Graphic Design; students hanging printed work

Graphic Design


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.




Design books


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
  • typography
  • 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.

Graphic Design MAJOR 

Graphic Design Minor

Minimum Requirements:

13.3-inch MacBook Pro
2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
256GB SSD Storage
8GB of memory (recommending configuring it to 16GB RAM)
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645


Optimal Setup: 

15.4 inch MacBook Pro
2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i9
16GB of 2400MHz DDR4 onboard memory
Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory and automatic graphics switching
Intel UHD Graphics 630


(AppleCare or another protection, or warranty plan is also recommended, which would be an additional cost)



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:

  • Apple
  • Harper's Bazaar
  • Architectural Digest - Condé Nast
  • NBC
  • PBS
  • Newsweek
  • National Geographic
  • Chronicle Books
  • Discovery Communications
  • Hirshorn Zuckerman Design Group
  • Graphik
  • The Daily Beast

Careers include:

  • Interactive Web Designer
  • Mobile APPS Designer
  • User Interface Designer
  • Branding/Identity Designer
  • Interaction Designer
  • Motion Designer
  • Publication Designer
  • Package Designer
  • Environmental Designer
  • Exhibition Designer

Student examining artwork

Female student drawing at easel

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.

Read more




Spencer Strauss (B.F.A., '19)



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. 

Spencer working on design

Samantha Carpenter (B.F.A. '20)

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. 

Samantha Carpenter Thesis


What we create


Precision: a graphic design

designed &

designed letter "Z"

designed label on a mason jar



Administrative Offices, Flagg Building
500 17th St, NW 
[email protected]

Program Administrator
Athena Naylor
[email protected] 

Program Head
Catherine Anderson
[email protected]

Assistant Professor & Faculty Advisor, Graphic Design
Sara Jamshidi
[email protected]