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Graphic Design (AA, BA)

Graphic Design professor Alan Nauts sitting with students outside.

Build the skills, connections and portfolio to launch your career.

Why Study Graphic Design?

Brand storytelling, digital design and marketing, and audience engagement continue to evolve. Emerging platforms and technology challenge us to reach customers in new ways. It’s an exciting time for visual artists — and content creators of all kinds — to enter the workforce. Pursuing a degree in graphic design is excellent preparation, whether you want to develop ad campaigns, create catchy packaging, become a website designer or land another creative dream job.

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Career Outlook & Success

$52,110

national median salary for graphic designers in 2019 (bls.gov)

$81,640

median art director salary in Indiana in 2019 (bls.gov)

#5

ranking on U.S. News & World Reports “Best Creative and Media Jobs” list (2020)

Why USF for Graphic Design?

From your first graphic design course to your final project, you’ll grow creatively, professionally and spiritually at USF. You’ll learn from an exceptional faculty — working artists and graphic designers — who will inspire, support and prepare you for career success.

Our curriculum will give you a foundation in drawing, 2D and 3D composition, photography and the fine arts; and then you’ll choose a concentration area that matches your professional goals:

Web Design

If your ultimate goal is to become a website designer, either in-house at a company or for an advertising or marketing firm, this concentration will help you develop expertise with various operating systems, devices, coding languages and interactive design principles.

Photography

Prepare for a career in commercial and fine art photography. This concentration explores alternative photographic processes, digital technology, studio lighting and other practices you’d expect from a traditional photography degree program.

Illustration

Develop your artistic vision and style while gaining foundational skills in traditional and digital illustration. You’ll work in mediums from pen to paint and cover cartooning, advertising, and publishing — including children’s books.

Project-based learning is an important part of our program; in more than one graphic design course you’ll collaborate with classmates — and even students in other majors — to develop creative solutions for real clients. (Visit our graphic design gallery to see what our students have been working on.)

Finally, we know inspiration can strike at any time, so you’ll have 24-hour safe and secure access to our computer labs and design studios.

Design in Action: Hands-On Learning

By design, our major is hands-on. Beyond building software skills and honing techniques in a graphic design course, you’ll gain real-world experience through:

Graphic Design & Photography Internships

We’ll help you find the perfect internship to match your interests and career goals. These professional experiences may even lead to full-time jobs. For instance, Zack Kittaka ’16 was offered a position at his internship site, BFA Commercial Photography, even before he graduated.

Advertising Competitions

USF students attend the local ADDY Awards, where they get to see firsthand the top design work in the industry. And they compete — and often win! — in the Student American Advertising Awards Competition. USF students have won more awards than any other institution in the region over the years.

Professional Portfolio Assessment

Get feedback directly from the pros. Each spring, professional designers visit campus to assess and evaluate junior and senior student portfolios.

Industry Networking

Hear from advertising and design professionals at networking luncheons hosted by the Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne. Plus, meet other industry experts when they visit campus as guest speakers.

Graphic Design Students in class

Campus and Community Involvement

Talk design with your peers and network with local graphic designers through USF’s graphic design club Insignia Advertising,  our official college chapter of the American Advertising Federation, the industry’s premier professional organization.

Home to many majors and programs with a creative focus, the USF campus is teeming with creators! You can enjoy showcases and performances, or get involved with other arts-focused clubs, such as:

  • Artists in Action
  • f/8 Photo Club
  • Film Club
  • Pencil Pusher Sketch Club
  • Dead Artists Society

USF taught me to think like an artist. In addition to all the software and design tools, I learned ways to create from the concept and how to work with other content creators on a team. The small classes encourage us to bounce ideas off each other and work together. It’s very much like the real world.

Malia Ross ’19
Product Designer at Shindigz

What You Can Do With a Degree in Graphic Design

Visual messaging is everywhere, from brilliant billboards to enticing in-app ads. When you graduate from USF, you can become a website designer, book illustrator, studio photographer — the range of opportunities is seemingly endless because every company in every industry has a story to share and an audience to reach.

“Graphic designer” or “designer” is a common job title that can encompass many roles and duties, and at junior through senior level. Here are just a few other types of positions you could pursue with a photography, design or illustration background:

  • Publication designer/layout artist
  • Production designer
  • Communication designer
  • Multimedia designer/content producer
  • UX designer (user experience)
  • Visual information specialist
  • Instructional designer
  • Brand storyteller
  • Web project manager
  • Brand strategist
  • Photo editor
  • Product photographer
  • Retouch artist
  • Technical illustrator

The graphic design field offers room for advancement, too. Advertising firms and marketing agencies rely on art directors, production managers and other creative leaders to keep things running smoothly.

Where You’ll Find Our Graduates

USF graduates take what they’ve learned in their graphic design — and art, illustration and photography — degree program to all sorts of brands, businesses and organizations. A few examples of where alumni have been hired:

  • Asher Agency
  • BFA Commercial Photography
  • Boyden & Youngblutt
  • Britton Marketing and Design Group
  • Business People Magazine
  • DeKalb Health
  • Do It Best Corp
  • Excell Color Graphics
  • Ferguson Advertising
  • Fort Wayne Metals
  • Fort Wayne Museum of Art Marketing
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Intuit
  • Labov Marketing and Communications
  • Microsoft
  • Ogilvy & Matherr, Chicago
  • One Lucky Guitar
  • Parkview Hospital Marketing
  • Partners 1st Federal Credit Union
  • Saatchi and Saatchi LA
  • Sound Ideas
  • Sweetwater
  • T-Max Graphics, Inc
  • University of Notre Dame
  • VaynerMedia, LA
  • Vera Bradley
  • Warsaw Community Church
  • William & Wagner Advertising

Getting a job in my field before graduation was a great feeling and it relieved me of a lot of stress. I always dreamed of working for a sports team and now I’m doing it! USF gave me the confidence, plus the skills, to get hired.

Ryan Nix ’17
Social Media and Design for the Indianapolis Colts

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Academic Plan

An academic plan is a general blueprint showing how one might complete the degree, semester by semester. Get an idea on what each semester could look like.

View Associate Degree Plan

View Bachelor Degree Plan