Jul 23, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog

Art, Graphic Design Major, B.F.A.

Program Description

Coordinator: David Hardy
Phone: (540) 568-6833

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art with a major in graphic design is rooted in fundamental design principles, research and applications, while addressing current and emerging technologies through digital practice. The study of the historical and cultural context of the field broadens students’ knowledge and nurtures their creativity.

Program objectives for the graphic design student are:

  • Articulate ideas and understand the fundamental elements and principles of graphic design while using correct terminology pertinent to the field.
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of artistic methods, craft and formal structure as vehicles to enhance a solutions communicative value.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in both traditional and digital ways of making.
  • Develop diverse problem-solving methodologies that combine theory, research, analytical skills and conceptualization to create effective graphic design solutions.
  • Develop a professional graphic design portfolio reflective of one’s knowledge and abilities that encompasses the contemporary design market.

The graphic design program objectives are enhanced by frequent field trips to design-related events, studio visits, guest speakers and vetted internship opportunities which provide students with exposure to top-notch professionals in the field. On campus, students can get involved in student clubs and organizations, such as student chapters of AIGA: The Professional Association for Design. There are opportunities to engage with visiting designers and exhibitions through the Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art as well as collaborate with faculty and peers for shows at JMU galleries. Graphic design majors also have many opportunities to gain professional experience working for a variety of JMU offices and organizations.

Admission Requirements

Architectural Design, Art Studio, Graphic Design and Industrial Design Majors

All prospective freshmen, transfer and change of major students intending to major in architectural design, graphic design or studio art must meet JMU admission requirements as stated in the Undergraduate Catalog. In addition to meeting JMU admission requirements, all students seeking the BFA with a major in architectural design , art studio or graphic design, or the BS with a major in industrial design  are required to submit a portfolio to the school’s SlideRoom account (https://jmuart.slideroom.com). The submission of a portfolio is optional for students seeking the BA and BS with a major in art studio. All students, regardless of degree type, who wish to be considered for a scholarship must submit a portfolio to SlideRoom. The submission of a portfolio is seen as evidence of a student’s interest and potential for future success in art. The deadline for submitting portfolios to SADAH’s SlideRoom site can be found on the School’s Portfolio page.

Transfer and Change of Major Students

Transfer and change of major students seeking the BFA with a major in architectural design , art studio, or graphic design or the BS with a major in industrial design  are required to submit a portfolio and also need to upload unofficial transcripts and a statement of intent to the school’s SlideRoom account that explains their educational and artistic goals, articulating the reasons for choosing this area of study.

On-Campus Portfolio Feedback Days and Scholarships

All students who would like to be considered for scholarships are required to attend one of the on-campus or virtual portfolio feedback days. Students will show their original art and participate in a faculty interview. If time-based media examples (video and animation) are included, students will need to bring their own digital device for presentation purposes. Refer to the SADAH website for the dates of the upcoming portfolio feedback days and for additional portfolio requirements. All scholarship awards are based on merit and vary in amount. Tours of facilities and program information sessions will take place at on-campus events.

Off-Campus Portfolio Feedback Days

The SADAH also offers students the opportunity for faculty critiques on their portfolio, prior to their digital submission and before an on-campus or virtual portfolio scholarship interview. The off-campus portfolio feedback events provide an opportunity for students to meet SADAH’s faculty. All prospective first-year, transfer and change of major students are strongly encouraged to attend a portfolio feedback day, on or off campus, prior to submitting their portfolio.

Graphic Design

Students seeking official acceptance into the graphic design major must enroll in GRPH 208  and submit a portfolio representing work completed in GRPH 101 GRPH 200  and GRPH 206 . Students not admitted may reapply the following semester.

Admission to the graphic design major is selective and competitive for a limited number of reserved seats in upper-division (300-400 level) graphic design courses. Declaration of graphic design as a major and completion of lower-division (100-200) prerequisite ART and GRPH courses does not guarantee admission into the program. Admission to upper-division GRPH courses is based on completion of all prerequisite GRPH courses and merit as determined by a faculty review of portfolios submitted in satisfaction of GRPH 208 .

GRPH 208  is a 0 credit, pass/fail course that functions as a prerequisite to enrollment in all 300-400 level graphic design courses. Students should enroll in GRPH 208  during the semester following completion of lower-level GRPH courses, or concurrently with GRPH 206 GRPH 208  portfolios are reviewed each semester. Students enrolled in GRPH 208  will be emailed at the beginning of the semester and will be informed of the exact time and location of the GRPH 208  portfolio review.

Any art major may take lower-level GRPH courses, but is restricted from taking any 300-400 level graphic design course until GRPH 208  has been taken and passed.

Accepted students who receive a passing grade for GRPH 208  will be able to register for upper-division courses GRPH for the following semester and are required to furnish a Macintosh laptop computer and acquire an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Purchase recommendations can be found at: http://www.jmu.edu/computing/purchase/dept.shtml.

Students not accepted will have one opportunity to reapply in the following semester or may choose to continue in another major within the School of Art, Design and Art History .

SADAH Computer Requirements for Graphic Design

SADAH’s programs require all students to have a laptop computer equipped with and capable of running any necessary software. SADAH considers a laptop an essential tool for total participation in classes and content.

SADAH faculty determine the hardware and software requirements annually to ensure students purchase the most up-to-date technology conducive to participating in the curriculum.

For all hardware and software requirements, please see the department’s website at: https://www.jmu.edu/sadah/index.shtml


Degree and Major Requirements

Degree Requirements Credit Hours
General Education: The Human Community  1 41
University electives 1
Major requirements (listed below)





1 The General Education  program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. Some credits may be fulfilled by courses required within the major.

Major Requirements

This major requires 78 credit hours in art, art history and art-related courses; 36 are graphic design required and elective courses.

Required Courses

Additional Courses

Art and design electives 2 Credits: 9.00

Art history electives (300-400 level) 3 Credits: 3.00


1 A maximum of six credit hours of practicum or internship may count toward the degree.

Art and design electives may include courses from architectural design, art education, graphic design, industrial design, studio, studio assistant and internships. Excludes all art history courses and ART 200 .

Excludes ARTH 490 ARTH 495  and ARTH 499 .

Major Requirements Total: 78 Credit Hours

Recommended Schedule for Majors

First Year

First Year Total: 30 Credit Hours

Second Year

First Semester

Second Semester

Second Year Total: 30 Credit Hours

Third Year

First Semester

Second Semester

Third Year Total: 30 Credit Hours

Fourth Year

First Semester

Second Semester

Fourth Year Total: 30 Credit Hours

Program Total: 120 Credit Hours