Meet Your Major

As a graphic design major in the visual and performing arts department, 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 rich and strong foundation that encompasses design thinking, theory, process, and practice, along with a background in the liberal arts.

What You’ll Learn

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. And, as part of the Mobile Merrimack Initiative, you will incorporate mobile technology into your learning. 

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:

  • Design Nights will help you build your software skills, get critiqued by your peers and allow you to meet other graphic design students - all while becoming comfortable with the major. 
  • The Art Warriors, a student-run organization, is designed to help you experience and produce art in a creative environment outside of the classroom.
  • 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.

Recent graphic design internships have included design work for the O’Brien Center for Career Development and the Merrimack Warriors women’s basketball team

Career Options

Our graphic design program will prepare you to succeed in a dynamic and constantly changing industry. Graphic designers working in web and app design, print and e-publishing, or identity and branding design are essential to the success of many businesses. As a graduate, you’ll be confident and prepared for employment in advertising and marketing agencies, corporations, non-profit institutions and much more. This major can also serve as a foundation for creative work in fine arts, or further study in a graduate program.

Transfer Students to the Graphic Design Program

For students transferring into the program, the transfer of studio courses and level of placement in the Graphic Design program will be determined by the Graphic Design Faculty. Students wishing to major in Graphic Design are required to submit a portfolio to the Department of Visual and Performing Arts for review.

During the portfolio review, the Graphic Design Faculty will assess the student’s studio skills, as well as the courses to be transferred toward the degree requirements. Faculty will compare the student’s level of accomplishment with the Graphic Design Program’s expectations to determine where the student is qualified for placement into the program.

Portfolios can be submitted in-person or digitally. To submit a portfolio, or ask questions about the process, please contact Nancy Wynn, Director of the Graphic Design program, by email:

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.

Foundations Courses (7)

One of the following three courses:

FAA 1210 Basic Drawing I
FAA 2210 Basic Drawing II (if approved by professor)
FAA 2220

Cartooning and Illustration (if approved by professor)

And the following six courses:

FAA 1710 Foundations of Visual Arts
FAA 1230 2-Dimensional Design
FAA 2230 3-Dimensional Design
FAA 2830 Introduction to Typography and Graphic Design
FAA 2840 Image Making and Meaning
FAA 2860

Graphic Design I


Art History/Critical Analysis and Process Courses (2)

One of the following two courses in art history and the History of Graphic Design course:

FAA 1610 Art and Material Culture I: Prehistory to the Renaissance
FAA 1620 Art and Material Culture II: The Renaissance to the Present
FAA 3850 History of Graphic Design

Portfolio Review (Required Non-credit Course)

Submission of portfolio after foundation coursework completed. You must pass to continue in major. 

FAA 3800 Portfolio Review

Advanced Courses (4)

FAA 3830 Visual Web Design
FAA 3840 2D Animation
FAA 3870 Graphic Design II
FAA 3880 Graphic Design III

Senior Courses (3)

FAA 3960W Methodologies of Scholarship in the Visual and Performing Arts
FAA 4950 Senior Portfolio
FAA 4960 Senior Seminar with Thesis

Recommended (not required)

FAA 4910 Visual and Performing Arts Internship


Online Course Catalog