Graphic Design

Graphic Design Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree On-campus

Graphic Design

Prepare for a career in the dynamic field of visual communications.

The Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design degree program at California University of Pennsylvania provides a thorough grounding in the visual and conceptual foundations of graphic design and its role in how we communicate visually through the various mediums available to a designer.

Students benefit from focusing on how and why a designer creates. Students and faculty closely examine the creative process behind communication design. The emphasis is on visual thinking, experimentation and exploring the relationship of word and image. This examination of the design process helps students develop skills that will enable them to create multiple design solutions for any given problem.

Gain a career advantage with Cal U's access to internships and hands-on experience.

By the end of their program, graphic design students will be able to:

  • Assess a design problem and write a brief that fully addresses the perceived task, incorporating the research process and outcomes criteria.
  • Conduct relevant research into areas of the brief, incorporating this into the finished design.
  • Construct a working timetable and course of action, ensuring successful completion of the project.
  • Develop effective practices and sustained motivation when working both independently and as part of a team.
  • Demonstrate developed skills to use self-criticism in relation to their own work and apply constructive criticism to ensure the outcome of a project.

Program Highlights: Graphic Design  

Professional opportunities:  Cal U has one of the only programs in the area that is led by faculty who are graphic designers. Students also learn in a fully functioning student-run graphic design studio at Cal U: Studio 224 handles real-world jobs with clients ranging from The Women's Center at Cal U to The National Aviary and Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation. Studio 224 offers students invaluable experience in the business of graphic design over the four years of their study. Students often are asked to assist faculty with their own research and live jobs. All of these opportunities give graphic design students much-needed and valued real-world experience.

Solid foundation:  Cal U graphic design students build upon design thinking by examining structures, formats, sequences and special aspects of books, publications, packaging, interactive media and other graphic forms. Emphasis is on helping students expand and develop ideas to their full potential, understanding options, and rigorously examining design decisions. All of this development culminates in the preparation of a portfolio of work that best represents the student's abilities and focus as he or she moves into a career. This process is carefully managed by a faculty member throughout the student's last year of study at Cal U.

Top Accreditation: Cal U's bachelor's degree program in graphic design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Learn more about applying.


Student-to-faculty ratio at Cal U.
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in graphic design, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
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Degree Benefits


The graphic design program is part of the new Department of Communication, Design and Culture at Cal U, which sets our degree program apart from similar programs in the region. Graphic design programs around the world typically are housed within university art departments, since graphic design is often seen as a "commercial art." But over the past 70 years, graphic design has shifted its focus to the communications value of messages and visuals. Cal U graphic design students benefit from being part of expanded learning and broader dialogue in the area of communication.

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Graduate Outcomes


While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that positions for graphic designers are declining in traditional areas such as newspapers, employment in computer systems design and related services is projected to grow 21% through 2024. With accelerated use of the Internet, companies are increasing their digital presence, and graphic designers are needed to help create visually appealing and effective layouts for websites. Pittsburgh offers strong career opportunities in a robust tech-focused startup culture, attracting such companies as Google and Facebook. Many Cal U students also are employed at Brunner, Pittsburgh's top ad agency.

Graphic Design (B.S.)
A group works on a design project.

Vital Resources.

Cal U offers two dedicated graphic design labs that are open to students 24/7. Each houses 22 Apple Macs, running the latest version of Adobe's Creative Suite, plus printers and workspace. These labs not only serve as workspaces but also as social spaces where students meet to discuss projects and share ideas. Coover Hall facilities are being renovated with input from faculty and will reopen in 2019 with new, more integrated space for the graphic design program.

A woman works on a design project.

Professional Connections

Students are encouraged to take as many internship opportunities as possible, either through Cal U's internship program or by finding positions on their own. Many graphic design students complete internships over the winter and summer terms. A popular opportunity is Gatesman's Brandtern experience. After one student completed the 10-week program, the Pittsburgh-based advertising agency contacted Cal U, wanting to form an ongoing relationship with the University because they were so impressed by our program's student-intern.

B.S., Graphic Design Courses

Graphic design courses focus on developing students' critical-thinking skills so they're prepared to tackle problems in any media and provide creative solutions.


Course Credits
Freshman Year  
First Semester 16
ART 127  Introduction to Graphic Design 3
ART 212  Art History I 3
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar 1
ENG 101  English Composition I 3
General Education Courses 6
Second Semester 15
ART 261  Typography 3
ART 214  Art History II 3
ART Studio Course (100-200 level) 3
ENG 102  English Composition II 3
General Education Course 3
Sophomore Year  
Third Semester 15
ART 262  Color Theory 3
ART 119  Design 2-D 3
GCM 180  Multimedia Foundations 3
COM 230  Argumentation and Debate 3
General Education Course 3
Fourth Semester 15
ART Studio Course (300-400 level) 3
COM 142  Video Production 3
GCM 331  Web Publishing 3
PHI 335  Aesthetic Theory 3
Elective Course 3
Junior Year  
Fifth Semester 15
ART 120  Design 3-D 3
ART 227  Graphic Design Studio I 3
ART 243  Introduction to Asian Art 3
COM 331  Radio/TV Commercials 3
General Education Course 3
Sixth Semester 15
ART 110  Drawing I 3
ART 327  Graphic Design Studio II 3
General Education Courses 6
Elective Course 3
Senior Year  
Seventh Semester 15
ART 427  Graphic Design Studio III 3
PHI 220  Ethics 3
General Education Course 3
Elective Courses 6
Eighth Semester 14
ART 422  Art History: The Art World After Modernism 3
ART 428  Graphic Design Studio IV 3
General Elective Course 3
Elective Courses 5
Total 120

Note: One Laboratory Component course must be completed as part of the General Education requirements.

Students must achieve an overall GPA of 2.50 or higher and successfully complete a portfolio review before scheduling Graphic Design Studio I (ART 227) - see adviser.

Graphic Design Faculty

Greg Harrison

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Spencer Norman
Associate Professor

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Dr. Cindy Persinger
Associate Professor

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