Graphic Design, BFA

Graphic Design, BFA

The BFA program in Graphic Design will prepare you to do client-specific work, and you’ll work with actual internal and external clients during your time as a student. You’ll develop materials such as logos, newsletters, promotional material and presentations, and product packaging and design; plus, you’ll guide clients on the implementation of their new brand identity.

You’ll learn the software and technology necessary to create dynamic visual communications across print, web and new media, and develop an approach and knowledge-base to utilize new and emerging technologies in the field of graphic design. Your development of advanced skills in typography, layout, information design, packaging design, environmental graphics and screen-based, interactive applications will result in a body of work that enables you to build a solid professional portfolio.

What to Expect Your First Year

You’ll learn why, and how, to think more creatively and collaboratively in a hands-on way. You’ll participate in Columbia’s innovative and shared Foundations Program, which will provide you an opportunity to explore different areas and techniques, meet students in a wide variety of programs and prepare you for major-specific experiences. Through five-week, one-credit courses, you’ll hone your existing skills and learn new ones. You’ll choose three foundations skills courses each semester from more than a dozen offerings.

You’ll apply what you’re learning right away to develop solutions to problems presented in Making I and Making II, co-taught by faculty who are designers and artists. You’ll work in teams and learn to develop, present and document your work. Your classes will also include Introduction to Visual Culture, in which you’ll learn to see your own work through the eyes of an art historian across disciplines.

What to Expect Your Last Year

The highlight of your last year is the Graphic Design Practicum: Client Design Studio. This six-credit course is the culmination of the program and prepares you to enter the professional field of graphic design by creating design proposals for, and working with, real clients. You’ll prepare for this experience during your third year in the program, when you’ll locate a company needing graphic design services, learn about the business’ needs and develop a brand manual that offers the client directions on the implementation of a brand and visual identity program.

In your final semester, you’ll take Business of Design, a course geared towards helping you understand the business side of the field, including management practices and the understanding of clients and audience, plus organizational structures, strategy and operations. You’ll leave Columbia with a well-rounded education, a solid portfolio and plenty of client experience, ready to make a dynamic impact as a graphic designer.

BA vs. BFA: What’s the Difference?

Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs feature a flexible curriculum that allows for exploration and the ability to tailor elective coursework beyond your major. Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs feature more focused, required coursework in the major.

If you wish to pursue entry to a BFA program, you must first gain admission to Columbia College Chicago. If eligible, you will be evaluated individually by your academic department sometime during your first or second year of enrollment.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-World Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

As a Graphic Design student at Columbia, you’ll benefit from the program’s location in Chicago, one of the world’s great design cities. You’ll make professional connections, beginning with our award-winning faculty who are active and successful in the field. You’ll have the opportunity to do client-specific graphic design, branding and visual identity work to build the contacts and professional portfolio needed to enter the profession of graphic design.

You also have the opportunity to connect with like-minded colleagues in the Students in Design student group.

What are my internship options?

You can choose to pursue an internship as an elective in the BFA program in Graphic Design, though you already have the advantage of working with external clients and producing professional, portfolio-quality work within the program’s required courses. Our students have worked on graphic design teams as interns for agencies and companies like Leo Burnett, Cards Against Humanity, Foote Cone & Belding, Pivot Design, INDO and Pressley Johnson Design.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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