Visual Design, Graphic Design (BFA)

Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts
Major: Graphic Design
Concentration: Visual Design
Program Code: 3274

About This Major . . .

The Graphic Design–Visual Design concentration focuses on current and professional industry standards within graphic design. Our degree is illustration-based and combines traditional hands-on media with the digital. The program, like the professional world is a fast-paced environment that mimics real-world design studios. Students will learn traditional layout design, composition, screenprinting, drawing, graphic design art history, CNC routing all as it applies to design. These areas are all combined with conceptual skills to make graduates in the area marketable. Entry in the program is contingent upon the successful completion of a portfolio review and exam during the sophomore year. A portfolio capstone course prepares students upon graduation for employment with a portfolio designed to gain employment. The program boasts two Graphic Design computer labs each furnished with Apple computers and the latest graphic design application software. Students can be a part of a community of student designers involved in a graphic design activities and field trips locally, nationally and abroad.

Entering students are encouraged to pay close attention to course sequencing and consult their advisor in order to complete the degree in four years. The successful Graphic Design degree candidate is prepared to enter professions within graphic design including advertising design, web design, package design, illustration, marketing and a myriad of related fields.

Important information about this program:

  • No more than 6 semester hours of independent study courses can be used toward the degree.
  • KINA Activity courses can NOT be used to fulfill general elective credit requirements.
  • In an effort to meet industry standards, Macintosh computers are used exclusively in all computer-based ARTG courses. Majors are strongly advised to consider purchasing a Macintosh and related print and web publication software for personal use.
  • ARTG 300-level courses and ARTG 400-level courses may be taken upon acceptance into the Graphic Design Program.
  • Admission in the program after the sophomore year will be contingent upon the student’s satisfying the following requirements:
    • Completion of Graphic Design Admission Application Form.
    • Completion of ARTE 101 Two-Dimensional Design, ARTE 102 Three-Dimensional Design, ARTG 215 Graphic Design I, ARTG 221 Graphic Design II, and ARTG 222 Illustration I with a grade of B or A.
    • A grade of B or A in all coursework in the major.
    • Successful completion of the Graphic Design entrance exam with a minimum score of 80%.
    • Portfolio Review comprised of Graphic Design work that meets the established Portfolio Review Criteria.
    • Transfer students must pass the Portfolio Review and entrance exam to be formally accepted into the Graphic Design Program.

For more information on what you can do with this major, visit Career Services’ What to Do with a Major? resource. 

All CMU baccalaureate graduates are expected to demonstrate proficiency in specialized knowledge/applied learning, quantitative fluency, communication fluency, critical thinking, personal and social responsibility, and information literacy. In addition to these campus-wide student learning outcomes, graduates of this major will be able to:

  1. Interpret and apply formal elements and principles of design. (Specialized Knowledge)
  2. Demonstrate proper use of tools, materials, techniques, and proper use and care for equipment through quality craftsmanship. (Applied Learning)
  3. Generate individual response through concept and relevant sources of information to create personal content. (Communication Fluency and Information Literacy)
  4. Communicate clearly regarding the critical analysis of art and design both historical and contemporary. (Critical Thinking/ Communication Fluency)
  5. Reflect on and respond to ethical, social, civil, and/or environmental challenges as they relate to art, design, and new media. (Personal and Social Responsibility)
  6. Design and publish a professional portfolio that meets current industry standards. (Applied Learning)
  7. Demonstrate technical, aesthetic, and conceptual decisions based on the application of the design process. (Specialized Knowledge)

Each section below contains details about the requirements for this program. Select a header to expand the information/requirements for that particular section of the program's requirements. 

To print or save an overview of this program's information, including the program description, learning outcomes, requirements, suggested course sequencing (if applicable), and advising and graduation information, scroll to the bottom of the left-hand navigation menu and select "Print Options." This will give you the options to either "Send Page to Printer" or "Download PDF of This Page." The "Download PDF of This Page" option prepares a much more concise presentation of all program information. The PDF is also printable and may be preferable due to its brevity. 

Institutional Degree Requirements

The following institutional degree requirements apply to all CMU baccalaureate degrees. Specific programs may have different requirements that must be met in addition to institutional requirements.

  • 120 semester hours minimum.
  • Students must complete a minimum of 30 of the last 60 hours of credit at CMU, with at least 15 semester hours in major discipline courses numbered 300 or higher.
  • 40 upper-division credits (an alternative credit limit applies to the Bachelor of Applied Science degree).
  • 2.00 cumulative GPA or higher in all CMU coursework.
  • A course may only be used to fulfill one requirement for each degree/certificate.
  • No more than six semester hours of independent study courses can be used toward the degree.
  • Non-traditional credit, such as advanced placement, credit by examination, credit for prior learning, cooperative education and internships, cannot exceed 30 semester credit hours for a baccalaureate degree. A maximum of 15 of the 30 credits may be for cooperative education, internships, and practica.
  • Pre-collegiate courses (usually numbered below 100) cannot be used for graduation.
  • Capstone exit assessment/projects (e.g., Major Field Achievement Test) requirements are identified under Program-Specific Degree Requirements.
  • The Catalog Year determines which program sheet and degree requirements a student must fulfill in order to graduate. Visit with your advisor or academic department to determine which catalog year and program requirements you should follow.
  • See “Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees and Certificates” in the catalog for a complete list of graduation requirements.

Essential Learning Requirements

(31 semester hours)

See the current catalog for a list of courses that fulfill the requirements below. If a course is an Essential Learning option and a requirement for your major, you must use it to fulfill the major requirement and make a different selection for the Essential Learning requirement.

English 1
ENGL 111English Composition I-GTCO13
ENGL 112English Composition II-GTCO23
Mathematics 1
MATH 110Mathematical Investigations-GTMA13
Select one History course3
Select one Humanities course3
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Select one Social and Behavioral Sciences course3
Select one Social and Behavioral Sciences course3
Fine Arts
Select one Fine Arts course3
Natural Sciences 2
Select one Natural Sciences course3
Select one Natural Sciences course with a lab4
Total Semester Credit Hours31

Must receive a grade of “C” or better and must be completed by the time the student has 60 semester hours.


One course must include a lab.

Other Lower Division Requirements

Wellness Requirement
KINE 100Health and Wellness1
Select one Activity course1
Essential Learning Capstone 1
ESSL 290Maverick Milestone3
ESSL 200Essential Speech1
Total Semester Credit Hours6

Essential Learning Capstone must be taken after completion of the Essential Learning English and Mathematics requirements, and when a student has earned between 45 and 75 hours.

Foundation Courses

(15 semester hours, must pass all courses with a grade of “B” or higher.)

ARTE 101Two-Dimensional Design-GTAH13
ARTE 102Three-Dimensional Design-GTAH13
ARTE 118History of Art, Prehistory to Renaissance-GTAH13
ARTE 119History of Art, Renaissance to Present-GTAH13
ARTS 151Foundation Drawing I3
Total Semester Credit Hours15

Program Specific Degree Requirements

(57 semester hours. To continue in the program and eventually graduate as graphic design majors a student must earn, within no more than three attempts, at least a grade of “B” in the major requirements.)

Art History Course
ARTH 324History of Graphic Design3
Graphic Design Courses
ARTG 122Design It3
ARTG 215Graphic Design I3
ARTG 220UX Design I3
ARTG 221Graphic Design II3
ARTG 222Illustration I3
ARTG 290UX Design II3
ARTG 301Digital Illustration3
ARTG 320Letterforms and Typography3
ARTG 321Advanced Typography3
ARTG 333Illustration II3
ARTG 337Illustration III3
ARTG 338Brand Design3
ARTG 360Sketchbook3
ARTG 401Digital Painting3
ARTG 405UX Design III3
ARTG 406UX Design IV3
ARTG 450Identity Design3
ARTG 493Portfolio Development3
Total Semester Credit Hours57

General Electives

All college level courses appearing on your final transcript, not listed above that will bring your total semester hours to 120 hours. Excludes KINA activity courses. 11 semester hours, including 1 semester hour of upper division, may be needed.

Select electives11
Total Semester Credit Hours11
Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterSemester Credit Hours
ARTS 151 Foundation Drawing I 3
ARTG 122 Design It 3
ARTE 101 Two-Dimensional Design-GTAH1 3
ENGL 111 English Composition I-GTCO1 3
MATH 110 Mathematical Investigations-GTMA1 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
ARTE 102 Three-Dimensional Design-GTAH1 3
ARTE 118 History of Art, Prehistory to Renaissance-GTAH1 3
ARTG 215 Graphic Design I 3
ENGL 112 English Composition II-GTCO2 3
Essential Learning - Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Second Year
Fall Semester
ARTG 221 Graphic Design II 3
ARTG 222 Illustration I 3
ARTG 220 UX Design I 3
Essential Learning - History 3
Essential Learning - Natural Science with Lab 4
 Semester Credit Hours16
Spring Semester
ARTG 290 UX Design II 3
ARTG 301 Digital Illustration 3
ARTG 320 Letterforms and Typography 3
ARTG 333 Illustration II 3
ESSL 200 Essential Speech 1
ESSL 290 Maverick Milestone 3
 Semester Credit Hours16
Third Year
Fall Semester
ARTE 119 History of Art, Renaissance to Present-GTAH1 3
ARTG 321 Advanced Typography 3
ARTG 360 Sketchbook 3
ARTG 401 Digital Painting 3
ARTH 324 History of Graphic Design 3
KINE 100 Health and Wellness 1
 Semester Credit Hours16
Spring Semester
ARTG 337 Illustration III 3
ARTG 338 Brand Design 3
ARTG 405 UX Design III 3
Essential Learning - Humanities 3
KINA Activity 1
Essential Learning - Natural Science 3
 Semester Credit Hours16
Fourth Year
Fall Semester
ARTG 406 UX Design IV 3
ARTG 450 Identity Design 3
Essential Learning - Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
General Electives (6 hours) 6
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
ARTG 493 Portfolio Development 3
General Electives (5 hours) 5
Essential Learning - Fine Arts 3
 Semester Credit Hours11
 Total Semester Credit Hours120

Advising Process and DegreeWorks

Documentation on the pages related to this program is intended for informational purposes to help determine what courses and associated requirements are needed to earn a degree. The suggested course sequencing outlines how students could finish degree requirements. Some courses are critical to complete in specific semesters, while others may be moved around. Meeting with an academic advisor is essential in planning courses and altering the suggested course sequencing. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to understand and fulfill the requirements for her/his intended degree(s).

DegreeWorks is an online degree audit tool available in MAVzone. It is the official record used by the Registrar’s Office to evaluate progress towards a degree and determine eligibility for graduation. Students are responsible for reviewing their DegreeWorks audit on a regular basis and should discuss questions or concerns with their advisor or academic department head. Discrepancies in requirements should be reported to the Registrar’s Office.

Graduation Process

Students must complete the following in the first two months of the semester prior to completing their degree requirements:

  • Review their DegreeWorks audit and create a plan that outlines how unmet requirements will be met in the final semester.
  • Meet with their advisor and modify their plan as needed. The advisor must approve the final plan.
  • Submit the “Intent to Graduate” form to the Registrar’s Office to officially declare the intended graduation date and commencement ceremony plans.
  • Register for all needed courses and complete all requirements for each degree sought.

Submission deadlines and commencement details can be found at

If a student’s petition for graduation is denied, it will be her/his responsibility to consult the Registrar’s Office regarding next steps.