Graphic Arts Package Design Certificate

Learn package design software, production and finishing   

Program facts arts icon

  • Credit hours: 30
  • Stackable to degree: Yes
  • Potential job outcomes: Desktop publisher, graphic designer, package designer

Get experience in the marketing, creative and manufacturing aspects of designing materials for the packaging industry with this 30-credit-hour certificate program. You’ll develop skills in the areas of graphic design, computer graphics, packaging-specific software, marketing, production and finishing needs of package design to get products to market.

Take classes in graphic arts technology, graphic arts desktop publishing, digital imaging, digital illustration, graphic design, packaging/finishing/distribution, package design and prepress production. Develop your skills working in one of Harper College’s three state-of-the-art graphic arts labs, equipped with Mac computers and the latest creative software.

On-site printing presses allow you to get hands-on experience in all areas of graphic arts production. Classes are led by knowledgeable instructors who are industry experts in their fields. Harper’s graphic arts programs prepare students to begin their careers immediately after graduation. You may also decide to continue your education by enrolling in one of Harper’s degree programs upon completion of this certificate.

Certificate program requirements

This 30 credit-hour certificate program is designed to provide students with the skills to gain marketing, creative and a manufacturing understanding of packaging skills and design materials for the packaging industry. This program covers graphic design, computer graphics, packaging-specific software, marketing and finishing needs and the production skills of good package design to get a product to market.

F = Fall only course S = Spring only course U = Summer only course


Number Course Title Credits
GRA 101 3

Description:  Provides students an overview of past, present and future graphic arts processes including graphic applications for design/layout, imaging, photography, prepress, print and finishing. Direction is provided on occupations in the Graphic Arts industry and the use of digital applications related to producing print materials. Provides a hands-on understanding of desktop publishing software through lab and lecture.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

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.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

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.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

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.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

GRA 120 3

Description:  Focuses on beginning fundamentals of graphic design utilizing all design principles and involves an overview of design and layout rendering techniques. Focuses on typography, images and graphics, utilizing design processes (including research and sketching) and current graphic software for print. Projects are critiqued for aesthetics and production for print.

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

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

GRA 213 3

Description:  Provides instruction on manufacturing processes and techniques for various types of print graphics with an emphasis on 3D packaging. Studies production practices, material usage, flexography process, finishing and distribution processes and environmental/sustainability trends. Covers the interaction between products and the many roles that packaging plays in the supply chain. Presents methods of postal requirements, barcoding, how products get to market, costs, manufacturing needs and delivery of said product.

Prerequisite: GRA 111 or GRA 222 with a grade of C or better, or consent of program coordinator.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

GRA 214   S   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the spring term.

Explores advanced vector illustration graphic software in the graphic arts industry. Focuses on prepress techniques and print production uses. Includes an understanding of four-color print production requirements and advanced menus/tools.

Prerequisite: GRA 112 with a grade of C or better.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

GRA 220 3

Description:  Teaches advanced graphic design that is project- and process-focused to refine creative and technical skills. Projects will follow the design process from initial research and sketches to refined computer layouts and final production-ready art files. Assignments will utilize graphic design principles and current graphic software. Projects are critiqued for design process, aesthetics, presentation and file production accuracy. Projects may become part of a professional portfolio.

Prerequisite: GRA 120 with a grade of C or better.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

GRA 222   F   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the fall term.

Provides instruction on marketing and branding strategies and the design of packaging products. Studies packaging structural implications and substrates as well as design and production for 3D packaging such as folding cartons, flexible bags, labels and shrink sleeves. Covers barcoding and postal preparation and standards; works with supplied CAD structures. Emphasizes the creative visual design of 3D packaging and prototype creation; focuses on the file production through manufacturing requirements of the packaging industry.

Prerequisite: GRA 112 with grade of C or better.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

GRA 230   S   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the spring term.

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.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2023

Related programs

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



Next steps

For more information about the Graphic Arts Package Design Certificate program, contact Admission Outreach at 847.925.6700, or submit a request information form. You can also apply online.

Last Updated: 9/1/23