Bachelor’s Program

The four-year BFA in Graphic Design helps you build an informed design process that will support you in pursuing real-world design opportunities. Throughout the program you gain a strong understanding of the design principles, theories of communication and strategies for problem solving.


The core Graphic Design curriculum encompasses a range of analytical, formal, sensory and technical design experiences. Sophomores begin exploring visual principles of form, image, color and typography. Conceptual thinking in areas such as communication theory, visual systems and information design forms the focus of the junior year.

Senior year emphasizes design applications, with a range of electives available to expose you to specific areas of graphic design practice. Juniors and seniors can also pursue professional internships over the summer or during the semester.

View the curriculum

Learning outcomes

The program educates students to become resourceful designers engaged in reflexive, responsible and sustainable practices. Graduates are prepared to:

  • evaluate and critique the effectiveness of visual communication work.
  • respond to a communication need by determining an appropriate perspective and following through by form-making using various means: editing, aesthetics and/or appropriation.
  • develop and refine personal methods that culminate in a cohesive body of work targeting professional practice, an independent studio practice and/or entrepreneurship.
  • work with contemporary and historical tools and software.

Inspiring community

One of the largest departments at RISD, Graphic Design offers approximately 150 undergraduate majors many opportunities to collaborate within and beyond the discipline. Undergrads also interact with MFA candidates, engaging in meaningful exchange about graphic communication.

Learning environment

Graphic Design majors work in dedicated studios in the Design Center, where they have access to an array of digital and traditional printing and photographic resources, as well as specialized facilities for bookbinding, papermaking and screenprinting. Faculty assign projects covering everything from designing books, magazines and posters to UX and websites, film graphics, identities, packaging and exhibits. In addition, visiting designers and critics offer alternative design perspectives from around the world​.

Degree project

The BFA in Graphic Design culminates in a challenging, self-defined degree project that taps into your strengths, interests and experiences.