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!



    2017 - 2018

    • Curriculum

      Program Courses: Fine Arts
      CoursesTitlesCourse OutlinesGoal AreasCredits
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1040
      Course Title:Introduction to Art      Goal Areas:06,08       Credits:3

      Course Description:This course introduces the basic concepts of the visual arts, the organization of art forms, and the historical development of architecture, painting, and sculpture with an emphasis on contemporary art. A general world view of art is presented through lecture and discussion. Students will investigate the creative aspects of the visual arts through in-class examples and a field trip to a Twin Cities museum.
      Introduction to ArtView06,08 3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1301
      Course Title:Two Dimensional Design I      Goal Areas:06       Credits:3

      Course Description:This course introduces a visual vocabulary and tools essential for all flat design and space, and investigates basic principles related to composition, pattern making, illusory space, and self expression. Various techniques and materials are explored including paint, pencil, pen, brush, and pastels. This course also introduces students to artists and design elements from a variety of cultures. Strongly recommend taking Drawing I before this course.
      Two Dimensional Design IView06 3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1310
      Course Title:Three Dimensional Design      Goal Areas:06       Credits:3

      Course Description:As an introduction to the basic language of three-dimensional design, this course includes constructive, additive, subtractive and substitution techniques using traditional and contemporary media. Various methods of presentation are explored ranging from small freestanding works to site-specific models and proposals.
      Three Dimensional DesignView06 3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1340
      Course Title:Fundamentals of Color      Goal Areas:06       Credits:3

      Course Description:The course teaches fundamental color theory by introducing the physical, perceptual, and artistic aspects of color. The dimensions of color are explored through theory and practice using paint and colored papers. Students also are introduced to the theories of the physiology and the psychology of color reception, cultural taste and preferences as they relate to color choices, and the color usage of well known artists, of art movements, and of different world cultures. Strongly recommend taking Drawing I before this course.
      Fundamentals of ColorView06 3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1401
      Course Title:Drawing I      Goal Areas:06       Credits:3

      Course Description:This course introduces basic drawing concepts such as line, value, gesture, proportion, composition, and space; and techniques using traditional and contemporary drawing media. A variety of subjects from still life, architectural forms, nature and the human figure are used as inspiration for the student's drawings. Students will also be introduced to the art of important artists who have used drawing successfully in their work.
      Drawing IView06 3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2611
      Course Title:Painting I      Goal Areas:06       Credits:3

      Course Description:This course is an introduction to the basic skills and techniques of painting. The study of paint and materials, the use of color in painting and the development of ideas are important elements in this class. Exploration of realism, abstraction and contemporary painting are all important aspects of Painting I. Recommended: Art 1340.
      Painting IView06 3
      ART1101 or ART1160 - 1 course
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1101
      Course Title:Photography I or      Goal Areas:06       Credits:3

      Course Description:This is an introduction to the fundamentals of black and white photography. Both technical and creative skills are developed in the use of the camera, exposing and developing film, enlarging and finishing the black and white photograph. Class critiques help articulate individual visual growth while artist presentations and field trips to galleries and museums help acquaint students with significant photographers. Students use film-based cameras with adjustable shutter speed and f-stop. A limited number of cameras are available for rental.
      Photography I orView06 3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1160
      Course Title:Digital Photography      Goal Areas:06       Credits:3

      Course Description:A logical sequence to Art 1101 or 1140, this class emphasizes the computer as a digital darkroom to create photographic images through the traditional camera or a digital camera. ): Course content includes an overview of basic photographic techniques and a rigorous examination of Adobe Photoshop through assignments and personal exploration, class critiques and artist presentations, to help student understanding of photographic art. Students must have their own digital or analog camera.
      Digital PhotographyView06 3
      Program Courses: Graphic Design
      CoursesTitlesCourse OutlinesGoal AreasCredits
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2540
      Course Title:Illustration      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This course introduces students to various illustration techniques used in graphic design studios. Students will be encouraged to develop illustrative skills that can be applied to design. Through creative problem solving and research, students will learn to develop and refine an image. Prerequisite: Art 1401
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2550
      Course Title:Typography      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This course explores basic concepts of typography including: history, anatomy and mechanics, copyfitting, legibility, syntax, and communication within the context of process-oriented, problem-solving projects. Students will learn the effective use, importance and impact of typography in graphic design. This is an advanced course in the techniques of typography for graphic design. Students work on projects that involve complex visual ideas and are encouraged to develop a personal style in their visual communication. Pre-requisite: ART 1301
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2561
      Course Title:Web Design/Graphics I      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:Web design for the graphic designer I. This course explores web design concepts from a graphic designers perspective on how to adapt print design and illustration to web design using Photoshop®, Dreamweaver®, and Fireworks®. Experience with digital photography and image editing (PhotoShop) is suggested.
      Web Design/Graphics IViewn/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2562
      Course Title:Web Design/Graphics II      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This is the second course in a series of web design courses for graphic designers. This course explores advanced web design concepts from a graphic designers perspective. Students will adapt graphic design and illustration to web design using current web design and animation software/technologies. Students will explore web user interface (UI) design, web animation techniques, integration of video and sound, and the use of type design in web applications. Students will explore prototyping a web design and working with a developer/programmer. The course also includes an introduction to multimedia design for the web. Prerequisite: ART 2561
      Web Design/Graphics IIViewn/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2601
      Course Title:Graphic Design I      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This course is a study of Graphic Design theory and applications. Students explore the creative process in the development of visual communication and its relationship to creating graphic design ideas. The visual language of design is explored as students design a variety of projects through application of computer graphics and use of software. Prerequisites: Art 1301, Art 1340 and Art 2901. Please note: Students can be concurrently enrolled in ART 2901 and ART 2601.
      Graphic Design IViewn/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2602
      Course Title:Graphic Design II      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This is an advanced studio course in graphic design. The content and scope of the projects will help students to understand the nature of graphic design projects as well as the research and content knowledge necessary to achieve professional design solutions. Students will assemble a portfolio necessary for success in the field of professional design.
      Graphic Design IIViewn/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2810
      Course Title:Publication Design      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:2

      Course Description:This course introduces the history and techniques of publication design and production and advances the student's skills in publication layout and page design. Concepts in magazine and book page layout are studied through lectures and studio projects. Printing technology is explored from design to production. Through experimentation and group discussions, students will learn how to refine their design concepts into a professional format. Prerequisites: ART 1301 (2-D Design I) and ART 1340 (Fundamentals of Color) and ART/GDES 2901 or currently enrolled in ART/GDES 2901
      Publication DesignViewn/a2
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2901
      Course Title:Desktop Design I      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This course introduces students to the use and function of graphic design software programs. Through professional design projects students will learn to effectively use the essential techniques, tools, and principles of each program. Students will apply problem solving techniques to design projects that simulate real-world design challenges faced in today's design studios.
      Desktop Design IViewn/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2902
      Course Title:Desktop Design II      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This course is a continuation of Desktop Design I. The advanced capabilities of the Macintosh computer are explored as well as the use of QuarkXPress, a popular page layout program. Adobe Photoshop(color photo manipulation software) and Adobe Illustrator (drawing and design program) are also studied. Students are introduced to the concepts of design and production workflow.
      Desktop Design IIViewn/a3
      General Education Course
      CoursesTitlesCourse OutlinesGoal AreasCredits
      College Writing I
      Course Subject: ENGL         Course Number:1200
      Course Title:Gateway College Writing or      Goal Areas:01       Credits:4

      Course Description:This class provides extended practice in critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. Students will develop an effective writing process and work to achieve college-level competence in reading and responding to texts, visuals, events, and ideas in a variety of written formats, with an emphasis on the academic essay. Audience awareness, interpretation and analysis, logical reasoning, and persuasive and argumentative skills will be developed. MLA style documentation of primary sources will be included.
      Gateway College Writing orView01 4
      Course Subject: ENGL         Course Number:1201
      Course Title:College Writing I      Goal Areas:01       Credits:4

      Course Description:This class provides extended practice in critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. Students will develop an effective writing process and work to achieve college-level competence in reading and responding to texts, visuals, events, and ideas in a variety of written formats, with an emphasis on the academic essay. Audience awareness, interpretation and analysis, logical reasoning, and persuasive and argumentative skills will be developed. MLA style documentation of primary sources will be included.
      College Writing IView01 4
      MnTC Electives
      CoursesTitlesCourse OutlinesGoal AreasCredits
      History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Goal Area 5) - 3 credits: ANTH1010(3), ANTH1130(3), ANTH1140(3), ECON1050(3), ECON1060(3), ECON1070(3), HIST1010(3), HIST1020(3), HIST1030(3), HIST1110(3), HIST1120(3), HIST1130(3), HIST1140(3), HIST1200(3), HIST1210(3), HIST1220(3), HIST1240(3), HIST1270(3), HIST1700(3), HIST1800(3), HIST1900(1), HIST2500(3), HIST2600(3), HIST2700(3), POLS1100(3), POLS1140(3), POLS1600(3), POLS1700(3), POLS2130(3), PSYC1110(3), PSYC1150(3), PSYC1160(4), PSYC1165(3), PSYC1170(3), PSYC1210(3), PSYC1220(3), PSYC1250(4), PSYC2110(3), PSYC2320(3), PSYC2330(3), PSYC2340(3), PSYC2350(3), SOC1110(3), SOC1710(3), SOC1750(3), SOC2110(3), SOC2200(3), SOC2210(3), SOC2410(3), SOC2730(3)
      Natural Sciences or Mathematics/Logical Reasoning (Goal Area 3 or 4) - 3 credits: ANTH1020(3), BIOL1000(4), BIOL1001(4), BIOL1002(4), BIOL1030(4), BIOL1101(4), BIOL1102(4), BIOL1120(3), BIOL1130(4), BIOL1140(4), BIOL1160(4), BIOL1200(4), BIOL1350(3), BIOL1360(4), BIOL1610(1), BIOL1650(1), BIOL2020(4), BIOL2030(4), BIOL2100(4), BIOL2111(4), BIOL2112(4), BIOL2360(4), CHEM1000(4), CHEM1010(4), CHEM1030(4), CHEM1061(4), CHEM1062(4), GEOG1010(3), GEOL1010(2), GEOL1020(2), GEOL1030(2), GEOL1040(2), GEOL1110(4), GEOL1120(4), GEOL1130(4), GEOL1150(4), GEOL1160(4), GEOL1850(3), GEOL1851(1), MATH1010(3), MATH1031(3), MATH1032(3), MATH1080(3), MATH1090(4), MATH1130(3), MATH1140(3), MATH1150(3), MATH1160(4), MATH1170(4), MATH1180(5), MATH1190(5), MATH1200(3), MATH1221(5), MATH1222(5), MATH2010(3), MATH2220(5), MATH2300(4), MATH2400(4), NSCI1000(4), NSCI1010(1), NSCI1020(1), NSCI1030(1), NSCI1050(4), NSCI1060(3), NSCI1061(1), NSCI1070(3), NSCI1071(1), NSCI1110(4), NSCI1120(4), PHIL1050(3), PHYS1000(4), PHYS1030(4), PHYS1050(4), PHYS1060(3), PHYS1061(1), PHYS1070(3), PHYS1071(1), PHYS1120(4), PHYS1140(3), PHYS1201(5), PHYS1202(5), PHYS1400(3), PHYS1410(1), PHYS1450(3), PHYS1460(1), PHYS1601(5), PHYS1602(5)
      MnTC Goal Areas 7, 9 or 10 - 3 credits: AMST1010(3), AMST1020(3), AMST2210(3), AMST2220(3), ANTH1020(3), ANTH1130(3), ANTH1140(3), ASL1300(3), BIOL1030(4), BIOL1160(4), BIOL1200(4), BIOL1600(1), BIOL1610(1), CHEM1000(4), CHEM1010(4), COMM1110(3), COMM1310(3), COMM1610(3), COMM1810(3), ECON1050(3), ENGL1450(3), ENGL2300(3), ENGL2320(3), ENGL2330(3), ENGL2340(3), ENGL2350(3), ENGL2370(3), ENGL2380(3), ENGL2390(3), ENGL2450(3), ENGL2460(3), ENGL2900(3), ENGL2950(3), GCST1030(3), GCST1040(3), GCST1210(3), GCST1211(3), GCST1212(3), GCST1213(3), GCST1220(2), GCST1320(3), GEOG1000(2), GEOG1010(3), GEOG1040(3), GEOG1190(3), GEOL1010(2), GEOL1020(2), GEOL1030(2), GEOL1040(2), GEOL1120(4), GEOL1150(4), GEOL1160(4), GEOL1850(3), GEOL1851(1), HIST1200(3), HIST1210(3), HIST1220(3), HIST1240(3), HIST1270(3), HIST1700(3), HIST2600(3), HIST2700(3), INTD1030(3), INTD1040(3), INTD1210(3), INTD1211(3), INTD1212(3), NSCI1110(4), PHIL1020(3), PHIL1040(3), PHIL1070(3), PHIL1110(3), PHIL1200(3), PHIL1210(3), PHIL1220(3), POLS1100(3), POLS1140(3), PSYC1165(3), PSYC1170(3), PSYC2110(3), PSYC2340(3), SOC1110(3), SOC1130(3), SOC2110(3), SOC2210(3), TFT1210(3), TFT1310(3), TFT1350(3)
      NHCC Residency and GPA
      CoursesTitlesCourse OutlinesGoal AreasCredits
      15 Credits must be earned at NHCC
                                     Total Credit Required60

      To complete the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, in addition to the courses listed above the student will need to take these additional goal area credits:

      • Goal Area 1: ENGL 1202 College Writing II - 2 credits
      • Goal Area 1: Speech course - 3 credits
      • Goal Area 3: 4 credits or 7 credits (if Goal Area 4 Math course was taken to fulfill the option for this degree) with lab component on one of the course choices in this goal area
      • Goal Area 4: 3 credits, if student has no Goal Area 4 classes
      • Goal Area 5: 6 credits
      • Goal Areas 7, 9, and 10: 6 additional credits (beyond the 3 credits selected in the program) with 3 credits in each of the areas

    • Program Outcomes

      Develop a foundation of essential knowledge about the cultural, social, and natural worlds, and individual well-being by:

      • Demonstrating skill in the foundation studio arts courses

      Develop intellectual and practical skills, including:

      • Verbally and visually communicating their knowledge of design
      • Competently critiquing design
      • Designing effectively with type and images
      • Communicating traditional design concepts with the latest technology so as to be effective graphic designers in today’s environment

      Demonstrate personal and social responsibility, including:

      • Developing constructive, organized work habits and professional presentation skills
      • Developing an understanding of the creative accomplishments of other people and cultures, past and present, in the development of the field of graphic design
      • Studying the ethics in the use of ideas and technical information as a foundation for respect of intellectual ownership

      Integrative Learning, including:

      • Managing a design problem from conceptualization to a finished layout
      • Writing and designing a professional portfolio
      • Demonstrating visual problem solving that employs technical skills and comprehension of the historical context of graphic design with application for contemporary design

      Be prepared to transfer to and succeed at an upper-level academic institution.

    • Career Opportunities

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      Information on careers, including salary and employment outlook data, is available on the iseek and Bureau of Labor Statistics websites: and

    • Transfer Information

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      If you are planning on transferring to another institution, follow the guidelines available on our transfer resources web page to help you plan the process: Transfer Information

    • Degree Information

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      The Associate of Science (A.S.) degree is intended for students whose primary goal is to complete the credentials for a specific career and/or prepare for transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree at a college or university with whom North Hennepin Community College has an articulation agreement. The A.S. degree provides a balance of general education courses and the required scientific, professional or technical courses in the degree program.

      A student shall:

      • Earn a minimum of 60 semester credits as required in the program, with a grade point average of 2.00 (C) or above in courses taken at North Hennepin Community College. Specific programs may have additional requirements or a higher minimum grade point average.

      • Earn a minimum of 15 semester credits at North Hennepin Community College. A student must complete at least 50% of career specific courses at North Hennepin Community College.

      • Earn 30 credits in at least 6 Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) goal areas.

      • Earn 30 professional/technical credits.

      • Have four years to complete the graduation requirements as published in the catalog in effect at the time of their initial enrollment. Students taking more than four years to complete their graduation requirements may follow any catalog published during the four-year period preceding their graduation.

      Completion of an A.S. degree fulfills the Goal Area 2 requirement of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC).

      Developmental Courses
      Some students may need preparatory course(s) in Math and/or English. Courses numbered below 1000 will not apply toward a degree.

      Equal Opportunity Employer and Disability Access Information
      North Hennepin Community College is a member of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and an equal opportunity employer and educator. This document is available in alternative formats to individuals with disabilities by calling 763-493-0555 or through the Minnesota Relay Service at 1-800-627-3529.

    • Accreditation

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      North Hennepin Community College is accredited by the: Higher Learning Commission 30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400 Chicago, IL 60602-2504 1-800-621-7440

  • Contact Information

    Admissions and Outreach Office
    Educational Services Building