This program prepares students to explore, plan, design and produce visual solutions to communications problems. Graphic designers work to discover the most effective way to communicate in print, on the Web, and through multimedia and interactive media projects. Students develop skills and knowledge in design concepts, layout and computer software to create multipurpose visual communications materials.
Performing much of their work on a computer, graphic designers work closely with internal and external clients on advertising, marketing and promotional projects for a myriad of organizations and businesses.
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|Graphic Design Technology
A.A.S. Degree – 72 credits
|Graphic Design Technology
Diploma – 64 credits
*Estimated amounts based on 2014–15 tuition and fees.
That's right. Tuition will remain the same for the next two years, making your degree even more affordable. Learn more about the tuition freeze.
Each year, Dakota County Technical College and the DCTC Foundation make more than $200,000 in scholarships available to our students. Students are encouraged to create an account and apply for scholarships online.
Students looking for ways to help finance their college education can find part-time jobs on campus with various DCTC departments and programs. Deliver your completed Work-Study Application to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid and search for openings at College Central Network Services. For more information, you can review Work Study Procedure.
Step 1: Apply now for financial aid. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
DCTC's Federal School Code: 010402
Step 2: After receiving an official award letter from DCTC, you may apply online for a Federal Stafford Student Loan. Visit the Loans page for more information.
Graphic Design Tech Grad
"I found the program and staff at DCTC to be top-notch and easily comparable to that of a four-year college, but at only one quarter the price."
I chose DCTC because I wanted smaller class sizes and a hands-on experience pertaining to my major versus what I would find at a university. What I liked best about DCTC was the frequent one-on-one interaction with my instructors and the large variety of class choices. Class sizes were kept small, so I was able to get the extra interaction I needed to complete projects to my full potential. Also, with the variety of class choices, I was able to sneak in some extra photography classes to expand my skills.
I really enjoyed the instructors and the experience they had to offer their students. It was very inspiring to see first-hand the different career paths I could take with Graphic Design Technology and Applied Visual Arts A.A.S. degrees.
The one thing I didn't realize as a student at DCTC and I still think most people don't know is that most completed course credits can transfer from DCTC to an accredited institution. This is very beneficial because I was able to complete my Associate in Applied Science degree at DCTC and then transfer my credits and get a bachelor’s degree only a year and a half later. Through this experience, I found the program and staff at DCTC to be top-notch and easily comparable to that of a four-year college, but at only one quarter the price.
The most important thing I learned is that although technology is constantly on the move and changing, old skills and practices will never go out of style or be forgotten. You must learn the fundamentals in to succeed. You must be ready to work hard and get your hands dirty! Your education and future is what you make of it. Don't take the easy road; the hard one pays off in the end.
I really enjoyed my time at DCTC and would recommend the Graphic Design Technology and Applied Visual Arts programs to anyone thinking about pursuing a career in these fields. After graduating from DCTC, I worked at Küryakyn, an aftermarket motorcycle parts corporation in Somerset, Wis., and now I’m a designer at Olson, one of the top design agencies in North America.
Graphic Design Tech Grad
"My education at DCTC has given me the confidence and skills to pursue my new career in design. I was doing freelance work, but I soon found the right opportunity to complete the transition to full-time designer."
I earned two degrees at DCTC, an A.A.S. in Multimedia & Web Design and an A.A.S. in Graphic Design Technology. I am now a Web designer for the State of Minnesota. I chose DCTC because I wanted to change careers and go into Web design. After doing some comparisons, I thought DCTC had a strong program that offered the education I needed to get started.
Everyone at DCTC is friendly and helpful, and the teachers in the Visual Communications department are fantastic. They are knowledgeable and hands-on—and they encourage you to push beyond what you think you can do. I enjoyed the camaraderie and support among the students and teachers as well as the sense of accomplishment as I learned each new skill.
VCOM at DCTC offers an exceptionally well-rounded education. You don't just learn how to click the right button to make something happen; you gain a good basic foundation in the principles of design and the creative process.
My education at DCTC has given me the confidence and skills to pursue my new career in design. I was doing freelance work, but I soon found the right opportunity to complete the transition to full-time designer.
As a student in the program you should work hard. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. And don't be intimidated by what you don't know—you will learn. That's why you're here.
Graphic Design Tech Grad
"I strongly recommend DCTC's Graphic Design Technology program. If you are looking for a school that is serious about not only teaching you what you need to know about design, but also how to find a job within your major, then DCTC is right for you."
My name is Kelsey Degenaar and my choice to go to DCTC was a great decision and played a huge part in getting me my current job. I work for Coca-Cola Refreshments in their Eagan print shop. I have been working there since October 2012 starting as an intern and then moving my way up. I would recommend DCTC's Graphic Design Technology program to anyone serious about getting school completed and learning a lot about design on your way.
After getting my A.A. degree from Inver Hills Community College and attending both the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, I would say that I know a fair amount about different schools and there graphic design programs. When attending the U of M, I was told that after I had been in school already for three years that it was going to take another three years for me to graduate. Once I heard that, I knew I needed to start looking other places to finish up my schooling. I looked online at DCTC because I had heard good things about the college in the past and thought it would be worth a visit to see what credits of mine they would take. It turned out they took all my previous credits and said I could graduate in a year and a half. I signed up that day!
The teachers are my favorite part about the program. They are highly qualified, knowledgeable about design and push their students to better their best. They were some of the best teachers that I have ever had because they not only help you in your schoolwork, but in your job search as well. A lot of people have a misconception about two-year schools thinking that it’s not as good of an education or a university program would be better. Well, at DCTC that is the exact opposite; the teachers are great and I learned more about my major in a year in a half then I ever did at a university.
My education from DCTC has put me in a place where I feel I can walk into an interview and be proud of my portfolio, my ability to communicate and my computer skills. I can tell people with pride that I went to school at DCTC because every day you are there you learn vital skills about not only your major, but also about how to get out in the field and interview, network and find a job. The VCOM teachers prepare their students for the real world of design and help them get out into the workplace. For example, I got my internship at Coke through a VCOM teacher. I also get e-mails from Connie Larson about graphic design jobs in the Twin Cities area on a weekly basis. The Graphic Design Technology teachers make an effort to not only be good teachers, but also great people.
I strongly recommend DCTC's Graphic Design Technology program. If you are looking for a school that is serious about not only teaching you what you need to know about design, but also how to find a job within your major, then DCTC is right for you.
Graphic Design Tech Student
"I really think the teachers are great. If you need any extra help or have questions, they always have time for you."
I chose DCTC following the recommendation of a friend who attended and spoke highly of the IT and Visual Communication departments. Also, DCTC is affordable and I needed somewhere that had flexible class schedules because I was working full-time during the day.
I really think the teachers are great. If you need any extra help or have questions, they always have time for you. I also love the smaller class sizes. It gives you time to get to know the students in your class and the teachers.
I most enjoy the atmosphere here at DCTC. There is such a variety of people attending whether they just graduated high school, are still in high school, or going back to school after a long hiatus. There is no “normal” here and there’s always someone you can relate with.
I think the one thing I never expected to get out of the Graphic Design Technology program is growth in self-confidence. It's easy to compare your work with others and feel like you might not measure up. The teachers here motivate you to give your best and it often pays off. I've become much more confident in the projects I produce because of the encouragement I’m given by teachers and classmates alike. You grow at DCTC in your education and as a person.
The Visual Communications department is excellent and relevant. The teachers have personal experience in the programs and classes they teach.
Magic Miao Zhen Li
Graphic Design Tech Grad
"Even after graduation, the instructors are still happy to help me with any issue."
I graduated from Dakota County Technical College with a Graphic Design A.A.S degree, a Multimedia & Web Design A.A.S degree and an an Interactive Media Design Certificate.
During 3 years of studies in DCTC, I learned the up-to-date technology such as the latest version of Adobe products, mobile app design, responsive Web design, Web content management systems like Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla. Meanwhile, I established strong design basic on typography, layout, perspective drawing and design principles. I was trained to have eyes for details, and hands on production work.
The instructors in DCTC are helpful, patient, and friendly. They not only helped me with any technical problems but also helped me with emotional difficulties. Even after graduation, the instructors are still happy to help me with any issue. The instructors and employment advisors informs us immediately whenever there is a job lead. Thanks to the job lead sent from DCTC, I got my current internship with the Minnesota Historical Society. The strong knowledge foundation from DCTC makes my internship in MNHS efficient and meaningful.
DCTC provides us a good start on the design field and always informs us new design trends and technologies through Facebook and VCOM blog. We benifits from DCTC even after graduation. The money I spent on studies in DCTC are more than worthy. We can also work-study while we are at school. Through the 10 months work-study experience in the marketing department of DCTC, I not only learned practical workplace skills, made friends, but also got paid.
Words can never express my thankfulness to DCTC. Thank you very much, DCTC.
According to ISEEK, Minnesota's career, education and job resource, employment for graphic designers is expected to grow 13.4 percent in the U.S. and 11.8 percent in Minnesota by the year 2020. ISEEK: "The demand for graphic designers will be due in part to the increased use of the Internet. Graphic designers will be needed to design and lay out web pages. In addition, businesses will continue to want visually appealing ideas for their products, publications, and videos. All these items require the skills of graphic designers. Despite high demand, competition will be strong for the best jobs. This is because employers will pay high wages to the most talented designers."
As a graphic designer, you will combine art and technology to communicate ideas—and you will get paid good money to find the ideal balance between creativity, powerful software and the power of expression. According to the U.S. DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers in the U.S. earn a median of $43,500 a year, which is almost $10,000 more than the median for all occupations. Not only that, you will be working on the leading edge of the design field.
BLS: "Graphic design is becoming increasingly important in the sales and marketing of products. Therefore, graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists or communication designers, often work closely with people in advertising and promotions, public relations, and marketing. Graphic designers also need to keep up to date with the latest software and computer technologies to remain competitive."
Articulation Agreements are formal agreements between two or more colleges and universities to accept credits in transfer toward a specific academic program. DCTC has articulation agreements in place for this program with the following schools:
|Transfer To||Degree||Major Offered|
|Minnesota State University Moorhead||BS||Operations Management||View|
For DCTC students wishing to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, our Graphic Design Technology program offers a pathway through an agreement with the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities College of Design.
The Graphic Design Technology program has articulation agreements with several area high schools; high school students can earn a certificate for a course in the program, for example, Introduction to Photoshop. That certificate is worth one free credit when the student applies for the program at DCTC. Below is a list of schools with this option:
Do you want to see how your courses transfer to programs at participating colleges and universities? Add the coursework you've taken and use Transferology to find out how it might transfer to any of the participating schools in the Transferology network. Get an account and create a plan now!
MN Transfer.org Your official guide to a seamless transfer experience in Minnesota Higher Education.
Whether you're a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or an international student or transferring from high school or a four-year university, DCTC will help you through the process. Visit our Transfer Students page for more information.
The Graphic Design Technology program at DCTC is active throughout the year and makes headlines in college publications. Read about student success in design competitions, student field trips, student projects and the accomplishments of our graphic design instructors.
You can stay current with things happening in the Graphic Design Technology program and the graphic design field by following the Visual Communications blog.
As a student in DCTC's Graphic Design Technology program, you have many opportunities to make connections in the design industry through your involvement in professional clubs and organizations.
The American Institute of Graphic Arts, or AIGA, is the planet's oldest and largest professional membership organization for design with 67 chapters and more than 23,000 members nationwide. As a student in the Graphic Design Technology program, you will make the most of AIGA's vast cache of design resources, including inspirational advice from the industry's top professionals as well as news about upcoming design events and competitions. You will also have a picture window into critical information that can and will augment your professional development.
DCTC features active, industry-relevant clubs for Graphic Design Technology students right on campus. Getting involved in these clubs allows you to make the most of your college experience and gives you an edge when seeking employment in the graphic design field. The following club is a must if you're at all interested in boosting your competitive moxie as a graphic designer:
SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization for students at community and technical colleges across the U.S. The organization focuses on students in academic programs that lead to careers in the trade, industrial, technical and health care fields. Nearly 100 SkillsUSA competitions at the state and national levels relate to leadership skills or programs of study at DCTC.
In 2012, DCTC fielded four national champions at the SkillsUSA National Championships at the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo. For more information about the competition, read "Students Dominate SkillsUSA Championships" in Real Magazine, a DCTC publication.
In 2013, DCTC fielded 17 students at the nationals who ranked in the top 15 in the nation. For more information about the competition, read "DCTC Students Rock at SkillsUSA Nationals" on DCTC News.