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NHCC’s Graphic Design program starts with a fine arts foundation that gives students handson 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 industrystandard 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 oneonone 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 epublication 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 selfemployed (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 4year college/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!



    2021 - 2022

    • Curriculum

      Program Courses: Fine Arts
      CoursesTitlesCourse OutlinesGoal AreasCredits
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1040
      Course Title:Introduction to Art      Goal Areas:n/a      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 ArtView-ART 1040n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1301
      Course Title:Two Dimensional Design I      Goal Areas:n/a      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 IView-ART 1301n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1310
      Course Title:Three Dimensional Design      Goal Areas:n/a      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 DesignView-ART 1310n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1340
      Course Title:Fundamentals of Color      Goal Areas:n/a      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 ColorView-ART 1340n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1401
      Course Title:Drawing I      Goal Areas:n/a      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 IView-ART 1401n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2611
      Course Title:Painting I      Goal Areas:n/a      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 IView-ART 2611n/a3
      ART1101 or ART1160 - 1 course
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1101
      Course Title:Photography I      Goal Areas:n/a      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 orView-ART 1101n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:1160
      Course Title:Digital Photography      Goal Areas:n/a      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 PhotographyView-ART 1160n/a3
      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 illustrating for major areas of the commercial illustration marketplace. 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 imagery for specific audiences.
      IllustrationView-ART 2540n/a3
      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. Students will demonstrate and incorporate the techniques and theories of typographic design in design projects, develop skill in typographic design and proficiency using computer graphics in design projects, critically and competently evaluate and analyze design projects that incorporate typographic elements, and creatively solve typographic design problems.
      TypographyView-ART 2550n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2561
      Course Title:Web Design I      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This course explores the foundations of interactive design for the (world-wide) web. Using industry-relevant tools, students will learn the fundamentals of designing and building a website. Students will be introduced to the concepts of user interface (UI) design, user experience (UX), and front-end development. Experience with digital photography and image editing (Photoshop) is suggested. Students will demonstrate and incorporate the techniques and theories of web design in design projects, build websites incorporating appropriate file formats, file sizes, functionality, site plan and organizational concepts, develop skill in web design and proficiency using the tools of web design software in design projects, critically and competently evaluate and analyze web projects, creatively solve web design problems and work on a web portfolio.
      Web Design IView-ART 2561n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2562
      Course Title:Web Design II      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This is the second of two courses focusing on graphic design for the internet (world-wide web) and/or interactivity. This course explores advanced concepts from a graphic designer's 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) topics, user experience (UX) topics, web animation techniques, integration of video and sound, and the use of type design in web applications. Students will explore prototyping a web site and working with a developer/programmer. Understand and incorporate the techniques and theories of graphic design, web design and animation projects. Critically and competently evaluate and analyze advanced web design projects. Creatively solve web design problems. Develop skill in project design and computer graphic proficiency using current web technologies.
      Web Design IIView-ART 2562n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2601
      Course Title:Advanced 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. Students will be taught to understand the techniques and theories of graphic design for design projects, make appropriate creative choices in design and execution of graphic design projects using the design principles presented in this course, demonstrate facility with and appropriate use of graphic design software packages used in this course, evaluate and analyze design projects from the several perspectives including design principles, audience, intent, appropriateness of media choice for the project, and skill of execution using media, generate manageable and appropriate graphic design project solutions from among a large set of possible variables and strategies, and exercise self-motivation and creative problem-solving in addressing design challenges, time constraints, and media limitations of graphic design project management. Prerequisites: Art 1301, Art 1340 and Art 2901.
      Advanced Graphic Design IView-ART 2601n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2602
      Course Title:Advanced 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 helpstudents to understand the nature of the graphic design industry 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. Students will demonstrate and incorporate the techniques and theories of visual design, visual language and graphic design principles in design projects, critically and competently evaluate and analyze design projects, use computer software and hardware effectively to design and develop design projects.
      Advanced Graphic Design IIView-ART 2602n/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 students skills in on-paper publication layout and page design. Concepts in multi-page media formats such as magazines and books are studied through lectures, presentations and studio projects. Printing technology is explored from design to production, as well as budgeting and the economics of book production. Through experimentation and group discussions, students will learn to conceptualize visual ideas and refine their design concepts professionally and appropriately for these media formats to produce Under Construction, an actual book.
      Publication DesignView-ART 2810n/a2
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2901
      Course Title:Graphic Design Tools I      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This course introduces students to the use and function of industry-standard graphic design software applications Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign. Students will learn to effectively use the essential techniques, tools, and principles of each application by emulating a professional approach to design projects. Students will apply problem solving techniques to design projects that simulate real-world design challenges faced in todays graphic design industry.
      Graphic Design Tools IView-ART 2901n/a3
      Course Subject: ART         Course Number:2902
      Course Title:Graphic Design Tools II      Goal Areas:n/a      Credits:3

      Course Description:This course is a continuation of Graphic Design Tools I. Advanced skills in Adobe Photoshop® (color photo manipulation), Adobe Illustrator® (drawing and design) and Adobe InDesign® (page design and layout) are introduced, as well as concepts of design and production workflow.
      Graphic Design Tools IIView-ART 2902n/a3
      General Education Course
      CoursesTitlesCourse OutlinesGoal AreasCredits
      College Writing I
      Course Subject: ENGL         Course Number:1200
      Course Title:Gateway College Writing      Goal Areas:n/a      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 orView-ENGL 1200n/a4
      Course Subject: ENGL         Course Number:1201
      Course Title:College Writing I      Goal Areas:n/a      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 IView-ENGL 1201n/a4
      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), GCST1501(3), GCST1504(3), GCST1505(3), GCST1964(4), GWS1501(3), GWS1504(3), GWS1505(3), HIST1010(3), HIST1020(3), HIST1030(3), HIST1110(3), HIST1120(3), HIST1130(3), HIST1140(3), HIST1200(3), HIST1210(3), HIST1220(3), HIST1230(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), SOC2750(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), PHYS1231(4), PHYS1232(3), PHYS1400(3), PHYS1410(1), PHYS1450(3), PHYS1460(1), PHYS1601(5), PHYS1602(5)
      MnTC Goal Areas 7, 9 or 10 - 3 credits: 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), COMM2610(3), ECON1050(3), ENGL1450(3), ENGL2300(3), ENGL2320(3), ENGL2330(3), ENGL2340(3), ENGL2350(3), ENGL2370(3), ENGL2380(3), ENGL2390(3), ENGL2410(3), ENGL2450(3), ENGL2460(3), ENGL2570(3), ENGL2900(3), ENGL2950(3), GCST1030(3), GCST1040(3), GCST1210(3), GCST1211(3), GCST1212(3), GCST1213(3), GCST1220(2), GCST1301(3), GCST1320(3), GCST1501(3), GCST1502(3), GCST1503(3), GCST1504(3), GCST1505(3), GCST1700(3), GCST1964(4), GCST1978(3), GCST2410(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), GWS1501(3), GWS1502(3), GWS1503(3), GWS1504(3), GWS1505(3), HIST1200(3), HIST1210(3), HIST1220(3), HIST1230(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), PHIL1120(3), PHIL1200(3), PHIL1210(3), PHIL1220(3), PHIL1230(3), POLS1100(3), POLS1140(3), PSYC1165(3), PSYC1170(3), PSYC1220(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 Credits Required60
      Notes: 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 wellbeing 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 upperlevel academic institution.

    • Career Opportunities

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

    • Transfer Information

      ​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

      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 bachelorandrsquo;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 fouryear 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 7634930555 or through the Minnesota Relay Service at 18006273529.

    • Accreditation

      North Hennepin Community College is accredited by the:
      Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
      30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
      Chicago, IL 60602-2504