Graphic Design Degree Online - Curriculum

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Creative coursework in an online graphic
design degree

You'll broaden your understanding of aesthetic design and the technology to create it in SNHU's online graphic design degree. Basic elements of good visual communication, the fundamentals of drawing and digital imaging technologies are just the beginning - you'll also have the opportunity to critique and create logos, advertisements and other marketing materials, as well as television commercials and interactive websites. Through it all, you’ll be building a professional portfolio to showcase your work online and network for jobs in the creative industry.

When you earn your online graphic design degree at SNHU, you'll have amassed a broad skill set, all showcased in an interactive design portfolio. You will:

  • Explore typography, layout strategies, brand identity and symbol and pictogram development.
  • Demonstrate the fundamentals of drawing through still life, figurative and abstract drawing projects.
  • Learn analog and digital image-making, including editing, composition, subject matter choice and presentation.
  • Understand and apply the principles of web design, web aesthetics and user experience.

Required Core Courses

School of Arts and Sciences Required Courses

BIO-210: Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
Discussion/comparison of the principles of mammalian form and function. Includes molecular and cellular mechanisms of major processes (such as muscle contraction, neural transmission, and signal transduction) and examines the structure and function of the 11 organ systems of the human body. Laboratory exercises (BIO-210L) to follow lecture topics.
COM-212: Public Speaking
This course is designed to help students develop abilities, including organization and delivery skills, for all speaking situations. The evaluation and improvement of voice, diction, articulation and posture also are studied. May not be used as literature elective.

HIS ELE - Students may select any 200+ level History elective

Graphic Design and Media Arts (BA) Online Major Courses

COM-128: Language and Practice of Media Arts
This is an introduction to the practice of media production and the study of visual media literacy. The course examines the fundamental components and structure of moving image texts, explores how dynamic relationships between those elements convey meaning, and then exercise that knowledge through media production. Production design, language, technology, and methods will be discussed enabling all students in the class to have a common language of image analysis and creation. Readings and discussions on topics such as cinematography, narrative meaning, image and sound design, editing, genres, and culture will be included. Creative interpretative and expression of ideas will be exercised in the production of media.
COM-230: Graphics and Layout in Print Media
This course is an introduction to the principles and practices of graphic design. Students are introduced through lecture, demonstration and hands-on computer work to the basic elements of graphic visual communication. Adobe Illustrator is used as a primary tool in exploring visual perception through a variety of creative exercises that familiarize the student with basic visual principles such as figure/ground manipulation, shape grouping, letterform shape creation, and grid and system creation. Formal elements of graphic design such as line, shape, color, texture, pattern, balance, symmetry, rhythm, space and unity are thoroughly explored by example and hands-on computer exercises; special topics included are: designing with type, layout strategies, logo design, symbol and pictogram development and stationery systems.
COM-232: Desktop Publishing
This course is an introduction to the software application Adobe InDesign designed for the novice user. The Macintosh platform is used in the classroom studio lab, and the student is introduced to the creative and practical aspects of the desktop publishing program that is considered indispensable in the contemporary communications and design industries. This course is based on a series of introductory exercises and a regimen of hands-on practice that teaches software and design skills; students learn how to combine the use of InDesign with other professional graphics and work-processing software such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word.
FAS-226: Digital Photography
Photography as a visual medium is integral to the study of contemporary communication. This course introduces students to the history and practice of producing photographic images. The course is a combination of lecture and the hands-on practice of both the analog and digital methods of photographic image-making. The traditional darkroom is dispensed with, giving over to the computer the role of dark- room, with the student using Adobe Photoshop and other image editors to process traditional film and digital image captures. The student is taught to use various digital cameras techniques to capture, process, and print a portfolio of several original photographic images. Lectures on pictorial composition, subject matter choice, and methods of presentation display will accompany hands-on technical exercises.
GRA-101: Basic Design and Color Theory
This course examines the basic elements and principles of design, including balance, emphasis, proportion and rhythm. Students are introduced to visual designing systems that guide the student through the application of computer graphics tools. The basic visual design elements of line, space, texture and color are creatively explored as students complete a series of projects that relate to advertising layout and design and visual merchandising.
GRA-220: Introduction to Digital Imaging
Using Photoshop and Illustrator software, this course is a Mac-based introduction to professional computer graphics creation and to the software and hardware typically used in the graphic design, video, photography and interactive Web/multimedia industries. Emphasis will be placed on the professional use of image- capturing devices, such as scanners, digital still cameras and video cameras. Image editing and color management systems will be discussed and demonstrated. The important differences between vector and bitmap graphics will be defined, as will the significant differences in preparing images for print, broadcast and Web distribution. Students will be encouraged to experiment with their own and preexisting images using sophisticated digital editing techniques such as layering, channel masking, filtering, cloning and montaging. Students will output their work from inkjet printers and record it on CD, video and film. Special attention will be paid to copyright awareness in the age of digital image.
GRA-310: Digital Graphic Design for the Web
This course presents digital graphic theory and develops skills that meet the design and technical requirements of professionally created digital images for commercial applications on the World Wide Web on a variety of platforms and Internet appliances. Each student will develop a professional portfolio consisting of printed and CD-ROM material. Students also develop working Web sites to display their graphic design projects. Topics include design strategies, Web authoring environments, color calibration and aesthetics, special HTML tags, image mapping, style sheets, digital cameras and scanners, GIF animation and an introduction to Dynamic HTML.
GRA-340: Typography
Typography deals with the language of type, the history of typography, typeface and character recognition, legibility, appropriate uses of measure, manuscript specifications and the individual visual dynamics of letterforms. In this class students will learn how to work with type as a stand-alone design element. Students will also learn how to incorporate type successfully with imagery. The assignments will cover a broad range of type applications. Students will primarily focus their efforts towards developing a greater understanding of typographic form through exercises based on the setting of words, phrases, sentences and short paragraphs. Students will first focus on the appropriate setting of spaces in-between the letters that make up words and projects will gradually increase in scope and complexity up to the setting of pages of text with multiple levels of hierarchical meaning.
GRA-410: Advanced Digital Graphic Design for Web
This course engages upper-level design students in current industry standards used in designing content for multimedia and interactive communication. Emphasis is placed on designing for computers, tablets and phones. The course is divided into teaching modules emphasizing the integration of several software packages for design problem solving. Emphasis is placed on conceptualization and the mastery of professional site mapping and wire framing techniques. Exercises and projects provide challenging design problem-solving experience. Project themes involve self-promotion and client-based work. All projects rely on the student's ability to integrate previously mastered techniques in a broad range of software.
GRA-310 or IT-375
GRA-420: Advanced Digital Imaging
This hands-on computer graphics course combines skills from previous design courses to explore the history, process and essential skills required to develop successful brand identity systems. Topics such as logo design, selection of corporate fonts and colors, and the development of branded marketing materials are covered in depth. In addition, the important techniques of imaging software integration and file format compatibilities are discussed and applied while preparing images for print, video and Web. At the conclusion of this course, students will have developed a complete corporate identity system and assembled a portfolio presentation for public viewing.

Students may select either FMM-101 or GRA-101.

Select One of the Following:

FAS-320: History of Design
This course introduces the major movements in the history of design since the Industrial Revolution, including the Arts & Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, the Bauhaus, constructivism, and contemporary trends in popular design. Student will be encouraged to apply their learning to practical design exercises.
FAS-326: History of Photography
This course will examine the history of photography from its invention in 1839 to the present time. The course will endeavor to address the technical artistic and social underpinnings of this most modern of art forms.

Free Elective Credits: 33

Total Credits: 120

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