Graphic Design Emphasis - B.F.A.


Format: Face-to-face

Credits: ~126

Designers use text, images, and graphic shapes to craft products that call our attention and make us remember over time. Designers work on the computer or by hand in creating communication materials (magazines, packaging, ads) and experiences (brands, websites, apps) that will fit a client’s wants and needs. A degree from GVSU offers students the intellectual and professional training needed to become the creative leaders of the future. After four years, students show competency in critical thinking, the use of technology, and practical experience.

Degree Options

Students interested in a Graphic design education may pursue a B.F.A. in Studio Art with this emphasis, or pursue a B.A./B.S. degree in Art Education with this emphasis as well.

BFA in Studio Art, Graphic Design Emphasis

The B.F.A. in Studio Art is designed for students interested in a professional career in art. Aside from Graphic Design, seven other Emphasis Areas are available to choose from in the B.F.A. degree.

BA/BS in Art Education and K-12 certification

Students may also pursue a BA or BS Degree in Art Education in which they can choose to take Graphic Design courses. 


Students are encouraged to coordinate typography, image, symbol, and color to communicate information, meaning, and thought-provoking ideas. The design faculty conscientiously prepares emphasis majors for the realities of a design career through technological proficiency, analytical versatility, and practical experience necessary for the competitive and diverse opportunities that lay ahead of them. Our well-equipped facilities allow design students to gain expertise in designing for print production and web environments.


Studio Art (Graphic Design) - B.F.A. Advising Guide 2022-23Transitional Advising GuideStudio Art (Graphic Design) - B.F.A. Advising Guide previous years

This studio extends basic art and design principles into the context of graphic design. Students will engage with letterform construction, anatomy of type, and page architecture. Emphasis will be placed on visual composition, the grid, basic reading conventions, reproduction technology, and adding images to typographic layouts. Offered fall semester.

Prerequisites: ART 150; must be enrolled in one of the two majors: studio art or art education, graphic design emphasis.

Credits: 3

This studio explores the creation of audience-centered experiences in digital spaces. Students will utilize audience-centered research and design methods, along with practical integration of interaction design principles. Emphasis will be placed on web and mobile application design, process documentation, research fundamentals, and execution of digital designs. Offered fall and winter semesters.

Prerequisite: ART 210.

Credits: 3

This course emphasizes students' preparation for securing an internship experience in Graphic Design. Students will create an application packet (mark, resume, business card, leave-behind) and a digital portfolio of works. Emphasis will be placed on interview preparation, scouting tips, and assisting students in aligning their college preparation with internship goals. 

Prerequisite: ART 210. Corequisite: ART 214.

Credits: 1

This course is an in-depth exploration into the methods of commercial printing and corresponding software packages. This course will aid students in understanding how to manipulate digital technology and conventional printing techniques to their advantage, to increase the quality of their work utilizing this knowledge.

Prerequisite: ART 211.

Credits: 3

This advanced studio immerses students in design problems that investigate complex typographic systems across digital and physical spaces. Students will engage with advanced hierarchy management and grid usage. Emphasis will be placed on projects that encompass printed, digital, and motion-based work. Offered fall semester.

Prerequisite: ART 210.

Credits: 3

This course introduces students to spatially oriented graphic design. Students will engage in developing projects that may include surface graphics, experimental technologies and display modes, packaging, and wayfinding systems. Emphasis will be placed on inventive form, production processes, material specification, and environmental impact.

Prerequisite: ART 210.

Credits: 3

This advanced studio immerses students in design problems that investigate emergent interactions in digital and physical spaces. Students will explore designing for internet-capable devices, screen-based interfaces, and physical-world enhancements with Augmented Reality. Emphasis will be placed on bridging print and digital experiences, motion-based work, audience-centered solutions, and process documentation. Offered fall and winter semesters.

Prerequisite: ART 214.

Credits: 3

This issues-based studio emphasizes how Graphic Design can help address systemic problems. Students will map the problem at hand, its interconnections, offer solutions and consider the impact on society, environment, and communities. Emphasis will be placed on collaboration and prototyping. May be repeated once for credit when the topic varies. 

Prerequisite: ART 214.

Credits: 3

This advanced studio emphasizes methods and principles of design systems focused on branding and service design. Students will work across multiple media channels, including but not limited to print, digital, environmental, and/or motion-based. Emphasis will be placed on process documentation, research implementation, system execution, and client presentation. 

Prerequisites: ART 310, ART 314, and passage of Junior Review.

Credits: 3

This course will emphasize students' preparation for professional practice post-graduation. Students will create a portfolio of works in print and/or digital form and engage in learning of contemporary professional practices. Emphasis will be placed on assisting students in aligning their college preparation to their personal goals.

Prerequisites: ART 310 and ART 314.

Credits: 3

This advanced course immerses students into a self-initiated Graphic Design project. Based on a topic of their choice, students will engage in researching, writing, making, and presenting. Emphasis will be placed on aligning research and project outcomes, technical execution, project management, and presentation of projects in a final group exhibition.

Prerequisite: ART 410.

Credits: 3


Vinicius Lima
Associate Professor
Area Coordinator


Lindsey Peterson
Assistant Professor

Anmol Shrivastava
Visiting Professor

Students' Works

“"I had always been an art kid. The problem solving involved in graphic design is what drew me into that specific emphasis. I love turning an ambiguous landscape into a creative solution."”

Sarah Brockett, graphic design emphasis alumna, 2014.


These facilities allow design students to gain expertise in digital typography, photo manipulation, vector-based art, and design for web environments. A separate, lab classroom offers space for group projects and fosters dialogue between graphic design students. The Graphic Design classroom is a multi-use space for lecturing, demonstrations, letterpress printing, and student meetings. Moreover, the Department of Visual and Media Arts offers three computer labs for student activities and classes. The labs are equipped with 21-inch iMac computers, color and black and white printers, and flatbed scanners.

GraphicDesign Classroom
GD Classroom

Alumni Outcomes

Graphic design emphasis' graduates pursue careers in any industry where art, visual layout knowledge, technology, and strategy become necessary. They find employment in in-house design teams, design studios, and advertising and public relations agencies.

Graphic Design Graduates Work As...

  • Graphic Designer
  • Art Director
  • Creative Director
  • Creative Manager
  • Brand Manager
  • User Interface Designers
  • User Experience Designers
  • Web Designers
  • Digital Designer
  • Product Designer (digital)

Where GVSU Alumni Work...

  • Vox Media
  • Barfly Ventures
  • Steelcase
  • Apple
  • Hallmark
  • ArtPrize
  • The Image Shoppe
  • Newell Brands
  • OST - Open Systems Technology
  • Corewell Health
  • Rivian

Professional Networking

Graphic design emphasis students are encouraged to pursue professional connections from the start in the program, engaging in internship experiences, on-campus employment, and the Graphic Design Student Club.

AIGA: Grand Valley

As a student group, we seek to get as many students involved in the design community as possible. The club offers a variety of activities from screen printing, hosting skill shares, curating exhibitions, and discussing current inspirations. The meetings are open to anyone with a love for, interest in, or curiosity about the wonders of graphic design.

AIGA: Grand Valley Instagram

GVSU Career Center

The Career Center offers a wide variety of events to help you successfully land after graduating from GVSU! 

Career Center Website


Interested in visiting VMA? Schedule your student lead tour today! 

Tours are available during open VMA Office hours:
Monday -Friday 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
(Closed on Public Holidays)
VMA Main Office: (616) 331-3486
[email protected]

Request Information/Visit

For questions about the Graphic Design area, please contact:

Vinicius Lima
Graphic Design Coordinator
1119 Calder Arts Center
(616) 331-3119
[email protected]

Page last modified March 9, 2023