Mar 03, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

School of Design

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Lowe, Sarah, (Director), MGD – North Carolina State University
Staples, Cary, MFA – Michigan State

Assistant Professors
Mitchell, Kimberly, MFA – Iowa State University 

Arment, Timothy, MFA – University of Wisconsin, Madison
Cote, Chris, MFA – Rhode Island School of Design
Flores, Matthew (Tennessee Graphic Design Fellow), MFA – Georgia
Gill, Tommi, BFA – Tennessee
Martin, Megan, BFA - Charlston

Professor Emeritus
Shmerler, Deborah, MFA – Virginia Commonwealth

Graphic Design

The Graphic Design program is committed to equipping students with not only the professional skills needed for a design career, but with a deep-seated understanding of how their talents can influence, inspire, and create change. Through the exploration of diverse problem-solving methodologies, innovative investigations and creative research in all forms of communication, upon graduation, students are well-equipped to enter the design field across numerous facets of the discipline.

The curriculum is sequenced to provide students with the skills needed for singular, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary projects. Underscoring concept development, strategic thinking, and collaboration makes the University of Tennessee Graphic Design program stand out as an environment for encouraging designers to embrace a range of needs from the simple to the complex.

Apply Knowledge and Theory in a Project Based Learning Environment

Graphic Design studio courses are intense, project-based courses that require time and intellectual commitment. We emphasize a process where students move through critical thinking to creative conceptualization. Iterative explorations, articulate communication of ideas, creative exploration and critical evaluation are at the heart of the Graphic Design studio courses. The curriculum is uniquely designed to encourage cross-disciplinary studies and collaborations, within the university and the community, and to prepare students for professional practice.

Build Global and Professional Perspectives

Students in the Graphic Design program are required to conduct an internship as part of their degree. The School of Design has an extensive list of internship opportunities covering a variety of areas across the design profession. Students are also encouraged to participate in one of the study abroad programs offered each year within the College of Architecture and Design or the University.

Engage Contemporary Technology

The College of Architecture and Design maintains a fabrication lab, digital three-dimensional printers, print center, photography studio, and wood shop. Students are required to purchase a program-specified computer and software to complete design studio projects.

Collaborate and Work in Multi-Disciplinary Teams

Students regularly participate in various community partnership projects either through a team based classroom project, or by working as part of a faculty-led research team. Opportunities are provided to prepare students for a multi-disciplinary work environment by participating in team projects and sharing common coursework and classrooms across multiple disciplines. Students participate in discussions, critiques, and reviews of their designs and ideas with professionals, faculty and students from a variety of disciplines.

Practice Creativity and Critical Thinking

The study of design is not easy. It is a long and slow process, but the journey is exciting, and the rewards are many. The Graphic Design program provides an undergraduate education focused on creative and intellectual thinking, awareness of individual, social, cultural, and communicative issues. Students with a curiosity about the integration of new technology, and an interest in pursuing an innovative, cross-disciplinary research agenda, with an emphasis on engaged scholarship are encouraged.

Graphic Design studio courses are intensive, project-based courses that require time and intellectual commitment. We emphasize a process where students move through critical thinking to creative conceptualization. After numerous iterative explorations and articulate communication in the development of design projects, students are ready to present their ideas. The Graphic Design program is situated in a college that recognizes and cultivates a community of practice that supports learning by experimentation. Students learn to mutually support their creative explorations and participate in the critical evaluation of their work.

Accreditation and Professional Standards

The institution has been accredited by National Association of Schools of Art and Design, NASAD since 1990. The BFA in Graphic Design is one of the programs reviewed during this process.

Computer Requirement

Students enrolled in Graphic Design will be required to have computer capable of running the Adobe Creative Cloud software suite. Foundation students are advised to bring an existing computer and look to purchase a more robust model upon admittance to the Graphic Design program in the fall of their sophomore year.

First-Year Curriculum

The following core courses must be completed before students can progress into the degree program as a graphic design major and before further graphic design classes may be taken.

DSGN 101 - Graphic Design Foundation Studio I  
DSGN 102 - Graphic Design Foundation Studio II  
DSGN 103 - Graphic Design Foundation Studio III  
DSGN 150 - The Idea of Design  

Students are advised that successful completion of Portfolio Review (GRDS 200 ) is a prerequisite to all 200 level and above sequenced graphic design courses. Continuing, returning, and transfer students must meet progression requirements before declaring a major in graphic design.

No grade below C in Graphic Design courses may be applied to the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree. A minimum of 42 credit hours, 300-level or above, must be earned prior to graduation. A minimum of 120 total hours are required.

* Meets Volunteer Core Requirements .

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