Student work focusing on various magazine-style mockups is displayed on a brightly lit wall. Featured work is from the Graphic Design for Publications course.

The Graphic Design Certificate allows students from across campus, regardless of their major or degree program, to engage in a meaningful, rigorous sequence of coursework introducing them to the field of graphic design. Previous college coursework or job experience in art and design is very beneficial, but not required.

An inherently interdisciplinary practice, graphic design plays an important role at every level of contemporary culture. Graphic designers function as the “fusion” between art, business, engineering, research, and science fields. Students intending to pursue a career in graphic design should instead select the Graphic Design named option in either the BS-Art or Art BFA degree program. Contact an advisor in the Art Department to explore the major.

Students completing a degree within the College of Letters & Science should be aware that none of the courses within the Graphic Design certificate count as LAS credits (L&S). All students should work with their primary academic advisors to assess if the certificate will work within their academic plan. 

Students must complete a required foundations course before being able to declare the certificate.
Due to the required sequencing of courses, a minimum of four semesters (excluding summers) are usually necessary to complete the certificate; please plan accordingly.


Students intending to complete the Graphic Design certificate can find the declaration form on the School of Education's Certificate Programs page. The declaration for this certificate program can be submitted at any time during the academic year.


Undergraduate students in good academic standing, with a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or higher, and who have completed either ART 102 Two-Dimensional Design  or ART 107 Introduction to Digital Forms with a grade of B or higher, may declare this certificate. University Special students are also eligible to complete this certificate if they started at UW-Madison and graduated before completing the requirements.

Students participating in the Art–B.S., Art Education, or Art–BFA degree programs may not declare this certificate. Auditors are also not eligible.

The Graphic Design Certificate requires a minimum of 18 credits as distributed below. At least 12 credits must be completed in residence in the Art Department. Study abroad credits do not count toward the residency requirement.

Completion of the certificate requires a 2.75 grade point average across all certificate coursework.

To declare the certificate, complete either course with a grade of B or better
ART 102 Two-Dimensional Design (preferred)3
ART 107 Introduction to Digital Forms3
After certificate declaration, complete both courses
ART 346 Basic Graphic Design4
ART 438 History of Graphic Design and Typography3
After completing 346 and 438, complete at least 8 additional credits from the following8
Graphic Design for Branding and Identity
Information Graphics
Graphic Design for Packaging
Graphic Design for Posters
Advanced Typography
Graphic Design for Publications
Graphic Design for Interactive Media
Product Development for Graphic Design
Graphic Design for Games
Typeface Design
Motion Typography
User Experience for Graphic Design
Graphic Design Practicum

 Undergraduate/Special Student Certificate

This certificate is intended to be completed in the context of an undergraduate degree and for those seeking this certificate that is preferred. For students who have substantially completed this certificate at UW–Madison and may need one or two courses to complete the certificate, they may do so immediately after completion of the bachelor’s degree by enrolling in the course as a University Special (nondegree) student. The certificate must be completed within a year of completion of the bachelor’s degree. Students should keep in mind that University Special students have the last registration priority and that may limit availability of desired courses. Financial aid is not available when enrolled as a University Special student to complete an undergraduate certificate. 

  1. Correctly recognize and identify important eras, developments, movements, and theories in historical and contemporary design practice.
  2. Recognize, develop and consistently employ the elements and principles of effective graphic design and typography in their own studio work, and will recognize it in the work of other artists.
  3. Demonstrate technical and conceptual proficiency and will apply critical thinking skills in order to contextualize their practice in the contemporary design arena.
  4. Understand the steps, tools, and skills necessary for participating in professional activities pertaining to graphic design and typography.
  5. Develop a strong work ethic driven by both logical and inventive working process.

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Art can be found on the department's website.