BS in Graphic Design

Program scheduled for Discontinuation, please see the BFA in Graphic Design for Program Requirements.

Units required for Major: 69
Total 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 30Visual Basics II3
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 1,23
GPHD 5Introduction to Graphic Design 1,23
GPHD 10Introduction to Digital Design 23
GPHD 20History Of Graphic Design 1,23
GPHD 25Visual Basics 23
GPHD 30Visual Basics II 23
INTD 20Design 13
PHOT 11Digital Imaging 13
Select two Art History Survey courses6
Required Upper Division Courses (33 Units) 3
GPHD 120Typography I3
GPHD 122Design Production and Management3
GPHD 125Graphic Design Systems I3
GPHD 130Typography II3
GPHD 135User Interface Design3
GPHD 140User Experience Design3
GPHD 142Advanced Graphic Design I3
GPHD 145Typography II3
GPHD 150Professional Practice3
GPHD 152Advanced Graphic Design II3
GPHD 155Graphic Design Systems II3
Required Electives (6 Units)
Select two of the following with advisor approval:6
Intermediate Drawing
Modern Art
US and Caribbean Art: Race and Representation
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 1
Media Literacy and Critical Thinking 1
Sense and Nonsense in Social Issues and Research 1
Area D
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology 1
Total Units78

General Education Requirements1

Area A: Basic Subjects (6 Units)
A1 - Oral Communication3
A2 - Written Communication3
A3 - Critical Thinking 20
Area B: Physical Universe and Its Life Forms (13 Units)
B1 - Physical Science3
B2 - Life Forms3
B3 - Lab (Note: Lab experience to be taken with one of the following: B1, B2 or B5)1
B4 - Math Concepts3
B5 - Additional Course (Any B to reach 12 units) - Take upper-division course to complete Area & upper division requirements.3
Area C: Arts and Humanities (6 Units)
C1 - Arts 30
C2 - Humanities3
C1/C2 - Area C Course 30
C1/C2 - Area C Course - Take upper-division course to complete Area & upper division requirements.3
Area D: The Individual and Society (9 Units)
Area D Course3
Area D Course3
Area D Course 40
Area D Course - Take upper-division course to complete Area & upper division requirements.3
Area E: Understanding Personal Development (3 Units)
Area E Course3
Total Units37

Graduation Requirements1

Graduation Requirements (required by CSU) (9 Units)
American Institutions: U.S. History3
American Institutions: U.S. Constitution & CA Government3
Writing Intensive (WI)3
Graduation Requirements (required by Sacramento State) (12 Units)
English Composition II3
Race and Ethnicity in American Society (RE)3
Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement 26