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Degree Overview: Bachelor of Graphic Design (B.G.D.) Degree Program

Majors Overview April 15, 2015

Get information about bachelor’s degree programs in graphic design and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor of Graphic Design (B.G.D.) Degree Programs

Those who seek careers involving the creation of visual media, such as documents, logos, websites, films, and advertisements, would benefit by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in graphic design. These degree programs are devised to teach students ways of balancing perspectives, colors, icons, and words to create eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing promotional publications or images.

Individuals who complete the program develop the technical skills necessary for using essential technologies, such as graphic design software, industrial printers, sound machines, and cameras. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredits graphic design programs.

The presentation of a portfolio of design work or completion of prerequisite courses may be required by applicants for enrollment to a graphic design bachelor’s degree program. Coursework usually includes subject areas such as communications, marketing, and computer science apart from art coursework in 3-D design, typography, computer graphics, and drawing. A portfolio of their graphic design projects is completed by students, and senior projects may be requirements prior to graduation.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) vs. Bachelor of Graphics Design (B.G.D.)

Schools offer these programs in both Bachelor of Graphic Design (B.G.D.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) formats in various options, such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Graphic Design, Bachelor of Graphic Design (B.G.D.), Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), and Bachelor of Science (B.S.). B.G.D. and B.F.A. programs take four years to complete with over 90% of the coursework devoted to graphic design and design-related coursework. These programs are sufficient preparation for professional graphic design careers (The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the NASAD).

The NASAD and AIGA consider B.S. and B.A. programs as liberal art programs because of the devotion of less than 50% of the credits toward design and art curricula. The AIGA and NASAD do not consider liberal arts degrees as adequate preparation for a career in graphic design.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma. However, completion of specific coursework and submission of a portfolio are mandatory for admission to some programs (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).


Coursework in the inter-disciplinary field of graphic design explores a wide array of topic areas, such as computer sciences, communications, visual arts, and marketing. Professional portfolios aimed at highlighting their skills to prospective employers are a requirement of students enrolled in most programs. A senior project may also be a requirement in the coursework that may commonly include topic areas such as:

•Computer graphics
•Advertising design
•2-D and 3-D design

Career Choices

Those who complete the program can expect to be adept at creating posters, branding systems, websites, and publications for various industries, such as public relations, publishing, and advertising. Graduates may seek popular job titles such as:

•Art director
•Web designer
•Publications designer
•Computer artist
•Graphic designer

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, average job growth rate of seven percent have been predicted for graphic designers (BLS). Over the same decade, art directors are expected to see a three percent growth rate. Web designers (categorized by the BLS with information security analysts, web developers, and computer network architects) are expected to witness a twenty percent growth. In May 2012, art directors brought in an average annual wage of $80,880 (BLS). During that year, web developers banked an average wage of $62,500.

Continuing Education Choices

Given the technical character of graphic design, continuing education is required by professionals in this field in order to stay abreast of new design-software trends (BLS). Training may be available on new technology or software programs by employers; however, independent enrollment in continuing education certification programs or training courses may be required by many graphic designers. Students may seek continuing education through completion of a Master of Graphic Design program.

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