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Graphic Design

Students in design lab

Reach Your Target With Graphic Design

Do you have a passion for visual art, combined with a love of the written word? Do you like to try out new apps, new fonts, social media platforms, and websites? Are you creative, imaginative, and original? Are you adept at graphic design? If the answer to all these questions is “yes,” you might be the perfect candidate for Buffalo State College’s graphic design program.

What Is Graphic Design?

Twenty years ago, there was no such thing as “Tweets,” “likes,” “blogs” or “comment sections.” Now, our daily lives are ruled by these words and concepts—concepts which are even now changing and evolving. As a graphic design professional, you would specialize in understanding, illustrating, and creating new communication platforms. You would be part artist, part business person: someone who can create an aesthetically pleasing website, blog, app, or game that connects with the right target audience. 

Yahaira Zapata

Alumni Voice

Yahaira Zapata, '17, a graphic design graduate, spent summer of 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey.

“This trip made me realize what an impact color can have,” Zapata said. “In design, we should be more cognizant of our color choices and how we expect them to impact the public.”

Stan Friesen

Faculty Voice

“The students submit their work to the ADDY competition themselves,” said Stan Friesen, associate professor of art and design. “It’s a great opportunity to have their work seen by industry professionals. In general, students who enter have done really well. One student has two companies interested in hiring him as a result of attending the annual portfolio review, also hosted by the Advertising Club of Buffalo.”

Students at exhibit

Distinctive Program Highlights

Buffalo State’s bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design is a studio-intensive program of study. This degree program offers students a specialized studio-oriented education in preparation for graduate studies or for beginning careers as professional designers.

Students begin with foundation courses in two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, color, art history, and design history. The major is completed with courses in communication design and selected major electives. 

The graphic design program teaches students how to combine communication, art, and technology. Students learn how to craft content that achieves a specific reaction, gets a message across, or provokes a desired reaction (like sales). Our program stands above the rest because:

  • Accreditation: The graphic design program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
  • Cutting-edge program: Buffalo State is constantly reassessing and updating the program to stay on the cutting edge of new media, current industry software, and rapidly expanding career options.
  • Scholarships: Buffalo State’s Art and Design Department offers more than 12 scholarships and awards designed to help students succeed. Buffalo State admits more than 100 scholarships for students demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities, academic abilities, and/or financial need. Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.
  • The Czurles-Nelson Gallery: On-campus gallery dedicated to supporting visual arts at Buffalo State and providing a forum for student and faculty creative expression. 


Graphic design is the largest program in the visual arts at Buffalo State; with nearly 100 students studying advertising design, multimedia, print, and illustration. Graduates have been hired at major corporations, advertising agencies, and graphic design studios including:

  • NBC Universal
  • Verizon Wireless
  • Fisher-Price
  • Yahoo
  • Xerox, and many others.

Common job titles for communication design graduates include:

  • Advertising Account Representative
  • Advertising Copywriter
  • Advertising Creative Director
  • Animator (Film, Video Games)
  • Brand Manager
  • Conceptual Illustrator
  • Content Strategist
  • Editor/Proofreader
  • Graphic Designer
  • Industrial Designer
  • Information Architect
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Motion Graphics Designer
  • Print Layout Design Specialist
  • Public Relations Agent
  • Publication Layout Specialist
  • Social Media Manager
  • Storyboard Artist
  • Traditional Illustrator
  • Typographer/Calligrapher
  • Video Editor
  • Video Game Designer
  • Web Content Manager
  • Web Designer

Program-Related Opportunities

Buffalo State is committed to giving students the tools and experiences they need to succeed beyond the classroom. Opportunities for communication design students include:

  • The Visual Arts Board: This student-run board strives to circulate artistic ideas and visions hoping to be put forward on campus and throughout the community.
  • Campus clubs: Students can become involved in various student organizations on campus related to art and design including Students Involved in the Art of Metalsmithing (S.I.A.M.) club; the Coalition of Ceramic Designers (C2D) club; and the DotCom club.
  • Study Abroad Opportunities: Design students have the opportunity to study in Italy through Buffalo State's Siena Program. Numerous study-abroad and exchange programs are offered through Buffalo State, SUNY, National Student Exchange, and other institutions. Contact the International Education Office for more information
Exhibit in Czurles-Nelson Gallery

Research and Internship Opportunities

Buffalo State's Undergraduate Research Office provides opportunities for our design students to apply for undergraduate summer research fellowships, research grants, and travel grants to present results of their research. Students participating in research projects also present at the annual Buffalo State Student Research and Creativity Conference.

Graphic design majors are required to have an internship their senior year. Because Buffalo State is located in New York State's second-largest city, students have access to all the city offers. Many choose to perform internships or use the city's many agencies and arts facilities for learning outside of the classroom. However, students also have interned in London, Los Angeles, New York City, and Milan.


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Art & Design Department

1300 Elmwood Ave  •  Upton Hall 402 •  Buffalo, NY 14222
Phone: (716) 878-6032 •  Fax: (716) 878-4231