BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS | MINOR
Learn how to solve problems with persuasive, visual communication and develop your vision under the mentorship of acclaimed faculty.
In the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree program, we train our students in the art of persuasive, visual problem solving. Our faculty of professional designers help students develop and execute brand strategies in diverse media formats, including print, web, motion and mobile devices. Graduates complete this program with a strong understanding of concept ideation, design processes and methods, visual communication strategies, messaging, wireframing, design development and production workflow. Our curriculum recognizes graphic design as a communicative medium, emphasizes solid foundations in visual messaging, and gives students experience creating and presenting their ideas to an extensive range of audiences and consumers.
Students have the opportunity to participate in real-world projects such as World Studio’s Design Ignites Change and Design Lab while they enhance their skills in the classroom and draw inspiration from the dynamic city of Washington, D.C. At the end of the program, students participate in NEXT, the Corcoran’s award-winning, school-wide thesis exhibition.
- Financial Aid
- Our Faculty
- Our Spaces
- Corcoran Scholars
- Request Information
- Transfer Credit Review Form
WHAT YOU'LL STUDY
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree (120 credits) begins with a strong foundation in design principles and digital technologies, then progresses to more specialized courses in graphic design. Topics include a wide range, such as:
- branding/identity programs
- mobile apps
- web design
- interaction design
- systems design
- information design
- environmental design
- motion graphics
- publication design
Our students learn current design industry practices and engage in a dialogue about the role of design in contemporary society, culture and business.
By the end of the program, students develop professional presentation skills and a refined portfolio. Intimate classroom settings and detailed, critical feedback provide the conceptual, technological and communication tools to excel as working professionals in the fast-paced and competitive design industry.
The culminating experience of the program is a two-semester thesis project during the final year, which is exhibited at NEXT.
MINOR IN GRAPHIC DESIGN
In the Graphic Design minor, students are introduced to the core methods, processes and skills of visual and communication design. The program helps students analyze and participate in the execution of design and brand strategies in diverse media formats, including print, web, motion, and mobile devices.
WHO YOU'LL STUDY WITH
In addition, all graphic design senior thesis classes must interview an established designer. The Corcoran has a renowned Visiting Artist program, but design students also have the opportunity to meet and get advice from well-known and established designers through the Visiting Designers Series, a curriculum-integrated lecture series where professional designers and animators visit our programs. Visiting designers and animators discuss their design studio projects, practices and methods. In addition to lectures, visiting designers may serve as senior thesis critics, providing individual portfolio critique sessions and professional advice to design students working toward graduation. Recent visiting designers and animators include:
- Jens Gehlhaar
- Matthew Carter
- Brian Buirge and Jason Bacher of GFDA
- Gail Anderson
- Nancy Skolos and Tom Wedell
- Justin Cone of PSY/OPS
- Jeremy Mende
- Lucille Tenazas
- Rick Valicenti of THIRST
- Seymour Chwast
- Marian Bantjes
- Chris Pullman
- Mike Jakab of Agency Collective
- Kenya Hara
- Tracie Ching
WHERE YOU'LL GO
As a professional graphic designer you have the chance to you to create your own career path. Your courses will provide the experience needed to do so. The GW Center for Career Services provides further professional resources for our students.
Professional job opportunities and experiences take our graphic design students nationally and internationally to companies in London, Hong Kong, China, New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, the Philippines, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Washington, D.C.
Gain real-world experience at companies like:
- Harper's Bazaar
- Architectural Digest - Condé Nast
- National Geographic
- Chronicle Books
- Discovery Communications
- Hirshorn Zuckerman Design Group
- The Daily Beast
- Interactive Web Designer
- Mobile APPS Designer
- User Interface Designer
- Branding/Identity Designer
- Interaction Designer
- Motion Designer
- Publication Designer
- Package Designer
- Environmental Designer
- Exhibition Designer
All first-year BFA students take Corcoran Foundations courses. For two semesters, you are an essential member of a tight-knit group of artists, designers and photographers. You will develop relationships across studio areas and foster multi-disciplinary approaches to making and problem-solving that can sustain a life-long investigative practice. Here you learn to think and communicate like an artist, take risks and challenge your assumptions, while developing the fundamental skills necessary to read and manipulate the complex language of images, forms and cultures that make up the world around you.
Spencer Strauss, from Philadelphia, PA, knows that good design is transformative, but is interested in exploring the fine line between designing for business and making art for social change.
As a female designer, Spencer wants to explore the relationship between gender dynamics and design.
Spencer hopes through her commentary, op-ed style thesis, entitled "Marketing Female Empowerment: Genuine or Superficial," she can delve deeper into the feminist movement, analyzing whether gendered marketing truly uplifts women.
Samantha majored in Graphic Design and minored in Sustainability and Art History during her time at GW. In addition to her love of design, she has been a museum educator at The National Gallery of Art for the past four years. There, she has had the opportunity to help lead various high school programs, develop curriculum and present various gallery talks. This past year, she interned for the Alexandria-based design studio, Spaeth Hill, where she worked on a wide range of projects from publication design to custom screen printing.
Samantha's senior thesis combines her passion for sustainability and design as she calls for designers to rethink their work amid the current climate crisis.
Amanda is a sophomore transfer student, majoring in Graphic Design.
"Being a student trying to transfer schools during the pandemic meant that there were even more unknowns, so getting my admissions letter brought a mix of relief and excitement. I chose to transfer to GW because of the school’s academic reputation and students that strive for leadership. Two of my friends from the Graphic Design program started an independent magazine called Fliessen this semester, where we feature other Corcoran students, giving them a voice and place to portray their work. Designing for the magazine along with my other class projects has allowed me to use my skills for the betterment of the world around me, and that's exactly what I need in order to achieve my goals and prepare myself for a creative career."
Every year, Corcoran hosts NEXT, a year-end celebration of art and scholarship. In 2021, Graphic Design B.F.A. students like Ally Landrum explored the connection between designs and different aspects of life. Ally’s work explored how different artists and designers use their mediums of choice to bring attention to mental health: “When I design, I like to look past the obvious, beyond the words, and to reach into the heart of the project in order to extract what makes it special. It’s not just about the artwork—it’s the whole picture.”
Art shown: Ally Landrum’s “Coffee Table Book on Mental Illness and Design”
WHAT WE CREATE
Administrative Offices, Flagg Building
500 17th St, NW