Graphic Design Diploma

Why Choose Graphic Design Diploma at CLC?

Award winning students at the American Advertising Federation Competition – Best of Show 2 years in a row.

Students receive close personal attention from their instructors.

Digital printing production program for real world experience.

Active “Right Brain Graphics Club” perform student activities and community services.

We stay current with industry technology.

Close to industry for possible internships and local placement.

About the Program

Graphic Designers are a key component in promoting people, corporations and products to consumers. We work in many areas from print/production design, website/social media design, motion graphics and animation design. Designers go through a process of conception, creation and communication of visual effects in all aspects of advertising. We offer instruction using the latest in today’s technology and innovative techniques for this career field. We help connect students to challenges of exciting, creative, and rewarding career opportunities. We “Design It.”

Program Information

Program Course Requirements

First Year – Fall Semester
GDES 1105  Concepts of Design  (3 cr)
GDES 1134  Typography  (3 cr)
GDES 1140  Adobe Photoshop  (3 cr)
GDES 1142  Adobe Illustrator  (3 cr)
GDES 1144  Adobe InDesign  (3 cr)
Total – 15 credits

First Year – Spring Semester
GDES 1120  Publication Design  (3 cr)
GDES 1122*  Graphic Design Production  (3 cr)
GDES 1124  Corporate ID  (3 cr)
General Education  (6 cr)
Total – 15 credits

Second Year – Fall Semester
GDES 2100*  Graphic Design I  (3 cr)
GDES 2120*  Packaging  (3 cr)
GDES 2130  Motion Graphics I  (3 cr)
GDES 2132  Design in Social Media (3 cr)
Total – 12 credits

Second Year – Spring Semester
GDES 2102*  Graphic Design II  (3 cr)
GDES 2113*  Art Direction  (3 cr)
GDES 2124  Portfolio Production  (3 cr)
Choose 3 credits from GDES or VPRO courses (3 cr)
Total – 12 credits


Graphic Design students are required to purchas an Apple Macintosh laptop with the Adobe Creative Cloud software. See latest requirement through bookstore website.

Career Description: A graphic designer is a creative problem solver who is trained to conceive, plan, and execute a design that communicates a direct message to an audience in an imaginative and visually arresting manner. Effective visual communication requires a graphic designer to communicate ideas and information in ways that will get the attention of, and motivate, a viewer. Ideas are generated through a design process in which graphic designers research, organize, and interpret the information; define the objectives; originate ideas; and create new visual forms. New and constantly evolving computer and communication technologies further challenge the role of the graphic designer in creating imaginative and clear messages for vastly different audiences. Meeting this challenge requires use of the best media tools for development and delivery of ideas and information: print, photography, packaging, logos, publications, the internet, film, television, and animation.

Program Information: In the Graphic Design Program, students will take visual ideas from initial concept through creative and technical development and, ultimately, to a final form that is ready for production. Various tools are used, from hand tools for illustration to the latest computerized aids. We focus on projects modeled with industry realities, relevant to high-impact, effective communication.

Program Outcomes:
Graduates will be able to:

  • Select appropriate software tools to achieve effective design solutions;
  • Communicate design concepts at various stages of development using the design process;
  • Develop print and multimedia concepts using traditional, computer-based, and video design tools;
  • Develop and present creative portfolios verbally and in writing to clients;
  • Interact with clients, marketing personnel, copy writers, web designers, photographers, and printing companies; and
  • Demonstrate a respect for diversity of ideas and concepts in a group environment.

Special Program Requirements:

In addition to the program requirements listed above, students must meet the following conditions in order to graduate:

  1. College Cumulative GPA Requirement: The cumulative grade point average (GPA) of credits attempted and completed at CLC must be at least 2.0;
  2. College Technical Core GPA Requirement: The cumulative GPA of credits attempted and completed towards the technical core of the diploma or degree must be at least 2.0; and
  3. Residency Requirement: students must complete 25% (13) of their credits at Central Lakes College.

Transfer Opportunities: Students have the opportunity to transfer to Bemidji State University and finish a four-year Bachelor of Arts in Design Technology with an emphasis in Digital Design/Print, Digital Design/Electronic, or Exhibit Design.

Career Opportunities: There are many employment opportunities in Minnesota for people in the graphic design field. The Twin Cities, Duluth, Brainerd, and St. Cloud are some of the hot spots in the area for jobs in this field.

Career Titles: Common career titles in this field include advertising agency designer, multimedia designer, corporate in-house designer, print designer, art director, package designer, poster/billboard designer, website designer, magazine designer, video editor, book designer, and newspaper designer.


leon dahlvang

Leon Dahlvang

Graphic Design Instructor
Phone: 218-855-8157
Brainerd E436
photo unavailable

Richard Jensen

Graphic Design Instructor
Phone: 218-855-8157
Brainerd E419
photo unavailable

Jim Nagy

Adjunct Instructor
Phone: 218-855-8000
Brainerd E419

Student Testimonials


I started the CLC graphic design program on a whim. I had earned a four-year degree after high school, but two years after that, I still wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do. After considering a few possibilities, CLC ended up being my best option because it was close to home, and the Communication Art & Design program sounded like something I might like to do. I had no graphic design experience prior to starting classes at CLC, other than creating Microsoft Paint masterpieces for my mom when I was five. I had never opened Photoshop before; I had no clue what InDesign was. However, once I started my classes, I quickly realized that design was something that I had always been interested in. But before CLC, I hadn’t fully realized this interest, or what I could potentially do with it. The instructors at CLC have helped me figure out what my true passion is, and to grow and improve as a designer, and I was able to secure a job before I graduated, working at a great agency with awesome people.


After high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to go somewhere close to home so I started looking at colleges in the area. I heard of CLC so I did some research and after reading about all the programs offered, the Communication Art and Design program sounded like it could be a good fit. I started the program without ever opening an adobe software program in my life. After the first few months I fell in love with what I was doing. My instructors were always willing to give me extra help when I needed and that’s part of what made me the designer I am today. I went on to receiving awards at the Addy’s & was hired right after graduation. I am now the marketing director at a great company and feel very blessed to have found a career that I love straight out of college. Thank you CLC!


The first time I heard about Graphic  Design was when I was on a road trip with my sister, we were having a lengthy conversation about what careers I would like and be good at when she suggested I should take a look into Graphic Design. After reading a couple different links online I figured i’d  see if CLC had the program and with my luck, they were moving the Graphic Design Program over to the Brainerd Campus that year. I enrolled a week later and started classes unsure of what I got myself into but ready for any challenge. Little did I know that  I would be spending the next two years working with amazing people and the best instructors at CLC, who were nothing short of patient and supportive throughout the whole journey. Two months after I graduated I got offered a job as a Graphic Designer at a company  here in Brainerd and I couldn’t be more happy with the decision I made to accept it. Not only do I like the people I work with but I love the material i’m working on and being able to create things and make a career out of it. The saying is true, “Choose  a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Employment Statistics

For more information regarding employment statistics, career salary information and estimated job growth, follow the resource links below:

Gainful Employment – Graphic Design Diploma

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