New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy Graphic Design


See the Graphic Design Showcase Page Students learn color theory at NYFA's graphic design school

Overview of our BFA in Graphic Design

Our three-year Bachelor's is for highly motivated students who would like to enter an intensive hands-on professional course of study. By completing the Bachelor's degree in three-years students:
  • Save one year of expenses
  • Enter the field of their choice a year early
The Academy makes this accelerated schedule possible by creating an extended academic year allowing students to complete three full-length semesters in each calendar year.

New York Film Academy BFA in Graphic Design program is offered at our Los Angeles Campus.

Qualified students have the option of completing course work at the New York Film Academy in New York City in a one-year non-degree program and then applying their course work to be accepted for advanced standing in the BFA Graphic Design degree program.

The New York Film Academy Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design is an eight-semester conservatory-based, full-time study undergraduate program.

The NYFA Graphic Design BFA curriculum is designed to educate, train and immerse prospective graphic designers in all aspects of the discipline and prepare graduates to move into the professional field of graphic design and related areas. As a convergent discipline, graphic design connects to many areas of visual art, design, communication and culture. Students will become articulate and fluent with visual language and gain the skills to create meaningful visual messages. The curriculum targets three knowledge areas: practice, theory and context. Students will move through a course matrix that builds skills cumulatively from introductory to advanced level in preparation for working in the profession. NYFA fosters a creative and encouraging setting in which to inspire and challenge students as they follow a rigorous curriculum and achieve multiple learning objectives. In this 20th-century global communication culture, graphic design is a growth industry and the graphic designer’s skill-set is constantly in flux. The NYFA BFA in Graphic Design curriculum is designed to withstand short-term cultural trends and provide students with essential core knowledge and state-of-the-art practical skills.


Semester One introduces students to the principle elements of graphic design and core foundational aspects of visual communication. Students are introduced to the visual problem solving process: visual research, concept development and production of finished artwork. Students are encouraged to see the field of graphic design as a convergent discipline that connects to many aspects of the visual world and culture. Students will gain introductory knowledge of key historical and contemporary precedents in the field of graphic design and visual communication. While being introduced to fundamentals of graphic design practice, students will experience use of analog and digital tools and materials. Upon completion of Semester One, students will be fluent in core skills and fluent with basic design theory and fundamentals of visual communication.

Students will develop foundational writing and analytical thinking skills in English Composition and Physical & Mental Wellness.


Semester Two continues work started in Semester One and students will continue to develop their graphic design abilities, both artistically and technically, and visual problem solving skills. Students will become more fluent with fundamental skills and create more visually dynamic projects while developing analytical and critical thinking skills. Students will explore contemporary movements in graphic design and visual arts and begin to discuss the work of seminal artists and designers, applying this knowledge to their assignments. Students are encouraged to see the field of graphic design as it connects to other art and design areas and many aspects of the visual world and culture. Upon completion of Semester Two, students will be fluent in core skills, have more experience with materials and media, and be more fluent with fundamental design theory.

Students will strengthen their general education with LAS courses in Public Speaking and History of Graphic Design.


In semester three, students will refine the skills developed in the previous two semesters. Students will continue to explore traditional (analog) and digital media while developing a personal direction in their work. Students will refine the creative process from visual research to finished artwork and become fluent in all areas of their practice. Students will continue to explore new materials and image making processes including digital photography and experimental digital printmaking.

By completion of Semester Three, students will have thorough understanding of the principles of graphic design, introductory theory, and a practical skill-set.

Students will strengthen their general education with LAS courses in Critical Thinking, College Mathematics, and Art History.


In Semester Four, students will consolidate their skills to develop intermediate level visual communication building on work from previous semesters. Students will develop stronger theory, analytical and critical skills while becoming more aware of the context in which graphic communications are produced and distributed. Having become familiar with principles of graphic design practice, students begin to tackle more specialized areas within graphic design, including communication design and motion graphics. Having had a firm grounding in the fundamentals of graphic design practice, this semester allows students to develop self-directed projects and a personal visual language. Students will produce more accomplished projects and presentations. Upon completion of Semester Four, students will be fluent in the process of visualizing concepts from thumbnail to finished art, will have developed stronger technical production skills, and will have a more personal approach to use of the computer in their creative process.

Students will strengthen their general education with LAS courses in: Environmental Biology and Contemporary Psychology.


In Semester Five, students will explore specialist areas within the graphic design field (Advertising, Package Design & Publication Design) and create work for print and web. Students will expand their software knowledge range. Having become accomplished with print images, students will begin working with time-based media (After Effects & Premiere). Students will become more comfortable in expressing themselves and defending their work in critiques. Students will expand their historical and cultural knowledge and research methods to strengthen assignments by researching key historical precedents in graphic design practice and begin to form a personal direction. Students will explore the historical and social contexts in which graphic design is produced and distributed. Upon completion of Semester Five, students will be taking a more self-directed personal approach to assignments and more fluent use of computer, page layout and image editing.

Students will strengthen their general education by exploring Art History and an upper-division Social & Behavioral Science course.


In semester six, students will further explore advanced specialist areas within the convergent field of graphic design and apply their advanced skills to client-led studio projects. Students extend their skills and creativity across a range of print and web outcomes including interactive media design and branding. Students become more independent in their work methods and have more opportunity to self-direct projects, take greater creative control, and further develop their personal vision. Students will become more accomplished with production skills and will be introduced to technical pre-press production skills. Students will develop stronger aesthetic, conceptual and technical skill and more personal use of digital technology. Classes will challenge students to develop stronger analytical skills and critical thinking skills. Upon completion of Semester Six, students will demonstrate advanced knowledge of the theories that underpin the cultural, historical and social contexts in which graphic design messages are produced and distributed.

Students will strengthen their general education with LAS courses in: History of Design, Art, Culture & Society, and one Natural Science course.


In their penultimate semester, students integrate their coursework and begin to plan their thesis projects. Students sharpen their critical thinking abilities and explore the way images are read by the audience. In semester seven, students begin to move from being problem solvers to becoming problem seekers. Having practiced a range of specialist areas within the field of graphic design, students begin to focus on personal directions in preparation for thesis work, professional portfolio production, and working in the industry. Students are working at an advanced level creatively, technically and conceptually. While working in a constructive mentoring environment, students are encouraged to become more independent in their work methods and begin to form professional objectives. While continuing to advance their creative and conceptual skills, students will also develop advanced technical production skills and develop collaborative teamwork skills. Upon completion of Semester Seven, students will be prepared for the final thesis project and production of the professional portfolio.

Students will demonstrate their key analytical skills by completing an upper-division Arts & Humanities course.


In Semester Eight, students synthesize their skills from previous semesters to create a professional level personal portfolio in multiple formats in preparation to move into the graphic design profession. This portfolio should demonstrate advanced creative vision, technical skill and personal aesthetic while also reflecting professional presentation skills. Student coursework focuses primarily on a thesis project centered on a clearly stated theme. Students have progressed from being problem solvers to problem seekers and the project plan should contain rigorous and intertwined research and practice objectives. This final project forms the content for the student thesis exhibition, which will be attended by faculty and invited industry professionals. Students become self-reliant but are supported during the semester by class critiques and instructor mentoring. Alongside the thesis project, students continue to gain knowledge of graphic design business practice and develop self-promotion strategies. Upon completion of Semester 8, students will have a professional and personal portfolio on multiple platforms (print & web).

Students will complete their Liberal Arts & Science requirements by taking their final upper-division Arts and Humanities course and final upper-division Natural Science course.

Course Description

  • Graphic Design I (Type, Image, Layout Fundamentals) Introduction to the principles of graphic design practice and the process of solving visual problems, combining type and images. Students are introduced to the graphic design language and vocabulary (scale, contrast, grid, layout problems, 2D space, contrast, etc.). Students explore the relationship of image, text, and layout that create a piece of design.
  • Elements of Design I (Design Principles) This course is an introduction to core formal elements of the visual language: line, shape, tone, texture, 2D studies, composition, and color basics. Working with analog and digital media, students will develop fundamental understanding of the core tools of visual design and will be introduced to the infinite creative possibilities of the 2D surface.
  • Type I (Type Fundamentals) Introduction to typography. Students learn fundamentals of type and learn to recognize type families and key fonts. This course covers basics of the vocabulary of type, including x-height, ascenders, descenders, tracking, leading, serif and san-serif. Students study letterforms and learn to recognize important typefaces and fonts.
  • Drawing & Imaging I (Introduction to Image Making) Students will explore image making using traditional drawing tools, experimental materials, and the computer. Students will tackle problems of representation, explore fundamentals of composition, and explore methods of visualizing concepts and themes.
  • Drawing & Imaging II (Digital Processes) Continuation of Drawing & Imaging I. Students will further explore image making using traditional drawing tools, experimental materials, and the computer. Students will begin to develop a personal direction in their work as they become more adept and are able to make better-informed creative decisions.

    Prerequisite: GRDS131 - Drawing & Imaging I (Introduction to Image Making)
  • Type II (Type Voice) A continuation of Type I, this course introduces the concept of ‘type voice’ and tackles more complex typography problems and more complex typographic principles (hierarchy, proximity, and contrast). Assignments include basic logo design and basic copyright.

    Prerequisite: GRDS121 - Type I (Type Fundamentals)
  • Elements of Design II Building upon EOD I, this course focuses on color, materials, and more advanced principles of design (e.g., hierarchy, proximity, contrast). Students will apply this theory to practical and conceptual assignments that revolve around color solutions to design-problem solving. Working with color in digital (Photoshop, Illustrator) and traditional (paint, collage) media, students will develop a portfolio of color-based assignments in 2D and 3D.

    Prerequisite: GRDS111 - Elements of Design I (Design Principles)
  • Intro to Digital Printmaking Graphic design is a field that incorporates many forms of printed matter. This course will explore the digital printer as a creative tool and introduce students to the digital print process. Students will develop understanding of optimum file size, resolution, and color modes (rgb, cmyk), and will learn how to prepare files for high-quality printing on inkjet and laser printers. Students will be introduced to best methods to output from Adobe Creative Suite software (Photoshop and Illustrator).
  • Graphic Design II In this continuation of the study of graphic design practice, students continue to explore the interaction of image, type, and concept in response to a creative problem. Further developing the tools and creative skills particular to the practice: the grid, vectors, rasters, and pen-tablet. Students will further develop the design process loop of-research, development, preliminary and final art, and presentation.

    Prerequisite: GRDS101 - Graphic Design I
  • Type III (Text as Image) Students tackle more complex typographic projects including Corporate Identity, Logo Design, Poster Design, and Branding. Extending the students’ type knowledge, projects this semester explore the potential of type as image, and produce graphic design solutions that are composed only of typography. This class touches on type history and letterpress type.

    Prerequisite: GRDS151 - Type II (Type Voice)
  • Communication Design I In Communication Design I, students see where the practice of graphic design and graphic design outcomes are distributed across a range of outlets and channels. Students are introduced to ‘message construction,’ the campaign, and designing a message for delivery in different inter-related formats (posters, web pages, print ads).
  • Digital Photography & Digital Printing I Students learn fundamental digital photographic skills (camera types, file size, composition, basic lighting) that allow them to become skilled at producing personal photographs as useful alternatives to stock images. These pictures will become content for student projects in other classes (Advertising, Publication Design, Web Ads and Posters).
  • Elements of Design III (4D/Time Based Media) An introduction to time-based media, this course is an approach to 4D with an emphasis on personal expression and a utilization of the skills learned in EOD1 & II. Working with After Effects or similar software, students employ color, image, movement, and sound to create short, time-based pieces.

    Prerequisite: GRDS161- Elements of Design II
  • Type IV (Motion) Having a grounding in typography and being more adept with the computer, students will move into the area of motion graphics and sequential images using After Effects or similar software. Students will consolidate all type knowledge to date to create short animated pieces, which add the elements of time, movement, and sound to the typographic message.

    Prerequisite: GRDS191 - Type III (Text as Image)
  • Communication Design II A continuation of Communication Design 1, this class challenges student research skills by integrating and synthesizing different areas within Graphic Design. Working to a given theme, students are introduced to the message cycle, tailoring graphic design pieces to suit the needs of the “client,” and designing graphics that communicate to the intended audience across a range of distribution methods.

    Prerequisite: GRDS201 - Communication Design I
  • Digital Photography & Digital Printing II Students will work with more advanced digital photo equipment and achieve more advanced composition, lighting, and digital processing of their images. At this stage in the curriculum, students will be developing personal areas of research interest. This class allows students to self-direct photo projects to create content for their own graphic design and web projects and posters.

    Prerequisite: Digital Photography & Digital Printing I
  • Package Design (3-D Graphics) The package design class takes graphic design skills (type, image, color, concept) into 3D space. As an extension of branding and brand identity, packaging extends into multiple areas of graphic design (i.e., infinite forms of consumer product packaging and in-store displays). Students will art direct a packaging project, create artwork, graphic design and produce the 3D object/client sample using digital printing and hand skills. This course may include some aspects of 3D printing.
  • Advertising Students are challenged to create effective advertising, from stand-alone posters to a sequence of images for a campaign. Students will be given specific themes to work with and projects will also include a self-directed design, which allows students to pursue personal themes/causes/issues while advancing a personal direction in their work.
  • Publication Design Publishing is a large specialist area in the field of Graphic Design, covering the publishing of books and magazines, and extending into e-books and e-publishing. This course looks briefly at the history of the book, and the origins of writing as the origins of human visual communication. Students will discover the Medieval Manuscript as the origin of many of the rules and design principles of contemporary publications.
  • Data Visualization & Information Graphics Information management and the visualization of data and statistics is a growth area in graphic design. Students will execute projects, which involve researching a theme/topic and its supporting statistics, and creating visual representations of this information. Themes can be personal to the student or assigned by the instructor. Students should consolidate all skills learned to date to create visually engaging information graphics (charts, maps, diagrams, graphs).
  • Design Studio I The Design Studio is a simulation of a real-world graphic design challenge in a client-based setting. An invited industry guest will present a brief to students. The brief will include details of a fictional company and that company’s needs for the project. Students will work to “client” timelines and deadlines. The industry guest will participate in class critiques and students will present outcomes. Bringing together many aspects of the course and student skills, this project requires student collaboration and teamwork.
  • Communication Design III (Messaging) This course analyzes the message cycle, client needs, and intended audience. Students will analyze the context in which graphic design projects operate and how to design the message in order for the message to be received. In this advanced class, students will develop a deeper understanding of the role of style and art-direction, font choices, and image choices (photographs & illustrations) in constructing ‘message meaning’.
  • Interactive Design I An introduction to interactive media, this class consolidates all skills learned to date and challenges students to apply their graphic design skills to interactive media: web sites, app design, mobile interfaces, and social media. Students will be assigned a message for which they will create a visual design that will function across different channels of media and distribution.
  • Pre-Press & Print Production I (for Print) In this class, students will gain advanced knowledge of the technical process involved in the production of printed graphic design pieces. Students will become aware of the how the designer can control the end product. This class covers CMYK, Color Separation, File Prep, and Paper Stock.
  • Pre-Press & Print Production II (for Print & Web) In this advanced technical class, and continuation of Pre-Press I, students will gain further understanding of technical production, including pre-production of images for websites, mobile applications, and social media.

    Prerequisites: Pre-Press & Print Production I (for Print)
  • Design Studio II A progression from Design Studio I, this class provides a setting in which students find actual, real-world clients and create design products for them. The client brief will include details of the company and client design needs for the project. Students will analyze and create the client message. They will work to client timelines and deadlines and also be given a budget to work with. Students will make site visits to research client needs, and develop professional visual and verbal presentations. Clients will participate in class critiques.

    Prerequisite: Design Studio I
  • Branding Students focus on brand concept development and production of effective visual messages across a range of media: print, web, app, tablet, product-shot photography, and packaging. Students create brand identity pieces and visuals that show the brand image functional in a range of settings (e.g., storefront awnings, billboards, trains, buses, and bus shelter ads).
  • Interactive Design II In this continuation of Interactive I, students choose and design their own campaign project for distribution across a range of outlets.

    Prerequisites: Interactive Design I
  • Thesis I In this seminar, students ideate, research, develop, and plan their capstone project. The thesis will be comprised of an original visual design project of significant ambition plus a 15-25-page scholarly research paper providing background for the project. The paper and project will focus on a clearly stated theme. Students have progressed from being problem solvers to problem seekers and the thesis plan should contain rigorous and intertwined research and practice objectives.

    Prerequisites: Before beginning their Thesis, students must complete all prior coursework and maintain a minimum GPA of a 2.0.
  • Portfolio Production & Business Practices This class focuses on the professional portfolio and the business of design: understanding client needs, contract negotiation, use rights, copyright, invoicing, etc. Students will develop a professional portfolio in multiple formats (print and web) and develop self-promotional strategies including resumes, cover letters, and promotional mailers. Students will also participate in industry internships. Internship supervisors will assess student performance and report to the Portfolio Production and Business Practices instructor.
  • Thesis II In this workshop, students will produce the capstone project developed in Thesis I. Students will be expected to synthesize their previous learning in this project and to create a professional-caliber project. Students will exhibit their thesis projects in the end-of-program public exhibition to which industry guests will be invited. The preparation and execution of the exhibit will be part of the thesis assessment.

    Prerequisites: Thesis I
  • Independent Studio This class offers students the opportunity to create a portfolio piece in preparation for entering the professional field. Under close faculty supervision, students will choose and develop individual projects. These projects may be used to overlap and strengthen thesis work or to produce additional portfolio pieces.

Dates & Tuition

Fees Per Semester

Tuition: $12,829 (USD) +
Lab Fee: $535 (USD)

Students will also incur additional expenses relating to their design projects such as: color prints, art materials, books and magazines and presentation materials.

Location & Available Dates

For Los Angeles:
September 2019 - September 2022
January 2020 - January 2023
September 2020 - September 2023

Please note: Dates and Tuition are subject to change
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