The undergraduate program in Graphic Design allows students to fully absorb an informed design process that provides lifelong support as they go on to engage in real-world design opportunities. Students gain a thorough understanding of the principles of design, theories of communication and strategies for problem solving.
The program prepares students for reflexive,
responsible and sustainable practices as resourceful designers with the ability
to create and evaluate their work and understand its function within the
context of the profession and the larger communities it is meant to serve.
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
Despite being one of the largest departments at RISD, Graphic Design offers approximately 165 undergraduate majors countless opportunities to collaborate within and beyond the discipline. MFA candidates in the department work in a separate facility but interact with undergraduates as TAs and informal mentors who appreciate all opportunities to engage in meaningful exchange about graphic communication.
Graphic Design majors work in dedicated studios in the Design Center, where they have access to a wide array of digital and traditional printing and photographic resources, as well as specialized facilities for bookbinding, papermaking and screenprinting. Faculty members assign challenging projects covering everything from designing books, magazines and posters to UX and websites, film graphics, identities, packaging and exhibits. Each year dozens of visiting designers and critics spend time at RISD complementing the talents of resident faculty and offering alternative design perspectives from around the world.
Jonathan Lucas BFA 2013
Chloe Scheffe BFA 2015
Anna Wexler BFA 2012
Hannah Han BFA 2012
Tori Hinn BFA 2013
Jennifer Doh BFA 2013
Jonathan Key BFA 2013
Emily Albert BFA 2013
The core curriculum in Graphic Design builds 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. During senior year, emphasis is placed on design applications, with a range of electives available to expose students to specific areas of graphic design practice. Juniors and seniors also have opportunities to pursue professional internships over the summer or during the semester.
Undergraduate study in Graphic Design culminates in a challenging, self-defined degree project that taps into each student's strengths, interests and experiences.
All freshman applicants apply to RISD as opposed to a specific department and begin with a required year of Experimental and Foundation Studies. Students select a major midway through the first year but don’t begin those programs until sophomore year.
For more information or to begin the application process, visit the Apply page.
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