Graphic Design

Undergraduate Program

Graphic Design

Student posting a typography poster on the wall

Graphic Design Bachelor's Degree or Minor Overview

Graphic design is the art of creating visual content to communicate messages using images and typography. We see it all around us in the form of printed materials, but designers also make digital content, design user experience (known as UX), as well as wayfinding or environmental design.

Our bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design is a dynamic program that prepares you to conquer design challenges with an array of technical and creative skills. Through exploratory, experimental, and collaborative approaches, we prepare designers to thrive in today’s professional world. We nurture your independent development and offer endless opportunities to engage with design professionals both inside and outside the classroom.

We are proud to be consistently ranked among the top public graphic design programs in the country. We recently placed in the top 3% nationally—5th in the nation among public schools—and as the top program in Oregon by the Animation Career Review’s 2020 listings of the best graphic design programs in the United States.

We offer:

  • Opportunities for professional internships
  • Summer study abroad experiences
  • Professional portfolio development
  • An active peer mentorship program
  • A strong sense of community through student groups

Degree Details

Location Definitions:

On campus:
100% on campus
Online:
100% online
Flexible:
Combination of online and on campus
  • BFA
    Bachelor of Fine Arts
    Locations
    On campus
    Total Credits
    180
    Start Term
    Any
  • m
    Minor
    Locations
    On campus
    Total Credits
    32
    Start Term
    Any

Graphic Design Bachelor's Degree or Minor: Why PSU?

Our graphic design program draws strength from its location within the wider School of Art + Design, and within Portland’s vibrant creative community.

We offer a studio experience with lots of one-on-one instruction and an emphasis on craft, concept, research and design thinking. You’ll gain real world experience through A+D Projects, our in-house design studio, working on projects for clients.

Our students are active participants, creating a supportive environment through student groups like Friends of Graphic Design and Comma, an initiative organized by design students &and faculty seeking to amplify representation and connection for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) in the Portland creative community. They also provide peer-to-peer mentorship during our Sophomore Portfolio Review process.

Our faculty are design professionals as well as educators who are engaged and ready to guide you. Through their deep connections to the larger design industry, you’ll be introduced to our community partners through field trips, demos, and our weekly graphic design lecture series.

Every spring, sophomores, juniors and seniors come together for Be Honest: our annual student showcase. It’s a great community event, a fun celebration, and an opportunity to gain experience presenting your work to design professionals. It’s also an opportunity for professionals to check out all the great things coming out of our program.

Graduating seniors also participate in Fresh, our graphic design senior showcase. Organized by the graduating students, Fresh is an invitation-only review held at the end of every Senior Portfolio class. It not only showcases your work, but gives you an opportunity to receive valuable feedback from design professionals and make connections within the design community.

What can I do with a bachelor's degree or minor in Graphic Design?

Graduates of our graphic design program go on to professional careers in design and creative industries.

Our graduates are working as design professionals at top agencies and corporations such as Nike, Wieden+Kennedy, Nordstrom, IDEO, Dropbox, Apple, Snapchat, Buzzfeed, R/GA, Adidas, Spotify, and IBM. Others have found success at design studios such as Instrument, OMFCO, Jolby & Friends, and Sandstrom. Many graduates have established successful freelance careers, some forming their own businesses and making their own products.

With a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design you can work independently or collaboratively in creative industries in a number of artistic and managerial roles, including:

  • Graphic Designer
  • Art Director
  • Interactive Design
  • Product Design
  • Web and Mobile Design
  • Illustration
  • Design Management
  • Motion Graphics and Filmmaking
  • Environmental Design and Wayfinding
  • App Design
  • Publication Design
  • Branding and Identity Design
  • User Interface Design

Featured Courses

  • ART 111 Design Thinking
  • ART 100 Introduction to Type and Communication Design
  • ART 200 Digital Page Design I
  • ART 300 Digital Page Design II
  • ART 210 Digital Imaging and Illustration I
  • ART 310 Digital Imaging and Illustration II
  • ART 254 Typography I
  • ART 354 Typography II
  • ART 225 Communication Design Systems
  • ARH 290 History of Modern Design
  • ART 241 Interaction Design Principles
  • ART 472 Communication Design Portfolio

Featured Electives

  • Video, Design & Community
  • ART 353 Typeface Design
  • ART 345 Introduction to Motion Graphics for Designers
  • ART 367 Design Business Practices
  • ART 425 A+D Projects
  • ART 333 Friendtorship: Design, Art and Social Change

Accreditation

Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).