Gerry Snyder
Director of the School of Art
116 Fine Arts Center
479-575-5202

School of Art Website

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design — often also referred to as visual design, visual communication design or visual communication — will prepare students to be proficient makers and thoughtful problem seekers and solvers in a four-year professional degree program. Students will work seamlessly across a range of media, working to identify appropriate solutions for audience and context. Students will be exposed to a rigorous curriculum covering research, theory, critical thinking, professional practices, conceptual idea-making, all while asking them to formally experiment and refine. The Graphic Design degree focuses on: typography, interactivity, branding and design research, each identified as strongly connected to the design industry, while incorporating the university research initiatives of the School of Art at the University of Arkansas.

Requirements for Admission to the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design
For admission to the B.F.A. in Graphic Design, students must be a declared Art major in the School of Art and successfully complete the art foundation course sequence of ARTS 1919C Studio Foundation I and ARTS 1929C Studio Foundation II. Students must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA plus submit an application and portfolio for review.

University and College Requirements for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

In addition to the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences Graduation Requirements (see under Degree Completion Program Policy), the following course requirements must be met.

State Minimum Core (The Humanities requirement is satisfied by PHIL 2003 listed below. The Fine Arts requirement is satisfied by completing both ARHS 2913 and ARHS 2923 listed below.)29
PHIL 2003Introduction to Philosophy (ACTS Equivalency = PHIL 1103)3
ARTS 1919CStudio Foundation I9
ARTS 1929CStudio Foundation II9
GDES 2313Design Tools and Concepts3
GDES 3313Typographic Systems 13
GDES 3323Typographic Systems 23
GDES 3383User Experience3
GDES 3393Identity Systems 13
GDES 4303Professional Development and Seminar3
GDES 4313Interactive Language3
GDES 4323Technology in Context3
GDES 4343Identity Systems 23
GDES 4353Human Centered Design3
GDES 4363Design for Complexity3
GDES 4373Typographic Systems 33
GDES 4383Degree Project3
Nine credit hours in studio art (ARTS) courses9
Three credit hours in any School of Art course (ARED, ARHS, ARTS, or GDES), excluding ARHS 1003. 3
15 credit hours in art history, to include: 15
Art History Survey I (ACTS Equivalency = ARTA 2003)
Art History Survey II (ACTS Equivalency = ARTA 2103)
History of Graphic Design
Six credit hours in art history (ARHS) courses numbered at the 3000-level or higher
Students are required to take one interdisciplinary elective for three credit hours numbered at the 3000-level or higher in a program outside the School of Art. It must have a clear connection to design and/or to the student’s chosen topic for their Degree Project. The course can be taken at any time, but it is recommended during the final year. Interdisciplinary electives require approval by the program director. 3
General Electives1
Total Hours120

Graphic Design B.F.A.
Eight-Semester Degree Plan

Students selecting the eight-semester degree plan should review the Eight-Semester Degree Completion Policy.

State minimum core requirements may vary by individual, based on placement and previous credit granted. Once all core requirements are met, students may substitute with general electives in consultation with their academic advisor.

First YearUnits
FallSpring
ENGL 1013 Composition I (ACTS Equivalency = ENGL 1013) (Satisfies General Education Outcome 1.1)13  
MATH 1313 Quantitative Reasoning (ACTS Equivalency = MATH 1113) (Satisfies General Education Outcome 2.1)13  
or MATH 1203 College Algebra (Satisfies General Education Outcome 2.1)1
or any MATH course numbered higher than MATH 1203 (Satisfies General Education Outcome 2.1)1
ARTS 1919C Studio Foundation I9  
ENGL 1023 Composition II (ACTS Equivalency = ENGL 1023) (Satisfies General Education Outcome 1.1)1  3
ARHS 2913 Art History Survey I (ACTS Equivalency = ARTA 2003)
or ARHS 2923 Art History Survey II (ACTS Equivalency = ARTA 2103)
  3
ARTS 1929C Studio Foundation II  9
Year Total: 15 15
 
Second YearUnits
FallSpring
State Minimum Core—Science with corequisite lab (Satisfies General Education Outcome 3.4)14  
ARHS 2913 Art History Survey I (ACTS Equivalency = ARTA 2003)
or ARHS 2923 Art History Survey II (ACTS Equivalency = ARTA 2103)
3  
GDES 2313 Design Tools and Concepts3  
GDES 3313 Typographic Systems 13  
Studio Art (ARTS) course 3  
State Minimum Core—Science with corequisite lab (Satisfies General Education Outcome 3.4)1  4
PHIL 2003 Introduction to Philosophy (ACTS Equivalency = PHIL 1103) (Satisfies General Education Outcomes 3.2 and 5.1)1  3
ARHS 4823 History of Graphic Design  3
GDES 3323 Typographic Systems 2  3
GDES 3383 User Experience  3
Year Total: 16 16
 
Third YearUnits
FallSpring
State Minimum Core—U.S. History or Government (Satisfies General Education Outcome 4.2)13  
GDES 3393 Identity Systems 13  
GDES 4313 Interactive Language3  
Art History (ARHS) course numbered at the 3000-level or higher3  
Studio Art (ARTS) course 3  
State Minimum Core—Social Sciences (Satisfies General Education Outcome 3.3 and 4.1)1  3
State Minimum Core—Social Sciences (Satisfies General Education Outcome 3.3 and 4.1)1  3
GDES 4303 Professional Development and Seminar  3
GDES 4343 Identity Systems 2  3
Studio Art (ARTS) course  3
Year Total: 15 15
 
Fourth YearUnits
FallSpring
State Minimum Core—Social Sciences (Satisfies General Education Outcome 3.3)13  
GDES 4323 Technology in Context3  
GDES 4353 Human Centered Design (Satisfies General Education Outcome 1.2)13  
GDES 4373 Typographic Systems 33  
Art History (ARHS) course numbered at the 3000-level or higher3  
GDES 4363 Design for Complexity  3
GDES 4383 Degree Project (Satisfies General Education Outcome 6.1)1  3
Any School of Art course (ARED, ARHS, ARTS, or GDES)  3
Interdisciplinary Elective (to be approved by the program director)  3
General Electives  1
Year Total: 15 13
 
Total Units in Sequence:  120

Internship credit considered in lieu of required studios upon approval of professors, based on content and merit of internship.

Honors Requirements

As part of the Honors Studies Program of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Art provides the opportunity for academically superior junior- and senior-level students to acquire broader and deeper knowledge and skills in graphic design. This is accomplished through independent research projects in design under the direction of the graphic design faculty. Outstanding achievement is recognized by awarding the distinction “Art Scholar Cum Laude.”

Project Requirements

  • Design artifact
  • Written research report
  • Final presentation/exhibition
  • Thesis document based on research report with expanded analytical component —address contextual impact of the design artifact and broader implications of the research
  • Thesis defense with committee (separate from final presentation/exhibition)
Courses
ARHS 4823HHonors History of Graphic Design3
GDES 490VHHonors Thesis in Graphic Design1-6
GDES 4383HHonors Degree Project3

Timeline

Sophomore year

  • ARHS 4823H Honors History of Graphic Design (3 hours, required, spring semester)
  • Declare honors prior to the start of spring semester sophomore year

Junior year

  • GDES 490VH Honors Thesis in Graphic Design (1-6 hours, optional, fall or spring semester)
  • Define thesis project
  • Thesis proposal due in March

Senior year

  • GDES 4383H Honors Degree Project (3 hours, required, spring semester)
  • Form thesis committee in fall semester (2 people from School of Art, 1 person from outside SoA)
  • Schedule defense in accordance with Fulbright College Honors Program deadline

To graduate with honors distinction, a student must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 in all college course work, complete and defend an honors thesis, and take 12 hours of honors credit (which may include the required GDES honors courses listed above). Higher degree distinctions take into consideration the student’s entire academic career and are recommended for only those students whose honors projects and programs of study demonstrate a truly exceptional degree of creativity and scholarship.

Courses

GDES 2313. Design Tools and Concepts. 3 Hours.

Introduces Graphic Design students to design concepts with a concentration on professional industry tools. Emphasizes development of visual problem solving while creating well-crafted solutions. Prerequisite: ARTS 1919C and ARTS 1929C. (Typically offered: Fall)

GDES 3313. Typographic Systems 1. 3 Hours.

Examination of letterform construction, including anatomy and architecture. Analysis through a historical lens, exploring technological and cultural contexts. Typographic nuance and connotation. Introduction of the grid as a means to understand layout and organize typography. Prerequisite: ARTS 1919C and ARTS 1929C and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Fall)

GDES 3323. Typographic Systems 2. 3 Hours.

Will introduce the complexity of adding imagery, both photographic and illustrative, into typographic layout. Management of hierarchy in a more advanced way through grid usage. Artifacts will span print to web, exploring how typography must always adapt to new contexts and audiences. Prerequisite: GDES 2313 and GDES 3313 and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Spring)

GDES 3383. User Experience. 3 Hours.

Prepare students to design with usability and function at the forefront of their decision making. Personas, user scenarios and research to guide the design process. Exploration of the field of information architecture in order to clearly structure information and experience. Introduction to HTML, CSS, and other interactive languages. Prerequisite: GDES 2313, GDES 3313 and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 3393. Identity Systems 1. 3 Hours.

Beginning identity design course, focusing on theory and application of semiotics, through creation of icon sets and small scale applications. Emphasis placed on connotation, creating messaging and formal development. Prerequisite: GDES 3323 and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Fall)

GDES 4303. Professional Development and Seminar. 3 Hours.

Preparation of students for professional practice and job seeking. Development of online and print portfolio and other collateral. Contemporary design practice through discussions, reading, writing, guest speakers and studio visits. Emphasis on assisting each student in preparing for their unique future. Prerequisite: GDES 3383 and GDES 3393 and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Spring)

GDES 4313. Interactive Language. 3 Hours.

Advanced course utilizing interactive languages to create responsive experiences for the web, touch screens. Exploration of the intersection of linear and non-linear design experiences in the application of motion to web. Prerequisite: GDES 3323 and GDES 3383 and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 4323. Technology in Context. 3 Hours.

Advanced course focusing on speculative explorations in the world of interaction design. Much of the work will be touch and gesture based and dealing with the built environment. Application of knowledge about proper workflow and execution in an advanced way. Prerequisite: GDES 4303 and GDES 4313 and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Fall)

GDES 4343. Identity Systems 2. 3 Hours.

Advanced identity design course emphasizing creating cohesive messaging systems that cover a wide range of media. Creation of identity systems that are based on research and appropriate to content, context and audience. Media may span environmental, motion, print, web and packaging. Prerequisite: GDES 3393 and GDES 4313 and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 4353. Human Centered Design. 3 Hours.

Research-based studio introducing design methods that focus on an audience centric process. Exposure to communication theory, modes of persuasion, sustainability, how to design for niche audiences. Prerequisite: GDES 4303 and GDES 4313 and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Fall)

GDES 4363. Design for Complexity. 3 Hours.

Providing opportunity to address problems existing outside of the classroom with the focus shifting between design for good initiatives. Collaboration, research, problem seeking and solving will be addressed. Prerequisite: GDES 4323, GDES 4343, GDES 4353, and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 4373. Typographic Systems 3. 3 Hours.

Culminating typography course, exploration of typography at an advanced level through a variety of projects. Projects may range from type design to type in motion to complex publication design. Exhibition of the utmost professional ideation, process, execution and craft expected. Prerequisite: GDES 4303, GDES 4343, and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 4383. Degree Project. 3 Hours.

Capstone course requiring completion of a self-directed project through in-depth research, writing and making, offering an opportunity to specialize prior to entering the job market. Prerequisite: GDES 4323, GDES 4343, GDES 4353, and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Spring)

GDES 4383H. Honors Degree Project. 3 Hours.

Capstone course requiring completion of a self-directed project through in-depth research, writing and making, offering an opportunity to specialize prior to entering the job market. Prerequisite: Honors standing, GDES 4323, GDES 4343, GDES 4353, and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design majors only. (Typically offered: Spring)
This course is equivalent to GDES 4383.

GDES 439V. Special Problems in Graphic Design. 1-6 Hour.

Advanced individual projects in graphic design. Prerequisite: Any 4000 level GDES visual design course except GDES 4343. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring) May be repeated for up to 6 hours of degree credit.

GDES 490VH. Honors Thesis in Graphic Design. 1-6 Hour.

Thesis hours for honors students completing an honors thesis. Prerequisite: Honors standing. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 494V. Graphic Design Internship. 1-6 Hour.

Credit for practical experience gained through internship in graphic design. Report required form intern and field supervisor on progress and significant accomplishments. 3 credit hours per semester. Prerequisite: Any 4000 level GDES visual design course except GDES 4343. (Typically offered: Fall, Spring and Summer) May be repeated for up to 6 hours of degree credit.

GDES 4963. Introduction to Web Design. 3 Hours.

This course introduces students to design and coding for responsive web sites. Lessons include internet and web history, interactivity, usability and accessibility with an emphasis on basic design and standards-based hand-coding. (Typically offered: Fall)