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Graphic designers are professionally-oriented artists who connect people to products, ideas and information through creative visual design and storytelling.

Both bachelor’s degree options in Graphic Design prepare creative and artistic students for careers in visual communications. Graphic designers are visual problem-solvers who communicate with typography, images, and designs in a wide range of applications and settings.

The B.A. in Graphic Design is a broad-based liberal arts degree that builds understanding of professional practices for graphic designers. The program offers great flexibility in combining coursework ​across other academic disciplines in pursuit of a minor that complements the student’s career goals. Students graduate with a job-seeking visual portfolio that demonstrates their creative and technical abilities.

The B.F.A in Graphic Design is a highly-focused professional arts degree with in-depth focus on the required industry practices for graphic designers. The program includes intensive applied studio work in visual arts and design, supported by general collegiate studies. Each student completes an internship as part of their coursework and graduates with a job-seeking visual portfolio that demonstrates the student’s creative and technical abilities.

Both programs offer:

  • Hands-on Design Studio Experience: Graphic design classes take place in the Wheatley Center's large, well-lit art studios and spacious computer labs that feature cutting-edge Macintosh Pro computers and Adobe Creative Suite software.
  • 24/7 Access to the Labs and Studios: Graphic design students have a large variety of professional lab and studio spaces available for them 24-7, such as professional-grade computers and software, a laser color printer, wide-format inkjet printer, laser cutter, 3-D printers, a woodshop, spray booth, vacuum former, lighting studio, a gallery, and large pin-up spaces to showcase their creative work.
  • Professional Internships: In the B.F.A. program, students are required to complete a 3-credit internship, and in the BA program students have an option to do so. In both programs the  150-hour professional experience counts towards degree completion.
  • Professionally-Engaged Faculty: Design professors are working visual creators who are also experienced educators with relevant academic credentials. The professors share with their students their many years of experience in the industry and as internationally exhibiting artists.
  • Opportunities in Related Fields: The degree program offers students a path toward using their visual communications skills in a variety of fields and industries, with the option of also completing academic minors, certificates or elective courses that complement their interests and goals. Complementary studies include photography, illustration, web design, animation, motion graphics, advertising, journalism, sales, entrepreneurship, data analytics, technical and creative writing, documentary studies, healthcare informatics, and public relations.
Degree Requirements and Courses

Downloadable Course Sheets:

Program Learning Outcomes

Each Graphic Design student graduates with a job-seeking portfolio. Students complete work samples for their portfolio throughout the degree program, particularly in several capstone courses. The learning outcomes for the professional portfolio are:

  • The Portfolio demonstrates the student’s ability to utilize skills of problem and audience identification research and of information gathering and analysis. 
  • The Portfolio demonstrates the student’s ability to generate alternative solutions and the skills of the evaluation of solutions and contexts.
  • The Portfolio demonstrates the student’s ability to create and develop visual form in response to communication problems, including an understanding of principles of visual organization of information, image composition, sound design, symbolic representation, aesthetics and the construction of meaningful images.
  • The Portfolio demonstrates the student’s understanding of tools and technology, including their roles in the creation, reproduction and distribution of visual messages.
  • The Portfolio demonstrates the student’s understanding of basic business practices, including the ability to organize design projects and to work productively as a member of teams.
Copyright And Student Work

COPYRIGHT TO STUDENT CLASSWORK

Robert Morris University is a non-profit educational institution. Receiving and giving critiques on student work at the Media Arts Department at RMU is a required part of the evaluation of student work. Student work produced in classes is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Each student owns the copyright to her/his original work the moment the “work is “fixed” in a tangible medium of expression…”[1]

STUDENT USE OF COPYRIGHTED WORK IN CLASS ASSIGNMENTS

If any part of the class work created is originally someone else’s creation:

1) the work must be in the public domain available for use without permission (generally work after 1922 is copyrighted); or

2) written consent from the copyright holder must be obtained to use the copyrighted work. That consent must detail the terms of the use, such as what exactly can be used, how much of it, in what format, if modifications are allowed, and how the work is to be credited. Also the duration of the consent must be listed and any possible terms set on how the work can be used geographically; or

3) if a course assignment states that it requires or allows the use of existing copyrighted work without consent, the assignment can only be displayed in this class. It cannot be used as part of a student portfolio, displayed publicly, or otherwise after the class has ended. The use has been one-time-only for learning purposes;

4) Education Exemption allows:

1.      Display of a copyrighted work
2.      By an instructor or pupil
3.      In a face-to-face teaching activity
4.      In a classroom or similar place

17 U.S.C. § 110(1).
 

EXCERPTS FROM U.S. COPYRIGHT LAW

Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code. Circular 92, Chapter 1: Subject Matter and Scope of Copyright, http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html
 

Information closely related to media arts:

§ 102 . Subject matter of copyright: In general28

§ 106 . Exclusive rights in copyrighted works38

§ 107 . Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use40

§ 110 . Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays43
 

DISPLAY OF THIS SEMESTER’S STUDENT CLASSWORK

Classwork may be displayed on display boards, shelves, TV/computer monitors and/or other display surfaces in the Media Arts Department spaces in the Wheatley Center and/or the Academic Media Center as a part of required classwork in order to provide experience of exhibiting one's media arts work; in such a case the display identifies the work's author.

DISPLAY OF STUDENT CLASSWORK OUTSIDE CLASS

The Media Arts Department at times may display clearly credited student work (unless a student requests anonymity) at different University events on and off campus, and also in print or digital form, or online, as samples of Media Arts student work. Student work displayed outside class will only be displayed on a student’s written permission on the RMU Media Arts Student Copyright Permission Form. Course professors and/or the department will notify by email the students whose work is displayed or stored on reserve as samples of Media Arts student work.

RMU MEDIA ARTS STUDENT COPYRIGHT PERMISSION FORM

For your work to be displayed outside the class in which it was produced, you are required to give your written permission to do so. Media Arts course professors and the department have copies of the RMU Media Arts Student Copyright Permission Form available for that purpose. In order for your work to be available for outside class displays, please fill out and turn in a signed RMU Media Arts Student Copyright Permission Form to your course professor who will also sign the form and then turn it in to the department for it to be filed. If you are under 18 years of age, your guardian must sign the form. Each student participating in the semester’s Senior Exhibition is required to fill out, sign and turn in a RMU Media Arts Student Copyright Permission Form to their course professor as exhibiting one’s portfolio publicly in the show is a course requirement.


[1] U.S. Copyright Office - Copyright Law: Chapter 1, http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html

Career Preparation

Graduates of the RMU Graphic Design program hold positions with titles like Graphic Designer, Creative Director, Art Director, Director of Brand Design, Freelance Designer, UX/UI Designer, Marketing Specialist, Web Designer, Digital Experience Designer, Digital Content Strategist, and Front-End Developer. 

The visual work of our alumni can be found in many industries including fashion, retail, the automotive industry, advertising, health care, banking, law, manufacturing, exhibit design, and the nonprofit sector.

A Graphic Design degree from Robert Morris University represents a highly adaptable skill-set that can be immediately applied to many work environments. Our graduates have careers in diverse creative fields, such as visual communication, website and interface design, illustration, typography, art direction, logo and icon design, digital and game art, advertising design, user experience design, and visual branding of all kinds.

Demand for Graphic Designers

Graphic designers are employed in various industries.

  • According to a 2019 study by AIGA, the professional association for design in the U.S., “Most [junior] designers make between $50,000-$75,000 a year, regardless of gender.” Source: AIGA, “Design Census 2019. Understanding the state of design and the people who make it,” p. 26, https://designcensus.org/data/2019DesignCensus.pdf
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in My 2019 the median annual wage for graphic designers was $52,110, and in the top industries 
    • Advertising, public relations, and related services - $54,320 
    • Specialized design services - $54,150
    • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers - $43,950
    • Printing and related support activities - $41,290
  • Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Graphic Designers, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm (visited March 31, 2021).
Admissions and Tuition Information
Scholarships, Professional Opportunities & Student Organizations

Graphic Design students have opportunities to expand and apply their learning beyond the classroom with professional internships, study-abroad opportunities, involvement with on-campus student media, a professional on-campus art gallery, and student clubs. Students may also engage in the off-campus activities of the local chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, and submit work in design competitions. Our graphic design students have won over 130 awards in professionally recognized competitions.

National scholarships for design students:

Study abroad

  • Students may pursue opportunities to gain experience through a semester abroad program, or study with other RMU students on a faculty-led education abroad program. Design students have studied a semester abroad in Italy, England, Scotland, and Australia, and have traveled with RMU faculty to Chile, Italy, France, Ireland and beyond.

Examples of student clubs

RMU Sentry Media

  • RMU hosts independent student media RMU Sentry Media. Students can get involved in Sentry Media on their first day on campus. Gain professional experience with this award-winning student-run converged media outlet at RMU.

Massey Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Design students have many opportunities on campus to apply their design skills. One of these is with the Massey Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation which organizes campus Hackathons and other events inviting students to get involved in interdisciplinary team projects.

The university’s Academic Media Center offers an opportunity to enhance your professional experiences on campus through some of the latest technology in media.

Work Study

RMU Scholarships

Contact Us

The School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences faculty is a team of dedicated teacher-scholars, award-winning artists, practitioners, and academics who are committed to your long-term success.

Willis, HylaHyla Willis, M.F.A.
Professor of Media Arts
Email: willish@rmu.edu
Department of Arts and Humanities

Pinson, HeatherHeather Pinson, Ph.D.
Department Head, Arts and Humanities 
Associate Professor of Humanities
Associate Professor of Media Arts
Department of Arts and Humanities
Email: pinson@rmu.edu

Patricia “Patty” Then
Media Arts Studio Technician
Email: then@rmu.edu

Meet the Faculty

Our Graduates Work at

Examples of our graduates’ employment sites:

  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Bradley Brown Design
  • Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
  • Carter’s/Osh Kosh B’Gosh
  • The Church Online
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Heritage Valley Health Care System
  • Highmark
  • Industry Weapon
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates
  • PNC
  • PocketExpert
  • UPMC
  • Tailored Marketing
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Tiffany & Co.
  • Wall-to-Wall Studios
Testimonials

Khalid Assiri, Class of 2019

BA Media Arts, Graphic Design
Graphic Designer at Health Sciences Research Center at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Saudi Arabia
 
“Robert Morris University is a place where you can find a supportive environment, especially if you are interested in media arts and graphic design. I will never forget the support from faculty and how they prepared me to be ready for the challenges in my career. Becoming a full-time employee at one of the biggest universities in my country, I will always remember the positive impact my professors had in building a creative and confident graphic designer. I am really grateful that I chose RMU.”

Katie Carlton, Class of 2017

BFA Media Arts, Graphic Design
Lead UI UX Designer and Scrum Master Apprentice at VieCure, Denver, CO

“The Media Arts Graphic Design concentration program prepared me for way more than I ever imagined. In my final semester, I was the Lead Graphic Designer at a design studio in Beaver, PA where I applied the research and ideation methods I learned at RMU to successfully rebrand and provide competitive marketing materials to local townships and businesses.

From there, I became the UI UX Designer at a software company in Pittsburgh, PA where I took the opportunity to rebrand the whole company and truly build from the ground up their innovative communication software. The GD program gave me the technical skills I needed to communicate with developers and shareholders proposed designs and how to ship a final product design.

Today, I’m the Lead UI UX Designer and Scrum Master Apprentice for an Oncology Healthcare Software Company in Denver, CO. I continue to reflect back on what I learned in the GD program every day as I encourage critiques, group thinking, unordinary ideation, and being able to assess what the real problem is that needs solved. This is so important across both design and development disciplines and probably the most rewarding part of my position in the company. My team is empowered to come up with groundbreaking designs and bring them to live to help treat cancer patients.

RMU’s GD concentration goes beyond making designs visually appealing. It encourages designers to really think about the intent and purpose of the design, identify the true problems, and innovate solutions. Psychology, history, communication, and technology are so intertwined and RMU’s program stood out to me because they included those disciplines in their curriculum when I was first applying to programs as a senior in high school. It’s not an art degree. It’s a degree program that has enabled me to break walls and ceilings to make a difference with functional design – to design with a purpose.”

Elijah Carrington, Class of 2017

BFA Media Arts, Graphic Design
VP of Design at Nearby Creative, Pittsburgh, PA

"I chose Robert Morris University for my Bachelor's Degree in Media Arts with a Concentration in Graphic Design and it has helped immensely in preparing me for the workforce. On a daily basis, I'll leverage the skills and theory I garnered from the design program in my senior consultancy role for an international Financial Services firm. The ability to present my work has lent itself towards effective marketing and sales tactics for my current VP of Design position at Nearby Creative, a marketing and technology firm based in Pittsburgh. I thoroughly enjoyed working with close-knit classmates, friends, and professors, and believe that the experiences made at RMU and abroad created a path for success out of school. I'll always appreciate my time spent at RMU."

Adam Petras, Class of 2013 

Senior Digital Designer at Chemistry Agency, Pittsburgh Office, PA
 
“I really enjoyed my experience at Robert Morris, mostly because of the Design program. I felt that because I was able to explore multiple areas of design and media it gave me an edge when I was finished with school and entering the workforce. I also really appreciated the fact that we had business classes to accompany our design classes giving us an extra set of skills that we could take into the world. Add to that the knowledgeable professors and meeting some of the best people through the program it was wonderful experience.”

Sample Courses:

These are some of the classes for students in this academic program:

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Core Credits
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School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences

School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences

Focus on delivering information in a way that makes an impact. Create images that capture attention, compose words that inspire, and design technology that changes how we live.

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