The Graphic Design concentration delves into those complex questions that absorb both the novice and the expert in the expanding arena of visual communication. The curriculum encourages a rigorous handling of thought processes combined with inquiries springing from the traditional through the transitional and emerging media. The emergence of new multifaceted word and image forms opens the way for informed expression solidly built on curiosity, honest work and the need to reason and create. The faculty allows for the intellectual, intuitive, and perceptual approaches to problem solving, all balanced on the fundamental belief that effective communication, not style, is the desired goal.
Although the Graphic Design concentration constantly acknowledges the influence and significance of new technologies in education, the question of essential sources for creative formative work is addressed through attention to development in the following areas: mark-making, reading, and writing. These areas of observation are anchor points for the development of the graphic designer. Together, they provide the student with a comprehension of the intellectual and visual environment in which we live. The study of design history, in association with instruction in typography, word and image, sign/symbol, semiotics, and a range of digital and analog production methods, forms the foundation for a commitment through which research and expression can be accomplished.
What can I do with a degree in Graphic Design?
Graphic design involves using words and images to visually communicate ideas. There are many career options available in all areas of the creative field. See some of these sites for further information;
Why study design at UMBC?
The graphic design emphasis area seeks to develop an internationally renowned program for aspiring designers and related practitioners. Our area seeks to achieve this goal through excellence in teaching, research, and practice and through relationships with institutions, industries, and technologies associated with the discipline of design.
As design faculty, we share a fundamental belief that the design process is central to the development of culture by way of combining and ordering various elements of the arts, humanities and sciences. As designers, we bring our insight, expertise, and myriad thinking styles to the world community. We create a visual language of signifier and symbol that evolves from oral traditions, the printed page, and from electronic moving images.
As educators, our purpose is to extend the application of design beyond professional practice. Researching the design process and developing tools for learning graphic literacy expand our discourse, sharpen our skills, and broaden our knowledge base for sharing with students.
Graphic Design Courses
|Visual Arts, Graphic Design Concentration, B.A.|
Graphic Design I 
An introduction to methods for creating images, signs and symbols with a priority placed on the use of the grid as a structural device for creating systems. Emphasis is placed on research, analysis, design process, translation and reflection. Recommended Corequisites: ART 331 & ART 332. Note: This course is designated as a gateway course for design majors and must be passed with a grade of B or better to continue in the graphic design sequence.
Prerequisite: You must complete ART 210 and ART 211 with a C or better and complete the Visual Arts Milestone (portfolio review process) before taking this class.
Design and Technology I: Print 
Introduction to Macintosh-based computing and software programs developed for print-based communication including discussion of workflow methods necessary for professional practice. The management and application of type and fonts are addressed. Tools, processes and techniques for print reproduction will be surveyed.
Prerequisite: ART 210, 211. May be taken concurrently with ART 331
Graphic Design III: Introductory Typography 
An introductory course in the history and exploration of basic principles of typography. Emphasis is on interrelationships of letter, word, line, page and the logical evolution of the grid as a structural device. The course will emphasize techniques and ideas that influence meaning through the visual design of letterforms and words. The structure of type will be explored through projects in two- and three-dimensional media.
Prerequisite: ART 331 and 332
Graphic Design IV: Word and Image 
This course provides combined reinforcement of design research and methodologies. Students apply their knowledge of typographic and visual forms to projects that encourage the introduction of word and image with visual hierarchies. The development of multiple solutions is encouraged. Visual organizations and project management are stressed. Projects are both two- and three-dimensional.
Prerequisite: ART 212, 213, 214 and 333
Origins and Issues in Design 
This course is a survey of the history of graphic design from the Industrial Revolution through contemporary practice. Lectures illustrate major movements as the role of graphic design in society is explored including its relationship to industrial and architectural design. Both technological and societal changes and their impacts on design in past and present eras are addressed.
Prerequisite: You must take ART 210, ART 211 and ART 214, with a grade of “C” or better
Design and Technology II: Screen 
Introduction to Macintosh-based computing using software programs developed for screen-based communication including discussion of the conceptual and technical issues involved in the design and production of interactive documents and environments. Discussion will focus on authoring, user interface, navigation, content development, user experience and visual application.
Prerequisite: ART 212, 213
Typography II 
An intermediate exploration of typography and image making as an expressive and functional communication vehicle. Students apply their knowledge of the grid, typographic and visual forms to create projects that require the use of both word and image. The processes and mediums for combining word and image and the limits of visual literacy are explored in experimental and practical projects while addressing the reader’s needs and the communicator’s intent.
Prerequisite: ART 212, ART213, ART333
Typography III 
This course is an exploration of advanced problems in visual communication that stresses the integration of typography with other two and three-dimensional imagery. Further emphasis is placed on the development of a rational design methodology through a consideration of form, utility and production limitations. research, critical analysis and discussion are required.
Prerequisite: ART 334, 336, 337
Graphic Design III: Human Environmental Design 
An exploration of advanced communication problems that require large-scale systems in built environments including way-finding systems and exhibit design. Issues of sustainability are discussed and explored.
Prerequisite: ART 334, 336, 337
Graphic Design Electives:
Six credits of studio art electives are required, selected from photo, IMDA, film, video and graphic design area. The following courses are highly recommended.
Motion Design 
Motion Design applies the principles of 2-dimensional design and typography practice to timebased media. Students will view and discuss historic and contemporary examples of projected and screen-based work and learn discipline-specific vocabulary as industry standard software is used to explore how effective communication can be created utilizing motion.
Prerequisite: ART 333 or permission of instructor.
Graphic Design Practicum 
Individual and collective problem-solving projects with university, nonprofit and local business organizations. This studio centers on problem analysis and definition, client consultation, design development, dealing with specialists and production processes. Additionally, this studio explores the future in professional design practice through a comprehensive introduction to design offices and studios and support systems that make up the world of professional design practice.
Prerequisite: ART334, 336, 337
Advanced Interface Design 
ART 434 is the concluding course in the graphic design sequence. It is an advanced exploration of interaction and information design focusing on user interfaces for interactive platforms, from mobile devices to larger dynamic informatics and interpretive media installations. Via hands-on, collaborative problem-solving, students will gain skills needed to work in contemporary digital environments. Topics covered include human-computer interaction (HCI) and user-experience design (UXD) principles. Students will design and build interactive prototypes, while continuing to build a strong foundation of graphic design fundamentals through practical application.
Prerequisite: ART334, 336, 337
Internship—Directed Study [3-6]
An internship inside or outside the university related to the student’s focus, to be taken under the supervision of a visual arts faculty member or advisor. If a student works six hours per week, the student is eligible to enroll for three credits. Hence, 16 hours per week equals six credits. Note that 16 hours for six credits is the maximum allowed. Students will work in a professional environment and perform a range of tasks. The circumstances of the internship experience will be evaluated before both the student and supervising firm proceed. This ensures that both parties will benefit mutually from the association. P/F only. Note: Repeatable for a total of 12 credits.
Prerequisite: Permission of advisor
Independent Study—Directed Study [3-6]
This course may be taken when a student indicates strong interest and a faculty member suggests that a student’s progress would be measurably enhanced by further work in specific areas or through a collaborative endeavor with another student in the department or discipline in the University System of Maryland. Students must submit a written proposal stating the reason for and parameters of the project, as well as a comprehensive schedule for its completion within the semester format. All proposals must be submitted ten weeks into the preceding semester and will be reviewed and approved on the basis of merit. Note: Repeatable for a total of 12 credits.
Prerequisite: Senior standing and permission of advisor