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Graphic Design for Marketing: Bachelor of Design


Graphic designers function as creative problem solvers, design planners and strategists, as well as skilled communicators and technologists.  They demonstrate a passion for design and creativity, have design and critical thinking skills, a solid understanding of business and marketing, well-developed research capabilities, and a broad based understanding of the social, cultural, and environmental implications of design.  They are team players, team leaders, and can be employees, freelancers, or self-employed entrepreneurs.

Today, the visual communications field (aka graphic design) is broader than ever before, providing graphic designers with wide-ranging career opportunities.  Graphic designers create visual identities for corporations, marketing campaigns for businesses, fundraising campaigns for non-profit organizations, layouts for publications, promotional posters, websites and interactive applications, product packaging, advertising campaigns, retail displays, marketing communications design, and much more.


What makes the GDMA Degree different?  In addition to developing skills in design and technology, graduates of GDMA acquire a solid marketing edge that sets them apart from other design school graduates.  They know how to create effective marketing communication designs that reach specific target audiences, strategically plan a marketing campaign to meet their client's needs, brand a company, design eye-catching packaging, and create websites and apps to promote businesses and not-for-profit enterprises in the marketplace.  GDMA graduates have the know-how to successfully and effectively get the job done!

Student Profile

GDMA applicants come from diverse backgrounds and demonstrate a keen interest in design, particularly visual communications. They will have explored various aspects of art and design through such things as drawing and illustration, typography, photography, computer-based projects, video production, painting and sculpture, or perhaps through different types of crafts. Some applicants may also have communications, marketing, public relations, or business-related experience.

Applicants may come directly from high school, or transfer from other post-secondary institutions, or they may already hold a degree from a non-design field. They may also be mature individuals who want to make a career change, or they may have experience in the graphic design industry and want to upgrade their credentials.

It is strongly recommended that applicants have solid English language communication skills, some computer and word processing experience, basic mathematics, an awareness of the graphic design profession and its significance locally and nationally, as well as an understanding of how graphic design and marketing fit together.

Credit for Previous Learning

Students may obtain transfer credit for course work taken in other programs at KPU, or at other institutions. All applications for transfer credits are assessed on an individual basis. For information about transfer credit applications, please visit

Applicants with experience in the graphic design industry may acquire credits through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).For further information, please visit

Part-time Studies

Graphic design professionals may wish to take specific courses on a part-time basis to complement their job skills. Some requirements for course prerequisites may be waived based on work experience. Opportunities for part-time studies will depend upon the number of available seats in courses. Industry professionals may contact the Program Coordinator to discuss access to individual courses of interest without applying for the complete four-year degree program.

Career Opportunities

The field of visual communications design is fast-paced, exciting, continually changing and expanding, and today, it is broader based than ever before. The GDMA degree program prepares graduates for a wide range of entry-level graphic design positions.

Generalist Graphic Designers

GDMA degree graduates will qualify for entry-level positions as graphic designers in firms providing corporations, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and others with services that may include such things as the creation of marketing strategies, interactive media design, publication design, advertising design, direct marketing design, and display design. Understanding consumer behaviour and end-user needs will also qualify the graduate for employment in marketing, advertising, or public relations firms that offer graphic design as one of their services.

Specialist Graphic Designers

Throughout the curriculum, GDMA students are exposed to a range of specialty areas within the graphic design industry. Professional graphic designers might choose to specialize in such things as marketing communications strategies, interactive design, packaging design, advertising design, display design, or the design of integrated media.

In-House (Resident) Graphic Designers

The diverse skills acquired by graduates of the GDMA program will equip them to work as in-house graphic designers in large corporations or institutions with their own marketing communications departments.

Self-Employed, Freelance or Entrepreneurial Graphic Designers

The GDMA graduate will have a solid understanding of the graphic design industry and marketplace through field studies and a mentorship, as well as business and marketing courses. They will have prepared a comprehensive portfolio along with self-promotional materials and marketing that will help them to effectively market their services to various types of clients.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the Faculty's Admission Requirements, which consist of KPU's undergraduate English Proficiency Requirement, the following program admission requirements apply:

  • English 12 with a minimum grade of B (or equivalent)
  • Portfolio Review and Interview Session*

On 24 October 2016 a change to the admission requirements for this program was approved by Senate. Effective September 2017 the requirement of English 12 with a minimum grade of 'B' (or equivalent) will be removed. KPU's undergraduate English Proficiency Requirement will apply. This change will appear in the 2017-18 University Calendar to be published in June 2017.

* The Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design holds Open House/Information Sessions twice per year, usually in October and February. These information sessions provide prospective applicants with an opportunity to learn about the GDMA program, meet faculty and students, view examples of student portfolios, and discuss portfolio and program admission requirements. It is highly recommended that applicants attend one of these sessions prior to applying for admission. For more information visit the department's website at: For further information about portfolio submission and the review process, visit GDMA's website at:  Applicants who successfully satisfy the required portfolio review will be invited to an interview session.

Continuance Requirements

Students must successfully complete ENGL 1100 and MRKT 1199 prior to commencing their second year in GDMA. Note that a minimum grade of C is required to meet course prerequisites.

A cumulative GPA of 2.67 (B-) is required by the end of Year 3 to progress into Year 4. Students with a GPA below 2.67 (B-) but who wish to continue to Year 4 should contact the Program Coordinator to discuss the next course of action.

Curricular Requirements

The Bachelor of Design, Graphic Design for Marketing (GDMA) program consists of 120 credits, organized into eight semesters, over a four-year period.

Successful applicants may take their general education and some non-GDMA courses prior to entering the program and/or during the summer semester in order to lighten their workload during the term. Courses such as ENGL 1100, MRKT 1199 and many Liberal Education Elective courses are usually offered during the summer semester.

Year 1

Semester 1

All of:
  ENGL 1100* Introduction to University Writing 3 credits
  GDMA 1100 Typographic Design 1 3 credits
  GDMA 1110 Image Development 1 3 credits
  GDMA 1121 Print Production Software Applications 1 3 credits
  GDMA 1140 Graphic Design And Society 1 3 credits

Semester 2

All of:
  GDMA 1200 Typographic Design 2 3 credits
  GDMA 1210 Image Development 2 3 credits
  GDMA 1220 Print Production Software Applications 2 3 credits
  GDMA 1240 Graphic Design And Society 2 3 credits
  MRKT 1199* Introduction to Marketing 3 credits

* Note: Students must successfully complete ENGL 1100 and MRKT 1199 prior to commencing their second year in GDMA. Note that a minimum grade of C (60%) is required to fulfill course prerequisites.

Year 2

Semester 3

All of:
  CMNS 2140 Communications for Design Professionals 3 credits
  GDMA 2100 Publication Design 1 3 credits
  GDMA 2110 Introduction to Advertising Design 3 credits
  GDMA 2120 Print Technologies 3 credits
  GDMA 2140 Communication Design, Consumerism and Popular Culture 3 credits

Semester 4

All of:
  GDMA 2200 Publication Design 2 3 credits
  GDMA 2210 Interactive & Integrated Media Design 3 credits
  GDMA 2222 Integrated Media Software Applications 3 credits
  GDMA 2230 Introduction to Marketing Communications 3 credits
  GDMA 2240 Social Contexts for Interactive Media 3 credits

Year 3

Semester 5

All of:
  GDMA 3100 Information Design 3 credits
  GDMA 3110 Interactive and Web Design 1 3 credits
  GDMA 3122 Interactive Software Applications 1 3 credits
  GDMA 3130 Marketing Communications Design 1 3 credits
  One course from the GDMA Liberal Education Electives 3 credits

Semester 6

All of:
  GDMA 3200 Corporate Communications Design 1 3 credits
  GDMA 3210 Packaging Design 3 credits
  GDMA 3220 Interactive and Web Design 2 3 credits
  GDMA 3222 Interactive Software Applications 2 3 credits
  GDMA 3230 Marketing Communications Design 2 3 credits

Year 4

Semester 7

All of:
  GDMA 4100 Corporate Communications Design 2 3 credits
  GDMA 4120 Major Project 1 3 credits
  GDMA 4130 Small Business Essentials 3 credits
One of:
  MRKT 4177 Contemporary Issues in Marketing 3 credits
  MRKT 4201 Integrated Marketing Communication 3 credits
  One course from the GDMA Liberal Education Electives 3 credits

Semester 8

All of:
  GDMA 4200 Advertising Design 3 credits
  GDMA 4215 Display Design 3 credits
  GDMA 4220 Major Project 2 3 credits
  GDMA 4230 Mentorship for Professional Practice 3 credits
  GDMA 4240 Contemporary Issues in Graphic Design 3 credits


The Graphic Design for Marketing (GDMA) program requires students to take two, three-credit elective courses that are chosen from the list of approved GDMA Liberal Education Electives in order to fulfill the liberal education requirements for degree completion.

GDMA Degree Show

Graduating students are required to exhibit their work in the annual GDMA Degree Show, which normally takes place during April or May, prior to their Convocation Ceremony. They are expected to participate in the development of Degree Show planning, content, fundraising activities, and implementation of the event. The GDMA program reserves the right to approve or deny the public exhibition of graduate work in the Degree Show.

Other Information


Students should be prepared to spend approximately $600 to $1000 per year on books and materials.

Laptop Program

Applicants are advised that a student-leased laptop program is under consideration.

Credential Awarded

Upon successful completion of the program, students are eligible to receive a Bachelor of Design, Graphic Design for Marketing.

At a Glance

Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design

Graphic Design for Marketing

Program Type:

  • Undergraduate

Credential Granted:

  • Baccalaureate Degree

Offered At:

  • KPU Richmond  Richmond

Start Date(s):

  • Fall Intake (September)  September

Intake Type:

  • Limited Intake  Limited intake


  • Full-time  Full-time

Minimum Credits Required:

  • 120

Instructional Cycle:

  • Semester-based

Curriculum Effective Date:

  • 01-Sep-2016

Applying to KPU:

Last Updated: 8-Nov-2016

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