Graphic Design

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 51.9 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 51.9 k / Year(s) Deadline: Jan 1, 2024
StudyQA ranking:1497 Duration:4 years

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The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program begins with a strong foundation in design principles and digital technologies, then progressing to more specialized courses in graphic design. Students are taught current design industry practices and will engage in a dialogue about the role of design in contemporary society, culture and business, culminating in a two-semester thesis project in their senior year.

Graphic design students focus on developing skills to communicate visual messages and brand strategies in diverse media formats, which include print, web, motion and mobile devices. Faculty members are professional graphic and interactive designers who instruct students in a wide range of topics:

  • branding/identity programs 
  • mobile apps
  • web design 
  • interaction design
  • systems design
  • information design 
  • environmental design 
  • motion graphics
  • typography
  • publication design

Graphic design students learn concept ideation, design processes and methods, visual communication strategies, messaging, wireframing, design development and production workflow. By the end of the program, students develop professional presentation skills and a refined portfolio. Intimate classroom settings and detailed, critical feedback provide graphic design students with the conceptual, technological and communication tools to excel as working professionals in the fast-paced and competitive design industry. Furthermore, students have the opportunity to participate in real-world projects such as World Studio’s Design Ignites Change and Design Lab, part of the Corcoran's award-winning school-wide collaboration NEXT.

First year, fall semester  
CAH 1090 Art History I: Art Now, Contemporary Perspectives in the Visual Arts  
CDE 1090 Design Fundamentals I  
CFN 1090 First Year Studio I  
UW 1020 University Writing  
Studio elective  
First year, spring semester  
CAH 1091 Art History II: Historical Perspectives in the Visual Arts  
CDE 1091 Design Fundamentals II  
CFN 1091 First Year Studio II  
G-PAC: Math, social sciences, or humanities requirement  
Studio elective  
Second year, fall semester  
CDE 2090 Design Studio I  
CGD 2050 Typography I  
G-PAC: Social sciences, humanities, or math requirement  
2 Studio electives  
Second year, spring semester  
CDE 2091 Design Studio II  
CGD 2060 Typography II  
G-PAC: Natural or physical science requirement  
2 Studio electives  
Third year, fall semester  
CAH 3150 Theories and History of Graphic Design  
CGD 3050 Typography III  
CGD 3090 Graphic Design Studio III  
G-PAC: Natural or physical science requirement  
Studio elective  
Third year, spring semester  
CGD 3060 Typography IV  
CGD 3091 Graphic Design Studio IV  
Art history requirement  
G-PAC: Math, social sciences (+GCC or L/CE), or humanities requirement  
Studio elective  
Fourth year, fall semester  
CGD 4090 Graphic Design Thesis I  
Art history requirement  
G-PAC: Humanities or social sciences requirement  
2 Studio electives  
Fourth year, spring semester  
CGD 4091 Graphic Design Thesis II  
CDE 4170 Professional Practices for Designers  
G-PAC: Humanities or social sciences (+GCC or L/CE) requirement  
2 Studio electives
  • High School Transcript, School Report and Mid-Year Grade Report
  • Letters of Recommendation. One counselor and one teacher recommendation should be submitted through forms on the Common Application.
  • Portfolio (for Corcoran Students Only)
  • In addition to the Common Application, you must complete the Writing Supplement. The GW supplemental essay question is a chance to show your personality and share your voice beyond your application. Select one of the essay questions on the Common Application and respond in 250 words or fewer.
  • If English is not your first language, you are required to submit official scores from an English proficiency examination, regardless of citizenship. We recommend that you take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic prior to submitting your application and make sure that official test scores are sent directly to us. 
  • If you plan to enter the United States on a student (F-1) or exchange visitor (J-1) visa, you are required to submit a Financial Certificate (PDF) and a bank statement. This information is required because international students at GW are not eligible for need-based financial assistance.

Portfolio Requirements

The portfolio is the primary tool that the admissions committee uses to determine an applicant's skill and potential. Your portfolio should tell your story in a way that makes sense to you. We have no restrictions or requirements on what should be in your portfolio other than what you believe to be your strongest work. It is important to make sure that this is the best representation of you as an artist, and of your work up to this point.

Here are a few portfolio guidelines:

  • All students are required to submit a portfolio of 10-15 completed works of art.
  • The included work should be your best and most recent work.
  • If possible, the work should be related to your area of interest.


All freshman, transfer and international applicants are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships as part of the admissions process and no application is required.

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