In KCAD’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree program, students will broadly
and boldly apply their skills across established and emerging media in a hands-on,
integrative, studio-based learning environment where they will learn to use design
fundamentals and contemporary technology as tools for strategic communication, problem-solving,
and personal expression.
The program promotes curiosity, exploration, and investigation through active engagement
in process and making. Through a comprehensive and rigorous education, graduates will
be prepared for further evolution within the professional field of graphic design
and other design-related disciplines.
In the Graphic Design degree program, you’ll be immersed in an integrative learning
environment where traditional design fundamentals evolve into powerful tools for communication,
problem-solving, and creative strategizing.
You’ll begin by exploring foundational design elements such imagery and visualization;
typography and voice; the power of color, composition, and grid; and concept and content
development; creating meaningful messages and bringing stories to life that challenge,
educate, inspire, and entertain. With this solid foundation, you will be constantly
learning and evolving as you keep pace with the ever-changing world of technology,
culture, and media and immerse yourself in the people and problems associated with
each project you take on. You’ll develop your own voice by learning how to make design
decisions informed and supported by intensive design research and strategic thinking,
thorough and iterative concepting and ideation, meaningful collaboration and critique,
and the prototyping and testing of ideas before production.
You’ll also round your education out with a wide range of general education and art
history courses that will stimulate your curiosity, broaden your perspective, and
inspire new creative expressions. KCAD’s flexibleGeneral Education Pathwaysmodel empowers you to direct your learning by exploring subjects you find most engaging
While earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, you’ll not only develop proficiency
in the latest industry-standard software applications, but understand technology and
its role in socio-cultural communication as well. You’ll heighten critical, analytical,
and strategic thinking skills, increasing your creative, processual, and organizational
ability as a designer.
As you begin to hone your personal design voice and grasp of visual language, you’ll
also sharpen your verbal communication skills through collaborative projects and the
critique and presentation of ideas and finished work. While you develop a strong portfolio
of work that demonstrates your skills as a designer, you’ll also cultivate an understanding
of how design can drive solutions to complex problems. Ultimately, you will learn
to be a resourceful, self-sufficient leader who understands how to use communication
and entrepreneurial skills to address both business and societal problems and create
KCAD’s Graphic Design degree program promotes curiosity, exploration, investigation,
and making, preparing you for professional success while also giving you the freedom
to pursue your personal voice as a designer. As you progress through the program,
you’ll encounter intimate and personalized learning experiences combined with strong
connections to and support from your faculty. The facilitation of a required professional
experience such as an internship, study away experience, or course-driven professional
project, will help you make a seamless transition into the field upon graduation.
KCAD’s Graphic Design program emphasizes both “making” and “thinking,” encouraging
you to be broad and bold in the way you use your skills and passion to make a difference
in the world around you. The program’s ordered and gradually intensifying curriculum
structure offers a clear and progressive development and refinement of knowledge and
skills, providing you a solid foundation on which to build and expand your process,
experience, confidence, sensitivity, and sense of professionalism from semester to
You’ll also benefit from the program’s integrative learning environment, where all
media and modes of design communication are applied – including specialties like advertising
design, user experience and web design, and environmental/retail design – and supplementary
skills in photography, illustration/drawing, digital media, printmaking, and 3D and
product design are encouraged.
As a graduate of the Graphic Design program, your invaluable and highly-marketable
creative communication skills will open up a wide variety of employment opportunities.
Possible careers include:
Graphic Designer (In-House or Contract)
Graphic Designer (Freelance)
Graphic Design Educator
Design Firm/Ad Agency Principal
As a Graphic Design student, you’ll have access to a wealth of tools including scanners,
small and large-format printers, saddle stitch and wire binders, stack cutters, monorail
rotary trimmers, photography equipment including DSLR cameras and studio lighting
equipment, Cintiq digital drawing tablets, and more. Open computer and resources labs
ensure continual access of key resources outside of class time. You’ll also have access
toThe Dow Center FlexLab, KCAD’s state-of-the-art digital fabrication facility featuring 3D printers and scanners,
laser cutting and vinyl cutting machines, wide format printers, and more; and theKCAD Library, which provides access to millions of books through the MeLCat shared library catalog
as well as access to specialized research databases and subscriptions to scholarly
The Graphic Design program’s strong ties to local chapters of the American Institute
of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF), and the Interaction
Design Association (IxDA) provide opportunities for you to immerse yourself in the
vibrant design community of Grand Rapids as well as gain valuable perspective from
leading contemporary designers who visit the region and the KCAD campus.
As a graduate of the Graphic Design program, you’ll have vast options for employment,
as you’ll possess one of the most valuable skills in business: the skill of communication.
You may work for firms that specialize in design, advertising, or branding; you may
also work in-house for corporations or non-profits; or for yourself as a freelancer,
contract designer, or business owner. You may also work in highly specialized fields
like UI/UX design, publishing, or packaging. Finally, you may continue your education
by attending graduate school.