BFA in Graphic Design

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design provides a sequenced studio approach to design thinking and problem solving for visual communication, preparing students to thrive in a dynamic professional environment.

First-year foundation courses introduce visual concepts in two and three dimensions. Students specialize in graphic design coursework beginning in their sophomore year. Yearlong graphic design and typography studios emphasize form and communication. Junior-level graphic design and typography studios address authorship, audience, and medium. Students are challenged to think creatively and strategically by developing content, defining an audience, and determining an optimum communication platform. Senior year culminates in a thesis project where students articulate a personally driven design methodology to examine relevant and valued topics in contemporary practice. Electives complement the core graphic design and typography studios, affording the opportunity to specialize in areas of interest and providing the essential curricular agility to navigate in a changing practice.

Faculty members work closely with students to strengthen students’ technical and conceptual abilities through both carefully defined and open-ended projects. They also serve as an entry point into professional practice through their own studio practices and professional networks. Students are expected to actively participate in the Boston-based design community through organizations like AIGA in order to cultivate their own professional networks. The Graphic Design program benefits from cross-disciplinary engagement with the College of Communication, the Questrom School of Business, Innovate@BU, and the Hariri Institute for Computing, which enables the sharing of expertise and collaboration with creative individuals in various communication-driven fields.

Learning Outcomes

All students graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Boston University School of Visual Arts are expected to:

  • Develop a body of work that exhibits inventiveness, creativity, ambition, and clarity of thinking.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in studio process including materials, tools, and techniques appropriate to the practice.
  • Demonstrate one’s ideas through a unique visual language.
  • Demonstrate spoken and written critical thinking and communication skills.
  • Apply appropriate models of interpretation based on historical and contemporary artistic knowledge.
  • Generate a collection of materials that sustain a professional practice: artist statement, CV, image documentation, and online presence.

In addition, all students graduating with a BFA in Graphic Design are expected to:

  • Develop a design process.
  • Master key principles of form, authorship, audience, medium, and context.
  • Articulate a unique and individual design voice and visual methodology.
  • Develop design agility; design across multiple modalities.
  • Develop a holistic understanding of design’s past, present, and future.


All first-year, first-time students will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Graphic Design will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy a number of BU Hub requirements in Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness, the Individual in Community, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, First-Year Writing Seminar, Writing, Research & Inquiry, Digital/Multimedia Expression, Oral and/or Signed Communication, Teamwork/Collaboration, Research and Information Literacy, and Creativity/Innovation. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

Graphic Design Program of Study

The BFA requires 132 semester credits.

Graphic Design
Visual Arts Foundation Requirements
CFA FA 100 Doing, Making & Knowing: The CFA Experience 2 cr
CFA AR 131 and 132 Drawing I 8 cr
CFA AR 141 Foundation Painting 4 cr
CFA AR 121 Foundation Sculpture 4 cr
CAS AH 111, 112 Art History 8 cr
Graphic Design Major Requirements
CFA AR 225, 226, 381, 382, 483, 484 Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Graphic Design Studio (6 semesters, taken in sequence) 24 cr
CFA AR 385, 386, 487, 497 Sophomore and Junior Typography Design (4 semesters, taken in sequence) 8 cr
Photography: CFA AR 243, 508, or 515 4 cr
Graphic Design electives: 123, 502, 524, 530, 571, 572, 573, 576, 577, 581, 582, 587, 589, 593, 594, 595, 597 4 cr
Web/Interactive Design: CFA AR 581, CFA AR 582, CFA AR 589 (2 cr each) or CAS CS 103 (4 cr) 4 cr
CFA AR 580 History of Graphic Design 4 cr
Printmaking elective: CFA AR 250, 251, 270, 425, 447, 448, 451, 452, 517, 518 4 cr
BU Hub Requirements Outside Major and Electives
BU Hub requirements outside the major, including First-Year Writing Seminar (e.g., WR 120) and Writing, Research, and Inquiry (e.g., WR 150/151/152) 32 cr
Additional BU Hub requirements and/or Studio/General electives 22 cr
Total credits 132 cr