Master visual composition of digital and print design.
Work with real clients from concept to delivery.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree in Graphic Design
Graphic design majors learn to design for our visual society. Think websites, books, magazines, posters, apps, traffic signs, and more.
Graphic designers are responsible for the things people turn to for both information and good form. An MCAD education will prepare you to be at the top of this profession.
Graphic design is a major offered in the four-year BFA degree program. Our BFA curriculum is rooted by
Core Four—foundation courses that enhance students' professional development.
GRD 2000 Introduction to Graphic Design 3
This course provides students with an overview of graphic design practice. Students concentrate on building visual language and communication skills as well as the vocabulary necessary for critical analysis. Topics covered include basic visual and typographic principles, type and image integration, composition, sequence, and craft. Students are also introduced to the design process, which includes research, ideation, iteration, refinement, and implementation. Image/image-series, logotypes, mark-making, digital presentations, and booklets are possible outcomes of this course.
Prerequisites: Foundation: 2D, Foundation: Drawing 1, Foundation: Media 1, Foundation: Media 2 (Foundation: Drawing 1 and Foundation: Media 2 may be taken concurrently
GRD 2010 Typography 1 3
This course emphasizes foundational typographic principles from letterform construction to hierarchies of extended text. Particular attention is directed toward typographic vocabulary, type as image, typographic organization, and the utilization of supporting grid structures. Through assignments, larger projects, and critiques, students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of typography as a visual tool used to enhance verbal meaning.
Prerequisites: Foundation: 2D, Foundation: Drawing 1, Foundation: Media 1, Foundation: Media 2 (Foundation: Drawing 1 and Foundation: Media 2 may be taken concurrently)
AH 3659 History of Graphic Design 3
The fields of graphic design and advertising have altered and been altered by technological advances, and these transformations are ongoing. This course examines the history of the discipline of graphic design from its early practices to the present, emphasizing advertising as a primary expression of graphic design and the particular way in which the Internet has allowed for design to impact the culture at large. Classes are primarily lecture with some discussion. Students take examinations and complete research assignments.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 (may be taken concurrently) or instructor permission; Prerequisite for BSc students: instructor permission
GRD 3080 Digital Production 3
This course provides students with a practical and comprehensive overview of the digital production process—from organizing, preparing, and managing digital files to achieving professional quality output. Students examine techniques, standards, and terminology commonly used in contemporary practice. Other topics include raster-art and vector-art preparation, font and color management, materials, formats, workflow, and vendor communications.
Prerequisites: Graphic Design 2, Typography 2
GRD 3020 Typography 2 3
This class advances the skills and principles learned in Introduction to Typography. Students investigate conceptual possibilities utilizing research, knowledge of historical and contemporary perspectives, experimental strategies using hand tools and digital software, and personalized design methodologies. Students are challenged to develop original solutions and promote their own visual sensibilities. Projects are designed to advance the understanding of how typography can be used to articulate meaning as it relates to a variety of topics including typographic and language systems, identity, conceptual narratives, and sequential implementation. Outcomes consist of print and digital solutions.
Prerequisites: Typography 1, Graphic Design 1
GRD 3030 Graphic Design 2 3
This intermediate course examines procedural frameworks for graphic communications. The class covers a range of topics including the utility of series and systems approaches, content generation models and strategies, and an expanded notion of hierarchical content. Some project components require student responsibility in authoring content in both language and imagery. At least one project requires formal documentation illustrating the design process. Print and digital outcomes range from experimental studies in image advancement to mark-making and identity systems.
Prerequisites: Typography 1, Graphic Design 1
DE 4000 Professional Practice 3
Professional Practice is directed toward the student’s transition into the professional world. Students create a variety of promotional materials concentrating on their book, including résumés, work samples, and project documentation. In addition to the preparation of materials, students practice interview techniques, survey employment markets and opportunities, and finalize an internship site. Visiting professionals, field trips, and individualized student research provide context for all promotional materials.
Prerequisites: Junior standing
GRD 4010 Internship 3
Internships provide an opportunity for students to gain practical experience in a particular career area and valuable on-the-job skills. Internships may be arranged by the Director of Career Services or initiated by students. All internships must be preapproved through the Career Services Office. For an internship to be approved, a mentor relationship and learning experience should exist beyond a simple employment opportunity. Three-credit internships require working 135 hours at the internship site and keeping a journal of hours and activities.
Prerequisites: Professional Practice
GRD 5010 Advanced Graphic Design Seminar 3
This class focuses on complex design challenges, professional-level assignments, and design projects with multiple components. Students are encouraged to be entrepreneurial as they conduct research and develop innovative solutions for appropriate economic constituencies, users, and audiences. Each student refines his or her voice, style, and agenda while creating a semester-long project. Professional presentations of design ideas and solutions for critique and discussion are central to this course. Project formats and media are open-ended.
Prerequisites: Successful Junior Review
GRD 5100 Senior Project 6
Senior Project is a capstone class that allows graphic design seniors the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge they have obtained and cultivated at MCAD. In collaboration with the professor, students mount a thorough investigation of their career goals and assess how their current portfolio anticipates next steps. Projects may involve revising or extending existing work or creating new work with an eye to the future. The semester culminates with the Commencement Exhibition, during which students display their best work, and Emerging Talent Day, which allows students to showcase their portfolios to potential employers.
Prerequisites: Successful Junior Review, Senior standing
Select one of: 3 GRD 3050 Publication Design 3
Publication design remains one of the most challenging and complex opportunities within the larger field of graphic design. In this course, students create, conceptualize, and manage content for multiple publications. Structural systems, formats, and organizational methods are investigated as well as the creation of visual narrative through image, pacing, and sequence. Critiques and discussions of examples from the field encourage students to think globally and flexibly about systems and to explore modifications to the traditional structure of books, catalogs, and magazines.
Prerequisites: Graphic Design 2, Typography 2 GRD 3060 Narrative Design 3
This course explores the dynamic integration of graphic form, typography, and message enhanced through the orchestration of movement, time, sequence, and sound. These subjects are studied as integral components of the design process that result in compelling graphic narrations. Classroom demonstrations, critiques, and screenings enable students to develop narratives that service a wide range of applications for contemporary communication vehicles.
Prerequisites: Graphic Design 2, Typography 2
Select one of: 3 GRD 3070 Design Systems 3
Central to graphic design thinking, systems-based design projects have always challenged the designer to investigate new and better ways of representing complex information. These design systems are the crucial ingredient in the interdisciplinary practices of branding, interactive design, information design, and mapping. Classroom activities and assignments examine resource development, research analysis, information management, and ideation as parts of a larger whole. Not restricted to any one media, this course encourages students to develop a variety of solutions, guided by critique, individual discussions, and course assignments.
Prerequisites: Graphic Design 2, Typography 2 WMM 3020 Web and Screen 3
Building on their initial exposure to web design and development in Foundation: Media 1 and 2, students engage in a thorough examination of current web-publishing standards, concepts, and development tools. Topics covered in this course range from web design and development—including Internet-based art practices, interactive screen-based publication formats, commercial websites, generative and algorithmic art, information design, and digital storytelling—to broader screen-based aesthetics and practices. Machine-to-machine as well as human-machine interactions are presented. Creative and investigative approaches to network-driven concepts are encouraged.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 2
First-Year Studio Foundation 15 FDN 1111 Foundation: 2D 3
Foundation: 2D is an introduction to creative thinking that develops students’ skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. An emphasis is placed on exploring new ways to read and see the world, as well as new ways to report on it. Students learn basic two-dimensional principles through the use of various media, tools, materials, and processes. As a result, students develop a visual and verbal language for analyzing, organizing, shaping, and communicating two-dimensional form and meaning.
FDN 1112 Foundation: 3D 3
This course is an introduction to understanding of visual creation for the development of knowledge, imagination, and perception. Students are introduced to basic three-dimensional concepts as well as materials and technical production processes. Classroom activities include shop demonstrations of tools and techniques, information, lectures, and discussions appropriate to promote the balanced fusion of practice and theory.
FDN 1211 Foundation: Drawing 1 3
Foundation: Drawing 1 is an introductory drawing course designed to prepare students for study in all majors of the college. Students develop basic drawing skills, including the ability to perceive and express visual relationships, organize a two-dimensional composition, and depict and manipulate form, space, and light. Students work from direct observation of still life, interior space, and landscape.
FDN 1311 Foundation: Media 1 3
Students are introduced to the digital resources at MCAD while exploring digital media and laptop computing. Areas covered include the Service Bureau, student servers, Media Center, and digital resources. Students discuss media and media artists as well as study various software applications including Adobe Photoshop and web development tools.
Prerequisites: None FDN 1312 Foundation: Media 2 3
Building on the skills acquired in Foundation: Media 1, this class takes up more advanced software applications. Through discussions and lectures, students explore various modes of media presentation, the power of moving images, and web work. Using a variety of software and hardware, students learn the basics of nonlinear editing, sound recording, and video recording.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 1
First-Year Liberal Arts Foundation 12 AH 1701 Introduction to Art and Design History 1 3
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the major stylistic, thematic, cultural, and historical transformations in Western and non-Western art history from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century. This course helps students develop critical tools for the interpretation and understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion. Students take in-class examinations and complete short essay assignments.
AH 1702 Introduction to Art and Design History 2 3
This course introduces students to issues in modern art, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics might include the expanding audience for art, the transformation of the art market, the impact of new technologies, the changing status of the artist, and the role of art in society. This course is taught as a seminar with some lecture. Students take in-class examinations and complete short essay assignments.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 1
EN 1100 Reading and Writing 1 3
Effective writing requires innovative thinking and creative engagement. Students in this course focus on building a writing portfolio by developing college-level writing skills and using these skills to produce a variety of assignments. Regular writing workshops allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Students explore a variety of texts and objects through class assignments. By the end of the course students have the foundational skills to be reflective and eloquent writers. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, group work, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, directed group work and research assignments, and a portfolio of seven essays.
EN 1200 Reading and Writing 2 3
Key to the creative and critical nature of college-level writing is the idea that students explore a topic by developing a thesis that changes as they ask questions, explore ideas, and conduct research. To that end, this course extends and concentrates the thinking and communication skills introduced in Reading and Writing I. The foci of this course are developing a thesis; engaging in critical and sustained research; and drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading a finished research project. As a result, students become increasingly adept at utilizing a wide variety of research tools, from published books to online search engines. The final project is a completed research paper and a visual presentation using programs such as PowerPoint. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, research exercises, presentations and debates, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, a research journal, a major research paper, and a final research presentation.
Prerequisites: Reading and Writing 1
Second-Year Studio Foundation 4 FDN 1411 Ideation and Process 3
Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as an artist/designer makes a series of decisions to guide its creative evolution. This course is designed to help students explore the development of new ideas and their own process of making. Students also create visual tools to track their creative process from idea through construction and then to post production analysis. The course consists of discussions, critiques, exercises, and visual logs.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing FDN 1412 Sophomore Seminar: Contemporary Practice 1
Practice is more than working methods: it’s the context, marketing, and creative space that maintain creative work. Contemporary Practice introduces students to the foundations, variety, and tools of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create professional presentations of their work. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing
varying Studio Electives 26
Graphic Design majors take 26 elective studio credits in any media they choose.
Liberal Arts Electives
varying Liberal Arts Electives 24
Graphic Design majors take liberal arts electives in the following distribution:
Art History (6 credits)
Scientific and Economic Systems (6 credits)
Histories, Places, and Philosophies (6 credits)
Creative and Professional Writing (3 credits)
Liberal Arts Capstone Course (3 credits)