Don’t confuse legibility with communication. Just because something is legible doesn’t mean it communicates and, more importantly, doesn’t mean it communicates the right thing.  –David Carson

Graphic Design Certificate of Achievement Graphic Design Certificate of Achievement
            Recommended Sequence for Certificate (1 Page PDF)
Program Information and Overview
Graphic Design Certificate of Achievement Graphic Design Certificate of Achievement

Program Information

This program offers students a comprehensive study of graphic design for print and/or web media using current technologies. The curriculum encompasses the full spectrum of design theory, process, tools, and techniques that students will need to be successful in the graphic design industry. Students will also be experience working with clients and preparing final project files and materials for printing or distribution. Students who complete this certificate will be able to produce a variety of print and/or web design projects and possess a professional portfolio of their work.

This Certificate of Acheivement is designed to provide focus in both Print and/or Web. Students are required to take a five-course core followed by a minimum of 9 GCOM units (3 classes) of their choosing — allowing them to decide on their focus.

22.5 units are required to earn this Certificate of Achievement.

Career Opportunities

Career oppor­tu­ni­ties may be found in graphic design studios, publi­ca­tions, anima­tion studios, video game design studios, in-house agencies, and self-employment/freelance. This certificate will also prepare students for studies that may lead to transfer to four-year institutions, such as the design program at CSU Sacramento, where a mastery of technology skills is required for entry.

Learn more about careers.

Program Learning Outcomes
Graphic Design Certificate of Achievement Graphic Design Certificate of Achievement

 Upon completion of this program, the student will be able to:

  • demonstrate a comprehensive understanding and application of design theory and processes for creating original print and Web projects.
  • evaluate design opportunities, explore visual responses, and introduce and explain final results to an audience.
  • determine the appropriate tool to solve a visual communication need.
  • apply appropriate type, color, form, and imagery to a visual project.
  • plan, design, and produce a multi-paged/multifaceted project for print and/or Web.
  • communicate with the current and appropriate design industry vocabulary.
  • utilize design as a tool of engagement in issues of sustainability, social responsibility, economic equality, and cultural understanding.

Required Program: 22.5 Total Units Required

Required Five Course Core – 13.5 Units

GCOM 313: Digital Layout 1 (3 Units)
GCOM 313: Digital Layout 1 GCOM 313: Digital Layout 1

Prerequisite: None.
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This course is an introduction to graphic design principles related to page layout, composition and electronic publishing, utilizing an industry-standard software. Students will discover how to effectively utilize the software and the design process to create brochures, newsletters, catalogs, and a variety of other digital materials that follow basic layout and design principles.

GCOM 330: Digital Imaging 1 (3 Units)
GCOM 330: Digital Imaging 1 GCOM 330: Digital Imaging 1

Prerequisite: None.
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to UC/CSU)

This introductory course covers the core concepts associated with digital imaging. Adobe Photoshop is used for creating, manipulating, and enhancing digital images for print and screen-based media. Students learn how to effectively use this software in a graphic design environment; planning and carrying out professional digital imaging projects. This course introduces both basic visual design concepts and a comprehensive understanding of digital workflow, providing the student with a foundation for print, web, interactive, animation, and game design projects.

GCOM 340: Digital Illustration for Graphic Design 1 (3 Units)
GCOM 340: Digital Illustration for Graphic Design 1 GCOM 340: Digital Illustration for Graphic Design 1

Prerequisite: None.
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This beginner’s course introduces students to and engages them in theories of form making, design research, composition, and typography using the medium of digital illustration. Course projects encourage students to experiment, work within creative and technical limitations, and communicate visually. Additionally, students learn how digital illustrations are created, are exposed to a variety of different illustration styles, practice contemporary design methods and thinking, and study a designers’ use of digital illustration as a communication tool. This course offers students several processes for designing original graphics and illustrations for graphic design.

GCOM 349: Portfolio (1.5 Units)
GCOM 349: Portfolio GCOM 349: Portfolio

Prerequisite: None.
Advisory: 
Students should have at least four pieces of artwork or design projects to use in this course.
Hours:  18 hours LEC; 27 hours LAB
Units: 1.5 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This course is intended for new or returning students who wish to present a portfolio of work in the Graphic Communication-related and creative industries for the purpose of job interviews or admission to a four-year art/design school. Through lecture, demonstration, and hands-on methods, students will gain understanding of the aesthetics, organization, and physical preparation in creating a portfolio of work. Topics include portfolio mediums, mounting and presentation, self-promotion resumes, pursuing a job or transfer school, interviewing for a creative position, and getting your Graphic Design or Web Design work noticed.

GCOM 360: Introduction to Web and Interactive Technologies (3 Units)
GCOM 360: Introduction to Web and Interactive Technologies GCOM 360: Introduction to Web and Interactive Technologies

Prerequisite: GCOM 330 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent
Hours:  36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This primer course introduces the fundamentals and principles of contemporary Web design, interactive and motion design, these industries, and the current technologies used. The course will provide students with the basics of Web literacy, site and interactive development, information architecture, accessibility, wireframes, prototypes, web coding and scripting, visual design principals, and graphics and motion for the Web. This course is a required prerequisite for GCOM 361, GCOM 380, and GCOM 390.

An Additional Minimum of 9 Units (3 Courses) from the following:

GCOM 314: Digital Layout 2 (3 Units)
GCOM 314: Digital Layout 2 GCOM 314: Digital Layout 2

Prerequisite: GCOM 313 with a grade of “C” or better, or equivalent
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This is an in-depth course covering advanced creative layout, production, and electronic publishing in the graphic design industry. Utilizing industry-standard software and process, students will conceive and produce dynamic portfolio-quality projects. Topics include brand and identity design, advertising design, typography, grid, color theory, composition, multipage publication design, brochure and packaging layout, basic interactive media design, book design, working with clients, and working with professional printing services.

GCOM 319: Print and Multimedia Publication Design (3 Units)
GCOM 319: Print and Multimedia Publication Design GCOM 319: Print and Multimedia Publication Design

Prerequisite: GCOM 313 or GCOM 316 or GCOM 361 with a grade of “C” or better, or equivalent
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This course introduces beginning level newspaper, magazine, web, and multimedia publication design. Students will learn how to design and produce the award-winning Sacramento City College school newspaper, the bi-annual student magazine, and their accompanying web sites and multi-media content. Using fundamental design concepts and theory involving grid, page layout, typography, and visual communication, students will work alongside journalism, photography, and intermediate- and advanced-level design students to produce a variety of content. This course offers an opportunity to build a portfolio and gain experience while working on real-world projects.

GCOM 320: Print and Multimedia Publication Design II (3 Units)
GCOM 320: Print and Multimedia Publication Design II GCOM 320: Print and Multimedia Publication Design II

Prerequisite: GCOM 319 (Print and Multimedia Publication Design) with a grade of “C” or better
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This course examines intermediate-level newspaper, magazine, web, and multi­media publi­ca­tion design. Students are respon­sible for the design and produc­tion of the award-winning Sacramento City College school newspaper, the bi-annual student magazine, and their accom­pa­nying web sites and multi­media content. Using funda­mental design concepts and theory involving grids, page layout, typog­raphy, and visual commu­ni­ca­tion, students will work along­side journalism and photog­raphy students and beginning- and advanced-level design students to plan and produce a variety of content. This course offers an oppor­tu­nity to build a portfolio and gain experi­ence while working on real-world projects.

GCOM 321: Print and Multimedia Publication Design III (3 Units)
GCOM 321: Print and Multimedia Publication Design III GCOM 321: Print and Multimedia Publication Design III

Prerequisite: GCOM 320 (Print and Multimedia Publication Design II) with a grade of “C” or better
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This course examines advanced level newspaper, magazine, web, and multimedia publication design. Students are responsible for the planning, art direction, and production management of the award-winning Sacramento City College school newspaper, the bi-annual student magazine, and their accompanying web sites and multi-media content. Using fundamental design concepts and theory involving grids, page layout, typography, and visual communication, students will work alongside student editors and beginning- and intermediate-level design students to plan and produce a variety of publication content. This course offers an opportunity to build a portfolio and gain experience while working on real-world projects.

GCOM 331: Digital Imaging 2 (3 Units)
GCOM 331: Digital Imaging 2 GCOM 331: Digital Imaging 2

Prerequisite: GCOM 330 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This course centers on graphic design process and production employing advanced image editing techniques using the current version of industry-standard software. In addition to learning advanced capabilities, students will learn how to alter existing images realistically, creatively apply techniques to original artwork and images, visually communicate ideas and messages successfully, and prepare and present their projects to meet professional industry standards.

GCOM 332: Digital Imaging 3 (3 Units)
GCOM 332: Digital Imaging 3 GCOM 332: Digital Imaging 3

Prerequisite: GCOM 330 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This course centers on advanced digital imaging and image editing techniques for Internet, multimedia, 3D and video applications, using the current version of industry-standard software. In addition to learning advanced capabilities, students will learn how to alter existing images realistically, creatively apply techniques to original artwork and images, prepare static and animated graphics for use on the Internet and other new media, import and alter 3D and video images, visually communicate ideas and messages successfully, and prepare and present their projects to meet professional industry standards.

GCOM 341: Digital Illustration for Graphic Design 2 (3 Units)
GCOM 341: Digital Illustration for Graphic Design 2 GCOM 341: Digital Illustration for Graphic Design 2

Prerequisite: GCOM 340 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent
Advisory: ART 300 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent

Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This course builds from the thinking and making skills developed in GCOM 340 and takes an in-depth look at applying digital illustration tools to graphic design investigations. The course work encourages students to experiment and communicate with digitally illustrated and typographic form making. Topics include color, typography, composition, visual theme, drawing technique, and understanding the offset and digital printing processes. Students complete the course with several professionally designed, original illustrations for their portfolios.

GCOM 343: Graphic Design Production (3 Units)
GCOM 343: Graphic Design Production GCOM 343: Graphic Design Production

Prerequisite: None.
Advisory: 
GCOM 313 or GCOM 340 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent
Hours: 36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This in-depth course is an introduction to the principles of graphic design. Specific focus will be on gestalt principles of design; balance and visual hierarchy; integration of text and image on the two-dimensional page; and introduction to typographic exploration. This course is a foundation course for graphic design students, but is also relevant to students studying Web design and computer animation.

GCOM 345: Advanced Graphic Design Production (3 Units)
GCOM 345: Advanced Graphic Design Production GCOM 345: Advanced Graphic Design Production

Prerequisite: GCOM 330 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent AND GCOM 340 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent AND choose one page layout course: GCOM 310 or GCOM 313 or GCOM 316 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent
Hours:  36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

This is an in-depth graphic design course focusing on page layout design, production techniques, and electronic publishing. Students will utilize different industry standard software applications to complete projects containing “real world” challenges. Students will develop and follow a graphic design process (from concept to printed page), resulting in several new portfolio pieces. Topics include logo design, branding, working with a service bureau, multi-page publication design, packaging design, good environmental sustainability practices, and proper planning for a graphic design project.

GCOM 347: Typography: Principles and Creation (3 Units)
GCOM 347: Typography: Principles and Creation GCOM 347: Typography: Principles and Creation

Prerequisite: None.
Hours:  36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

Typography is an essential ingredient to successful graphic design, including print, web, and all other new media. The first half of this introductory course serves as an essential primer for graphic designers in understanding the history and core principles of typography. The second half focuses on students digitally creating their own fonts and typefaces with an introduction to the font creation and editing software TypeTool by Fontlab Studio.

GCOM 361: Beginning Creative Web Design (3 Units)
GCOM 361: Beginning Creative Web Design GCOM 361: Beginning Creative Web Design

Prerequisite: GCOM 360 with a grade of “C” or better
Hours:  36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

In this course, students will explore a range of approaches in designing for the World Wide Web, while introducing students to an industry- standard Web authoring tool. Through a series of incremental assignments, students will explore fundamental Web design concepts within a non-static, non-linear environment, culminating in the development of a live and functioning website. Additionally, this course provides an overview of standards-compliant HTML/CSS, techniques for adding interactivity, accessibility, and support in preparing graphics for Web use and for prototyping site designs.

GCOM 362: Intermediate Creative Web Design (3 Units)
GCOM 362: Intermediate Creative Web Design GCOM 362: Intermediate Creative Web Design

Prerequisite: GCOM 361 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent
Hours:  36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

In this course, students will explore intermediate concepts of contemporary website design. As a result of taking a deep look at graphic design principles and their application to website design, students will also discover effective and standards-compliant HTML and CSS applications, as well as techniques for adding interactivity. Additionally, this course will provide an overview of online tools and an introduction to dynamic site design, data-driven languages and server processes.

GCOM 490: Graphic Communication Studio (3 Units)
GCOM 490: Graphic Communication Studio GCOM 490: Graphic Communication Studio

Prerequisite: OPTION 1 (Graphic Design): GCOM 313 and either GCOM 340 or GCOM 330 with a grade of “C” or better or equiva- lents -OR- OPTION 2 (Web Design): GCOM 360 or GCOM 361 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent -OR-OPTION 3 (Computer Animation): GCOM 400 or GCOM 402 with a grade of “C” or better or equivalent.
Hours:  36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

Graphic Communication Studio introduces career-driven design students to producing real-world graphic design, Web design, or animation projects for non-profit organizations and the Sacramento community. Through lecture, demonstration, client meetings, and brainstorming sessions, students will have the opportunity to develop a portfolio of completed projects. Students will also experience deadlines, the client-designer relationship, how to set pricing for projects, and strategies for presenting concepts and design work.

GCOM 491: Graphic Communication Studio II (3 Units)
GCOM 491: Graphic Communication Studio II GCOM 491: Graphic Communication Studio II

Prerequisite: GCOM 490 (Graphic Communication Studio) with a grade of “C” or better
Hours:  36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

Graphic Communication Studio II introduces intermediate-level skills to career-driven design students. Through lecture, demonstration, client meetings, and brainstorming sessions, students will have the opportunity to develop a portfolio of completed projects. Students will also experience deadlines, the client-designer relationship, how to set pricing for projects, and strategies for presenting concepts and design work.

GCOM 493: Graphic Communication Studio III (3 Units)
GCOM 493: Graphic Communication Studio III GCOM 493: Graphic Communication Studio III

Prerequisite: GCOM 491 (Graphic Communication Studio II) with a grade of “C” or better
Hours:  36 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
Units: 3 Units (Course Transferable to CSU)

Graphic Communication Studio III introduces advanced-level skills to career-driven design students. Through lecture, demonstration, client meetings, and brainstorming sessions, students will have the opportunity to develop a portfolio of completed projects. Students will also experience deadlines, the client-designer relationship, how to set pricing for projects, and strategies for presenting concepts and design work..

Certificate of Achievement

The Certificate of Achievement may be obtained by comple­tion of the required program with grades of “C” or better.