Graphic Design

Graphic Design student working on computer looking at images.

What is Graphic Design?

The Graphic Design concentration at South equips students with the critical and problem solving skills needed to produce work in a diverse range of areas including branding, web design and traditional print design. Students explore current design practices as well as historical and contemporary influences that have and continue to shape the face of advertising and visual communication. 

Careers in Graphic Design

A degree in graphic design allows graduates to pursue careers in a variety of design positions, such as print design, web design, advertising, marketing, illustration and publication design. Students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of design principles and proficiency in the Adobe® Creative Suite. Faculty encourages students to tackle design problems with unique and creative solutions. This graphic design program trains students that, upon graduation, are able to thrive and succeed in the field.

Graphic Design Internships

Students in the graphic design program at South have the opportunity to apply for an internship during junior or senior year. For information about graphic design internships, contact Associate Professor of Graphic Design Alma Hoffmann at ahoffmann@southalabama.edu.

▼   Graphic Design Sophomore Review

Please download the Packet for the Graphic Design Sophomore Review Spring 2021 here.

Each Spring semester, students who wish to pursue a degree in graphic design at the University of South Alabama may apply for admission to the BFA program in graphic design. 

Only design majors who have completed ARS 271 Introduction to Graphic Design and ARS 273 Graphic Design Foundations with a grade of C or higher, AND have completed ARS 272 Typography OR are currently enrolled in the course are eligible to apply.

Design majors who are currently enrolled in one of the required courses can participate, but will be dropped from the program if their final course grades are not C or higher.  

This Spring, the Sophomore Review will be on Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Because of COVID-19, we are having the students submit an Adobe Portfolio link in an email to Diane Gibbs dgibbs@southalabama.edu by NOON on March 17. 

Students MUST TEST THE LINK to make sure they have submitted a working link. 

An email will be sent to all art students and anyone from the general public that requests the links. This email will share each student’s submission link. To request this email please send requests to dgibbs@southalabama.edu.

Acceptance into the program is determined by a review process, which is coordinated each spring semester. Only those admitted to the program are allowed to enroll in upper-level graphic design courses. 

  1. Review Process
    Upon completion of the aforementioned courses, each student who wishes to be considered for admission to the BFA program in graphic design will assemble a portfolio of his/her work to be presented for evaluation by the Graphic Design Review Board. 

    A list of the REQUIRED PORTFOLIO PIECES (10 total) is as follows:
    • Two examples of a logo, symbol, or mark
      (One example must incorporate type).
    • Two pieces that show drawing ability
      (These can be either traditional studio pieces or digital or both).
    • One poster
    • One piece showing your proficiency in Photoshop (Photoshop collage)
    • A type dominant piece
    • Three additional design pieces of your choosing
      (These could be an additional rack card and/or brochure, poster, business card, magazine article, flyer, book cover, cd cover (front, back, interior, and spine), album cover (front, back, and interior), label design (bottle, food, makeup, and personal care products, etc.), billboard, identity system (logo, letterhead, envelope), calendar design, instruction manual, forms, etc.

      Portfolio pieces should reflect the student’s current creative and conceptual abilities, showing a strong working knowledge of graphic design software, and display the student’s understanding of the basic principles of design and how best to incorporate these principles compositionally.

      The student’s portfolio will also be evaluated in terms of presentation and craftsmanship. Students accepted into the program will be those who exhibit strong design sensibilities and have potential to excel in the upper-level courses.
  2. Written Statement of Intent
    In conjunction with the portfolio of work, each student must submit a minimum 250-word essay outlining why they feel they should be accepted into the program and what they intend to accomplish with a graphic design degree. This essay will be submitted along with the portfolio. Attention should be given to presentation and writing quality.
  3. Acceptance into the Graphic Design Program
    Students are permitted to apply for the graphic design program only twice. Students will receive written email notification of acceptance or non-acceptance. Upon acceptance, the chosen students will be allowed to register for further graphic design classes and continue their studies toward the BFA in graphic design as outlined by the University of South Alabama Bulletin. Students must register for the designated graphic design class for the semester following acceptance to the program. Failure to register for class or failure to progress through the graphic design curriculum in a timely manner will result in revocation of admission status.

    Maintaining the Student’s Position in the Program:
    1. A low grade in the first semester after acceptance into the Program
      If a student makes a D in one of their Graphic Design courses, in the first semester of their Graphic Design studies, the student is no longer in the Program and will need to be readmitted through the Sophomore Review process.
    2. A low grade after the first semester in the Program
      If a student makes a D after their first 300 level Graphic Design course while in the Graphic Design Program, the following will apply:
      • The student will be allowed to retake the course when it is offered again. However, they will not continue with their current cohort of students. They will lose one year in their progress to complete the Program.
      • For Example: If a D is made in a course that is only offered in a Spring Semester the student must then wait until the following Spring semester to retake the course. If the course is passed with a C or better, they will continue their studies from that point.
    3. Failing a Graphic Design course during the Graphic Design Junior year
      In the event that a student makes an F in one of their Junior level Graphic Design courses, that student is no longer considered part of the Program. She/he must be readmitted via the Sophomore Review Process. If readmitted they will then be allowed to restart the Program at the point of failure. 
    4. Failing a Graphic Design course during the Graphic Design Senior year
      If a student fails a Graphic Design course within their Graphic Design Senior year, they will be allowed to retake the course when it is offered again. However, they will not continue with their current cohort of students. They will lose one year in their progress to complete the Program.
    5. Transfer Students: Any student transferring into the university must be accepted into the program via a portfolio review process and based on having completed the required prerequisites.
      • If the student is entering in a spring semester, they must go through the Sophomore Review process that will take place during that semester.
      • If the student is entering in a fall semester, they can submit a portfolio for review by August 1st prior to that semester. 

The Review Committee will evaluate the portfolios based on the following criteria:

  • VISUAL STRUCTURE OF ELEMENTS / LAYOUT AND COMPOSITION
    Use of hierarchy to direct the viewer’s eye and to organize the elements.
  • BASIC TYPOGRAPHIC SKILLS
    Work should demonstrate basic knowledge of typography as taught in Introduction to Graphic Design and Graphic Design Applications.
  • CONCEPTUAL ABILITIES
    Idea, metaphor, and/or concept are communicated clearly. In other words, the viewer must be able to understand the message with little or no effort.
  • EXECUTION OF CONCEPTS
    The treatment of the elements is congruent with the concept.
  • DESIGN SENSIBILITIES / AESTHETICS
    The piece/work not only meets its purpose but it is also pleasing, attractive, and engaging. The application and treatment of the design elements demonstrate sophisticated design choices at the student’s level at the time of the review.
  • PROFESSIONALISM
    Student finished setting up his/her work on time, left his/her area clean, followed the instructions on the website regarding the quantity and type of pieces to show, etc.
  • CRAFTSMANSHIP/PRESENTATION
    Work is presented neat, clean, arranged straight on the wall, cuts on mat are clean and straight, no pencil marks, glue marks, or other marks detracting from the work. Pieces are glued flat on the board, no bubbles or glue blobs are present, etc.  

After the Review Committee deliberates, students will receive written notification of acceptance or non-acceptance to the BFA program in Graphic Design. Upon acceptance, the chosen students will be allowed to register for upper-level graphic design classes and continue their studies toward the BFA in graphic design as outlined by the University of South Alabama Bulletin. 

Students must register for designated graphic design classes for the fall semester following acceptance to the program. Failure to register for classes or failure to progress through the graphic design curriculum in a timely manner will result in revocation of admission status. 

Please refer to the Policy Statement for Admission to the BFA Program in Graphic Design above for details. 

Applicants for the Graphic Design Review: