All students must schedule a meeting with their advisor before enrolling. Contact your advisor for a time to meet. Before the meeting, have a general idea of what courses you need to take based upon your degree sheet in the catalogue. Check for scheduling conflicts or prereqs, and make sure you have no holds on your account. When the schedule has been resolved and approved by your advisor, you may enroll online using Self-Service Banner with an enrollment PIN.

The Graphic Design Plan of Study gives students a suggested sequence of courses (i.e., foundations courses being taken before studio course). And while the plan of study is often not followed absolutely, it gives students a good idea of a logical program structure.

Recommended Plan of Study (PDF file)


Project Criteria

Generally speaking, projects are graded based upon the following criteria:

Communication—Graphic design is, in essence, visual communication. If a piece doesn't communicate, then the primary objective has been missed. The work must speak clearly in the appropriate medium to the intended audience.

Composition—Designers must be able to manipulate and control the principles and elements of design to create and visually communicate meaning. The elements of design make up a visual vocabulary while the principles of design provide the organizational characteristics.

Creativity—This separates the good from the great. It's fairly easy to create something that communicates. But, can it break through the clutter to communicate creatively? A concept is the big idea that gives a message its cohesiveness; it adds meaning and memorability that aid in cognition.

Craft—We're not talking about needle-point here. Craft in graphic design refers to a keen attention to detail. Common pitfalls include shoddy mock-ups, spelling errors, or poor mounting. The final comp (comprehensive) should be an accurate depiction of the final product.

Process—Students are in some cases required to turn in documentation of their design process either in bound format or preferably as a digital PDF. Grades will be taken intermittently during project benchmarks.

Presentation—Graphic design is a field in which the designer must stand next to his or her work to defend and even sell it. Students should be able to articulate the design problem solved, the audience to whom it speaks, and a rationale of why one's solution satisfies the objectives.

Use of Tools/Media—Success, in part, depends upon a certain level of proficiency in the medium, be it using the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator or working with a traditional technical pen. This also includes following project specifications such as resolution, file size and format.

*these criteria may not be applicable for every project (i.e., presentations may not be a requirement for some projects).

Grading Rubric (PDF file)

The Design Process

Most of the time and energy spent on a design project is not on the final comp, but rather in the process that leads to the end-product. Too often designers start by staring blankly at a computer monitor waiting for inspiration.

Deadline-driven, results-oriented designers need a proven process that consistently delivers, without having to wait on some kind of out-of-nowhere inspiration.

The following process contains no secret short-cuts; It is a tried and true order of operations for efficient, creative production.

1. Prelim includes understanding the design/communication objective(s) and ideating possible solutions. Research and brain-storming are part of this process.

2. Thumbnail Sketches, as the name implies, are small sketches that are rendered quickly and without too much detail intended to get your ideas out on paper. 50-100 thumbnails are not uncommon.

3. Roughs are the best 5-10 ideas from the thumbnail phase worked up in greater visual and conceptual detail. After receiving feedback, proceed to the next step or go back to thumbnails.

4. Tight Roughs include even further actualized forms of your strongest roughs. One step before the final comp—only minor problems should exist.

5. The Final Comp (short for comprehensive) is as close to perfect as possible. This well-crafted, fully-detailed work would be appropriate to show clients or printers as a model for production. In an academic setting, the final comp is what is placed in the student portfolio.


general information

Evans, Poppy - Forms, Folds, and Sizes

graphic design history

Heller, Steven and Seymour Chwast - Graphic Style: From Victorian to Digital
Meggs, Phillip B. - History of Graphic Design


Bringhurst, Robert - The Elements of Typographic Style
Kane, John - A Type Primer
Lupton, Ellen - Thinking with Type
Tschichold, Jan - The New Typography


  • Art & Copy - PBS
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop -
  • Helvetica - Hustwit, Gary
  • No Logo - Klein, Naomi
  • Objectified - Hustwit, Gary
  • The Persuaders PBS, Frontline


print magazine sites



podcasts and web video

web sites

great designers of the 20th & 21st centuries

This is certainly not an exhaustive list and not all of these are graphic designers, but it will provide a good start in finding your own design heroes. We need heroes from time to time.

Albers, Josef
Arad, Ron
Bass, Saul
Bayer, Herbert
Bernhard, Lucian
Beall, Lester
Bierut, Michael
Brody, Neville
Carson, David
Carter, Matthew
Cassandre, A. M.
Chermayeff, Ivan
Cina, Michael
Crouwel, Wim
Dwiggins, William Addison
Eames, Charles
Eames, Ray
Fili, Louise
Frere-Jones, Tobias
Frutiger, Adrian
Fuller, Buckminster
Geismar, Tom
Glaser, Milton
Greiman, April
Gropius, Walter
Heller, Stephen
Hoefler, Jonathan
Ive, Jonathan
Kidd, Chip
Licko, Zuzana
Lissitzky, El
Loewy, Raymond
Lubalin, Herb
Max, Peter
Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo
Müller-Brockmann, Josef
Neurath, Otto
Neutra, Richard
Olins, Wally
Rand, Paul
Sagmeister, Stefan
Scher, Paula
Spiekermann, Erik
Tschichold, Jan
Tufte, Edward
VanderLans, Rudy
Vignelli, Massimo
Wright, Frank Lloyd
Young, Michael Paul
Zapf, Hermann