Career Guide to JMU Majors: Graphic Design

Career Guide to JMU Majors

The Major

Who Succeeds



Get the Facts

The Major

Graphic Design is a major offered by the School of Art, Design and Art History, a program within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Admission and Progression Standards:
Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

Graphic Design students learn the vocabulary, visual perception, methods, processes, theory, craft and technology of graphic design, which includes specialized courses in print design, computer graphics, illustration, web design, package design and special topics courses addressing contemporary design issues and problems. The study of the historical and cultural context of the designer broadens students' knowledge base and nurtures their creativity. Supplementing JMU's general accreditation, all degrees offered by the School of Art, Design and Art History are professionally accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Tell me more about this field of study

Graphic designers create visual concepts, by hand or using computer software, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They help to make an organization or product recognizable by selecting color, images, or logo designs that represent a particular idea or identity to be used in advertising and promotions. Common responsibilities for graphic designers may include:

  • Creating designs, concepts, and sample layouts based on knowledge of layout principles and aesthetic design concepts.
  • Researching new software or design concepts.
  • Conferring with clients to discuss and determine layout design.
  • Developing graphics and layouts for product illustrations, company logos, and Internet websites.
  • Preparing illustrations or rough sketches of material, discussing them with clients or supervisors and making necessary changes.
  • Maintaining archive of images, photos, or previous work products.

Tell me more about specialization

Graphic Design positions can be found in a wide variety of settings, such as, design studios, corporate advertising departments, movie studios, newspapers, web design companies, and other businesses. There are many specialty areas within the field of Graphic Design, including Advertising & Branding, Book Design, Corporate Design, Editorial, Environmental, Information Design, Interactivity, and Music Industry.

Common majors or minors that complement this major

The Graphic Design curriculum is demanding and cannot usually accommodate another major or minor, unless the student takes classes in the summer or adds additional semesters. Related minors could include: Communication Studies, Computer Information Systems, Film Studies, Music Industry, Sport Communication or Technical and Scientific Communication.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Successful graphic design students are creative, skilled at problem solving and have an entrepreneurial approach to their work and life. They enjoy working and communicating innovative and diverse ideas to others.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Advertising Designer
  • Art Designer
  • Computer Graphic Designer
  • Creative Director
  • Desktop Publishers
  • Graphic Designer
  • Graphic Production Artist
  • Illustrator
  • Imaging Artist
  • Multimedia Artist
  • Multimedia Designer
  • Package Designer
  • Photographer
  • Website Developers

Who employs graduates?

Many graphic designers are self-employed working in their own studios. However they also work for: Advertising Agencies, Architecture Firms, Art Studios, Book Publishers, Colleges/Universities, Craft Stores, Department Stores, Design Firms, Discovery Centers, Galleries, Industrial Design Companies, Interior Design Companies, Magazine Publishers, Manufacturing Companies, Motion Pictures Studios, Museums, Newspapers, Online Services Companies, Performing Arts Centers, Private Schools, Public Schools, TV Stations, and Website Development Companies.

Internships and Practicum Experiences

Frequent field trips, guest speakers and internship opportunities provide students with exposure to the professional field. On campus, students can get involved in student clubs and organizations, such as student chapters of AIGA and Kappa Pi. There are sponsored activities such as University Graphics, artWorks Gallery and Sawhill Gallery that are also great ways to gain experience. Students should consult with their advisors about internship opportunities. 

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Get the Facts

What are JMU graduates doing with this major?
Graphic Designers
Multimedia Artists and Animators
Graphic Designer
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