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 by creating a professional identity and portfolio.
  • Become proficient in all relevant industry software, hardware and social media.
  • Be accountable, responsible and ethical in your work.

Technology Needed

Graphic Design utilizes various tools, technology is just one of many in your creative toolkit. The Graphic Design Program has a state-of-art design lab for coursework in your freshman and sophomore years. Additionally, you’re provided with an iPad and pencil in your freshman year—which you’ll use creatively until you graduate. For your junior year, all majors are required to have their own laptop and subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, though some students do secure laptops and subscriptions before junior year. Please visit these helpful IT links for software and hardware solutions. SoftwareHardware

Hands-On Learning

To set you up for success, you’ll work with the O’Brien Center for Career Development starting in your freshman year. In your sophomore and junior years you will work one-on-one and in groups to create a dynamic resume and LinkedIn profile, take internship boot camps, get your professional headshot done, become more comfortable with networking, and apply for internships. During your senior year, you will create a senior capstone project and professional online portfolio to set you up for employment. Along the way you can take creative workshops, join the Art Warriors Club, or hang out with your peers at the Media Center.

Recent graphic design internships have included design work for Spaulding, DKNY Men’s Sportswear Division, Tripadvisor, RevHealth, PROCON, Brides Across America, O’Brien Center for Career Development and Merrimack College 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, nonprofit institutions and much more. Recent graduates are working at TJX Companies, AMP Agency, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Bosch Healthcare Solutions, Bond Brothers, ISlide and Europerfumes. This major can also serve as a foundation for creative work in the 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 16 courses as specified below.

Foundations Courses (7)

One of the following courses:

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

Illustration (if approved by professor)

And the following six courses:

FAA 1230 2-Dimensional Design
FAA 1710 Foundations of Making: Process and Creativity
FAA 2230 Intro to 3D: Form, Space, Materiality 
FAA 2830 Introduction to Typography and Graphic Design
FAA 2840 Image Making and Meaning
FAA 2860

Graphic Design I


History Courses (2)

Choose one of three courses in art history, plus 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 2690 Postmodern Art and Beyond
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 (or FAA3890 UX Design with Program Director’s approval)
FAA 3870 Graphic Design II
FAA 3880 Graphic Design III

And one of the following courses:

FAA 3840 2D Animation
FAA 4820 Motion Graphics


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