Graphic Design

  • Bachelor of Arts in Art
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art
    • Emphasis


    Institutional Scholarships

    Common Scholarships

    Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit

    Early Action Credit

    If a student is accepted to Western by Nov. 1 and qualifies for a merit scholarship, the student will receive an additional $500 for the first year. Use our Net Price Calculator to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

    Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

    Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit

    Neighboring States Program

    Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

    The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

    For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Presidential Promise

    The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

    For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential promise, visit

    Tuition Discount Programs

    Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

    For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Western Merit Scholarship

    Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

    For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit

    Faculty & Staff


    Mayela Cardenas headshot
    Associate Professor of Art
    Phone: 970.943.3080
    Office Location: Quigley Hall 232


    FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

     ART 246 - Introduction to Photography (3 credits)

    An introduction to contemporary photographic technique incorporating traditional black-and-white analogue photography alongside digital photographic practice and procedure. Lectures introduce topic areas that the student must exercise in lab sessions. Students must supply their own "quality" 35mm or 120mm camera. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172.

     ART 257 - Introduction to Printmaking (3 credits)

    An introduction to the basic techniques of printmaking including lithography, woodcut, etching, and the collagraph. Emphasis is on the traditional approaches in printmaking. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172.

     ART 270 - Introduction to Graphic Design and Illustration (3 credits)

    An introductory course utilizing the basic fundamentals of art in a broad base of commercial applications. Design in the areas of corporate identity, packaging, illustration, and typography are explored. Illustration, new techniques, materials, and tools used by the designer are emphasized. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172.

     ART 271 - Calligraphy/ Typography (3 credits)

    A study of individual letter forms as design elements that relate to visual communication. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172.

     ART 283 - Introduction to Airbrush (3 credits)

    Introduction to the use of the airbrush as a tool for painting, drawing, and design. Multiple use of the tool within traditional and non-traditional directions, as well as tool maintenance, are stressed. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172

     ART 370 - Intermediate Graphic Design (3 credits)

    A study of graphic design processes and applications. Emphasis is on the exploration of creative solutions to design problems. Topics include past and current design trends, tools, and computer related graphics. Prerequisite: ART 270.

     ART 470 - Advanced Design and Illustration I (3 credits)

    An advanced exploration of the expressive possibilities of individual graphic design direction. Students collaborate with the instructor to plan a suitable and particular direction of study. Prerequisite: ART 370.

     ART 471 - Advanced Design and Illustration II (3 credits)

    An advanced exploration of the expressive possibilities of individual graphic design direction. Students collaborate with the instructor to plan a suitable and particular direction of study. Prerequisite: ART 470.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Art
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art
    • Emphasis


    The brands we love, signs we read and user experiences we rely on all involve the genius of graphic design. Graphic designers use typography, image development, photography and design software to communicate ideas and solve problems, and their work is found almost everywhere: websites, technology, packaging, magazines, books and city streets—the list goes on. Join a profession where your work will be both cherished and relied on.    

    The Program

    Through a mixture of training and experience, the Graphic Design emphasis develops students’ creative and problem-solving capabilities while expanding technical and visual skill sets across industry-relevant media and materials. Art faculty guide students in heightening their awareness, expanding their conceptual and organizational abilities, and improving their personal communication and presentation skills. 

    Students are encouraged to take cross-disciplinary studies either as paired electives or independent projects.  Independent study courses are particularly great choices for developing individual interests in print production, illustration, type or package or web design, and other creative or experimental directions.

    Juniors and seniors often work on design projects for local and regional nonprofit organizations. Involvement on the Pathfinder Magazine production staff allows students another avenue for incorporating classroom skills into a real-world product—the creation of both an online and a full-color glossy magazine.


    Graphic designers work for design firms, agencies, marketing departments, magazines and schools, while others opt to work as freelancers for clients.

    Recently, the rise of big data has sparked demand for data visualization professionals who take large sums of raw data and transform it into clear and actionable information, whether it be in the form of interactive reports, dashboards, maps or motion graphics. Graphic designers who seek to employ their skills toward the accessibility of information will find challenging and meaningful work in a field that’s on the rise.

    Learn More

    Reach out to Mayela Cardenas for more information.