Two students stand around a table with a laptop in the graphic design creative studio space, looking at their work together.

Graphic Design

Whether you want to work in print or digital media, York College’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design offers the skill set and support you need to reach your goals.

The work of graphic designers surrounds us every day. You can see it in the websites and apps you visit, packaging for the products you use, as well as publications like magazines, book covers, and brochures.

Design is everywhere. 

In York College’s Graphic Design program, you’ll learn how to communicate ideas visually as you gain hands-on experience with the tools and techniques of the industry, both traditional and digital. Accomplished faculty will serve as mentors, guiding you through studio projects and helping you develop a professional portfolio that can kick-start your career upon graduation. 

With a B.F.A. in Graphic Design, you’ll hold the industry-standard professional degree in the field — and York College’s unique program provides even more benefits for your future career. From your first year, you’ll have opportunities to display your work and enter juried exhibitions. You’ll also work with specialized equipment, ranging from digital tools to a fully functional historic letterpress in our on-campus studios.

View York College Graphic Design students' work in our Behance portfolio.

A student in the graphic design studio smiles at something off-camera while sitting at a table covered with papers and a tablet displaying digital art, and a series of pens and pencils.

Majoring in Graphic Design

  • Key Courses

    Graphic Design Courses

    As a Graphic Design major, you’ll take a diverse mix of required courses and electives. You’ll explore studio work, design theory, criticism, history, and a variety of tools and techniques. Your courses will include: 

    • ART 206: Elements of Computer Graphics
    • ART 218: Typography
    • ART 290: Print Production
    • ART 247: The Digital Image
    • ART 296: Publication Design
    • ART 339: Motion Graphics
    • ART 340: Web Design I
    • ART 436: Professional Development Seminar
  • Career Opportunities & Benefits

    Graphic Design Careers

    Graphic Design majors pursue a wide range of careers, in a number of different industries. Potential job titles include, but are not limited to:

    • Publication Designer
    • Web Designer
    • Creative Director
    • Illustrator
    • UX/UI Designer
    • Motion Graphics Designer
    • Printmaker
    • Letterpress Artist
    • Package Designer
    • Freelance Graphic Designer

    Graphic Designer Salary

    As with any field, salaries for those working in design vary depending on industry, location, level of experience, and area of specialization.

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual salary of $50,710 for graphic designers, with the highest 10% of earners making over $98,000. Professionals who specialize in web and digital interface design report an average salary of more than $95,000 per year. 

    Those who advance into management positions have even greater earning potential, with art directors earning median annual salaries over $100,000.

    Benefits of Graphic Design at York College

    Majoring in Graphic Design opens up career possibilities that can be tailored to your unique interests and desired lifestyle. Design is a flexible field, with remote work options, in-office employment, and a marketplace for independent entrepreneurship. York College’s Graphic Design program prepares you to build a design career in any professional environment. You’ll have the following advantages:

    • Project-Based Assignments: All of your assignments will be based on projects applicable to the real world, so you’ll quickly become familiar with the design process from the initial brief to final presentation.
    • Minors: If you’re interested in expanding your education even further with a declared minor, you will have room in your schedule to do so.
    • Equipment: In addition to the professional-standard computer labs and studios you may expect, York College is also home to the region’s finest, most comprehensive  functional letterpress studio. You can learn hands-on with historic presses and type, just like Gutenberg!
    • Access: Students have 24/7 access to campus labs and studios, even during breaks.

    As you engage in class projects and gain experience for your future career, York College’s Graphic Design faculty are committed to providing you with individualized feedback and mentoring. Your professors want to see you succeed—and they’ll make an effort to help you along the way. 

    YCP’s Career Development Center also provides a wealth of resources to help you grow as a professional, from mock interviews to resume review. They’ll also assist with your internship search and application preparation.

  • Internships & Work Experience

    Graphic Design Internships

    All Graphic Design students will complete an internship or independent study before graduation. Many majors take advantage of internship opportunities during the summer between their junior and senior years.

    Working closely with the Career Development Center and faculty, students get hands-on experience in a variety of settings. You’ll hone skills like web design, publication, branding, or presentation graphics, just to name a few. 

    Building a Design Portfolio

    Students begin building their portfolio and establishing an online presence in their first year as a graphic design major. In your junior year, you will develop a professional portfolio of work, both print and digital, in your Professional Development course. Résumés, cover letters, and self-promotional materials are also created during this time. This seminar prepares Graphic Design students to enter a career in professional design or pursue graduate education in the field. 

    All students qualify to enter the Annual Juried Student Exhibition. As part of this exhibition, accepted student work will be displayed in a professional gallery space and evaluated by nationally known visiting artists.

    Study Abroad for Graphic Design Majors

    Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA), located in Milan, is the largest private art academy in Italy—and our Graphic Design B.F.A. program has an articulation agreement allowing our students to study there!

    NABA offers a study abroad program focused distinctly on graphic design, and its coursework transfers seamlessly into York College’s Graphic Design major. Students who meet eligibility requirements may spend the spring semester of their junior year studying at NABA in Milan.

  • Mentorship & Community

    Mentorship & Community

    Students in the Graphic Design program benefit from small class sizes and attentive faculty who know you by name. As you explore your talent and build skills, your instructors will provide meaningful feedback and guidance toward your ultimate career goals.

    Graphic Design majors are also welcome to participate in the York College student group of AIGA (American Institute of the Graphic Arts), associated with the Baltimore chapter. AIGA hosts monthly events centered around design and bringing visual artists to campus. Additionally, student members have access to resources from AIGA National, including educational programs, conferences, job and internship listings, portfolio features, and networking opportunities.

  • High-Demand Skills

    Skills and Requirements for Graphic Designers

    York College’s Graphic Design program will help you to develop essential skills you’ll need for a career in design or a related field. These include: 

    • Principles and tools of design
    • Professionalism
    • Presentation skills
    • Critical thinking
    • Research skills
    • Client management

    Best Minors for a Degree in Graphic Design

    Your schedule in the BFA in Graphic Design program offers flexibility that makes adding a minor easy. Many students choose to pursue a minor that complements their Graphic Design major. York College offers a wide range of minor programs. You may be interested in one of the following:

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is graphic design a good career?

    Graphic designers are usually passionate about their craft, and enjoy being able to make a living doing work they love. The field of graphic design also tends to be flexible, with many remote roles available and opportunity to work for organizations nationwide—some designers even work internationally!

    As a design professional, you’ll also have a skill set that is highly desired in the freelance marketplace. Entrepreneurship or part-time freelance contracts are common in this industry, in addition to traditional employment.

  • What are the entry requirements for a degree in Graphic Design?

    Students who are interested in York College’s B.F.A. in Graphic Design must fulfill the College’s admissions requirements. Additionally, they must submit a portfolio containing 10-20 examples of their best artwork.

    Acceptance to York College does not guarantee acceptance into the B.F.A. program. Students who do not yet have a prepared portfolio may be accepted under provisional status

  • What is the difference between a BA vs. BFA in Graphic Design?

    While both the bachelor of art (B.A.) and bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.) degrees are typically four-year academic experiences, the B.F.A. represents a more intensive, design-focused curriculum. 

    In the field of design, the B.F.A. is considered the industry standard professional degree. Many employers require or prefer a B.F.A. in their hiring practices.

Contact Us
Visual and Performing Arts Department
Matthew Inkster, D.Mus., Chair
Wolf Hall, Room 206A
Phone: 717.815.1526
Contact for appt.