Graphic Design Degrees

The Graphic Design program at the San José State University offers two degrees:

The Graphic Design Program admits every student as a BA Design Studies Major. Upon completion of DsGD 100 once enrolled, students are eligible to apply for pre-admission to BFA Graphic Design Program.

Final admission to the BFA Graphic Design program is by portfolio reviews only (Students must participate both the DsGD 100 and DsGD 104 portfolio reviews. The application process will be covered by the DsGD 100 and 104 instructors). Students who do not pass the review will remain in the BA-Design Studies Program with a specialization in Graphic Design.

BFA Graphic Design (Professional Degree)

This program prepares students for intellectually and aesthetically challenging careers in Graphic Design by providing courses that emphasize theory and professional practice. The curriculum concentrates on the organization and visual communication of information and includes typography, form and image, information architecture, user interface, interactive design, and motion graphics. Additionally, students have the opportunity to attend special classes and workshops led by studio professionals and faculty members.

To be admitted to the program, students must pass two portfolio (DsGD 100–Fall and DsGD 104–Spring) reviews. To advance to the BFA GD program, students must pass two Junior and two Senior Reviews.

All students are required to complete a professional internship and must maintain a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale in all art/design courses; failing this, the BFA status will be changed to the BA-Art Design Studies.

BA Design Studies (Liberal Arts Degree)

Students who do not pass portfolio review will continue as BA Design Studies majors with a specialization in GD. Students in Design Studies for GD will receive a broad-based study of graphic design principles, history and theory in addition to basic knowledge of the aesthetic and technical skills needed to produce innovative projects. Students are encouraged to combine their studies in design with electives in the arts and other fields. 

Additionally, a minor from one of the following departments is recommended: Anthropology, Art and Art History, Business, Computer Science, English and Comparative Literature, Environmental Studies, General Engineering, Global Studies, Journalism and Mass Communications, Philosophy, Psychology, and Urban and Regional Planning.

Learning Outcomes

BFA Graphic Design:

Upon completion of the program, students will

  • apply the principles of color, composition, hierarchy, typography as they relate in the various media—digital, print, motion, 3D, etc.;
  • demonstrate the ability to create and develop original concepts, build prototypes, integrate feedback and carry projects through the production process;
  • reach audiences by applying principles of visual communication and understanding the role of design in society;
  • identify key aspects of graphic design history, theory and criticism from a variety of perspectives, including prominent designers, historians and contemporary writers and thought-leaders;
  • show fluency in the breadth of disciplines that graphic design encompasses, with deep exploration into information architecture, user interface design, interactive design, motion graphics, iterative image-making, exhibition design and typeface design;
  • demonstrate understanding of the design process, design thinking and professional standards and practices, including real-project learning scenarios and a transition into preparing a portfolio to enter the working force.

BA Design Studies:

Upon completion of the program, students will

  • utilize knowledge gained in classroom to develop discipline-based skills in materials and techniques;
  • demonstrate professional depth of knowledge within their field of study;
  • engage in global views and weigh design decisions within the parameters of ecological, socio-economic, and cultural contexts;
  • demonstrate all aspects of the design process to identify complex problems and generate solutions that optimize human experiences;
  • engage in multi-disciplinary collaborative work team structures;
  • demonstrate discipline-based design ideas verbally, visually and digitally.

Current Forms

Visit the Department's Forms page.