Graphic Design

Curriculum & Classes

The graphic design program at KCAI allows students to gain an understanding of design research, theory and conceptual problem-solving. It builds strong skills in visual form, process and content development. Students are given a well-rounded perspective on the profession that prepares them to practice in a broad spectrum of communications design settings. The program stresses collaborative work within a studio environment. 

Class descriptions


Four sequential studios stress the crucial role of typography in graphic design. These courses address all aspects of typography, including letterform anatomy and design, typographic composition, legibility, hierarchy, expression, history and text/image relationships. The studios increase in complexity and detail, investigating both formal and theoretical aspects of typography.

Image making

Students are introduced to methods for creating meaning and communication through the digital photographic image and developing image creation skills tailored to graphic design practice. Narrative, documentation, temporal qualities and the cultural roles of photographic imagery are explored and analyzed.

Communications design theories

Theories including semiotics, rhetoric, narrative and communications models are integrated throughout courses beginning in the sophomore year. Introduced in the sophomore level "applied communication theory" course, these ideas are analyzed through an active process of making and practiced through both generative and analytical methods in other coursework.

Multimedia, sound, motion, interactivity, information architecture

The program weaves interactivity and information architecture throughout most studio courses. A focused upper-level course sequence provides an in-depth grounding in theory and skills, such as narrative theory, non-linear interactivity, mapping, etc. Students are encouraged to be open and flexible regarding specialization and to make appropriate tool choices for their assignments to prepare them for the media integration found in contemporary professional practice.

Design advocacy, social/cultural/political impact

Design’s persuasive power and its role as a social and cultural force is explored and analyzed at all levels through projects that integrate contextual and audience-based factors. Visual advocacy is a required senior-level course exploring ethics, responsibility, sustainability and the designer’s relationship to corporate culture through readings and a semester-long design project with an external community partner.

Class schedules and course requirements

For a list of class schedules, click here.

For a list of major academic requirements, click here.


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