial and identity applications and experimental typography.


Students learn strategies and methods to generate ideas quickly and curate and refine them into original and productive design plans.

Web Design

Our students learn how to design interactive experiences for screens of all sizes and an elective gives them an opportunity to learn advanced techniques and create more complex interactive experiences

Capstone Experience

In a two-course sequence, students research, propose and produce complex design projects that take them out of the classroom and into the world of professional practice and inquiry.


Besides their required program courses, students in Graphic Design choose elective courses in that allow them to tailor the program to their talents and interests.


An internship is not required, but students can choose to undergo one to help fulfill elective requirements and gain real-world experience.


Our three Foundations courses lay the groundwork for advanced 2D and 3D studio courses. 

Art History

Students gain a broad knowledge of art history in two survey classes and more specialized knowledge with an elective in a subject of their choosing. The History of Graphic Design course does SOMETHING.

Professional Development

Study of Graphic Design's intersections with other disciplines — anthropology, business or communications, to name a few — enhances our students readiness for professional practice.

Studio Art

Required courses in digital imaging, photography and printmaking develop students’ formal and conceptual skills in areas closely related to Graphic Design. Studio Art electives provide an opportunity for advanced study in those areas as well as clay, fibers, metals, painting, and sculpture.

Graphic Design Course Descriptions

Graphic Design Studios

ART 1102 Introduction to Graphic Design

3 hours

This is an introductory level course for students entering the field of graphic design. It involves studio inquiry into the nature of visual communication. The course is structured to foster a personal approach to the design process and the ability to discuss design critically. Topics introduced in the course include typography, symbols, contemporary design practice and the relationship between designer, audience and message. Work produced in this course allows for the discovery of the language, creative problem-solving processes and technologies fundamental to graphic design.

Prerequisites: ART 1001 and ART 1003.

ART 2102 Typography I

3 hours

This course concentrates on the study of typography. Course includes a survey of major typographical trends, analysis of letterforms, typesetting methods and the use of type in layout design.

Prerequisites: ART 1001 and ART 1003. This course (ART 2102) may be taken concurrently with, but not before ART 1102.

ART 3102 Typography II

3 hours

Second course in the typography sequence focusing on the design of multiple pages, an introduction to publication design, basic typographic systems, and typographic hierarchy. An introduction to the use of type with image and the surface design of three dimensional form will be studied. Students who do not pass Candidacy Portfolio Review before starting this course will be required to drop the course.

Prerequisite: Graphic Design Candidacy Portfolio Review.

ART 3302 Idea Lab

3 hours

The course will function as a creative laboratory, providing students the opportunity to be immersed in and mindful of the design process. Course topics include innovation methodologies, design processes, visualization, prototyping and testing. Through exercises, readings, research and studio projects, students will develop lifelong skills to foster the good ideas that lead to meaningful creative work. Students who do not pass Candidacy Portfolio Review before starting this course will be required to drop the course.

Prerequisite: Graphic Design Candidacy Portfolio Review.

ART 3202 Interaction Design I

3 hours

An intermediate intermediate graphic design course involving complex interactive projects for the web and other technologies using standards-compliant HTML and CSS. Students will have the opportunity to learn the application of semantic code markup in order to gain an understanding of the separation of content and form in dynamic media. Alternate forms of scripting for the web, animation and motion graphics, and interaction with databases will also be introduced.

Prerequisites: ARH 2230, ART 2026, ART 2104, and ART 3102.

ART 4102 Typography III

3 hours

Third course in the typography sequence stressing the dynamic relationships among content, form and context to gain a deeper understanding of systems at many levels. Other topics may include: packaging, expressive, environmental, dynamic, and interactive typography.

Prerequisites: ARH 2230, ART 2026, ART 3102, and ART 3302.

ART 4192 Graphic Design Senior Seminar

3 hours

This course prepares students for their final senior design project in ART 4202 - Graphic Design Senior Studio (3), Graphic Design Senior Studio (GEN ED: Capstone Experience). These two courses, taken in sequence, provide an opportunity for advanced students to demonstrate a mature understanding of design practice. Through readings, literature review, and research assignments, the graphic design senior seminar examines contemporary issues in design, the expanding practice of design and addresses the relevance of pre-design stages to the design process as a whole. Students conduct research and locate their interests within the design discipline before producing proposals for their capstone project.

Prerequisites: ART 3202 and ART 4102.

ART 4202 Graphic Design Senior Studio

3 hours

GEN ED: Capstone Experience

The culminating course in the graphic design program, this course addresses self-reliance and the application of research and creative inquiry to the realization of projects proposed in ART 4192 - Graphic Design Senior Seminar (3). Students will produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates analytical, conceptual, visual and technical maturity. Passing a portfolio review is a requirement of this course.

Prerequisites: ART 3202, ART 3226, ART 4102, and ART 4192.

Graphic Design Electives

ART 2302 Hand-Lettering

3 hours

An introduction to hand-lettering. Both monoline and edged-pen lettering styles are studied in their historical context. A range of styles and mediums will be studied, as well as applications of hand-lettering for artworks, design projects, and more.

Prerequisite: ART 1001 or permission of the instructor.

ART 3020 Illustration

3 hours

This course is an introduction to illustration as a form of visual communication. It will cover a range of both digital and analog tools, as well as applications of illustration in multiple contexts. Through visual, historical, and conceptual research, students will develop an understanding and relationship to the collaborative process of illustration.

Successful candidacy portfolio review for BFA Studio Art, BFA Graphic Design, or BFA Art Education.

ART 3312 Motion Graphics

3 hours

This is an intensive course in time-based media for artists and designers. Students will create broadcast quality animation and compositing projects for television, web and other technologies. Students will use type and images to learn a variety of production techniques in digital audio, digital video, animation and other special effects. Post-production presentation techniques targeting the broadcast and theatrical industry, the web and other technologies will be covered.

Prerequisite: ART 2104 or permission of the instructor.

ART 3322 Sign, Symbol, Image

3 hours

An introductory study of signs, symbols and images in the context of graphic communication. The course includes theoretical and practical considerations of the relationship between visual form and cultural meaning. Course projects address visual perception and interpretation, abstraction and stylization, symbol typologies, gestalt of design, semantics and typography, and the application of semiotics and rhetorical tropes to visual communication. Course objectives are to enhance students' analytical skills and situate graphic design practice in a larger socio-cultural context.

Prerequisites: ART 2104 and ART 3102.

ART 3332 Design Methods

3 hours

This course includes a survey of research methods that enhance creative conceptualization abilities and provide research-based evidence that supports design decisions. Students examine case studies; analyze secondary research; experience various contextual research methods; and conduct and apply primary research that uses a variety of design methods (interview, observational and participatory).

Prerequisites: ART 2104, ART 3102 and ART 3302.

ART 3500 Independent Study

(1-4) hours

Majors in art may broaden and intensify their program through individual research and involvement in a given area of art.

Prerequisite: permission of the departmental chair.

ART 3602 Special Topics in Graphic Design

3 hours

Students examine in detail a speciality area in graphic communication, through discussion, research and creative studio work. Examples of topics might include: illustration, exhibition design, packaging design, and publication design.

Prerequisite: Graphic Design Candidacy Portfolio Review.

Content to vary; may be repeated for credit when content does not duplicate.

ART 3900 Internship

(1-6) hours

Supervised placement in a setting which provides an opportunity for students to observe and practice various art and design related skills. Supervision and evaluation by the site supervisor and the faculty member.

ART 4302 Interaction Design II

3 hours

This is an advanced graphic design course involving complex interactive projects for the web and other technologies using dynamic and media-rich interactive media. Projects may include animation, typography in motion, data visualization, interactive exhibits and narratives, and other time-based experiences.

Prerequisites: ART 3102 and ART 3202 or permission of the instructor.

ART 4312 Graphic Design Professional Practice

3 hours

Aimed at senior graphic design majors, ART 4312 (Graphic Design Professional Practice) is intended to help students transition from student to design professional. The course addresses professional practices in the context of various design disciplines as well as current issues in the field. Students will create self-promotional packages, undertake research and writing that reflects their preparedness for the job search; develop and refine their portfolios; and, if possible, visit a design studio or printing facility.

Prerequisites: ART 3102 and ART 3202.

____ Other with written approval of your advisor

3 hours


ART 1001 Foundations I

3 hours

Basic introduction to two-dimensional design emphasizing the structural elements of art, the principles of visual organization, and the psychological effects of visual decision making. Color theory, including schematic uses and historical and psychological aspects, will be explored along with the application of color mixing and color integration. There will be an introduction to the critical and analytical approaches to the visual arts.

ART 1002 Foundations II

3 hours

This course is the second half of an introduction to the structural elements of art. It examines the organizational principles of three dimensional design and the study of equipment and materials used in this area of art making. Emphasis is on three-dimensional vocabulary, understanding of sculptural space, the use of hand and power tools, materials manipulation, and processes related to three-dimensional art.

ART 1003 Foundations Drawing

3 hours

An introduction to drawing as a primary means of visual investigation. Major class topics include drawing from observation and visualization (drawing from imagination). Class exercises focus on rendering objects, spaces, and the human figure in basic wet and dry media (graphite, charcoal, and ink). Conceptual and process-centered approaches in contemporary drawing will be introduced.

Studio Art Requirements

In addition to these courses, students must complete one Printmaking course, three Studio Art electives, and an additional Studio Art or Graphic Design elective. For a full list of Studio Art courses, visit their Courses page.

ART 2026 Photographic Design I

3 hours

An introduction to photography. This course offers a foundation in the basic technical skills and aesthetic knowledge needed to create fine art photography. Historical and contemporary issues, critical thinking, and visual analysis will be emphasized though oral discussion and written documentation.

Prerequisites: ART 1001 and ART 1003, or ART 1020 or ART 1021.

A camera is required per the instructor's directions.

ART 2104 Digital Imaging

3 hours

This course introduces the student to technical and aesthetic aspects of digital image manipulation for artists and designers.

Prerequisites: ART 1001 and ART 1003.

Art History

ARH 2030 Art from Prehistory to 1400

3 hours

GEN ED: Fine Arts Designation; Liberal Studies Experience

A global survey of art history focusing on the early visual artistic traditions of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas from the dawn of art to 1400. The course examines visual art and art making in religious, social, cultural, and political contexts.

ARH 2130 Art from 1400 to the Present

3 hours

GEN ED: Fine Arts Designation; Liberal Studies Experience

A global survey of art history from 1400 to the present examining the later artistic traditions of Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. The course focuses on visual art and art making in light of changing social, political, religious, and cultural circumstances.

ARH 2230 History of Graphic Design

3 hours

A historical survey of visual communication, this course highlights key graphic designers and meta-disciplinary creative thinkers who have shaped significant innovations in the field. Examining relevant artistic, cultural, and technological events provides a context for understanding contemporary graphic design practice.

ART Art History Elective

3 hours

Chosen in consultation with advisor

Professional Development: Communication Skills

COM 2101 Public Speaking

3 hours

Intensive practice in composition and delivery of various types of speeches with emphasis on speech structure and style.

COM 2110 Introduction to Nonverbal Communication

3 hours

ENG 3100 Business Writing

3 hours

ENG 3700 Technical Writing

3 hours

____ Other with written approval of your advisor

3 hours

Professional Development: Related Areas

ANT 1415 Understanding Culture

3 hours

C I 4840 Video Production and Story

3 hours

This course is a basic introduction to the creative and technical skills needed to produce effective, low-budget video programs on location. Students will use the department’s digital cameras and non-linear computer editing system to learn how to express themselves clearly in a wide variety of programming formats through the language of video. Students will gain experience in each of the three stages in the production process: pre-production, production, and post-production.

COM 3100 Interviewing Methods

3 hours

COM 3155 Persuasion

3 hours

ECO 2030 Principles of Microeconomics

3 hours

GEN ED: Social Science Designation; Liberal Studies Experience

A brief introduction to the study of economics followed by an in-depth analysis of microeconomics, including: the price mechanism and supply and demand analysis; consumer choice; cost and revenue analysis of the firm; market structures; factor markets and income distribution; market failure and the role of government; and current economic problems such as pollution, poverty and discrimination.

ENT 3060 Opportunity & Entrepreneurship

3 hours

This course introduces students to the entrepreneurial process and its two components: opportunity recognition and opportunity exploitation. It provides training in recognizing, shaping, and presenting opportunities. It surveys knowledge from all major business disciplines that is particularly relevant to the entrepreneurial process. Students with a background in business learn how to apply their knowledge in entrepreneurial contexts. Non-business students learn business fundamentals relevant in entrepreneurial contexts and how to apply them.

Prerequisite: 54 earned hours

IDS 3260 Creativity: An Introduction

3 hours

MKT 3050 Principles of Marketing

3 hours

S D 2400 Principles of Sustainable Development

3 hours

____ Other with written approval of your advisor

3 hours

Visiting designer Mickey Burton and graphic design students

Visiting Designer

Illustrator and designer Mickey Burton visited Appstate, gave a lecture and led a workshop with our students. 

Robot Type Workshop with Ashley Pigford

RISO Prints for Hybrid Print Practices

Letterpress printing with 3D printed modular type

Typography III's Reflection of Practice assignment is, and always will be, one of the most valuable projects a design student will do while they're here.

Anna Canntrell

Closeup of Reflection on Practice book

Reflections on Practice

Students in Typography III design and produce a book of their own writings about typographic practice.