VCU Bulletins

Graphic Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)

Special requirements

Once accepted, students must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA in GDES courses to continue in the program. Student GDES course work GPA is monitored at the end of fall and spring semesters. A student with GDES course work GPA that falls below 2.5 by the end of any semester is placed on departmental probation for the next semester. Students placed on GDES GPA probation must bring their GDES course work GPA to a minimum of 2.5 by the end of the following semester. Students failing to bring their GDES course work GPA to a minimum of 2.5 by the end of that semester are no longer permitted to continue in the program.

Admission and standards of graphic design

Students who have successfully completed the Art Foundation Program may apply for admission into the graphic design B.F.A. program. Due to the sequence of the required graphic design courses, students are admitted only in the fall semester. All applicants must submit a portfolio of work. The Department of Graphic Design uses the portfolio evaluation criteria established in the School of the Arts for initial acceptance.

Students who wish to transfer into the Graphic Design Program must first apply to the Art Foundation Program for evaluation. A transfer student who has successfully completed the Art Foundation Program must demonstrate equivalent preparation at another institution and submit a portfolio of work for review by graphic design faculty. Transfer students admitted into the graphic design program must complete all major requirements determined to be missing from their academic design experience. Transfer students should expect to spend at least five semesters in the graphic design program in order to qualify for a B.F.A.

  1. Students must complete the required pre- and corequisites of the graphic design program in the order presented in the curriculum outline. This structure enables students to develop knowledge and skills based in graphic design that will prepare them for upper-level studio courses and successful entry into the graphic design profession.
  2. Students are required to meet regularly with the department undergraduate adviser each semester on scheduled advising dates to make sure they are completing courses as required and are preparing for the portfolio reviews as needed.
  3. Students must earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 to be accepted to the graphic design program. Once accepted, students must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA in GDES courses to continue in the program.
  4. A portfolio review of graphic design studio work takes place at the end of the sophomore year. The student’s portfolio, GPA and individual course evaluations are evaluated during this review to determine if the student may continue in the program. Additionally, the following courses must be completed at the end of the sophomore year to be eligible for continuation in the program: GDES 202, 204, 205, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 252.
  5. A second portfolio review of graphic design studio work takes place at the end of the junior year. The student’s portfolio, GPA and individual course evaluations are evaluated during this review to determine if the student may continue in the graphic design program.
  6. Students are required to have a laptop computer and appropriate software upon initial entry into the graphic design program. Students will receive the specific technology requirements upon acceptance into the program. Students have an option to purchase a computer package at an academic discount or lease the same equipment through the School of the Arts Computer Center.

Degree requirements for Bachelor of Fine Arts, Graphic Design (B.F.A.)

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  • Utilize forms of communication: With a sense of aesthetics, personal and professional integrity, and message clarity, students will utilize visual and verbal forms of communication to convey ideas and information.
  • Address needs of client and audience: Students will demonstrate an understanding of their responsibility to client and audience — determining needs, structuring problems and solving problems creatively.
  • Focus on ethics: Students will solve communication problems with a focus on their positive ethical impact upon culture and society.
  • Embrace technology as a vehicle of communication: Students will demonstrate the ability to use new and emerging technology as a vehicle of effective communication and a means for the invention of expressive form.
  • Practice design as a dynamic process: Students will understand and practice design as a process that relies upon intuition, reason, ideation methods and effective research for the creation of appropriate and inventive solutions.
General Education requirements Credits
University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Focused Inquiry I 3
UNIV 112 Focused Inquiry II 3
UNIV 200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Approved humanities/fine arts 3
Approved natural/physical sciences 3-4
Approved quantitative literacy 3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences 3-4
Additional General Education requirements (9 credits)  
General Education electives 9
Collateral requirements (20 credits)  
Art Foundation Program  
ARTF 131 Drawing Studio 3
ARTF 132 Surface Research 3
ARTF 133 Space Research 3
ARTF 134 Time Studio 3
ARTF 139 Project 2
Art history  
ARTH 103, 104 Survey of Western Art 6
Major requirements (51 credits)  
GDES 202 Design Technology I 3
GDES 205 Design Methods and Processes 3
GDES 211 Typography I 3
GDES 212 Design Form and Communication 3
GDES 213 Typography II 3
GDES 214 Imaging I 3
GDES 216 Imaging II 3
GDES 252 History of Visual Communication 3
GDES 253 Theory and Philosophy in Visual Communications 3
GDES 343 Systems in Design 3
GDES 345 Print I 3
GDES 346 Visual Narrative I 3
GDES 347 Interaction I 3
GDES 365 Print II 3
GDES 367 Interaction II 3
GDES 470 Senior Seminar 3
GDES 472 Senior Studio (Capstone) 3
GDES electives (12 credits 300- to 500-level) 12
Open electives (9 credits) 9
Total minimum requirement 122


GDES 300 Creative Strategies
GDES 301 Beginning Letterpress
GDES 302 Book Arts
GDES 308 Web Page Design
GDES 356 Studio Management
GDES 366 Visual Narrative II
GDES 391 Lecture Topics in Design
GDES 392 Research/Individual Study
GDES 401 Advanced Letterpress
GDES 403 Design Activism
GDES 404 Typeface Design
GDES 407 Senior Project
GDES 408 Advanced Web Design
GDES 411 Communication Design: Design Studio
GDES 412 Typography III
GDES 413 Package Design
GDES 414 Exhibition and Environmental Graphic Design
GDES 415 Communication Design: Motion Graphics
GDES 416 Motivational Graphics
GDES 417 Interdisciplinary Team Design
GDES 418 Design Center
GDES 419 Electronic Imaging
GDES 445 Problem Seeking
GDES 491 Studio Topics in Design
GDES 492 Design Internship

Click here to download a sample outline. [PDF]



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