Graphic Design AS

NHCC’s Graphic Design program starts with a fine arts foundation that gives students hands-on experience with design concepts. Drawing, painting, color theory, photography, dimensional design (2D, 3D) and art history classes help students to begin thinking like designers, with or without a computer. Of course, as foundation skills are gained, graphic design courses then emphasize industry-standard digital tools and software (Apple computers, Adobe Creative Suite) to harness design thinking and developing technical skills for more advanced concepts and projects.

NHCC graphic design majors work across different media: print, packaging, and book publication; web design and web animation; video and social media; sometimes street art and temporary installations. We learn digital and technical tools, but also how the design industry operates. We learn the actual language of design, we learn about audiences and work cultures, we learn strategies for developing a professional network of contacts, we learn about accepting constructive criticism and acknowledging the importance of other opinions, we learn interpersonal communication strategies to prepare for real professional situations. We work with real clients in advanced classes on projects that have an impact in the “real world.” Small class sizes and one-on-one time with accomplished faculty artists and designers allow students to form the skills and opportunities needed to pursue, and get, jobs with graphic design industry employers. In fact, starting in the spring of 2015 NHCC’s Graphic Design Program began working with metro area employers for paid graphic design internships. Students with consistently strong performance in their degree coursework are able to compete for these opportunities.

NHCC alumni have gone on to own their own graphic design studios and have worked for a long list of employers such as The Minnesota Twins, Nickelodeon, 3M, the Smithsonian Institution, Target, Best Buy, Colle+McVoy, and Minnesota Public Radio, to name just a few. NHCC's annual collection of student art and writing, Under Construction, is designed by students and has earned 30 national awards for content and design since 1968. It offers a rare chance to be a published writer and/or artist as part of a community college experience. See Under Construction as an e-publication at

The NHCC Associate of Science in Graphic Design degree is for students who are interested in: Working as graphic designers, web/interactive designers, art directors, production artists, illustrators or in related jobs at design studios, advertising agencies, marketing and public relations companies, corporate art departments, magazines, websites and newspapers

  • Working as self-employed (freelance) graphic designers, web/interactive designers, or illustrators
  • Continuing study in a baccalaureate or professional degree program for graphic design, web/interactive design, or illustration.
  • The degree is friendly towards continuing studies in graphic design at a 4-year college/university.
  • NHCC has a graphic design articulation agreement with Concordia University in downtown St. Paul, also with Minnesota State University, Moorhead, Minnesota. Articulation agreements allow all credits from a two year degree to count as progress towards the 4-year degree with the partnering College or University.
  • Talk with an academic advisor ( about possibilities for continuing study, and about determining the best sequence of fine arts core courses to take before moving into graphic design courses.

    Make your dreams take shape, literally, with Graphic Design at NHCC!



    2015 - 2016

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    Contact Information

    Admissions and Outreach Office
    Educational Services Building