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.

Skills That Will Prepare You for Your Career

 

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)
Program director; 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

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

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline.

Spring 2022 priority deadline: Dec. 4, 2021

Fall 2022 priority deadline: Feb. 15, 2022

We cannot accept spring 2022 applications after Jan. 10, 2022, and cannot accept fall 2022 applications after Aug. 12, 2022.

The following materials are required for your application.

  • Start or resume your application. 

    • The application includes two required short-answer questions: What excites you about UArts? What inspires you?

  • $60 nonrefundable application fee

    • If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.

  • Official high school transcript

    • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

    • International transcript requirements 

    • Transfer student transcript requirements

      • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.

      • Official college(s)

        • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

        • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available. 

  • International applicants must submit a test of English proficiency

  • Portfolio 

    • A portfolio is required for all Art, Design, Film and Writing programs. Your portfolio may be uploaded during the application process or via your applicant status portal after submission. You must confirm when your submission is complete via the linked electronic form before your portfolio can be reviewed for admission. View a full list of portfolio requirements by program.

  • Optional letters of recommendation

    • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

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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