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Graphic designers are an eclectic bunch, none of us are exactly alike — we embrace our differences and celebrate our originality. Yet we all have something in common: a desire to express our creativity and a motivation to succeed. If that sounds good to you, we’d like to meet you! And remember that there are no set criteria for portfolio quality, amount of extra-curricular activities, grade point average, or test scores. Our majors represent a variety of personalities and backgrounds, and hail from big cities, small towns, and even other countries. It’s worth mentioning that students who excel in the graphic design program often share some of the following characteristics:

They:

  • are smart and creative.
  • want to be challenged and are willing to work harder than the next person.
  • understand that failure is an important part of getting better.
  • embrace criticism and ask lots of questions.
  • aren’t afraid speak their minds or stand out from the crowd

Students considering the BFA in Graphic Design major (as well as Studio Art majors) must submit a portfolio, even if they are current Susquehanna students hoping to change their major. Students planning to enter the BA in Graphic Design program are not required to submit a portfolio at this time. BFA students who do not submit a portfolio will be automatically placed in the BA program and must submit a portfolio before joining the BFA program or perform appropriately in introductory coursework. Click here to learn all about the Susquehanna Department of Art + Design’s portfolio process and requirements.

If you’ve already taken some art classes — great! If not, that’s great too. (Really!) Several of Susquehanna’s most well-known graduates never took high school art! Applicants should be able to produce a well-executed and diverse portfolio of artwork, but don’t need to have created all of the work in a high school art class. The most important characteristics for any college art student are desire, discipline, an open mind, and a solid work ethic. If you have those things, the portfolio will take care of itself.

Absolutely! Many graphic design majors are engaged in multiple disciplines. Students enrolled in the intense, pre-professional BFA in Graphic Design program are less likely to double-major than their counterparts in the BA program, where a double major is encouraged and expected. Some of the most capable graphic design students have paired their design degree with one in business, computer science, creative writing, history, or even the traditional sciences.

Whatever they are passionate about. At any moment in time graphic design students are minoring in practically everything Susquehanna has to offer. Popular choices are Communications / Advertising, Editing & Publishing, Photography, History, Film, or Business. One of the best aspects of a liberal arts education is the ability to choose a minor (or two) in a subject that really interests you.

The BFA is the preferred professional degree for those who wish to have a career in graphic design. The BFA in Graphic Design program at Susquehanna is designed for students who wish to have a high-impact career creating amazing print and digital work for elite agencies in cities such as NY, LA, Philly, Boston, San Fran, and DC. The BFA program is rigorous, exciting, intense, and known nationally for producing some of the most successful graphic designers in the country.

Students who choose the BA in Graphic Design program do not necessarily intend to pursue a career as a professional graphic designer (though for highly talented students such an outcome is possible). Rather, they hope to acquire professional design skills in order to enhance a career in a design-adjacent field. In other words, students in the BA program are expected to be double-majors. The most popular pairings are with Communications Advertising, Editing and Publishing, Luxury Brand Marketing and Management, Computer Science, and Creative Writing.

We have found that the versatility of our unique Central Curriculum allows good students to take all of the additional departmental classes they want AND complete a minor outside the department. The freedom to pursue multiple interests and customize your educational experience is the most powerful aspect of a liberal arts institution — we’ve found that the professional world and graduate programs agree with us.

We have cutting edge computer studios with enough workstations for all of our graphic design majors, and we expect them to take advantage. You don’t need to buy a shiny new Mac to succeed here. We want you working in our building alongside your classmates and professors. It’s one of the keys to learning and getting better. If you have a computer in your dorm for emails and research papers, that’s awesome, but SU design majors are not required or expected to buy a computer.

We use top of the line Apple iMacs with large 27″ displays and free access to the Adobe Creative Suite, which includes Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, XD, Bridge, Premiere, After Effects, Dreamweaver, Flash, and Acrobat. We also have multiple Wacom Cintiq HD touch displays for those students who want to draw directly onto the screen. Our labs have key-card access and are designated for the use of graphic design students only. Each lab is outfitted with scanners, projectors, and wide format Epson professional printers. We do NOT charge students for color printing!

As for software, we teach it from scratch. We don’t mind at all if you’ve never used any of the Adobe software products before. In fact, we don’t care if you’ve never used an Apple computer either. We’ll teach you everything you need to know.

The vast majority of graphic design majors will complete a credit-bearing internship while enrolled at Susquehanna, usually during the summer between the junior and senior year. The junior-level graphic design classes in our program offer students exhaustive instruction regarding how to prepare for the internship experience, including: developing a professional graphic design resumé, building both on-line and physical portfolios, identifying possible internship venues, applying and interviewing, and receiving credit from Susquehanna.

The program revolves around the idea of blending conceptual problem solving with visual style as it relates to print and digital interactive (web) design. Our graduates learn to design in a way that allows them to tackle virtually any problem in any format and solve it in the most appropriate and creative way. We are not solely focused on any one particular “genre” of design. Our unique approach, honed for more than two decades, allows us to produce graduates who not only land top national-level design jobs, but also ascend to senior leadership positions such as art director and creative director with astonishing regularity.

The measure of any graphic design program is not whether the graduates get jobs — any and all programs make those sorts of vague claims. At Susquehanna we tout our unmatched industry placement rate, and share the names, faces, and workplaces of countless alums so that you can see our success with your own eyes.

Yes, you can. Simply submit your materials for application to the Department of Art + Design when you apply for transfer to Susquehanna. However, you should be aware that you may not receive credit for the art or design classes you have taken at another institution; and that some students may be asked to start at the beginning of our curriculum. A reasonable expectation is that students who transfer to the graphic design major at Susquehanna, regardless of their current status, should expect to be here for at least three years.

Design is a creative endeavor with highly competitive post-graduation job market. The old adage is that many students who receive graphic design degrees will never work as graphic designers. (That’s why our 96% placement rate is such a big deal.) We believe a successful outcome takes most students four years of hard work to properly prepare for. Not only do students need to learn how to solve problems visually, master a variety of image-making techniques, use evolving technology, understand the nuances of the professional world, and many other things; they need time to mature and actually become good at those things. Students who have attempted to cram it in to five or six semesters have not fared as well as those who allotted the appropriate amount of time. Therefore, we strongly advise that interested students declare the design major prior to arriving at Susquehanna or during their first year.

Portfolio Requirement

Prospective BFAGD majors must submit a portfolio as part of the application process.

View Portfolio Requirements