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Design Admission FAQs


Q. Why should I study design at TCU?

This question can be answered in seven basic points:

1.   Gainful employment placement rate of over 95%

Graduates of the BFA program get quality jobs in their professional field. They find work at design studios, advertising agencies and corporate design offices.

Recent placement includes: The Richards Group, Dallas, TX; TracyLocke Advertising, Winton, CT and Dallas, TX; CBS, Stanford, CT; GCG Marketing, Fort Worth, TX; Pier 1 Imports, Fort Worth, TX; PytchBlack, Fort Worth, TX; Warren Douglas Advertising, Fort Worth, TX; Schaefer Advertising Company, Fort Worth, TX; VML, Kansas City, MO; 72 and Sunny, Los Angeles, CA; Modern Messaging, Dallas, TX; Loyalkaspar, New York, NY; Deep Focus, New York, NY; Pentagram Worldwide, Austin, TX; Switch Creative Group, Dallas, TX; SWOON, Dallas, TX; Twilio, San Francisco, CA; Commerce House, Dallas, TX; T3, Austin, TX; The Marketing Arm, Chicago, IL; The Marketing Arm, Dallas, TX; Rattleback, Columbus, OH; Adcetera, Houston, TX; Switch Creative Group, Dallas, TX; 70fkt, Dallas, TX; Sovic Design, Fort Worth, TX; The Magazine at Pace Communications, Dallas, TX; OpenMarkets, Chicago, IL; Ardent Creative, Fort Worth, TX; Ascend Concepts, Fort Worth, TX; Greenlight, Dallas, TX; Brinker International, Dallas, TX; ClubCorp, Dallas, TX—any many more.

2.   You will have a traditional “college” experience as opposed to a trade or commuter school

TCU is a middle-sized liberal arts university with a very tight-knit, mainly residential campus community. This combines the intellectual enrichment of the diverse educational experience with a culture where students and professors know each others’ names. It’s academically challenging, and a very pleasant place to spend four years.

3.   Small, personalized program

The department is small by design (no pun intended). We have a conscious desire never to outgrow our resources, or to get so big we don’t know each other as individuals.

4.     A “business-first” approach to curriculum

The faculty and staff share the philosophy of graphic design as a problem-solving occupation within the larger structure of commerce and marketing. It’s all about business.

5.   A diverse and extensive alumni network of working professionals

Our graduates work in New York, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Panama City (Panama, not Florida), Miami, Denver, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Austin—pretty much wherever there are major advertising agencies. This is an awesome network for new graduates looking for work, and a friend, in a faraway place.

6.   Strong industry support and connections in a major advertising and design market

By some estimates, Dallas-Fort Worth is the second-largest design and advertising market in the US. Our department maintains a strong liaison with the local creative community, which is also largely populated by our alumni. The location offers a vibrant opportunity for internship and extracurricular industry-related experiences. It also allows us to have some very interesting guest faculty members.

7.   Faculty comprised of professional designers with extensive industry experience

All of the department’s full-time staff are also design practitioners. We continue to participate in the business, beyond our academic responsibilities. Individual expertise varies, but whether it’s branding and identity, interactive, advertising or publication design, we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk.


Q. Is the program competitive?

All students enter the department as design pre-majors. Following a series of six foundation classes, anyone wishing to continue in the program is required to participate in a Qualifying Examination. Results will determine if the student is invited to declare the BFA, or the BS. The alternative is to change the major. Approximately 60-70% of applicants continue in one of the design degree programs.


Q. Are you accredited?

The Department of Graphic Design is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).


Q. How big is the department?

The permanent faculty includes five, full-time professors. We also have a good balance of part-time teaching support from the local professional design community. We have approximately 110 majors including BFA and BS candidates.


Q. How big are the classes?

Our maximum class size is 15 students. This allows us to fully utilize active learning techniques in the classroom, including group critique and individual consultation on student projects.


Q. What degrees do you offer?

The Department offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in graphic design and the Bachelor of Science (BS) in design studies.

The BFA is a professional degree with the goal of preparing graduates to enter the workforce as designers and/or art directors upon graduation. Our long-term placement record is over 95%. For the past several years, it is 100%.

The BS in design studies offers a flexible, broad-based alternative to the BFA degree that combines instruction in visual communication with a complementary major or minor. Some suggested majors or minors include:

  • Business courses to prepare you for management roles in communication, advertising and the graphic arts
  • Computer science courses to prepare you to design and develop websites, interactive media and applications
  • Writing courses to prepare you for creative roles in advertising and publishing.

As a liberal-arts degree, the BS is not as much about career preparation in graphic design as the BFA. However, many students who pursue this path work in the professional design sector. Popular career paths include entrepreneurial ventures, account service at advertising agencies and PR firms; production managers at agencies, printing firms, and production houses; and as developers at interactive design businesses.


Q. What kinds of classes will I take?

Students start with foundational classes including introduction to visual communication, computer graphics, two-dimensional design and color theory, art history, drawing, and digital portfolio—then move up to topical classes in web and interactive design, advertising design, corporate identity, publication design, packaging design, business of design, design entrepreneurship and more.

BFA candidates also do a creative internship for upper-division credit, and have two capstone courses, called portfolio & marketing and senior thesis.

Graphic design degree plans specifically outline the course of study for each degree track. A complete listing of graphic design classes can be found in the University catalog.


Q. How will I know what classes to take?

Each student is assigned a faculty advisor in the department, specifically to assist in navigating the degree plans in order to stay on track with personal and professional goals. While academic advising is scheduled during specific dates each semester, our faculty maintain open-door policies, and are very available to answer questions and provide advice for our students.


Q. Do I need a portfolio for admission?

A portfolio is not required for admission. However, we strongly recommend prospective first-year and transfer students take advantage of uploading an optional portfolio. Learn more.


Q. Are there any study abroad/travel opportunities?

The department offers a summer class on the business of design, that alternates between a major US city and a major European city, and a summer course on design and culture in Asia. These classes allow students to visit design studios and advertising agencies on site, as well as the ability to explore local culture, museums and cuisine. They are available for upper-division credit that applies to all department degree plans. Other, semester-long experiences are available through the University. Learn more.


Q. What about internships?

The BFA degree requires a creative internship for upper-division credit, in the summer following completion of the third-year sequence of classes. BS candidates are able to apply to the internship program by portfolio examination.

Usually, the student serves the internship in the Fort Worth-Dallas area, which is a thriving design and advertising market. However, our students have done internships in many other locations, including New York; Chicago; Los Angeles; Miami; Houston; Austin; London, UK; Lima, Peru; and other markets around the country and world. Learn more.


Q. What kind of computer and software will I need?

Students are not required to provide a computer. However, we strongly recommend a Macintosh MacBook Pro. The primary software used in graphic design includes Adobe Creative Suite. Once enrolled, students can subscribe for a significant reduction in cost.


Q. Is financial aid available?

The department administers several talent-based scholarships. These are separate from, and may be combined with, grants and scholarships available through the University.

Once enrolled, the department has funding available to support student travel, competition entries and other activities.