As an inherently interdisciplinary practice, graphic design plays an important role at every level of contemporary culture. Graphic design courses deliver skills and expertise that are in demand for all graphic design and related communications fields. Students develop abilities to think critically while working seamlessly across disciplines. In current and future iterations of the field, graphic designers must function as the “fusion” between art, business, engineering, research, and science.

Graduates of the Graphic Design named option programs will have experienced a range of forms and media that provides professional preparation, exhibition experience, as well as the development of unique intellectual and visual voice. Graduating students will also possess the flexibility to adapt to a changing, unpredictable world where the methods of communication will continuously evolve and expand.

The named option requirements listed here are components of the B.S. Art degree requirements.

Aesthetics Requirements - Graphic Design Option

ART 108 Foundations of Contemporary Art (component of the Foundations Program)3
ART 208 Current Directions in Art (component of the Foundations Program)3
ART 438 History of Graphic Design and Typography3
Select one additional courses from the following:4
History of Western Art I: From Pyramids to Cathedrals
History of Western Art II: From Renaissance to Contemporary
Global Arts

Major Requirements - Graphic Design Option

Complete a minimum of 45 studio credits, including the specific coursework below. No more than 58 studio credits will be counted toward the minimum 120 credits required for the B.S. degree. Thus, if a student wishes to graduate with the minimum of 120 credits, 62 of these credits must be "non-studio" coursework.

Major residency requirement: Students completing the B.S. degree must complete at least 24 credits of major studio coursework in residence on the UW–Madison campus. All graphic design coursework must be completed in residence.

Art and BFA degree students have priority access to studio courses. Note: Some courses are offered for 3 or 4 credits; it is preferred that the course be taken for 4 credits.

Required Studio Foundation Courses - Graphic Design Option

Complete the following:

ART 102 Two-Dimensional Design3
ART 104 Three-Dimensional Design3
ART 107 Introduction to Digital Forms3
ART 212 Drawing Methods & Concepts3

Required Studio Breadth Courses - Graphic Design Option

Complete one course in each of the Graphic Design, 2D, 3D, and 4D areas. Students will also take ART 508 at least once and complete a 500-level or 600-level art studio course in graphic design.

Graphic Design

ART 346 Basic Graphic Design4

2D Studio

Select one of the following:

ART 222 Introduction to Painting3-4
ART 232 Life Drawing I4
ART 242 Watercolor I3-4
ART 302 Color4
ART 312 Intermediate Drawing I3-4

 3D Studio

Select one of the following:

ART 214 Sculpture I4
ART 224 Ceramics I4
ART 244 Art Metal I3-4
ART 334 Wood Working3-4
ART 343 Metal Fabrication and Welding in Sculpture3-4
ART 354 Glassworking4
ART 454 Neon: Light as Sculpture4

4D Studio

Select one of the following:

ART 309 Digital Art and Code4
ART 318 Introduction to Video, Performance & Installation Art4
ART 338 Service Learning in Art2
ART 409 Digital Fabrication Studio4
ART 428 Digital Imaging Studio4
ART 429 3D Digital Studio I4
ART 470 Special Topics in 4D Art3-4
ART 521 Installations and Environments4
ART 531 Screen Performance3-4

Visiting Artist Lecture Series - Graphic design Option

Complete the following:

ART 508 Colloquium in Art (Students are encouraged to enroll in this visiting artist lecture series multiple times)1

ADDITIONAL Studios - Graphic Design Option

Complete 12 Graphic Design elective credits from the following list, to include at least one 500 or 600 level course.

ART 458 Graphic Design for Branding and Identity4
ART 463 Information Graphics4
ART 465 Graphic Design for Packaging4
ART 467 Graphic Design for Posters4
ART 525 Advanced Typography4
ART 546 Graphic Design for Publications4
ART 556 Graphic Design for Interactive Media4
ART 558 Product Development for Graphic Design4
ART 563 Graphic Design for Games4
ART 565 Typeface Design4
ART 568 Motion Typography4
ART 575 User Experience for Graphic Design4
ART 656 Design Portfolio and Professional Practice4
ART 663 Graphic Design Practicum2

Elective Studio Courses

Select additional elective studio courses to reach the minimum of 45 credits.

GPA and other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

Requirements are based on UW–Madison coursework.

  • 2.5 minimum cumulative grade point average. This may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • Cumulative major grade point average: 2.75 cumulative grade point average in all major studio coursework.
  • Upper-level major coursework: 2.75 cumulative grade point average in all upper-level major coursework (Art courses numbered 214 and above, excluding ART 236 and ART 338).
  • Major Residency: Must complete at least 24 credits of major coursework in the UW-Madison Art Department. All graphic design coursework must be completed in residence.
  • Senior Residency: Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus, excluding retroactive credits and credits granted by examination.
  • Total Credits: A minimum of 120 credits to include at least 62 non-studio credits are required for graduation in the Art–B.S. degree program.

Degree Audit (DARS)

UW–Madison uses “DARS” to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree, including any additional majors and certificates. A DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) report shows all the requirements for completing a degree and, against courses that are planned or completed, shows the requirements that have been met, and those that are unmet. A report can offer suggestions about courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning and enrollment process. Students can access a DARS report in the Course Search & Enroll app or Student Center via My UW.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program, major or certificate. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE), or Pre-Kinesiology should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

More information on how to request a DARS report is available on the registrar’s website.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is used as the document of record for degree program, major and certificate completion in the School of Education.

Bachelor of Science in Art: Graphic Design Option

Sample Four-Year Plan

This four-year sample graduation plan is designed to guide your course selection throughout your academic career; it does not establish a contractual agreement. Use it along with your DARS report, the Guide, and the Course Search and Enroll app to create a four-year plan reflecting your placement scores, incoming credits, and individual interests. Consult with your academic advisor(s) to develop a personalized plan of study and refer to the Guide for a complete list of requirements. You will likely revise your plan several times during your academic career here, based on your activities and changing academic interests.

Communication A (fall or spring)3Communication A (fall or spring)3
ART 1083ART 2083
ART 1023ART 1043
ART 2123ART 1073
ART 5081ART 508 (recommended)1
Liberal Studies course work2-5Liberal Studies course work2-5
 15 15
ART 438 (Aesthetic course)3Aesthetic Elective3-4
ART 3464Graphic Design Studio Elective4
Art Studio Breadth course from 2D, 3D, or 4D categories2-4Ethnic Studies3
Quantitative Reasoning A3Art Studio Elective Credits1-4
Liberal Studies or General Elective course work1-3Liberal Studies or General Elective course work4-6
 15 15
Art Studio Breadth course from 2D, 3D or 4D categories4Graphic Design Studio Elective4
Art Studio Elective course work2-4Art Studio Breadth course from 2D, 3D or 4D categories2-4
Communication B3Quantitative Reasoning B3
Liberal Studies or General Elective course work4-6Liberal Studies or General Elective course work4-6
 15 15
Studio Elective course work3-4Advanced (500/600 level) Graphic Design Studio Elective with assigned professional project4
Liberal Studies, Studio or General Elective course work111-12Liberal Studies, Studio or General Elective course work11
 15 15
Total Credits 120

At least 62 "non-studio" credits must be taken to complete the B.S. Art degree. Aesthetics courses are considered to be non-studio. No more than 58 studio credits can be applied toward the 120 credits.