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B.A. Graphic Design

B.A. Art and Design - Graphic Design

"Design is thinking made visual." - Saul Bass

Our world is visual. From the simple emoji, to social media feeds and everyday interfaces, all the way up to content produced by multi-billion dollar industries in advertising, media, and entertainment, we are immersed in images. Today, visual literacy, communication, and creativity are essential to being an educated and productive citizen.

The Graphic Design Track within Art and Design is for artistic and creative individuals interested in learning how to better visually communicate and express themselves through the practice of graphic design.

Graduates are prepared to further their education and pursue careers in a growing creative economy that offers opportunities at many levels, from freelance, to personal brands and businesses, to working at creative agencies or within larger commercial and non-profit organizations with creative needs.


Why Earn Your Graphic Design Degree?

Students who earn a degree in the Graphic Design Track in Art and Design will emerge as artists and designers with the knowledge, skills, and confidence in their own unique voice to be creators, makers, and producers in society. With their degree they will possess a strong body of work and portfolio that they can use to begin their own practice, further their education or pursue a career in the creative industry.

Art Exhibitions at SXU

Throughout their academic and creative journey, students are able to display their artwork in exhibitions on the Saint Xavier campus.

Learn more

Graphic Artist designing an image on the computer


About the Program

Through the study of art and design, students acquire a rich understanding of human nature, values, psychology, history, society and culture. Students in the Art and Design Program whether they are in the Studio Art, Graphic Design, or Game Design and Motion Graphics Track, develop a practice that is firmly rooted in both fine art and design.

The Graphic Design Track within Art and Design is the study and practice of visual communication in form, concept, and function. Using typography and image-making in a variety of media Graphic Design conveys visual information with meaning and significance. Students develop the skills and techniques, understanding of principles and theory, and knowledge of vocabulary and history necessary to produce good design. Project-based learning is made relevant to a student's personal interests as well as critical concerns in their communities and the larger world. They are challenged to consider how design helps to solve problems, create greater understanding, provoke thought, inspire imagination and foster human connection.

The Saint Xavier University Art and Design Department faculty is made up of practicing artists and industry professionals with a wealth of experience in exhibition, publishing, and work with businesses, non-profits, foundations, museums and civic institutions. They are dedicated teachers first, but also maintain strong personal practices and are active members of Chicago's art and design community. Our faculty are committed to being accessible, sharing their knowledge, and connecting students to opportunities that allow students to flourish as emerging artists and designers.

The Art and Design Department is uniquely located in the Visual Arts Center, a one-time church that has been transformed into a complex of studios where students have complete access to tools, space and collaborators. The Visual Arts Center studios are custom built for both traditional artmaking and modern digital production. This includes drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics and woodworking studios as well as a computer lab, flexible spaces for photography, video and audio production and space for gaming. Studios are equipped with the necessary tools and materials to make work, from paint, paintbrushes, printing presses, saws and potters wheels to computers, iPads, digital photo and cinema cameras, lighting, varieties of gaming consoles, and laser and 3D printers.

Exterior shot of the Visual Art Center

Senior Seminar is a culminating year-long capstone course where students have to produce a body of cohesive, exemplary work that is an invaluable part of their portfolio. Co-participation of Studio Art, Graphic Design and Game Design and Motion Graphics students provides a valuable opportunity to discover common denominators in both fine and applied arts that the entire design curriculum promotes.

In many ways, however, "out-of-class" activity is just as important in the development of artists and designers. The Art and Design Department provides and facilitates many of activities including:

  • Multiple yearly exhibitions in the SXU Gallery with visiting artists that includes artist talks for students to interact with and ask questions to practicing artists.
  • Trips to Chicago's many museums and galleries by taking guided tours, conducting research trips and participating in exhibitions.
  • Art clubs and organizations that promote community building and personal development.
  • Student-produced exhibitions, programs, and events where students understand the critical role sharing work and engaging with a public audience plays in an art and design practice.
  • Effectively design programs for athletes, the general population, the military and post-rehabilitation using current research and evidence-based techniques.
  • Demonstrate appropriate evaluation methods for program design of strength and conditioning protocols.
  • Use critical thinking skills to identify and prescribe recovery and regeneration techniques for both the athlete and non-athlete.
  • Demonstrate an evidence-based approach to practice, using both quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Appraise current literature and apply evidence in the health and science fields to selected practice settings.
  • Apply ethical principles in decision-making in health science practice.
  • Morning to night access to the Visual Arts Center studios and access to borrowing of equipment creates a sense of personal ownership in the program and encourages students to make the personal, out-of-school work critical to a strong portfolio.
  • Opportunities for employment as student workers in the department not only offers students paid work but it also builds confidence, community, and a sense of ownership in the program.
  • Connections to internships and professional opportunities.
  • The top 25% of our students receive additional scholarship funding based ofn annual portfolio reviews.

Students in the Graphic Design Track will:

  • Practice graphic design along with study in fine art practices in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and digital art.
  • Create graphic art, design and motion graphics using professional software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere and After Effects.
  • Produce visually engaging, effective and expressive art and design with a strong understanding of design principles and theories.
  • Understand and apply the design process of research, sketching, concept development, critique and iteration to produce successful and professional design solutions.
  • Utilize abstract, critical, and lateral thinking skills to become more creative and insightful concept developers and problem-solvers.
  • Write about, discuss, critique, and present design using art and design vocabulary and language.
  • Develop and have confidence in one's point of view and creative voice.
  • Produce a strong portfolio to pursue further education or a career in the creative industry.

Why study Graphic Design at Saint Xavier University?

  • Saint Xavier University is positioned uniquely on a small campus in a big city. Students can use the City of Chicago as a resource for inspiration, research and as subject matter for their art and design.
  • Chicago is the ideal big-city to develop as an artist and designer. It has the artistic and creative resources of a world-class city, while having the more down to earth, blue-collar ethos of the Midwest. As a result, Chicago has a strong history of developing artists and designers who go on to be some of the most well-known, successful, influential artists in the world.
  • Art and Design students are able to study and create in a highly personal, welcoming, community-oriented, safe space that cultivates the growth and development of their practice.
  • As a liberal arts school, Art and Design students not only study art but receive a well-rounded education. Having access to study english, science, history, social science, business, and more, not only makes for better artists and designers, but offers students the opportunity to pursue other interests. It is not uncommon for Art and Design majors to also major in Computer Science, Psychology, Marketing, or Education.
  • Saint Xavier University is a diverse school that embraces the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. Furthermore, it is a University mission-driven by Critical Concerns of Non Violence, Anti-Racism, Women, Immigration, and the Environment.

Studio Art
Students interested in an art minor are able to chose from a variety of art courses to gain a vast understanding of their chosen area of study.

Game Design and Motion Graphics

Graphic Design
Unlike a studio art minor, which is any 6 art courses, a graphic design minor will have to take 6 specific art courses. This minor will have potential employment benefits to have, so we want to make sure that even minors get the proper training.

Academic Plan

View a suggested four-year academic plan to complete your degree in four years!


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