Take a class or two before committing to a certificate program.

Considering applying to MCAD's professional certificate programs but looking to gain some foundation skills first? Here is a list of common classes students take prior to completing their applications.*

Please note that the classes listed below may not be offered every semester (fall, spring, or summer) and the final descriptions may differ slightly. View the list of currently offered classes.

Classes and Descriptions

Introduction to Graphic Design, Campus-Based

Graphic design is everywhere. From tee-shirts to posters, traffic signs to logos, graphic design is used to visually communicate an idea, a message, or a statement. Students in this class will explore graphic design as a practice and learn to put to work the concepts and principles of design. Hands-on, in-class exercises, and real world, structured assignments will immerse students in the elements of graphic design, including typography, layout, color, and graphic form. Through detailed projects, exposure to current examples and contemporary practices, and experimentation with materials, students will become aware of the creative process of graphic design. They will develop concepts from an initial idea rendered in a sketchbook to final compositions using the Adobe Creative Suite.

Introduction to Typography, Campus-Based

It's one thing to make a message legible, clear to another person, and beautifully typeset (meaning how the letters have been arranged), but quite another to render that message so that it has emotional and aesthetic qualities. The ability to do so is grounded in a thorough understanding of the history of typography. In this class, students will learn how to do just that. They will explore the development of typography and then apply what they've discovered to an engaging series of assignments and projects. Over a period of 10 weeks, students will deconstruct, interpret, and build upon the major historical styles of typography from the beautiful centered layouts of the Renaissance to the exuberant explosion of fonts found in Victorian advertising, from the modernization of design through the Russian Constructivists and the Bauhaus in German, to the refined minimalism of 1960s Swiss typography. One-off experimental workshops and film screenings will supplement students' exploration of the history of printed communication. At the conclusion of the class, students will have been exposed to 500 years of typographic innovation, developed a greater sense of detail in their work, and created a series of original publications informed by individual interests.

Introduction to Adobe Photoshop, Campus-Based

Adobe Photoshop is the mainstay for the creation and manipulation of bitmapped images for print and web design. Through the hands-on use of the program, students in this workshop will learn the basics of the application, including using the tool palette and menus, exploring floating palettes, and the variety of options in regards to each tool. Students will work with selections and explore how to do basic painting and image editing such as retouching and color correction.

Introduction to Adobe InDesign, Campus-Based

This introductory class will provide the groundwork for creating professional quality, print- and screen-ready documents using Adobe's page-layout program, InDesign. Students will start by exploring InDesign's work area: The tools; menu commands; and palettes. Next, students will learn the basics of the application: Setting up documents; formatting text; manipulating objects; defining objects; and using swatches. This class will also highlight some of InDesign's unique features by way of in-class demonstrations: The Paragraph Composer for improved typographic quality; user-definable resolution of proxies for placed graphic files; context-sensitive pop-up menus; and special graphics and typographical effects. By the end, students will have created a 4-color brochure to print ready specifications.

Introduction to Adobe Illustrator, Campus-Based

This class, ideal for those who work in both print and on the web, will cover concise, straightforward instruction on how to get started with Adobe Illustrator and how to work toward the creation of images and text with more sophisticated tools and techniques. Students will learn to use the pen tools, brushes, and apply effects, in addition to how to work with and edit color. Students will also explore the differences between vector-based images and bitmaps; identifying when and why Illustrator should be used for a particular project; learning how Illustrator files integrate with other applications; and preparing files for print or web use. Through demonstrations and practice, students will apply what they learn to a comprehensive project.

Graphic Design Essentials with the Adobe Creative Suite, Online, Asynchronous

This class introduces individuals with little or no design background to the graphic design practice. Students work both on and off the computer to complete assignments that explore basic 2D communication principles integrating color, shape, texture, typography, and photography to build a visual language. Essential skills in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator that support the task of each assignment will be taught through weekly tutorials. Students will develop an understanding of the stages of the design process (research, ideation, sketching, etc.), and project outcomes include collages, patterns, posters, and a logo. At the end of the class, students will be guided through the process of sequencing and presenting a digital portfolio of their designs.

Web Development: HTML and CSS, Online, Asynchronous

In this class, students learn how to create visually appealing, well-organized web pages using HTML and CSS, the fundamental languages for creating content and style on the web. The class begins with HTML and is introduced to tags, links, lists, tables, forms, web standards (old, new, and evolving), and the foundation of web page construction. Then, using CSS, students apply style sheets to HTML, using fonts, colors, divs, spans, layout, and positioning to create a well-crafted web page. The class is geared toward the beginning to intermediate web developer or designer.


*General continuing education credits earned prior to enrolling in a certificate program do not count toward program requirements. Please contact with questions.

**Interactive design and marketing credits earned prior to enrolling in the interactive design and marketing certificate program are eligible credits toward program requirements if course is taken for full credit. Limit six total credits (two classes).

Additional Information