Program details

Iowa State’s dedicated four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Graphic Design program is the only public degree of its kind in the state of Iowa and is a top ranked program nationally. The program combines both traditional and new graphic design media, providing graduates with a wide range of in-demand skills. The graphic design curriculum emphasizes how to design through organization of visual and verbal information, and it’s concept-based approach can be applied to printed material, digital media, motion, and environmental graphics.

  • $49,870

    average graphic design starting salary


The BFA in Graphic Design is a four-year degree consisting of one year in the College of Design’s Core Design Program, followed by three years in the professional degree program. It features graphic design practicums (providing real-world experience with clients such as Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics), and internship or study abroad opportunities.

The program also features option studios in a variety of graphic design applications, such as:

  • User experience (UX) design
  • Illustration
  • Creative technology
  • 3D modeling and augmented reality
  • Web design
  • Packaging
  • Advanced typography
  • Publications
  • Motion graphics
  • Exhibition design
  • 3D animation
  • Wayfinding
  • Branding and logo design

Recent Student Work

  • Students Presenting in DSN 102

    Core Design Program

    The undergraduate curricula in design are divided into two phases: the Core Design Program and the professional or general degree program. Classes in the Core create a shared experience and community that exposes students to all nine majors within the College of Design.

Iowa State’s BFA in Graphic Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The College of Design offers or participates in eight undergraduate minors that are available to all undergraduate design students. In addition, many minors throughout the university can be combined with a design degree program.

View College of Design minors
Search all minors at Iowa State

Beyond meeting the minimum high school requirements for admission to Iowa State University and the College of Design, students who plan to enter the professional Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree program are encouraged, but not required, to take courses in:

  • Art
  • Graphic Design
  • Photography
  • Journalism or Computer Science
Two students conversing in the College of Design atrium.

Success in Design

Students graduate career-ready with internships, capstone projects, professional practice and portfolio classes integrated into the Design programs, and support from the Design Career Services Office. The college also hosts an annual Design Career Fair focused only on design majors. It attracts more than 125 firms recruiting for jobs and internships, with College of Design alumni making up more than half of the recruiters in attendance.

Possible career paths

Some recent graduates of Iowa State’s graphic design program have pursued careers in the following:

  • Advertising design
  • Animated products design
  • Book design
  • Digital art
  • Exhibition design
  • Film or television titling and design of on-air graphics
  • Interactive media design
  • Magazine design
  • Museum exhibitions, publications and signage
  • Newspaper design
  • Packaging and label design
  • Video or film design and production website design
  • 90% graduates

    employed or continuing their education within six months of graduation.

Graphic design students learning audio equipment and mixing in AK Studio class with Alex Braidwood in Los Angeles.

A Designer in the Making.

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.