Undergraduate programs

Many prominent Northwest artists, designers, and art historians began their professional careers by studying art at Portland State University. An even greater number of successful and productive people have used their training in the School of Art+Design as the basis for careers in commerce, industry, education, and a variety of fields limited only by imagination. Offering a broad curriculum, including undergraduate degrees in Art History, Art Practices, and Graphic Design, as well as MFA and BFA degrees in Art Practices, the school seeks a diverse student population and takes advantage of its geographical location in the heart of Portland, extending our classroom activities into the city’s vibrant cultural community.

With a dedicated faculty actively engaged in their own creative and scholarly research, our student body of aspiring artists, designers and art historians explores new avenues of expression, prepares for professional and academic careers, and builds theoretical and practical foundations for future artistic and intellectual discovery. As a general rule, the major in art requires a minimum of 88 credits in art courses. Included are extensive experiences in studio work and a comprehensive study of the history of art. Majors in art history require a minimum of 68 credits.

Degree Maps and Learning Outcomes

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Art Major and Minor Degree Requirements

Art History—B.A./B.S.

Graphic Design—B.A./B.S.

Art Practices—B.A./B.S.

Art Practices—B.F.A.

Graphic Design—B.A./B.S.

The graphic design program provides a comprehensive education in design principles, applications, theories, history, and practice. The curriculum places particular emphasis on craft, concept, and research skills, as well as the development of effective design processes, the generation of meaningful narratives and story-telling techniques, and engagement with various community partners. Students work with faculty primarily through studio courses that introduce an increasing complexity of design problems and methodologies, combined with opportunities for independent development and interaction with professionals. The 100-level courses in graphic design introduce basic principles of design and art and their specific applications in graphic design. The 200-level courses provide a comprehensive studio experience with an increased emphasis on design thinking.

The first two years of study culminate with a required Sophomore Portfolio Review, occurring once each year at the end of the Spring term. All students majoring in graphic design (including students transferring in with lower- or upper-division credits) must pass this Review to enroll in 300-level graphic design courses. Contact the School of Art and Design at 503-725-3515, or visit the website (http://www.pdx.edu/art-design/ ) or the graphic design program site (http://www.pdx.edu/the-arts/art-design ) for details. Only after successfully passing the Review are graphic design majors allowed to continue progression through the program. In their 300- and 400-level course work, students choose courses of increasing specialization, have opportunities for engaging in professional internships, and work to develop a professional portfolio as the culmination of their design studies.

It is important to note that owning a laptop computer provides students with critical advantages for successful progression through the graphic design program. Especially in regards to their ability to work in our classrooms and studio spaces, students with laptop computers are better equipped to complete project assignments, conduct research, and maintain an awareness of activities occurring in design both within the program and beyond. Therefore, beginning in the 2010-2011 academic year, all students majoring in graphic design who enroll in 200-level graphic design courses are required to own a laptop computer that meets minimum system specifications, including software required for courses in the program. The current laptop policy is available for review at


All students majoring in graphic design and taking 100-level graphic design courses are advised to purchase one of the recommended laptop systems. The sooner students make a commitment to owning a laptop system, the sooner the advantages of ownership will impact their ability to perform competitively and successfully in graphic design.