graphic-design

BFA in Art, Graphic Design

Frequent Qs

questions about projects for students

questions from parents

questions from potential students

questions from current students

We want to have a design contest; how do we involve the graphic design students?
We generally discourage design competitions. They short circuit the relationship between designer and client and cut off the dialog that allows the design process to work.

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How do we get a design class to work on our project?
Not all projects are useful as class projects but many are. Contact Gunnar Swanson at swansong@ecu.edu or 252 258-7006 to talk about how your project might fit.

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How do we get a graphic design student to work on our project?
We have an email listserv for all of the graphic design students. If you send an email to Gunnar Swanson at swansong@ecu.edu explaining what you need and what pay, if any, you are offering, he can forward your message to all of the students. Interested students can then contact you directly. East Carolina University and the graphic design program do not make arrangements for hiring students and any arrangements are your responsibility and the responsibility of the student.

Although we encourage students to work on charitable causes even when there is no budget for design fees and we recognize that the fees student designers can charge are less than those of established professional designers, we do not endorse students working for free because the project is “ a really good opportunity.” Speculative work is bad for the design profession and bad for designers.

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How do we go about arranging an internship for a graphic design student?
Internships are an educational experience. As such, student designers should be supervised by experienced professional designers. If your organization can offer such an experience, contact Craig Malmrose at malmrosec@ecu.edu or 252 328-1316.

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How do we hire a graphic design student or ECU graduate?
We have an email listserv for all of the graphic design students. If you send an email to Gunnar Swanson at swansong@ecu.edu, he can forward your message to all of the students..

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What sort of computer equipment will a graphic design student need?
Laptop computers are required only after admission to the major. Many students also own printers but black and white and color laser printers are available in labs in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center and around campus. Color inkjet printers are available in some campus labs.

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What type of laptop should I purchase for my child as a freshman?
Since students do not use computers to complete art coursework during the freshman year and students enrolled in sophomore-level graphic design courses (Art 2200 and 2210) have access to computer labs with software, we recommend that students do not purchase a new computer as incoming freshmen. While it may seem convenient to purchase a new computer upon entering college, the software and hardware will likely have to be upgraded upon admittance to the graphic design concentration and the computer will be slow and near obsolete upon graduation when a student is likely pursue freelance graphic design work.

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How long will it take to complete the degree?
A student coming straight from high school will require four years to complete the BFA degree. The first year is an art foundations program shared by all studio art students. In the second year, students take one graphic design course per semester. At the end of that year, they apply for admission to the major. The courses in the major are sequential so they require two years after admission to the major. Transfer students who have taken art foundations elsewhere may be able to complete the BFA in three additional years.

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What can my child do to prepare for graphic design courses?
We have found that students that succeed in the graphic design program are those that have good study habits, are inquisitive, and work hard. The best thing an incoming freshman can do is work hard and be successful during their freshman year, and be inquisitive about graphic design.

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My child didn't take art in high school. Is he/she still eligible for the graphic design program?
Yes. We assume that all students taking Art 2200 (the first graphic design course) do not have any prior experience with the field. However, familiarity with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign is helpful, but not required.

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My child only has a few credits left in the graphic design concentration to graduate. Can these courses be taken concurrently to graduate earlier?
No. The graphic design concentration coursework is sequential and cannot be taken in fewer than 3 calendar years (from Art 2200 through Art 5210). While we are sympathetic to financial concerns, the graphic design faculty believes that students need time to develop as individuals and designers. This process cannot be accelerated. Your student may speak with her/his faculty advisor to discuss coursework options for their final semester(s) of study, which could include taking a less-than-fulltime course load.

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How do I become a graphic design student at ECU?
Any student admitted to East Carolina University can become an art major by simply declaring art (BFA) as a major. The first year is an art foundations program shared by all studio art students. In the second year, students take one graphic design course per semester. At the end of that year, they apply for admission to the major based on a portfolio of work from the sophomore-level graphic design classes. The courses in the major are sequential so they require two years after admission to the major.

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Will my credits from another school count toward the degree?
If you have taken art foundations classes (2D and 3D design and drawing courses), they may count toward the first year classes. Contact the School of Art & Design undergraduate advisor, Ann Melanie at melaniea@ecu.edu to arrange a review of your work from your previous classes. Many general education classes, art history classes, and art electives may transfer. (Since the graphic design program is sequential, it is not wise to study elsewhere first with the intention of reducing your time at ECU.)

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I've been making websites since I was ten. Will classes be a waste of time?
The graphic design program at East Carolina University is not a series of technical classes. You will use computer software but conceptual, strategic, and aesthetic aspects dominate the program.

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What should I do to get ready for the graphic design program?
First, here's what you should not do: Do not take classes at another college or university to reduce the time you will spend at ECU. Because our program is highly sequential, coming to ECU with a transcript full of course credits is unlikely to reduce your time here.

Students who have experience making things—whether in art classes or shop classes or just as a hobby—seem to do particularly well in graphic design. Computer experience—especially with graphic design software (Adobe Illustrator , InDesign, and Photoshop)—is a plus but far from required. We strongly suggest that interesting, educated people make better designers so humanities and science are as important as art or computer training. Graphic design is communication so writing and public speaking experience are of great value. Any activities that advance your understanding of business or strategy would be of great aid in your advancement as a designer.

That said, look at graphic design. Read graphic design history.

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Is ECU's graphic design MFA program the right place for me?
Our MFA program is small and individualized. If you are self-directed and hard working, it may be a good place. If you want to work directly with the ECU graphic design faculty, it may be a good place. If you want a clearly defined program and a large cohort of graphic design grad students, it is probably not a good place for you. We believe that graphic design graduate studies are most fruitful if people have a working background as designers so we discourage applicants' coming directly from undergraduate studies.

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How do I become a graphic design major?
Declare yourself to be an art major (BFA). Take Art 2200 (Fall only) and Art 2210 (Spring only) and maintain a 2.6 GPA in any required graphic design classes. Submit a portfolio of your graphic design work after the Spring semester when you take 2210.

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What happens after I get into the program?
If you are admitted to the graphic design program, you will take two years of graphic design classes starting with typography (Art 3200) in fall semester. There is a review at the end of the junior year and a review in the last semester of materials that will be included in your senior show.

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How can I complete the program faster?
You probably can't. The program is sequential so you cannot take several levels of graphic design classes simultaneously.

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What is the junior review?
After typography (Art 3200) and production (Art 3210), the rising seniors join the faculty to examine the last year's work. The Junior Review is both a gallery show that hangs for one week in the Mendenhall Gallery, as well as a one-day event. The work is discussed on the day of the review and the faculty provide each student with a letter stating whether the student's progress is at an expected level.

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What is the purpose of the junior review?
The purpose of the review is to provide students with feedback on their progress in the graphic design program at the mid-point in their graphic design studies. We have found that the review allows students to see all of their graphic design projects at the same time, which often leads to insights about their work. Since all the graphic design faculty and junior level students are present at the review, it provides an invaluable opportunity for feedback.

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What happens at the junior review?
The Junior Review is currently held in the Mendenhall Student Center Gallery. Each student is assigned a space in the gallery. At the Junior Review you will show all of your projects from your junior year as well as any projects you feel are strong from sophomore level courses. All graphic design juniors are required to be present at the one-day review, which usually lasts from 8:30 AM until 5 PM on a Saturday at the end of the spring semester. At the review each student is assigned a time for individual evaluation of their work by the graphic design faculty and their peers. Students are not expected to prepare a speech, but are encouraged to come prepared with questions to ask the faculty and their peers. Students are expected to present themselves professionally (e.g. appropriate attire) at the Review.

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What do I need to do to graduate?
Graduation starts years in advance with taking the required classes. Consult the graphic design checklist (PDF) and your advisor. Do a graduation check on Banner in the second semester of your junior year. You should apply to graduate after completing 90 credit hours, which usually occurs at the end of the junior or beginning of the senior year. To apply to graduate students must visit the Office of the Registrar in Wichard Hall, and email the area coordinator lamerek@ecu.edu, School of Art & Design faculty advisor Ann Melanie melaniea@ecu.edu, and Connie Ballance ballancec@ecu.edu with their: name, Banner ID, concentration, minor, and intended date of graduation.

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How is my senior show scheduled and evaluated?
To graduate each student must successfully complete a senior show. Those students wishing to have shows in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center at the Burroughs Wellcome Senior Gallery, at the Greenville Museum of Art, or Mendenhall Student Center will schedule their senior shows with Ann Melanie and Connie Balance. This process begins with a meeting for all graduating students at the beginning of the semester in which the senior show will be completed. At that time students designate their preferences for their senior show location and time. Those students wishing to hold seniors shows off campus must schedule them independently. Off campus venues must be approved by the graphic design faculty.

Approximately one month prior to the senior show the graphic design faculty will contact you to schedule a review of your work. At this review you should bring all of your graphic design work. It is better to bring too much than too little. At the review the graphic design faculty will assess your work and determine if you are ready to have your senior show. Students that are approved then proceed with preparing, mounting, and hanging their seniors shows. Students that are not approved are given an opportunity to improve their work. It is up to the student to improve their work and reschedule their review. Note that students DO NOT graduate unless they have a senior show.

Once the senior show is up graphic design faculty will evaluate the show. Your show must be approved by the faculty to graduate.

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What classes should I take?
Download the graphic design checklist (PDF.) There is also a list of graphic design classes here.

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Should I do a second major?
Many graphic design majors choose a second area in the School of Art & Design. Traditionally, photography has been the most common, followed by illustration. Recently, Animation and interaction design has become more popular as a second concentration for graphic design majors. Since the requirements for the BFA degree and those for the BA or the BS differ, other majors may require significant extra coursework. Business and communication are popular choices of second majors that directly relate to graphic design but graphic design students have done second majors that range from art education to French literature.

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Is an internship required?
No, an internship is not required, be the faculty highly encourage you to pursue an internship to gain experience prior to graduate. Since graphic design is a professional discipline, real world experience in the field is invaluable.

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What internship opportunities do you provide?
We often get requests from companies looking for interns and we can provide tips on your search for an internship sponsor but it is up to the individual student to find an internship.

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When can I do an internship?
To earn course credit for an internship, students must complete Art 3200, Typography, completed during the fall semester of the junior year. Students who wish to pursue an internship prior to taking Art 3200 are encouraged to do so, but may not earn ECU course credit for their work.

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How much work is required for an internship?
Internship courses (Art 4010, 4020, 4030) are 3 semester hours each; to earn three credits a student must successfully complete 140 hours of work at an approved internship. More than one internship course can be taken.

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What opportunities are there for international study?
There are study abroad trips every summer sponsored by the School of Art & Design. A recent trip to England and Scotland concentrated on design and photography. The SoAD has a Spring semester study program in Tuscany. ECU also participates in exchange programs with universities around the world.

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Will ECU help me get a job?
Although the Career Center and the graphic design faculty will provide guidance and job opportunities are often announced to students, your career is your responsibility.

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Should I attend grad school?
Yes and no. The graphic design faculty members all have advanced degrees and we strongly believe in education. Graduate school (in graphic design or another subject) can be a positive, life changing experience. We believe, however, that graphic design graduate studies are most fruitful if people have a working background as designers so we generally counsel against a graphic design graduate program directly after BFA studies.

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What other graphic design opportunities are available on campus?
Graphic design students have taken advantage of graphic design job opportunities on campus. Students have worked at the school newspaper, The East Carolinian, for the student minority publication expressions, for ECU's arts and literary magazine The Rebel, as graphic designers for the Student Activities Board, and at various other campus venues. While the graphic design faculty do not hire, manage, or control these opportunities, we encourage students to pursue them if they wish.

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