Harper College


Program Overview

This 61 credit-hour program is designed to prepare students for a wide range of employment opportunities in the graphic arts industry. This degree provides a well-rounded foundation of knowledge and skills to prepare students for new jobs as well as provide career advancement opportunities. The curriculum includes current application instruction with a focus on creative design techniques. Emphasis is on graphic and web design, including a complete understanding of print production. All students in the program complete a required sequence of classes and then select this graphic design specialty to be employable in this visual communication industry or transfer to a 4 year program.

This sequenced degree plan is one of four options that students may pursue to earn the Graphic Arts Design and Technology Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. While there are multiple specializations, this particular degree can be awarded only once.

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

Program Requirements


Number Course Title Credits Category
ENG 101 3 AAS General Education

Description: Emphasizes the writing of expository prose. Introduction to the critical reading of nonfiction prose. IAI C1 900

Prerequisite: ENG 096 with a grade of C or better. Other placement options: english-placement-grid.php ESL students need one of the following options: ESL 073 and ESL 074 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 and ESL 086 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 and ESL 099 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 with required writing placement test score; or ESL 074 with required reading placement test score.

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

GRA 101 3 Program Requirement

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:  Spring 2024

GRA 102 3 Program Requirement

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:  Spring 2024

GRA 103 3 Program Requirement

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:  Spring 2024

Mathematics1 3 AAS General Education


Number Course Title Credits Category
ENG 102 or

Description: Continues ENG 101. Reading literature and writing of various types of prose. Introduces methods used in writing investigative papers. IAI C1 901R

Prerequisite: ENG 101 with a grade of C or better, or consent of instructor or department chair.

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

SPE 101 3 AAS General Education

Description: Theory and practice of oral communications. Development of poise, confidence and skill in speech organization and delivery. Emphasis on frequent speaking, development of standards of criticism and selection and organization of material. IAI C2 900

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

GRA 112 3 Program Requirement

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:  Spring 2024

GRA 120 3 Program Requirement

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:  Spring 2024

GRA 130 2 Program Requirement

Description: Explores beginning fundamentals of photography, its history, and the development of photography in both commercial and creative usage. Presents a past and present use of photography focusing on techniques and applications in a conventional camera-based environment emphasizing the digital photographic arena.

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

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, WEB 110 or WEB 150 with a grade of C or better, or consent of coordinator.

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

WEB 110 3 Program Requirement

Description: Introduces the fundamental skills and knowledge needed to use the Internet and build basic web pages. Students will learn and understand introductory functions of the web, Internet communications, and project management concepts. Social networking tools and the use of multimedia on the web will be explored. Industry career opportunities will be discussed.

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024


Number Course Title Credits Category
ART 121 3 AAS General Education

Description: Introduces students to skills fundamental to two-dimensional visual organization. Explores elements such as line, shape and color, and principles such as unity, balance and variation. Provides a foundation for all areas of art and design. IAI ART 907

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

GRA 105 3 Program Requirement

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.

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

GRA 111 3 Program Requirement

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: Prior or concurrent enrollment in GRA 101.

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

GRA 131 3 Program Requirement

Description: Explores the techniques and applications of digital image capture, manipulating images in Photoshop and outputting digital images. Focuses on the technical aspect of digital photography, lighting needs, application use and color management basics. Project based instruction utilizing basic photographic concepts, commercially and creatively. A DSLR camera is required for this course.

Prerequisite: GRA 130 with a grade of C or better.

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

GRA 220 3 Program Requirement

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:  Spring 2024


Number Course Title Credits Category
AAS General Education elective+ 3 AAS General Education
Electives2 6 Program Requirement
GRA 113 3 Program Requirement

Description: Covers advanced functions of digital image-editing software. Emphasizes advanced software functionality, color correction and color management needs as well as commercial imaging practices in a prepress environment. Focuses on different types of image capture and file manipulation.

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

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

GRA 221 2 Program Requirement

Description: Covers preparation of portfolio book and digital portfolio presentation. Focus is on the understanding of the professional portfolio needs and its presentation in the graphic design job market. Existing projects are critiqued for aesthetics, arrangement and presentation. Graphic resume preparation.

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

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

GRA 229 3 Program Requirement

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.

Class Schedule:  Spring 2024

1 - The mathematics requirement (MTH 065 or higher) for this degree can be met with Math Competency. See Math Competency options for information. Students who utilize Math Competency to meet the mathematics requirement must complete an additional three-hour AAS General Education elective. See full list of AAS General Education Electives.

+ - Students need to choose a course to meet this requirement that also fulfills the World Cultures and Diversity graduation requirement. See full list of World Cultures and Diversity courses.

2 - Electives: ART 121, GRA 113, GRA 145, GRA 202(S), GRA 211, GRA 213, GRA 214(S), GRA 222(F), GRA 230(S), GRA 231, GRA 232, GRA 299, MKT 180, MKT 245, WEB 110, WEB 140, WEB 150

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this degree will be able to:

  • demonstrate strong visual skills through graphic design.
  • demonstrate strong typography ability and principles of design knowledge.
  • utilize all graphic applications in layout and design.
  • comprehend the graphic arts workflow from design through print and finishing.
  • comprehend color management requirements in a graphic arts workflow.
  • create acceptable print-ready digital graphic files using industry standard preflight criteria.
  • demonstrate basic knowledge and procedures in prepress, pressroom and bindery operations.
  • exhibit good communication skills to participate in a visual communications industry.
Last Updated: 11/13/23