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Design your Future in 2 Semesters

Today’s fast-paced ever-changing world relies heavily on digital and visual forms of communication. Knowledge of design practices and principles of graphic design continue to be essential tools for designers and professionals alike. In just two semesters, the Certificate in Graphic Design provides you with the practical and theoretical skills of a design professional. You will learn the skills needed to succeed as a graphic designer while mastering theoretical frameworks. Students will walk away with:

  • experience in the latest software applications
  • finished pieces to add to their portfolio
  • a developing sense of personal style
  • experience applying their skills to relevant real-world projects

Why a Certificate in Graphic Design?


Market Growth

16.3% predicted growth in digital design jobs through 2031

Work Life Balance & Flexibility

90% of graphic designers are freelancers


Social media posts with graphic design gain 650% higher engagement

Program Curriculum

Course 1 | Hybrid Synchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Fall 2023

person working with text and images

This course provides a solid base in exploring image/text relationships in graphic design. Students will be introduced to type classifications along with some modern and postmodern design theories. Practical design assignments guided by class critiques will help you develop your own personal style. Class demos will include Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. 

Gain skills in:
  • Type classifications
  • Modern and postmodern design theories
  • Adobe Creative Cloud

Course 2 | Hybrid Synchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Fall 2023


Design pictograms and learn about gestalt principles of design through figure/ground relationships, similarity, continuation, closure, proximity and symmetry. Projects in this class will help you to develop skills to create graphics that are based on a matrix and design a cohesive series of pieces. The class will use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to accomplish projects that expand from simple symbol drawings to patterns and corporate branding.  

Gain skills in:
  • Gestalt principles of design
  • Figure/ground relationships
  • Creating a cohesive series

Course 3 | Hybrid Synchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Spring 2024

person working with text and images

Further explore type and image relationships with a greater focus on expressive typography and lettering. Lectures will discuss contemporary trends as well as studies of works of contemporary designers of the past 50 years. Course projects will extend from print-based poster designs to simple motion graphics. Students will advance their Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign skillsets to a proficient level. 

Gain skills in:
  • Expressive lettering
  • Contemporary trends
  • Simple motion graphics

Course 4 | Hybrid Synchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Spring 2024

advanced type icon

Immerse yourself in the history of Western typography and lettering, and further develop your personal voice in graphic design. Learn to further utilize typography in an expressive way by mastering principles such as hierarchy, alignment, contrast, color and consistency. Project assignments will cover type in print and on the screen, exploring advanced typographical elements for portfolio application. 

Gain skills in:
  • Typographic principles
  • Portfolio development
  • Developing a designer's style


Program Design

This flexible accelerated program is designed for students looking to add skills to their resume while building or enhancing a portfolio. The program is part-time and runs in a flexible hybrid format with both on-campus and online course sessions. Interested students should expect to commit 2-week nights per week for class attendance, as well as 4-5 hours of outside of class work time. Students take just one class at a time, back-to-back in a semester, for 2 semesters to complete the graphic design essentials certificate.


Program Completion Timeline

This program is designed to be completed in two semesters, or approximately 8 months. For example, students starting in a fall semester would take courses 1 & 2 between September and December, and courses 3 & 4 between January and May.




1st Session - 6 Weeks

Text & Image I

Text & Image II

2nd Session - 6 Weeks

Pictograms & Symbols 

Advanced Typography 

Explore Advanced Studies in Graphic Design

Further develop your graphic design skillset by adding advanced courses to your resume! Connect with us to hear more about upcoming advanced course opportunities in areas such as web design or animation.  


Sample Student Work



Related Job Titles

Website Designer

Layout Designer


Brand Identity Designer

Art Director

Production Artist


Related Industries




Film and Media


Product Design


Hear from our Students


I enrolled in the SMFA CE Graphic Design certificate because their program welcomed people of all skill levels. Also the classes are at night which allows me to work during the day. I feel like I am at an advanced level in the Adobe Creative Suite. I also have enhanced my ability to think creatively and outside the box

Caroline Fallon, SMFA Graphic Design Certificate

While I've always known that the right font can strengthen the message, this course has opened my eyes to just how powerful typography is, and the myriad of ways it has been and can be used.

SMFA CE Student

I wondered if design was a talent or a learned set of rules, and the design rules I have learned in this class has made me see my design ideas differently and I feel more competent using the rules to evaluate my design and others.

SMFA CE Student

This course definitely allowed me to understand the unique challenges and opportunities that come with designing for publication. Thinking about visual consistency, how to break that, and at what moments to break that was really great.

SMFA CE Student