Undergraduate Certificate in Graphic Design

Undergraduate Certificate in Graphic Design

Our Undergraduate Certificate in Graphic Design provides a foundation in graphic design for print designers. In the two semester, credit-bearing program, you'll gain an understanding of the fundamentals of color, typography, and composition and how to apply them using today's design software tools Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Student work by Melissa Calubaquib-Weatherholtz, UC in Graphic Design

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Program Outline

The Undergraduate Certificate is a 24-credit program completed in two semesters. Part-time schedules are available.

First Semester


DES 104 Color Theory
DES 101 Typography I
DES 111 Drawing I
DES 121 Photoshop I
DES 141 Illustrator I

Second Semester

DES 105 Design and Composition
DES 131 Logo Design I
DES 201 InDesign I
DES 102 Typography II
DES 211 Graphic Design I

Program Courses

The program builds a foundation for entry-level graphic design work or further study. All credits can be later transferred into the Associate in Graphic Design degree program.

DES 104 Color Theory - 1.5 credits

Focus on developing appropriate color systems for graphic design projects. Projects explore the principles, terminology, and applications of color theory, with an emphasis on manipulating color. A working knowledge of the expression and perception of color, and color interaction, lends credibility and sophistication to a designer’s work.

DES 101 Typography I - 1.5 credits

Explore the critical role of typography in graphic design. Course projects build an understanding of the anatomy of the letterform, the distinguishing features of different typefaces, and creative applications of type. An assured grasp of typography is essential in any visual communication project.

DES 111 Drawing I - 3 credits

Learn how to analyze what you see in the world around you and communicate it on paper. Through hands-on projects, and guided by a professional artist, you will explore the critical concepts of line, mass, form, perspective, value, and composition, building a solid foundation for all your art and design work.

DES 121 Photoshop I - 3 credits

Get a thorough grounding in Adobe Photoshop, the premiere image manipulation tool for print design, Web design, and photography. You’ll learn to choose and use the best techniques for common Photoshop jobs including selecting and isolating objects, creating image composites, masking and vignetting images, setting typography, and improving images with retouching and effects. Every designer must tame this creative powerhouse of a program.

DES 141 Illustrator I - 3 credits

Build a working knowledge of Adobe Illustrator, the graphic designer’s vector program of choice. Course projects explore selection tools, drawing tools, layers, the Pen tool, transformations/distortions, type tools, and modifying paths and shapes. Tapping the power of vector software allows you to produce detailed and scalable art for almost any application.

DES 105 Design and Composition - 1.5 credits

Discover the principles of effective composition in print design and advertising. Composition, literally the assembly of elements, is the artful arrangement that guides the eye and unifies a design work. Case studies and hands-on projects address closed/open space, negative space, movement, and more.

DES 131 Logo Design I - 1.5 credits

Explore the philosophy and process behind designing a logo. Students learn the importance of corporate identity and the different stages in a typical logo design project. The course establishes a solid conceptual and practical grounding for anyone interested in pursuing a career in visual identity, from a design or a marketing perspective.

DES 201 InDesign I - 3 credits

Explore fundamental techniques for Adobe InDesign and develop an efficient workflow for both print and digital publishing. The course will impart a working knowledge of InDesign’s main capabilities, everything from basic features to using master pages, importing and manipulating objects, controlling text flow and style, and organizing content with tables, layers, links, and conveyor tools. Valuable methods for cutting-edge digital publishing techniques are explored, and projects give you give you training in a range of real world print/digital publishing projects: brochures, catalogs, magazines, ePubs, and even an interactive folio for the iPad.

DES 102 Typography II - 3 credits

Learn advanced concepts in typography including type fusion, information hierarchy, expressive type, and 3D type applications. Assignments include advertising, product packaging, civic branding, and currency design. The focus of the course is on improving your design by learning to see type differently.

DES 211 Graphic Design I - 3 credits

Establish a firm foundation for taking on professional design work. You’ll gain insights from industry veterans and explore the challenges of designing posters, logos, magazine covers, book layouts, 3D designs, and brand identities. Looking to establish a career as a freelance designer? The course provides you opportunities to hone your design process, as you research each project, develop concepts, work with iterative feedback, and begin to develop quality pieces for your portfolio.

Program Objectives
  • Create job-appropriate color palettes and use color and contrast effectively in their work.
  • Design and lay out typography for readability, impact, or expression.
  • Create drawings in traditional media that show a command of proportion, perspective, and value contrast.
  • Prepare images for professional publication with Photoshop retouching, correction, compositing, or collage.
  • Create readable layout designs using fundamental design and composition techniques.
  • Develop basic logo designs from a client brief using an iterative design process.
  • Create simple, stylized logos, icons, and illustrations in Illustrator.
  • Create consistent and readable layouts in InDesign for multi-page print publications.
  • Develop basic competence in various print design genres including poster design, logo/branding design, magazine layouts, cover design, and packaging.

Financial Aid

Did You Know? Eligible students entering Undergraduate Certificate programs may be entitled to Federal financial aid. Grants and loans can help you cover the cost of your education.

Student Feedback

"Every class I took during my time here has been a collaborative effort for everyone to learn the techniques and get better..." Kyle Gilbreath, Associate Degree in Graphic Design

Student Work

Learn to design from a faculty of professional artists and designers.

Career Information

Graphic design program graduates are prepared for entry-level graphic design positions in advertising, print production, publishing, and computer graphics. Potential employers for graduates include specialized design firms, advertising firms, printers, publishers, and computer systems design firms. Job titles include Graphic Designer, Layout Designer, Packaging Designer, and more.

Visit our Career Center for more information, or browse the Federal Occupational Handbook or O*NET database. For Gainful Employment information on this program, visit this page.

Take advantage of our award-winning programs. They’re accredited, affordable, and delivered 100% online.

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.

Apply

Complete our free, no-obligation application form online.

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Ask us about program options and financial aid.

Register

Select your start date and preferred study schedule.

Program At a Glance

Students entering the program are expected to have earned a high school diploma, GED, or state-approved home school equivalent. Any students under 18 years of age will need to provide the signed permission of a parent or guardian.

Classes start in January, May, and August, with early start options in February, June, and October. Our online application is simple and convenient, and there is no application fee.

To take this program, you’ll need the following:

  • Mac or Windows computer with an Internet connection.
  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign CC.
  • Your computer must meet software manufacturer requirements.
  • Webcam, headphones or speaker, VPN connection, and microphone connected to the computer for live proctored exams.

Student discount on Adobe Creative Cloud software is available to enrolled students.

The tuition for Undergraduate Certificate students is as follows:

Undergraduate Certificate Tuition
$425 per credit
$5,100 per semester
$10,200 total program tuition

Tuition for part-time students is $475/credit and paid by semester.

A $200 registration fee is required to process your enrollment in the program. Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from the scheduled beginning of program orientation. (Active service members are exempt from registration fees.) See Undergraduate Certificate Tuition and Payment options.

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