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Visual & Performing Arts

Graphic Design

As a graphic design major, you will develop your capacity for artistic and creative expression in both design and the studio arts.

This dynamic program, which blends art and design history, provides a broad and sturdy foundation that encompasses design thinking, theory, process, and practice, along with a background in the liberal arts.

Meet Your Major

Merrimack’s multifaceted graphic design curriculum combines research, critical questioning, problem analysis and the methodologies of the design industry. As a student in this program, you’ll sharpen your conceptual and critical-thinking abilities and develop a practical, in-depth understanding of current industry-standard technical skills.

Through courses of increasing complexity, as well as internships and opportunities for real-world design practice, you’ll learn to:

  • Understand and perform various types of industry-related research.
  • Write for a broad range of applications.
  • Develop the capacity to collaborate successfully, both online and in person.
  • Motivate yourself and manage creative projects.
  • Develop ideas that stand the test of critical analysis.
  • Deliver effective oral presentations to students, professors and outside clients.
  • Brand and market yourself and your work.
  • Become proficient in all relevant industry software, hardware and social media.
  • Be accountable, responsible and ethical in your work.

Hands-On Learning

In this program, you will have access to valuable learning opportunities beyond the classroom. The Art Warriors, a student-run organization, is designed to help you experience and produce art in a creative environment outside of the classroom. In addition, the Media Center offers a supportive environment where you can collaborate, explore creative ideas and become a visually literate developer and user of new media.

Career Options

Our graphic design program will prepare you to succeed in a dynamic and constantly changing industry. As a graduate, you’ll be prepared for employment in advertising and marketing agencies, corporations, not-for- profit institutions and more. This major can also serve as a foundation for creative work in fine arts or further study in a graduate program.

What You’ll Take

As a graphic design major, you must complete a minimum of 64 credits and a minimum of 16 courses, as specified below. You must also maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 in your selected courses.

Art History/Critical Analysis and Process Courses

One of these two courses:

  • FAA 1610 Art and Material Culture I: Prehistory to the Renaissance
  • FAA 1620 Art and Material Culture II: The Renaissance to the Present

Plus these three courses:

  • FAA 1710 Foundations of the Visual
  • FAA 3850 History of Graphic Design
  • FAA 3960 Methodologies of Scholarship in the Visual and Performing Arts

Foundations Courses

One of these three courses:

  • FAA 1210 Basic Drawing I
  • FAA 2210 Basic Drawing II
  • FAA 2220 Cartooning and Illustration

Plus these five courses:

  • FAA 1230 2-Dimensional Design
  • FAA 2230 3-Dimensional Design
  • FAA 2830 Layout Analysis and Construction
  • FAA 2840 Image Making and Meaning
  • FAA 2860 Graphic Design I

Submission of Portfolio Course

Plus this course:

FAA 3800 Portfolio Review

Advanced Courses


  • FAA 3830 Visual Web Design
  • FAA 3840 2-Dimensional Animation
  • FAA 3870 Graphic Design II
  • FAA 3880 Graphic Design III

Senior Courses


  • FAA 4950 Senior Portfolio
  • FAA 4960 Senior Seminar with Thesis 

Recommended Course

Not required, but recommended: 

FAA 4910/20 Visual and Performing Arts Internship

Technology Requirement

In this program, you’ll be required to use creative industry-standard technology:

  • Freshmen and sophomores must have a Macintosh iPad with Stylus and an Adobe Creative Suite student subscription.
  • Juniors and seniors must have a Macintosh MacBook Pro and an Adobe Creative Suite student subscription.

Merrimack offers two programs to help you stay competitive in the marketplace: the Mobile Merrimack Initiative and Merrimack’s Optional Laptop Program.

Courses in the School of Liberal Arts are scheduled to account for instructional time that is commensurate with credits earned.

More Info

MaryJane Wheeler
Administrative Assistant,
Visual and Performing Arts
Volpe 174

Kathleen Sills

Visual and Performing Arts 
Associate Professor, Theater