Graphic designers use software to arrange shapes, colors, photographs, drawn images and lettering, resulting in bold, visually engaging materials ranging from product packaging to life-size advertising posters and memorable company logos. Even if you're a natural talent, to get a job as a graphic designer, you need a college degree. You'll take a range of classes to fulfill the requirements of a graphic design degree, including typeface design, website and print layout, computer graphics, animation, visual communications theory and photography.
To graduate from an accredited college you must pass core courses regardless of your intended major. Core courses vary among colleges, but usually include English, math, science, social science and foreign language. Although some college students aim to complete the core courses in the first two years of college, most schools give you the entire four-year span to complete them.
Fine Arts Courses
Some colleges prefer you have a solid foundation in the traditional art disciplines before specializing in graphic design. During your freshman and sophomore years, you may be required to take courses such as drawing, painting and sculpture, depending on the school. You may also be required to take a basic photography course, since photographic images figure prominently in a graphic designer's work. You'll also take one to two semesters of art history.
Graphic Design Courses
As a graphic design student, you'll take courses that teach you how to use illustration, photography and typography in two- and three-dimensional media. Since computers play an important role in graphic design, you'll learn how to use a range of programs from desktop publishing to complex image manipulation software. During your junior and senior years, you'll take courses specializing in specific areas of interest, such as package design, corporate identity, animation or website design. You'll also study graphic design history to learn about the origins of techniques and the masters who influenced the profession.
Most colleges require you to complete an internship for academic credit under the supervision of a practicing graphic designer, usually a semester or summer during your junior or senior year. To ensure that you get credit for the experience, you will need to apply for opportunities in collaboration with your academic adviser. Even if your school does not require an internship, graphic design is a competitive field, and the contacts you make as an intern will be the key to snagging employment after graduation.
Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.