BS in Graphic Design

Units required for Major: 69
Minimum units required for BS: 120

Program Description

The curriculum in the Graphic Design program at California State University, Sacramento has been developed to prepare students for professional practice and/or preparation for admission to graduate level study.

The Graphic Design program is part of the Department of Design which houses majors Interior Design and Photography. This combination provides a unique collection of disciplines and broadens the student’s exposure to professions they will potentially be working with in the future.

The course of study is a layered exploration that starts with fundamental principles of visual communication paired with an intensive introduction to the creative process. Each successive layer builds in complexity to encompass technical, conceptual, and research challenges that culminates with a series of classes devoted to professional practice. Historical perspective and ethical concerns are addressed throughout the curriculum. The programs goal is to provide the community with a comprehensive visual problem solver that has a strong aesthetic ability coupled with a clear understanding of the strategic and conceptual challenges facing them in practice.

Admission Requirements

The Graphic Design program at Sacramento State is one of the most highly sought after programs in Northern California. Due to the large number of applications, the program is now officially impacted. Students wishing to become Graphic Design majors must complete a series of required lower division courses and then must apply for admission to the program. It is highly recommended that interested students speak with a Graphic Design advisor as soon as possible. The application for admission includes completion of all required lower division prerequisites with a grade of “C” or better; and submission of a portfolio (students must refer to the application for portfolio specifications).

Before submitting applications and portfolio, students must complete with a grade of “C” or better:

GPHD 5Introduction to Graphic Design3
GPHD 25Visual Basics3
ART 20ABeginning Drawing3
PHOT 11Digital Imaging3

Students must be enrolled in GPHD 20 and GPHD 30 during the semester the portfolio is submitted if these courses have not yet been completed.

Before being admitted into the upper division, the student must complete:

GPHD 5Introduction to Graphic Design3
GPHD 10Introduction to Digital Design3
GPHD 20History Of Graphic Design3
GPHD 25Visual Basics3
GPHD 30Visualization3
ART 20ABeginning Drawing3
PHOT 11Digital Imaging3

Students should contact the Design Department Office for an application package and portfolio requirements. 

Students that have been accepted to the Graphic Design program, within the Department of Design are required to own a laptop computer and the appropriate software for upper division courses. Upon beginning upper division coursework this requirement must be met. Before purchasing please consult your major advisor or the Department office for specific minimum requirements for the laptop computer and software.

Minimum Grade Requirement

Once students are admitted to the upper division, a grade of “C” or better is required in all upper division GPHD courses.

Program Requirements

Required Lower Division Courses (30 Units)
ART 20ABeginning Drawing 13
GPHD 5Introduction to Graphic Design 13
GPHD 10Introduction to Digital Design 13
GPHD 20History Of Graphic Design 13
GPHD 25Visual Basics 13
GPHD 30Visualization 13
INTD 20Design3
PHOT 11Digital Imaging3
Select two Art History Survey courses6
Required Upper Division Courses (33 Units) 2
GPHD 120Typography I - Theory3
GPHD 122Design Production and Management3
GPHD 125Visual Principles I3
GPHD 130Typography II - Publication and Collateral Design3
GPHD 135User Interface Design3
GPHD 140Time-Based Graphic Design3
GPHD 142Advanced Graphic Design I3
GPHD 145Visual Image3
GPHD 150Graphic Design Digital Portfolio3
GPHD 152Advanced Graphic Design II3
GPHD 155Corporate Identity and System Design3
Required Electives (6 Units)
Select two of the following with advisor approval:6
Intermediate Drawing
Modern Art
American Art
Advanced Drawing
Art and the Artist in the Marketplace
Advanced Silkscreen
Alternative Photographic Processes
Intermediate Electronic Art
Advanced Electronic Art
Fieldwork in Graphic Design
Special Problems
Design Fundamentals
Digital Imaging
Intermediate Digital Imaging
Artificial Light, Studio
Recommended General Education Areas C2 and C4 (6 Units)
Select two from the following areas:6
Area C2
Traditional Asian Art
Native American Art
Introduction to Art and Visual Culture
Area C4
Beginning Painting
Beginning Watercolor
Beginning Jewelry
Beginning Metalsmithing
Clay Sculpture
Recommended General Education Area A3 and Area D (3 Units)
Select one from the following areas:3
Area A3
Environmental Issues and Critical Thinking
Mass Media and Critical Thinking
Sense and Nonsense in Social Issues and Research
Area D
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Total Units78

These courses or their articulated equivalent must be taken before applying for the Graphic Design major.


A juried portfolio is required for admission to upper division courses.