Our award winning graphic design program has a proud history of mentoring strong, dynamic designers. Guided by faculty who are working professionals, students learn to design for the real world. Frequently earning top awards, transfer scholarships and jobs, our graduates excel in the industry.

At City, we ignite inspiration and student success with portfolios that demonstrate a unique voice, vision, and execution.

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design uses visual communication and conceptual strategy to create clear, captivating messaging. Combining imagination, intuition, logic, and systemic reasoning, graphic designers develop logos and branding, packaging, web and interactive design, environmental design, advertising, communication design, and so much more.

At City, we open the door to unlimited opportunities. Early emphasis is on the design process, form, color, typography, and digital skills. Students apply elements and principles of design to practical projects that include identity and branding, multi-page collateral, packaging, and web and interactive projects.  Upon completion, our graduates have built a professional portfolio they can use to continue studies at a four-year university or start their career.

Why City College Graphic Design?

Over 70% of our graduates find employment or transfer within 3 months of finishing the program

We are the most affordable option in San Diego with individual classes costing less than $200 each

It is more cost effective to complete general education courses at a community college prior to transfer to a four-year institution or private university.

City Alumni can be found at firms and creative agencies in San Diego and at top studios and companies nationwide.

"When I started the program at City College I was expecting to gain enough skills to create a portfolio that would hopefully land me a job as a designer. What I was not expecting, and what I got, was one of the most impactful experiences of my life. The instructors are not only talented and accomplished, but they were, and still are, invested in my success. I was constantly inspired by my classmates, and motivated to accomplish things that I didn't realize were possible. By the end of the program, I'd surpassed my expectations 10 times over. I'm so grateful and proud to be a City College, Graphic Design Alumni."

--Juliana Tipton, Designer, MthDegree

"The students in this program are exquisitely prepared as they leave City College Graphic Design and are geared for success in the highly competitive and demanding profession of graphic design. It is a thrill for me to welcome the students who are coming to Academy of Art University on scholarship."

--Mary Scott, Chair, School of Graphic Design Academy of Art University (AAU), Academy of Art University

Success Stories

San Diego City College Graphic Design graduates often experience remarkable success. Students who have earned the Certificate of Achievement frequently secure entry-level jobs in design, advertising, or in-house firms. Many have chosen to continue their studies in graphic design and have secured partial or full scholarships at well-respected universities and private design institutions.


Josh Higgins

Currently a Creative Director at Facebook, Josh oversees a multidisciplinary team of art directors, writers, filmmakers, and engineers who build and communicate the Facebook brand. As the Design Director of President Obama's 2012 campaign, he built and led the historic campaign in which the web, design, and technology played a pivotal role. With roots in graphic design and advertising, Josh's work has earned him national honors. Josh dedicates a percentage of his time to social causes, supporting them with exhibits and charitable projects like the Hurricane, So-Cal, and Haiti poster projects.


Chris Do

Chris Do is an Emmy award winning designer and founder and CEO of Blind, Inc.--a trans-media agency located in Santa Monica, where he oversees the creative and strategic direction of the company. He serves on the board and is an advisor for organizations like AIGA/LA and the Emmys Motion & Title Design Peer Group. Prior to forming Blind, he worked at Cole & Weber, Seattle as an Art Director, Epitaph Records as a designer, a freelance designer at broadcast design firm, Novocom, and R/GA LA under Kyle Cooper on main titles such as The Island of Dr. Moreau, Celtic Pride and Eraser.

Occupational Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2016 median annual salary for graphic design is $47,640. The graphic design field is projected to see steady growth of 1-2% per year with a 21% increase in the interactive and digital sector.

Potential jobs include: 

Account executive Design educator In-house designer
Animator Design strategist Production artist
Art director Freelance designer Production coordinator
Chief creative officer Front-end developer Production manager
Content strategist Graphic designer Senior designer
Copywriter Illustrator  
Creative director Information architect  

Fields of specialization include:

  • Advertising
  • Graphic design
  • Environmental design
  • Illustration
  • Information graphics
  • Interactive design
  • Packaging
  • Publication design
  • Motion graphics
  • Type design/lettering
  • User experience design
  • User interface design
  • Website design

"When I made the decision to switch careers to graphic design, I did my homework, and found that most professionals in San Diego recommend the portfolio program at City. Each class I took there contributed to my final goal - a graphic design portfolio that would land me a job. After only 3 weeks of finishing the portfolio program at City I was hired full time at a design agency in downtown. I never imagined that would happen so fast, and I'm so thankful to everyone at City for the opportunities afforded me during my time there. One thing I didn't expect going into the program was how many new friendships would come out of the experience. Everyone helps to push and guide each other through the process. I would recommend City College to anyone interested in pursuing a career in graphic design!"

--Lindsay Jonkers, Designer, Mth Degree

Graphic Design Learning Outcomes

  1. Research, analyze, organize and formulate artistic
    order out of chaos.

  2. Recognize and speak a global visual language and
    demonstrate an awareness of the meanings and
    power of symbols and words.

  3. Design products and services that will make a
    social and ecological impact.

  4. Apply elements and principles of design to
    projects that include packaging, magazine
    production, and design and production of
    posters, logos and brochures.

  5. Formulate decisions about issues of concept,
    format, imagery, type, printing and methodology.

  6. Use both computer and traditional methods to solve
    graphic problems.

  7. Create a professional portfolio that can be used to
    pursue studies to a four-year university or obtain


  • Sean Bacon
  • Bradford Prairie
  • Candice Lopez
  • Andrea Singer


  • James Bowman
  • Min Choi
  • Randall Christopher
  • Alana Hawkins
  • Amy Levine
  • MaeLin Levine
  • Petra Ives
  • Julie Warren
  • Roger Wong


  • Eugene Brown
  • Norman Ramos