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Graphic Arts Desktop Publishing Certificate

Graphic Arts Desktop Publishing

Begin your career in desktop publishing and print production 

Program facts  arts icon

  • Credit hours: 30
  • Stackable to degree: Yes
  • Potential job outcomes: Computer typesetter, desktop publisher, prepress production specialist 

Learn about electronic prepress and become skilled using the latest graphic arts software with this 30-credit-hour certificate program. You’ll take classes in topics such as introduction to graphic arts technology, graphic arts desktop publishing, digital imaging, color management, press operations, digital illustration, WordPress and mobile technologies, web foundations, page layout and prepress production.

In addition to working with knowledgeable instructors who are experts in their fields, you’ll get additional experience sharpening your skills in one of Harper College’s three state-of-the-art graphic arts labs. Each of the labs are equipped with Mac computers and the latest creative software. On-site printing presses give you hands-on experience in all areas of graphic arts production.

Build on this certificate by earning an AAS degree in Graphic Arts Technology (Print Production specialization) through additional coursework.

Certificate program requirements

This 30 credit-hour certificate program is designed for students interested in specializing in electronic prepress highlighting the latest software. This certificate will enhance a student’s current employment position, as well as provide new employment opportunities.


Number Course Title Credits
GRA 101 3

Description: Gives students an overview of the graphic arts industry. Covers various occupations including basic information for making career and education choices. Builds the foundation for continuing education in the graphic arts program. Includes historical, current and potential developments in the printing industry. Provides a comprehensive understanding of desktop publishing software and the steps related to producing printed materials.

GRA 102 3

Description: Presents a clear understanding of graphic desktop software and their many functions in the printing industry. Provides hands-on training using the most current desktop publishing software. Focuses on project work, page layouts and output functions.

Prerequisite: Prior or concurrent enrollment in GRA 101.

GRA 103 3

Description: Covers fundamentals of professional digital image-editing software (Adobe Photoshop). Emphasizes skills to manipulate photos using current software tools and special effects filters. Explores program tools, color correction, channels, layers and masks. Computer skills are required for success in this course.

GRA 105 3

Description: Examines the fundamentals of color theory and color management, throughout the entire graphic arts process. Students will explore all color management techniques of input and output devices as well as tools and concepts for successful color control.

Prerequisite: GRA 101 or GRA 103 with a grade of C or better.

GRA 111 3

Description: Covers fundamentals of offset printing as well as new technologies in the digital print arena. Provides knowledge of press maintenance and safety, feeder systems, registration requirements, ink systems and color management tools and techniques in the print industry.

Prerequisite: GRA 101 with a grade of C or better.

GRA 112 3

Description: Presents vector graphics software and its applications to the graphic arts industry. Explores tools and functions within the current software. Focuses on creating illustrations, working with type, color, and all tools needed to create multi-colored illustration and separation. Emphasizes techniques to create illustration files for use in digital print production. Computer skills are required for success in this course.

GRA 145 or

Description: Introduces the student to WordPress fundamentals to create basic web pages. Hands-on computer activity includes WordPress templates, dashboard and widget usage; blogging/posts; adding links, videos, photo galleries; creating user accounts and theme changes. Student will also learn to translate the WordPress full web site into a mobile website and will integrate with social media platforms. An introduction to UI (user interface) design will be explored for mobile applications.

Prerequisite: GRA 101 or WEB 110 with a grade of C or better, or consent of coordinator.

WEB 150 3

Description: Introduces the foundational skills needed to create web pages utilizing HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Topics include Web design best practices, web site hosting, Internet protocols, graphics, media and security. Students utilize the skills learned to create a business-oriented web site project. IAI MC 923

Recommended: WEB 110 or CIS 106 or GRA 101 are strongly recommended courses in preparation prior to WEB 150.

GRA 202 3

Description: Analyzes real world color management in the digital and conventional print industry. Focuses on advanced under-the-hood technology in color management systems building closed loop systems. Covers color fidelity, models and the understanding of how devices interpret and deliver. Profile building and editing for input and output devices.

Prerequisite: GRA 105 with a grade of C or better.

GRA 229 3

Description: Explores advanced multi-page layout techniques in InDesign software. Projects focus on creating documents that follow industry standards and best practice for print graphics. Emphasis is placed on projects for print and preflighting techniques.

Prerequisite: GRA 102 with a grade of C or better.

GRA 230 3

Description: Covers prepress procedures, including preflight, the understanding of manufacturing specs and press layouts. Emphasis on PostScripting, ripping in a high end workflow, press imposition of ripped files, trapping needs of files, proofing and film/plate output. Proof and plate assessment and quality control. Color management instruction for inputs and outputs as well as PDF requirements for file exchange.

Prerequisite: GRA 102 with a grade of C or better.

Related programs

Students interested in graphic arts technology may also be interested in:


Next steps

For more information about desktop publishing courses at Harper, contact Admission Outreach at 847.925.6700, or submit a request information form. You can also apply online.