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Department of Graphic Design

Welcome to the Department of Graphic Design.

Graphic design is a creative, exciting discipline that gives form to innovative concepts and products, and that visualizes solutions for today’s complex and pressing problems. Designers no longer simply create pleasing visual communications; they develop strategies and tactical approaches to serve the needs of business and industry, on time and within the budget.

As a major research university, Penn State is uniquely suited to fulfill the shifting educational needs of the contemporary graphic designer and the graphic design program here is geared toward ensuring students’ success once they are in the field. The curriculum delivers an amalgam of training and experience focused on the development of students’ skills and abilities in problem solving, and on expanding their expertise and proficiency in the use and application of digital technologies and electronic media. Our approach is to offer a solid four-year design curriculum, and take full advantage of our university and its vast resources by blending design studies with courses in philosophy, psychology, sociology, writing, economics, business, communications, and literature, all of which are critical to the graphic designer’s education.

Although the university is large, the design program is small by comparison, and therefore capable of creating a closely-knit community. Students receive individualized attention in classes that have 20 or fewer students. Instruction is provided by a dedicated group of faculty with a broad range of backgrounds and experience in the profession. Our state-of-the-art facilities in the Borland Building are newly renovated and are designed to facilitate the design education process. All of these elements together create a rich education experience in which students establish connections with each other, with their professors, and within Penn State’s immense network of alumni.

Penn State graphic design majors ultimately graduate with an understanding of the social and historical context of their future profession and of their roles as practitioners in it. They are broadly educated and are fluent in the visual and verbal languages and technical skills of the profession. They also leave with portfolios that demonstrate proficiency in concept development, that exhibit their technical skill, and that articulate individual styles. All of these characteristics and accomplishments make our graduates eminently employable; in fact, our graduates currently hold positions of leadership and importance in design studios, advertising agencies, and corporate in-house design offices throughout the United States and abroad, where they are producing a full range of graphic design: branding, packaging, print, motion graphics, and web design.

Degree Programs

The department of Graphic Design offers a Bachelor of Design degree and also supports a Master of Fine Arts degree in conjunction with the School of Visual Arts.