Laptop Policy

Graphic Design Laptop Guide

laptop with lid covered in colorful stickers

(Updated June 2020)

Laptop Computer Ownership Requirement

All students majoring in Graphic Design are required to own a laptop computer that meets the minimum hardware and software requirements listed below. Students are required to have the computer by the time they are enrolled in any 200-level class, although sooner is great!

Hardware

Mac (recommended)

We strongly recommend students own a Mac laptop that is no more than two years old. This ensures a level of compatibility with the resources available in the school and prepares you for a future in a Mac-centric work environment that is standard in the design field. Having a newer machine will allow you to stay with the same machine, ideally, through your time at PSU. If you aren’t sure when making a purchase, associates at the Apple Store can be very helpful.

Please keep in mind the specs below are recommended. We understand the financial cost of purchasing a computer and want each student and their families to make a purchase that is in their best interests overall. 

Here are the specs we recommend:

  • No more than two years old
  • 13-, 15-, or 16-inch screen capable of 1920 x 1080 (full HD) resolution or better (if you choose a 13” computer, please consider getting a monitor to connect to at home for more efficient and precise work)
  • Memory: 8GB RAM minimum; 16GB or more recommended
  • Processor: 1.2GHz minimum
  • Storage: 256GB minimum

PC

PCs generally have a lower initial cost, but keep in mind are not the industry standard for Graphic Design. We strongly recommend students own a PC laptop that is no more than two years old. Having a newer machine will allow you to stay with the same machine, ideally, through your time at PSU. Additionally, all courses will be taught specifically for the Mac interface, so any differences that pertain to PCs will be the responsibility of the student. If you must purchase or already own a PC, your laptop must meet these minimum requirements. If you aren’t sure when making a purchase, associates at the store can be helpful if you show them this information.

  • No more than two years old
  • 13” or 15” screen capable of 1920 x 1080 (full HD) resolution (if you choose a 13” computer, please consider getting a monitor to connect to at home for more efficient and precise work)
  • Memory: 8GB RAM minimum; 16GB or more recommended
  • Processor: 1GHz minimum
  • Storage: 256GB minimum

Software

All Graphic Design students must have the following software installed on their laptop:

  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign (part of CS6 or Creative Cloud)*
  • Microsoft Office or Apple Keynote and Pages.

*Keep in mind that PSU may not have the same software versions installed on lab computers as is available for home computers. When using our output rooms, such as printing in the MAC Lab or Rad Lab, PDFs are highly recommended.

Purchasing Your Laptop System

Your purchase of a laptop may be eligible for an extension of any student loans you receive through the PSU Student Finance Office. Please contact the PSU Office of Financial Aid at askfa@pdx.edu, (503) 725-3461 or toll-free (800) 547-8887. The form required to extend your student loan is available online here.


Frequently Asked Questions

I already have a desktop computer at home; do I still need to purchase a laptop?
In order to participate fully in courses that meet in our classrooms, having a working laptop with you for each class is required. Most classrooms do not have computers in them. 

I have a laptop, but it doesn’t meet the minimum requirements—what do I do?
While older and slower computers often can technically run software such as Photoshop and Illustrator, they often lag or crash and struggle to run multiple applications at once. A newer computer can save you significant amounts of time, save you from losing work due to hardware crashes, allow you to keep up with class demos, and work with larger and more complex files. As mentioned above, it is required that students have a laptop for 200-level coursework, but highly recommended that students purchase and use a laptop that meets the minimum requirements. 

When should I get my computer?
It is your responsibility to ensure you have access to a laptop computer before registering for any Graphic Design course that is 200-level or above.

How long will this computer last me?
It’s difficult to say exactly how long a computer will last — mostly because you can tax the capabilities of your computer system more and more as you integrate it into your daily work. The recommended configurations are designed to last for a four-year stay on campus or to accompany you into your chosen profession after you complete your degree program. If in the future you expect to upgrade to the latest software or are going to use your computer for applications beyond its current capability, you may need to upgrade your hardware more frequently.

Can I get financial aid to help purchase a computer?
Eligible financial aid recipients may receive an increase in the amount of their loan package that will help with a computer purchase. For more details, please contact the PSU Office of Financial Aid at askfa@pdx.edu, (503) 725-3461 or toll-free: (800) 547-8887.