A student sits at a large worktable with the word "Process" in different graphic treatments.

Graphic Design (BFA)

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design program at University of the Arts offers a comprehensive conceptual curriculum that will prepare you for employment in fields ranging from publication design to motion graphics to branding and more.

Our Graphic Design BFA will equip you with a solid design process, as well as problem-solving strategies for every form of visual communication. You’ll learn to think critically, creatively, experimentally and strategically, in order to create visual messages that can be shared in meaningful ways through a variety of media. The program is cross-disciplinary and fosters collaboration with other programs at the university, as well as local arts organizations, nonprofits and social agencies.

Faculty Spotlight

UArts Graphic Design BFA faculty are successful, award-winning designers from a range of disciplines, from corporate branding to typeface design to emerging media, in New York and Philadelphia. In addition to teaching, many provide students with mentoring, internships and job opportunities. Our faculty have founded their own agencies and worked for major national magazines, global corporations, and branding firms, as well as not-for-profit organizations and cultural institutions. Students in the Graphic Design program receive one-on-one support and professional guidance as they develop their individual creative voices.

Angela Riechers, Graphic Design Program Director
Angela Riechers

Graphic Design (BFA)
Award-winning designer with work in myriad national publications
JArrett Fuller headshot
Jarrett Fuller

Graphic Design (BFA)
Runs Twenty-Six, a multidisciplinary design and editorial studio
John Connolly headshot
John Connolly

Graphic Design (BFA)
Founding Principal and Creative Director of the New York City-based agency, Ideas On Purpose

Student Spotlight

Students in the Graphic Design program are innovators, collaborators and visual thinkers. Our students benefit from small class sizes and hands-on experiences that prepare them for a career in graphic design.

The Graphic Design floor is a relaxed, friendly environment where all students mingle to become a supportive community and each other’s best resources. Working in airy, open double studios, our students learn and draw inspiration from each other. A spirit of collaboration in the department, as well as with other programs at the university and the larger creative community of Philadelphia, creates a unique atmosphere where everyone is welcomed and heard and ideas flow freely.

A headshot of Ana Villarreal.
Ana Villarreal

BFA ’19

Graphic Design (BFA)
Hometown: Metepec, Mexico, and Seoul, South Korea
Aubrey Fink sitting on a park bench with a book.
Aubrey Fink

BFA ’19

Graphic Design (BFA)
Hometown: Delaware County, Pennsylvania
A picture of Jonathan White in a cap and gown.
Jonathan White

BFA ’19

Graphic Design (BFA)
Hometown: Clinton, Maryland

Career Opportunities

The Graphic Design program prepares graduates for careers as graphic designers, web designers, UX (user experience) designers, creative directors and other careers. Our celebrated alumni have won awards for work with Reporters Without Borders; started their own firms; and worked at top firms and studios, including Apple, Comcast, Disney, Pentagram, &Walsh, the American Museum of Natural History, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Ideas on Purpose and Lippincott Global.

As a UArts Graphic Design graduate, you’ll know how to analyze what you see, speak about it eloquently, develop meaningful concepts, and generate compelling design narratives and solutions. You’ll learn to promote yourself and your work and how to land jobs that excite, challenge and nurture you throughout your career.

Internships provide professional opportunities for students to experience design in the real world and in real time while earning course credits. Our students have interned at Ideas on Purpose, P’Unk Ave, AAJ Design, Red Antler, King & Partners, URBN and many other top firms and studios.

Additionally, UArts encourages students in the exploration of the borderless and timeless language of the arts. Immersion in a new culture provides students with historical, intellectual and technical enrichment as they discover their individual role in the global narrative. With a variety of locations and areas of study, UArts has study-abroad opportunities that will help you meet your artistic and academic goals. 

Alumni Spotlight

“I had always been drawing, painting, animating or designing something. It was only natural that I stumbled upon UArts. What I didn’t know was that I was fortunate enough to end up at a university with a Graphic Design program with a 50-year tradition of success.” - Nijel Taylor

Nijel Taylor Headshot Graphic Design Alumni
Nijel Taylor

BFA '14

Graphic Design (BFA)
Senior Designer at Superunion, a global branding agency
Mike Tyson Headshot Graphic Design Alumni
Mike Tyson

BFA '12

Graphic Design (BFA)
Design Director, London office of global branding agency Siegel + Gale
Craig Holden Feinberg
Craig Holden Feinberg

BFA '02

Graphic Design (BFA)
Has worked with clients in Miami, Montreal, Washington D.C., Denver

Watch this profile on Mike Tyson BFA '12.

About the Curriculum

Our robust curriculum is based on critical thinking, design theory, technique and history, and balances experimental concerns with practical ones, in order to equip graduates for success as professional designers. Starting with the School of Design’s first-year core courses—tailored to provide students with a solid foundation for rigorous study in their second through fourth years—the program emphasizes formal aesthetic, theoretical and analytical knowledge, with a deep exploration of today’s rapidly evolving media landscape. Each year’s studies step up in complexity and scope to allow you to build on what you’ve previously learned.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program at UArts will equip you with a solid design process, as well as problem-solving strategies for every form of communication design, including brand identity, print, typography, motion graphics, UX (user experience), digital technologies and more. You’ll learn to think critically, creatively, experimentally and strategically, in order to create visual messages that can be shared in meaningful ways through a variety of media. Learning from expert faculty in small class settings means you’ll stay up to date with emerging trends in the graphic design field and gain fluency in design software such as the Adobe Creative Suite, including InDesign, Illustrator, AfterEffects, Premiere, XD, Photoshop and more.

School of Design
The School of Design core–taken by all Design students–promotes peer interaction and encourages cross-disciplinary activity. You’ll learn key principles of design, making, thinking, marketing and business that will build a solid knowledge base for further study in your discipline and a lifetime of creative practice.


Graduates of the Graphic Design program will

  • be experienced in both hierarchical and nonhierarchical forms of collaboration as professional preparation.
  • possess a unique intellectual and visual voice.
  • be able to adapt to a changing, unpredictable world and its communication needs, where the methods of communication can be expected to evolve and expand.
  • demonstrate a strong work ethic, driven by both logical and inventive working processes.
  • possess a high level of expertise in industry-standard technological environments and the ability to prototype advanced high-level, technologically based practices.
  • be strategic thinkers with the ability to explain these strategies as a fundamental aspect of their design process.

Sample Curriculum

Sample Curriculum

Sample Curriculum
Duration: four years, full time
Credits: 120 credits

Graphic Design BFA
Major requirements: 45
School of Design core: 24
Discipline history: 12
Critical Studies: 30
Free electives: 9

Expand all Collapse all
First Year

Fall semester: 16.5 credits

Design Process, Theory & Communication (3c)
Drawing as Seeing (3c)
Digital Design Lab (3c)
Art History Survey I (3c)
Writing I Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1.5c)

Spring semester: 16.5 credits

Drawing as Thinking (3c)
Design Studio (3c)
Introduction to Interaction Design (3c)
Writing II Placement (3c)
Art History Survey II (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1.5c)

Second Year

Fall semester: 15 credits

Design History (3c)
Design for Persuasive Visual Communication (3c)
Typography I (3c)
Image & Narrative (3c)
Critical Studies* (your choice) (3c)

Spring semester: 15 credits

Typography II (3c)
Editorial Systems (3c)
Contemporary Issues in Design (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
ODR selection* (3c)

Third Year

Fall semester: 15 credits

Intro to Business & Preparation for Creative Practice (3c)
School of Design Workshop (3c)
Design for Interaction (3c)
ODR selection* (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring semester: 15 credits

Typography III (3c)
ODR selection* (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Fourth Year

Fall semester: 15 credits

Professional Practice Option or Design Internship (3c)
Senior Thesis I (3c)
Portfolio & Brand Development (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring semester: 12 credits

Senior Thesis II (3c)
Real World Design (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Explore the Full Curriculum

Facilities

Graphic Design students have access to studios, labs, print shops and more on campus.

  • Digital Imaging Lab
    • 6 copier/printers
    • 6 or 7 iMacs in hub 1328
    • 2 scanners 1328 hub location
    • 1 color copier hallway 13th floor outside print services
  • Print Center
  • Printmaking Studio
  • Photography Lab
    • specially designed high-ceiling photography shooting studio
    • daylight studio with north-facing windows
  • Design Hub Computer Lab
  • Albert M. Greenfield Makerspace
    • 3-D printers and scanners
    • a router and a mill
    • laser, vinyl and substrate cutters
    • printed circuit board (PCB) and decal printers
  • The Center for Immersive Media
    • Optical motion capture system for full body performance capture and location-based VR applications
    • a four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station
    • 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering
    • two large project rooms with ceiling grids for development of installations and virtual environments

How to Apply

There is no set deadline to apply to the Graphic Design (BFA) program. UArts operates on a rolling admissions basis, which means we will receive and process applications throughout the year as space remains available in each program.

The following materials are required for your application.

  • A completed application for admission
  • A nonrefundable $60 application fee
  • Official transcripts
    • Official transcripts from the high school(s) you have attended are required. For transfer students, transcripts from each college you have attended are required. They must be mailed directly by your school in a sealed envelope to the Office of Admissions, emailed directly from your school, or sent through a secure electronic transcript delivery service. Transcripts sent or emailed by students are not considered official. They should be sent to the Office of Admissions, University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu.
    • For transcripts from outside the U.S., refer to the instructions for international students.
  • A personal statement
    • Your individual voice and personal insights play an equally important and valued role in an admissions review. Your personal statement allows you to share your story, express yourself and place a spotlight on your creative journey—past, present or future. It helps us get to know you and your dreams, ideas, challenges, opportunities and/or goals in a way your transcripts and other application materials can’t.
    • Here are some questions to help you shape your personal statement. Interpret them as you wish. There are no right or wrong answers—there’s only your story.
      • When and how did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
      • How will University of the Arts help you achieve your creative and professional goals?
      • How do you want your creativity to affect the future?
    • There is no word count requirement, but we recommend you share your story in 250 to 500 words. Upload your personal statement with your application for admission or email it to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu.
  • A portfolio
    • All students applying to visual arts programs are required to submit 15–20 examples of original artwork, which also includes animation, film, video and interactive media. You may choose to include work from a variety of media or select one area of focus you want to highlight. Your portfolio should demonstrate your creativity, showcase your skills, represent the art forms you have studied and highlight your ability to communicate ideas. Get more tips about submitting your portfolio.
  • International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency
  • Optional Materials

For more information, visit our first-year application checklist and transfer checklist.

Apply now.

Scholarships and Financial Aid


Nearly 98% of UArts undergraduate, full-time students are eligible for some type of need-based  aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. 

All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program  are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about tuition and financial aid.

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