Graphic Design - SOVA
The Graphic Design program prepares our students for a career in graphic design by focusing on conceptual thinking, semiotics and problem-solving tactics. Our program demands individual creativity, teamwork skills and adaptability while preparing students to enter the job market with practical experience and a full, professionally reviewed portfolio. Graduates are working in interaction design, web design, branding, app design, editorial design, product and packaging design, web and interaction design, advertising and other related fields.
BFA, Bachelors of Fine Art, Graphic Design, Virginia Tech, Public University, Visual Communication Design, School of Visual Arts, Arts and Technology, Design, Graphics, VCD
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Graphic Design


The Graphic Design program prepares our students for a career in graphic design by focusing on conceptual thinking, semiotics and problem-solving tactics.


Our program demands individual creativity, teamwork skills and adaptability while preparing students to enter the job market with practical experience and a full, professionally reviewed portfolio. Graduates are working in print design, editorial design, product and packaging design, web and interaction design, advertising and other related fields.


Our Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) and our program is restricted to ensure quality. In order for students to major in Graphic Design they must successfully complete the School of Visual Arts Foundation Program, and pass a competitive portfolio review.


Once admitted to the Graphic Design program, students take a tiered series of courses in Typography and Design. Additionally, students take a variety of electives in Art and Design (such as Web Design, Human Centered Design, Mobile Design, Hand-Lettering, Art Direction, Motion Graphics, and Packaging – as well as various courses within the disciplines of Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, and Sculpture).


Every design student is required to complete an internship. It’s a way for you to practice what you’ve learned in the classroom out in the work environment. All internships must be approved in advance and are the responsibility of the student to seek out and arrange. Below are the steps and requirements students need to take in order to get an internship opportunity approved.


  • The student may not work for a relative or family member.
  • The student must be a junior or senior (senior preferred).
  • The internship must have a graphic design focus.
  • The internship must be for at least 130 hours.


Internships need to be reciprocal and advantageous to both the student and the employer. What is the point of landing a high profile internship if you’re just going to be running for coffee? Similarly, our students act as embassadors for the Graphic Design Department, and we want to help appropriately match our student’s strengths with an employer’s needs.


Below are the steps students should follow to secure their internship. We request that all internships be approved in advance. There is no guarantee that internships will be retroactively awarded.

  1. Contact your potential employer and ask them to send a description of the job to the graphic design Area Coordinator on their company letterhead.
  2. Fill out the internship paperwork (these forms can be found at the SOVA Office) and sign up for the internship class with the university registrar after you’ve received approval from the graphic design Area Coordinator.
  3. Work at your internship until your commitment is fulfilled.
  4. Ask your employer to send the graphic design Area Coordinator a letter (on company letterhead) stating that your internship is complete and have them to evaluate your performance.
  5. Bring samples of your work you completed during your internship to the Area Coordinator.

FOURDESIGN is a faculty-led, student-run digital and print design agency that creates rich media experiences to help a diverse range of organizations build stronger relationships with their customers.


Advising at Virginia Tech is a collaborative process between the student and the advisor leading to the exchange of information that encourages the individual student to make responsible academic and career decisions.  SOVA supports the “I advise You decide” philosophy, as published by NACADA, the global professional organization for academic advising.

  • Students are required to meet with their primary advisor a minimum of one time each semester; more frequent visits are highly encouraged.
  • Students will find the name of their assigned academic advisor(s) on Hokie Spa.
  • Upon successful completion of portfolio review, students will also be assigned a faculty advisor in their specific area of study. The faculty advisor is an additional resource available to students and will assist with internship and career-related matters, supporting students as they prepare for professional advancement opportunities.

Why see an advisor?

Course request and scheduling, to complete a Pathways Planner (4-year plan), tracking of progress toward a degree, for resources and referrals regarding campus or community services, to review degree audit report, to be cleared for graduation, to discuss personal issues that may be impacting academic success, for clarification on policy or procedural information, to transfer credits to Virginia Tech from another institution, to add a 2nd major or a minor, to discuss issues causing missed classes, if you begin to struggle with a particular class or feel you are not being successful, for academic warning/probation/suspension advising, and more! The better informed your advisor is regarding your individual needs or situation, the more they are able to aid in your academic success.

The VCD / Graphic Design program is notable for its practical and applied approach to design pedagogy. Majors in Graphic Design develop conceptual abilities, problem-solving skills and technical know-how required by a fast-paced, competitive field. Graphic Design demands individual creativity, teamwork skills, and adaptability to changing markets and technologies.


The Graphic Design program at Virginia Tech prepares students for the job market with practical experience and a full, professionally reviewed portfolio. Graduates of the program may find themselves working in print design, packaging design, and interaction design.


Graphic Design is a restricted option requiring a special application, portfolio review and completion of specific art prerequisites.

Internal Transfer Students


Internal transfer students (students currently attending Virginia Tech) should contact the School of Visual Arts to discuss options and to be included on our waiting list (“Intend to Major List”). Our BFA programs are restricted majors and there is a waiting list for enrollment. The art history major is not restricted.

We offer a minor in art history and an arts minor (which has a few graphic design electives available).


For more information, contact Ray Callahan,


Prospective Transfer Students


NOTE TO TRANSFER APPLICANTS: Bachelor of Fine Arts programs are restricted majors at Virginia Tech. While many transfer students enter Virginia Tech with 30-60 credits, art students do not have all required foundation courses completed and will be placed in first-year art courses. This can significantly impact the number of semesters a student will be enrolled at Virginia Tech in order to complete a BFA degree.
Prospective transfer students must contact Tracey Drowne (, Director of Academic Advising in the School of Visual Arts, to discuss a degree completion plan. Prospective students are asked to complete this advising meeting prior to accepting an offer of admission.


Do I have to buy a MacBook if I already have a PC laptop?

Yes, we require our students to use Apple Macintosh computers because this is the operating system most commonly used by professionals in the graphic design community. We understand that laptops aren’t cheap, but our goal is to prepare you for a career in the industry so we require everyone to own a MacBook Pro.

How much money do designers make?

This is a difficult question to answer, because this is often influenced by the designer’s talent, geography and luck. We can however point you to website which reports salary ranges for graphic design positions among AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Design) members and related professions in the United States.

What kind of jobs do graphic designers get?

Graphic designers can specialize in a particular area (ie. print design, web design, advertising, etc) or take a broader approach and work in a variety of mediums. Being a graphic designer is like reading a “choose your own adventure” book and there is no one path that leads to success. In many cases the path our graduates take are largely determined by their personal interests and goals, opportunities that present themselves, and the needs of clients and agencies. Graphic designers are visual communicators and problem-solvers as much as they are software technicians and production specialists. The skills they offer clients and businesses are highly valuable and sought after. Typically our students go in one of following directions after graduation: they start a career at an agency, they start a career as a freelance designer, they work in-house for a company, or they continue their education by going to graduate school.

What should I do if I don't get accepted into the Graphic Design program during the portfolio review?

There are a number of options you can consider if you aren’t accepted into the Graphic Design program your first time around. The program is competitive and typically accepts around 20-23 students per year.

  1. Try again: We’ve had several students not get in the first time and then end up being one of our top picks the second time around. Learn from your mistakes, make adjustments and apply again.
  2. Keep moving forward: There are plenty of classes that need to be taken before you graduate. While you might be set back a little in terms of the amount of time you’ll spend in school you can make your life much easier if/when you are accepted by taking classes that will help reduce your workload in your junior and senior year.
  3. Think outside the box: The Studio Arts and Graphic Design program have many areas that overlap, afterall we use many of the same visual tools. Apply to both programs during the portfolio review process and look for opportunities to integrate, intermingle and intertwine the two disciplines. While you will not be able to take the Graphic Design core classes, there are typically a few classes that Studio Arts students can enroll in each semester.
Where have alumni gone on to work?

Our alumni have gone on to work at Twitter, the Brooklyn Art Museum, Jonathan Adler Design, iStrategyLabs, Urban Outfitters, Allure Magazine, Modea, and more.

Our students have interned at a number of companies, including USA Today, Seventeen Magazine, ESPN, MARC USA, HeyYo, and Modea.