Graphic Design

Graphic designers are visual storytellers. They engage and communicate through logos and brand identities, apps and websites, publications and product packaging, wayfinding and signage, ads and commercials.

Well-designed graphics can stand in for a thousand words, sharing meaning and emotion with just a glance. At Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, you’ll not only learn to be an effective designer, but also a bold, innovative creator, thinker, and problem solver. By the time you graduate, you’ll feel empowered to take ownership of your ideas and your creations as you share them with the world.

our program

Why Graphic Design at PCA&D?

One-on-one instruction is our hallmark. With faculty guidance and inspiration, you’ll tackle real-world projects with immediate impact, building your portfolio to launch your career. You’ll learn in the best small city to live in the U.S., in a vibrant arts-rich environment with more than 125 galleries and creative spaces.

Our students are regularly named GD Students to Watch and win national GDUSA design competitions. All coursework incorporates some form of portfolio review and/or critique with a faculty of professional, working designers to prepare you for receiving feedback in career settings and learning how to implement suggested improvements. Each year your faculty assesses the curriculum to make sure you’ll learn only the most relevant skills and software you’ll need to succeed after graduation.

Customize your program

PCA&D students have the opportunity to explore multiple interests by incorporating a minor or certificate into their major studies. Expanding your skill sets to cross disciplines will make you more appealing to future employers and broaden your potential career path.


Tyler Handa ’23

PCA&D really pushed me to get out of my comfort zone a bit more than I wanted. It really is all about being introduced to as many things as possible. We latch on to certain things that we might learn we are good at and then take them even further."

Build Your Network

Join our student chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the oldest professional association in design. Meet monthly for student-led critiques, portfolio review preparation, and brown bag lunch speakers. Club members have access to studio tours, national speakers, and portfolio reviews in association with the Philadelphia professional chapter.

Design in a Day

Hosted by AIGA, this beloved annual event benefits our local non-profit community as students devote a day offering free design services for these organizations. Strengthen community relationships by stepping into the role of design professional alongside clients, faculty, and alumni to create impactful campaigns, logos, posters, motion graphics, and more. Previous participants include: the Friendship Gallery, YWCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Lancaster Public Library.

Immersive Learning

Field trips like the New York City Pub Crawl to visit the city’s major publishing houses, local studio visits, and tours of regional advertising companies all offer networking opportunities that have resulted in job offers for our graduates.

Meet the Experts

Previous nationally renowned guest speakers include Gail Anderson, Mary Kate McDevitt, Tom Whelan, Zipeng Zhu, and Jeff DeSantis. Through partnerships with the Central PA AIGA chapter and Society of Design, we’ve also hosted speakers like Aaron Draplin and Timothy Goodman, Stefan Sagmeister, Jessica Hische, Pentagram partners Chip Kidd and Paula Scher, and Design Army. 

Build Your Portfolio

Most class assignments are real-world projects for regional clients, like greeting cards for the Mayor’s Office, merchandise for the Lancaster Barnstormers, book covers for Sunbury Press, and marketing materials for Caron Treatment Centers. Explore communicating information about topics like organ donation, pet adoption, emergency preparedness, and racial injustice, and watch the impact your work can make.

Step Into Your Career

Each senior gets their own personal studio space to develop and create their thesis: a passion project that could involve branding a cafe, product design, public awareness or social justice campaigns, gaming exhibitions – anything you could dream of. Your thesis will debut to the public at our annual Senior Show during commencement celebrations in May. Seniors also have the unique opportunity to brand the Senior Show by developing campaign images and pitching them to a panel of professional designers in the fall. 
What will your thesis teach you?

  • Time Management
  • Organization
  • Project Management
  • Design Development (from concept to published piece)
  • Pitching a Concept
  • Taking Critique
  • Visual Communication 
  • Adaptability

internships & careers

Where could your creative life take you?

Emily Phillips ’19

Internships are a required element of the Graphic Design program, often completed during the summer before the senior year. Leave your internship with connections to lifelong mentors or even a pre-graduation job offer. To name a few recent placements: Patagonia, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, and Armstrong World Industries. 

As an intern, you could create interactive (web, digital, social) and mixed reality (Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, etc.) experiences for clients such as National Geographic, Oxygen, CBS, Disney Nickelodeon, FX, and History Channel. Students of any level have the opportunity to complete a paid internship on campus with The Agency. Take on projects for the College as well as those for community non-profit organizations and local start-up businesses with small budgets.

These real-world experiences in and out of the classroom will build skill sets allowing you to land positions in:

  • Packaging and product design
  • Government agencies
  • Multimedia companies
  • Healthcare institutions
  • Publishers
  • Film studios
  • Industrial design firms
  • Marketing and public relations departments
  • Advertising agencies
  • Printing companies
  • Architectural firms
  • And many, MANY more…

Your adaptability will also prepare you for emerging fields and jobs that don’t exist yet as user experience and interface design continues to evolve.

where are Alumni now?

Graphic Design graduates pursue careers in a variety of fields. Click below to explore recent stories from the program.

Department faculty

A faculty of working designers

As experienced working professionals with strong ties to resources and opportunities in the field, your faculty assign competitive, real-world projects to enhance your portfolio with professional work well before you graduate.

Maria Cummings-Miller, PCA&D Faculty

Maria Hostetter ’16, Department Chair

Maria earned a diploma in Communication Art and Graphic Design from the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design in 1993, studied Art Education at Millersville University, then returned to PCA&D to earn her BFA in Graphic Design in 2016. Since then, she’s guided students, first as a member of the College’s continuing education programming and then as a member of the Graphic Design faculty.  

Pam Barby
Pam Barby
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Pam has taught studio classes in packaging design, advertising, portfolio preparation and professional practices, typography, digital technology, visual communications, and junior and senior design courses. Since 2010 at the college, she has been the event coordinator for Designathon, an event in which students and faculty give of their time and talents to nonprofit organizations seeking design services, for free, all within 12 hours. PCA&D students, alumni, and faculty have provided design work for over 80 organizations through this event.
Bill Dussinger
Bill Dussingerplgraphics.com
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Bill is a part-time instructor in both Graphic Design and Illustration Departments for the past 10 years. This past year he became The Agency’s Creative Director, leading students as they created design work for the College and local non-profits. He spent 12 years in the entertainment/hospitality industry (Hershey Entertainment & Resorts) and 10 years in the newspaper publication industry (Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.) Bill is the owner of Penny Lane Graphics and is a member of AIGA and Society of Illustrators.
Steven Geist
Steven Geist
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Award-winning UX and Product Design leader accomplished at directing cross-functional teams in launching highly complex projects. He has excelled while building teams in startup environments and big organizations like LEGO. Accomplished in design thinking, creative problem-solving, and account management. Strives for the best interactive experiences by taking into account user personas, data insights, cost, and timelines. Highly experienced with digital and physical implementations and screenless interactions.
Ellie Cochran '19
Ellie Cochran '19sintelligentdesign.com
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Ellie is a 2019 graduate of PCA&D. Xey have taught several courses in the CCE program at PCA&D, as well as Advanced Web Design, UX/UI Design, and Intro to Game Art. Xey are the Creative Director of the nonprofit Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition, and are a freelance digital artist with a focus on interaction design and technical art.
Rich Johnson
Rich Johnsonrichjohnsonarts.com
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Rich Johnson has been working professionally as a graphic designer/creative director since 1997 in various agency settings and as a freelancer. He has a technical background in image prep/manipulation and prepress focusing on output and complex composites. In addition to design and production, he is also a professional photographer and videographer. All of these perspectives are brought together in his classroom to address real-world scenarios and skills that can be applied to a plethora of roles.
Thomas Newmaster
Thomas Newmasterforcepkg.com
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Tom is an adjunct instructor and owner of Force Packaging. He continually attends conferences, trade shows, and speaking engagements in the packaging design industry. Tom has earned the respect of the industry locally and across the country. In the Fall of 2022, students will attend class in his studio space in the Griest Building on Queen Street. He has been interviewed and written articles for various packaging trade publications. FORCEpkg has won various GDUSA Magazine Packaging Design Awards.
Ryan Shelley
Ryan Shelley
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A Lancaster native, Ryan continues to work locally as part of the fourhead art collective and as a freelance designer. He is a full-time design Lecturer at Towson University (MD) and an adjunct at PCA&D. His research and teaching include design activism, street art, and board games. Collaboratively, he exhibits and installs work utilizing toy/instant photography and iterative drawing, and he co-created CO-LAB in 2015 (BIS).
Kiri Son
Kiri Son
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I am a crazy dog mom to 4 dogs, and I currently am working for Witmer Public Safety Group as a Marketing and Creative Manager with a team of 7 people under me. I received my BFA in Graphic Design from PCA&D and a Masters of Science in Web from Southern New Hampshire University.
Scott Trobaugh
Scott Trobaugh
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Scott is a multifaceted creative with over 25 years in branding and marketing. During that time, he's developed everything from Fortune 500 brands to cartoon mascots and racecars. As the creative force behind Dash 8 Creative, Scott applies his design education with practical focus, leading teams in creative problem solving for clients of all sizes.
Rieko Chacey
Rieko Chacey
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After Rieko Chacey worked as a professional graphic designer, motion graphic designer, E-pub designer, and web graphic content manager for years, she shifted her career to teaching interactive media, time-based media, and graphic design. She teaches to equip aspiring designers to excel professionally in creative job fields. She has a passion for visual storytelling with any medium.

Austin Taylor ’24

HOW TO Apply

Make your creative life, a way of life

While you’re still deciding on a school, go ahead and start an application, it’s free! Submitting an application isn’t a commitment to PCA&D but it helps us get to know you better. Or you can start by submitting 8-10 pieces of your art to help us assess your potential.