BFA in Graphic Design

Graphic design student work, three images

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Graphic design, the planning and development of visual communication, is a very broad discipline. Designers create books, magazines, visual identification systems, web sites, packaging, advertising, architectural graphics, information graphics, museum displays, and many other applications. However diverse in its usage, all graphic design shares the same purpose — the articulate exchange of information between people through the use of image, mark and word. (The AIGA Career Guide is excellent resource for about the field.)

The graphic design program at the Hite Art Institute focuses on three aspects: conceptual development, compositional eloquence, and technical proficiency. These aims are accomplished through both hand and computer-based work.

As with all of the Hite's Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs, hallmarks are small class size, close working relationships with our faculty, and the benefit from a strong cohort of students. Since 2002, 96% of the students who are accepted into the graphic design BFA track, complete the major.

The Graphic Design BFA track is a professional preparatory program. It is intended to prepare students to eventually assume leadership positions in the field of graphic design. Our graduates do well in the professional world with more than 86%* working in graphic design or design/visual art related professions. (*data from 2010–2018). To see more about where our alums are working, view Graphic Design 2019 Report.

Admission and Program Information

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree is primarily intended for professionally oriented students. Admission is selective and enrollments are limited. We typically accept a maximum of 22 students a year into the graphic design BFA program.

To apply to the BFA program in graphic design, students must

  • be currently accepted majors at the Hite Art Institute (see Hite Undergraduate Admission Information);
  • have completed or are currently completing the 100-level foundations courses (ART 105, 106, 107), plus have completed or are currently enrolled in ART 205 Foundation Design Methods (Spring semester sections only),
  • have a combined minimum GPA in art and art history classes of 3.0, and a minimum overall GPA of 2.5.

Transfer student applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

BFA Applications for Graphic Design are due by April 15 and are reviewed at the end of the spring semester.

Graphic Design CAD report 2017 In addition to the Foundations program, students in the graphic design BFA track complete the following core courses (listed in sequence):

  • ART 371    Introduction to Graphic Design
    • ARTH 301 History and Issues of Graphic Design
    • ART 571    Typography I
  • ART 572    Typography II
  • ART 576    Web Site Design
  • ART 574    The Book Form
  • ART 570    Design for Public Issues
  • ART 573    Identity Systems
  • ART 598    Portfolio

Majors also take

  • two additional 500-level electives in graphic design;
  • one additional 300-level studio art course; and
  • one additional 300-level or above studio art or art history elective (which may also be one of the  graphic design electives).

Electives in Graphic Design are offered on a rotating basis, typically every other year. These include:

  • Adventures in Design: Methods + Process
  • Data Visualization
  • Design & Meaning (Visual Semiotics)
  • Design for Interaction
  • Lettering and Font Design
  • Packaging Design
  • Wayfinding & Environmental Graphic Design

Graphic Design courses are only open to students admitted to the BFA program in Graphic Design.


Internships in Graphic Design and
Requests for Graphic Design student work

Although an internship is not a requirement of the major, almost all graphic design students complete one or more semesters of internship experience. During the fall and spring semesters, full-time students participating in internships generally work from 8 to 10 hours per week (or approximately 120 hours during the semester); students are able to spend more hours per week in summer internships. Part-time students may be able to work more hours per week in an internship, on a case-by-case basis.

For organizations seeking graphic design interns, view our Internship Program Information. If your position qualifies as an internship, contact Leslie Friesen to have your internship request posted for students.

For requests that do not qualify as internships, we will also post information about freelance assignments or pro bono design requests from 501(c)3 non-profit organizations. View our Request for Student Design Work, or contact Leslie Friesen for additional information.


BFA Candidacy

Once admitted to the BFA program, students are expected to work closely with their mentor towards completion of the degree. All candidates must maintain an overall GPA of 2.2 or above and a departmental GPA of 3.00 or above to remain in the BFA program once accepted.

Graphic Design candidates must meet with their mentor each semester to ensure they are performing adequately and following the proper class sequence.

Completing the BFA in Graphic Design

In addition to completing the curricular requirements, BFA candidates must also pass their program's capstone requirement, part of the Department's Learning Outcome Measurement. The Graphic Design capstone consists of the students' successful completion of the Professional Development course and presentation of a portfolio of work to professionals in the field during the Portfolio Day event.

Contact Us
For further information regarding the Graphic Design Program, please contact:

Steven Skaggs, Professor 
Email Steven Skaggs
Phone: 502.852.0807

Leslie Friesen, Power Agency Designer-in-Residence
Email Leslie Friesen
Phone: 502.852.3605

Request a visit: If you are a high school student, transfer or returning student, or UofL student considering changing majors, email us to request more information or to schedule a visit.

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