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University Catalog


College of Arts and Letters


The curriculum in the Graphic Design program at California State University, Sacramento has been developed to prepare students for professional practice and/or preparation for admission to graduate level study.

The Graphic Design program is part of the Department of Design which houses majors Interior Design and Photography. This combination provides a unique collection of disciplines and broadens the student’s exposure to professions they will potentially be working with in the future.

The course of study is a layered exploration that starts with fundamental principles of visual communication paired with an intensive introduction to the creative process. Each successive layer builds in complexity to encompass technical, conceptual, and research challenges that culminates with a series of classes devoted to professional practice. Historical perspective and ethical concerns are addressed throughout the curriculum. The programs goal is to provide the community with a comprehensive visual problem solver that has a strong aesthetic ability coupled with a clear understanding of the strategic and conceptual challenges facing them in practice.

Special Features

All of the faculty in the Graphic Design program have diverse and extensive expertise in the field and continue to work in the profession. Exhibitions and lectures by nationally recognized designers, field trips, and guest instruction add further exposure to professional practice and methodology. Students have been recognized in national competitions, as well as community and campus exhibitions.

Work experience is highly valued in the field of graphic design, and internships, for academic credit, provide students with practical, hands-on experience. Faculty members are instrumental in coordinating a wide range of student internships at highly respected firms and organizations throughout the region. Service learning is also a strong component of hands-on opportunities available through the program.

Graphic Design majors form an active student group called G.R.I.D.S (Graphic Resources and Information Design Students). This group is also a student chapter of the AIGA the professional association for design. Students meet regularly and organize workshops, field trips, and lectures. These activities increase understanding of and exposure to the graphic design field. G.R.I.D.S also provides internal networking opportunities that offers members support as they pursue their studies in design.

Being located in California’s capital city, California State University, Sacramento offers a wealth of cultural, professional, and employment opportunities. Graduates from the Graphic Design program at Sacramento State have secured positions in design and multimedia firms, advertising agencies, and major corporations.


The Graphic Design program at Sacramento State is one of the most highly sought after programs in Northern California. Due to the large number of applications, the program is now officially impacted. Students wishing to become Graphic Design majors must complete a series of required lower division courses and then must apply for admission to the program. It is highly recommended that interested students speak with a Graphic Design advisor as soon as possible. The application for admission includes:

* completion of all required lower division prerequisites with a grade of “C” or better; and * submission of a portfolio (students must refer to the application for portfolio specifications).

Before submitting applications and portfolio, students must complete with a grade of “C” or better: GPHD 5, GPHD 25, ART 20A, PHOT 40.

Students must be enrolled in GPHD 20 and GPHD 30 during the semester the portfolio is submitted if these courses have not yet been completed.

Before being admitted into the upper division, the student must complete: GPHD 5, GPHD 10, GPHD 20, GPHD 25, GPHD 30, ART 20A, PHOT 40.

Students should contact the Design Department Office for an application package and portfolio requirements. Once students are admitted to the upper division, a grade of “C” or better is required in all upper division GPHD courses.

Students that have been accepted to the Graphic Design program, within the Department of Design are required to own a laptop computer and the appropriate software for upper division courses. Upon beginning upper division coursework this requirement must be met. Before purchasing please consult your major advisor or the Department office for specific minimum requirements for the laptop computer and software.

Requirements - Bachelor of Science Degree

Units required for Major: 69
Minimum units required for BS: 120

Courses in parentheses are prerequisites.

A. Required Lower Division Courses (30 units)



Art in the Western World: From Stone Age to End of Middle Ages



Art in the Western World: From Renaissance to Present


ART 20A*

Beginning Drawing



Introduction to Graphic Design


GPHD 10*

Introduction to Digital Design


GPHD 20*

History of Graphic Design


GPHD 25*

Visual Basics (ART 20A or Pre-Interior Design Major)


GPHD 30*

Visualization (GPHD 25, ART 20A)





PHOT 40*

Basic Techniques of Photography

*These courses or their articulated equivalent must be taken before applying for the Graphic Design major.

B. Required Upper Division Courses (33 units)**


GPHD 120

Typography I - Theory (Either GPHD 5 or GPHD 20, ART 20A, PHOT 40, GPHD 10, GPHD 25, GPHD 30, and acceptance into the major; Corequisite: GPHD 122, GPHD 125)


GPHD 122

Design Production and Management (Either GPHD 5 or GPHD 20, in addition to ART 20A, PHOT 40, GPHD 10, GPHD 20, GPHD 25, GPHD 30, and acceptance into the major; Corequisite: GPHD 120, GPHD 125)


GPHD 125

Visual Principles I (Either GPHD 5 or GPHD 20, in addition to ART 20A, PHOT 40, GPHD 10, GPHD 20, GPHD 25, GPHD 30, and acceptance into the major; Corequisite: GPHD 120, GPHD 122)


GPHD 130

Typography II - Publication and Collateral Design (GPHD 120, GPHD 122, GPHD 125; Corequisite: GPHD 135)


GPHD 135

User Interface Design (GPHD 120, GPHD 122, GPHD 125; Corequisite: GPHD 130)


GPHD 140

Time-Based Graphic Design (GPHD 130, GPHD 135; Corequisite: GPHD 142, GPHD 145)


GPHD 142

Advanced Graphic Design I (GPHD 130, GPHD 135; Corequisite: GPHD 140, GPHD 145)


GPHD 145

Visual Image (GPHD 130, GPHD 135; Corequisite: GPHD 140, GPHD 142)


GPHD 150

Graphic Design Digital Portfolio (GPHD 140, GPHD 142, GPHD 145; Corequisite: GPHD 152, GPHD 155)


GPHD 152

Advanced Graphic Design II (GPHD 140, GPHD 142, GPHD 145; Corequisite: GPHD 150, GPHD 155)


GPHD 155

Corporate Identity and System Design (GPHD 140, GPHD 142, GPHD 145; Corequisite: GPHD 150, GPHD 152)

**A juried portfolio is required for admission to upper division courses.

C. Required Electives (6 units)

(6) Select two from the following with advisor approval:



Intermediate Drawing (ART 20A or equivalent)


ART 109

Modern Art (ART 1B, upper-division standing or equivalent with instructor permission)


ART 110

American Art (ART 1B or equivalent)


ART 120

Advanced Drawing (ART 20B or equivalent)


ART 128

Art and the Artist in the Marketplace


ART 141

Advanced Silkscreen (ART 40E or equivalent)


Alternative Photographic Processes (PHOT 141 or instructor permission)

ART 197

Intermediate Electronic Art (ART 97 or equivalent)


ART 198

Advanced Electronic Art (ART 197 or equivalent experience)

GPHD 195

Fieldwork in Graphic Design (Upper division status; GPA of 2.5 or above; GPHD 130, GPHD 135; instructor permission)

GPHD 199

Special Problems



Design Fundamentals


Digital Imaging


PHOT 111

Intermediate Digital Imaging (PHOT 11 or equivalent or instructor permission)



Intermediate Photography, Color (PHOT 40)


PHOT 148

Artificial Light Photography (PHOT 111 and PHOT 141)

D. Recommended General Education Areas C2 and C4 (6 units)

(6) Select two from the following:

Area C2



Traditional Asian Art



Native American Art



Introduction to Art and Visual Culture

Area C4


ART 22

Beginning Painting (ART 20A or equivalent)


ART 24

Beginning Watercolor (ART 20A or equivalent)


ART 74

Beginning Jewelry


ART 75

Beginning Metalsmithing


ART 86

Clay Sculpture

E. Recommended General Education (3 units)

(3) Select one from the following:

Area A3



Environmental Issues and Critical Thinking



Mass Media and Critical Thinking



Sense and Nonsense in Social Issues and Research

Area D



Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Career Possibilities

Advertising Designer · Brand Designer · Broadcast Designer · In-house Corporate Designer · Identity Designer · Information Architect · Multimedia Designer · Packaging Designer · Prepress Technician · Print Designer · Production Artist · Project Manager · Publication Designer · Signage Designer · Type Designer · Web Designer


Gwen Amos, Mario Estioko, John Forrest, Myung Park, Richard Pratt

Contact Information

John P. Forrest Jr., Chair, Department of Design
Mario Estioko, Program Coordinator
Jan Lopez, Administrative Support Coordinator
Mariposa Hall 5001
(916) 278-3962; FAX (916) 278-6116