Explore a Graphic Design… | University of Northwestern, St. Paul
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Department of Art & Design

Graphic Design

Close up of screen printed posters
Department of Art & Design

Graphic Design

  • Bachelor of Science
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Undergraduate

125 credits

required for program

Minor Available

125 credits

125 credits

required for program

Minor Available

Discover principles of visual communication and practice creative design as an evolving force behind consumer behavior and social causes. Work with Christian faculty who are graphic design experts with real-world experience. The graphic design program provides the techniques, technology, and critical-thinking strategies necessary for the field of design.

Why study graphic design at Northwestern?

You will learn fundamental technical and conceptual design instruction from our industry-experienced faculty to create everything from magazine layouts, posters, logos, and websites to other print and digital media. You can learn to communicate ideas visually to prepare for a professional career in graphic design.

We have the necessary facilities available for you to explore your creative side. Our school features a design lab equipped with updated software including: Autodesk Maya, Mudbox, and Motionbuilder as well as Adobe After Effects, Flash, Illustrator, Premiere, and Photoshop.

Our small classes enable caring faculty to provide one on one attention so you can grow in your faith as well as your design skills. Northwestern partners with other Christian colleges every year for students to showcase their professional design portfolios in a final capstone project.

Northwestern’s beautiful campus is only 15 minutes away from major art and design centers, which allows for regular field trips to places like the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Swedish Institute to view others’ work and be inspired. With campus so close to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, students can take advantage of opportunities in Minnesota’s thriving business and graphic design industries.

If you have a flair for creativity, enjoy working with technology, and enjoy a fast-paced and competitive industry, this might be the right degree for you.

What will I learn?

You will develop critical thinking skills, learn to analyze, and develop an eye for detail.

Northwestern has shown me how to relate to the world in a Christ-like manner. The college helped me find a way to incorporate my faith and beliefs in everything I do: graphic design, art, relationships, etc. My design professor has been like a mentor to me. His passion for helping students express their creativity while praising God has been a source of inspiration.
Sam - Guatemala City, Guatemala

What can I do with a major in Graphic Design?

There are a variety of career and academic pathways that begin with a degree in graphic design.

What types of work are related to this degree?

  • Graphic design
  • Package design
  • Layout design
  • Web layout design
  • Logo/brand design
  • Advertising design
  • Book/page/cover design
  • Illustration
  • Pre-press and printing
  • Sign/promotional display design
  • Computer or video game graphics design
  • Motion graphics design
  • Interactive media designer
  • Internal and external corporate communications

Who employs people with this degree?

  • Retail companies
  • Ad agencies
  • Print publications of all kinds
  • Advertising agencies
  • Design/web design firms
  • Publishing houses
  • Business form companies
  • Publicity firms
  • Large retail stores
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Museums
  • Colleges, universities, school districts
  • Manufacturing firms
  • Promotional products companies
View Career Guide

of seniors feel faculty set high, clearly stated expectations


of graduates said their education professionals prepared them for their work


of internship supervisors said students were able to visualize, create, and manipulate a variety of artwork, including photography and illustration

Preparing for a Career

College graduation rates continue to increase each year making competition for jobs even greater. Set yourself apart from the crowd with the following strategies for getting started, networking, and gaining experience.

Strategies for success:

  • Join professional associations as a student member.
  • Become knowledgeable in production and printing processes.
  • Develop broad software application skills in Mac and PC based programs but not at the cost of developing a solid background in design.
  • Be prepared to start entry-level and work your way up the career ladder. Take a first job based on the industry and type of design you desire to work with, because work from your first job will comprise your professional portfolio.
  • Approximately 3 in 10 graphic designers are self-employed. Freelance designers must develop strong abilities in networking, sales and persuasion.
  • Subscribe to and read graphic design materials such as Print, Eye, Communication Arts, Step into Graphics, Computer Graphics and Applications, and others relevant to your interests.
  • Start a portfolio of work samples in your freshman year, and add to it all 4 years of your education.

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