Graphic Design Major

Why study Graphic Design?

A major in graphic design prepares students to be successful in a competitive and fast-paced occupation, where they will use technical skills and creative problem solving to produce traditional print publications, advertisements, and web designs using the latest digital technologies.

Upper Iowa University offers graphic design online as well as face-to-face at select locations. The expectation of the online graphic design program is that students are responsible for subscribing to the following software: Adobe Creative Cloud.

The graphic design major is a portfolio-driven program. That means that students formulate unique responses to design problems and create original work in every course. Courses are sequenced in such a way that design problems require more complex responses as students work through the various levels (e.g. 100, 200, 300, and 400). Mastery of software is reinforced in the curriculum, however conceptual abilities and critical thinking are privileged over technical skills. The goal of all graphic design classes is to build an individualized portfolio of original work.

Students are given the same design problems, but are challenged to respond with unique solutions. Daily assignments and exercises provide opportunities for students to experiment with multiple solutions and to make mistakes. After receiving feedback, students are encouraged to modify their designs and polish their work for their portfolios.

  • The professional goal of the graphic design program is to prepare students for challenges beyond their first jobs. Ideally, our graphic design majors are trained to become art directors.
  • Graphic designers combine text and images to communicate ideas through the layout of printed pages, packages, websites, and other interactive media.
  • Graphic designers work closely with people in advertising and promotions, public relations, and marketing.
  • Nearly one third of all graphic designers are self-employed, which means they are their own bosses.

Here are just a few jobs you can get with a graphic design degree:

  • Art Director
  • Creative Director
  • Film and Video Editor
  • Graphic Designer
  • Industrial/Product Designer
  • Marketing Manager
  • Multimedia Artist/Animator
  • Photographer
  • Web Designer

Transfer students

The graphic design major is a good match for transfer students regardless of their backgrounds. Transfer students from two-year programs can substitute credits for lower-division coursework. Other courses can count as free electives or be substituted for upper division credits based on a portfolio review. As a transfer student, you will be required to complete a minimum of 30 credits at UIU. Most students choose to substitute their previous coursework for free electives so they can take more graphic design courses at UIU. Students also must complete 36 hours of upper division courses. Your adviser will help you make the decision that is best for you.

Graphic design minor

Students with interests in related fields of study, like marketing or communication, may find the 24-credit-hour graphic design minor to be a good fit. The minor contains 15 hours of upper division coursework. Because of this, students who minor in graphic design create enough original work to compile a substantial professional portfolio.

  • Graphic Designers*
  • Job outlook: 4% increase
  • Wages: The median annual salary for a graphic designer was $44,150 in 2012, or $21.22 per hour.
  • View similar occupations

*Taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Graphic Design is offered at the following Upper Iowa University locations:

  • Residential Fayette campus
  • Online Program