GDMA FAQ

  • Applying to GD|MA


  • Portfolio examples should primarily consist of traditional drawings, be an accurate reflection of your current skill set, and should have been created recently. The GD|MA program will be looking for students who have an eye for perspective, depth, composition, and dimension. It can include examples of art or design pieces, but the portfolio should not exceed six (6) total pieces.
    Scan or take high resolution photographs of any physical artwork to include in your portfolio.
    No, you don’t need to be an excellent illustrator or artist to get into the program. When reviewing the portfolio and Visual Awareness Assessment, GD|MA is looking for candidates who have a strong sense of dimension, depth, and perspective. GD|MA is looking for candidates who have strong spatial skills that translate well into graphic design. GD|MA will help further student’s illustration skills with Drawing / Illustration I class.
    If applicants are unable to complete the Visual Awareness Assessment in Lincoln, Nebraska, contact Graphic Design | Media Arts program chair Elizabeth Vornbrock, evornbrock@southeast.edu, to have your assessment proctored at another institution. In the email, include the preferred institution and when possible, the email or phone number of their testing center.

    All application materials need to be mailed or delivered to the Southeast Community College Admissions office at:
    Southeast Community College
    Admissions Office
    8800 O Street
    Lincoln, NE 68520-1299

    Any applications or portfolios that are emailed or delivered to Education Square or GD|MA instructors will not be accepted.

    GD|MA instructors will be reviewing your Visual Awareness Assessment and portfolio against a rubric. GD|MA will accept the top 20 scoring candidates who meet all other program and college requirements.
    Applicants will be notified in April, 2019 if they were accepted into the GD|MA program.
    Yes! Contact Graphic Design | Media Arts program chair Elizabeth Vornbrock, evornbrock@southeast.edu, to schedule a time to tour our facilities.
    If you’re applying for scholarships that require a program of study, but you’re waiting on a response regarding your GD|MA application, we recommend applying to Academic Transfer in the meantime. Apply to Academic Transfer online. This will ensure you meet the scholarship requirements and still allow you to apply to GD|MA.
    Because of the unique block-schedule approach, GD|MA courses cannot be taken individually or without acceptance into the program full-time.
    Unfortunately, not. Because of the unique block-schedule approach, interwoven curriculum across classes, and portfolio driven course work, courses from other colleges will not comp for GD|MA core courses. However, general education courses are likely to transfer to SCC.
  • During GD|MA


    • Each student is required to provide their own laptop, a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud to work with while in the GD|MA program, and a ‘Contributing’ membership to AIGA. Review the laptop requirements.
    • Purchase first term books and supplies from the Lincoln Campus bookstore.
    • Keep an eye out for an email and letter from the Graphic Design | Media Arts program informing you of the required program orientation. Attend one program orientation session to secure your seat within the GD|MA program or your seat will be forfeited.
    • Apply for scholarships and financial aid, login to The Hub, attend New Student Orientation, and more! Here is a list of things to consider after applying to SCC!
    No, there is currently no Southeast Community College provided student housing at any Lincoln location. There are many affordable apartments and houses for rent near all locations.
    No, there is currently no Southeast Community College provided free student parking at the Education Square location. Students have options through TRIO, Student Services, AmeriCorps, and other programs to help fund a downtown Park&Go parking pass. Student can pay to park in the attached parking garage. The Lincoln public buses stop just one block west from Education Square. There is free, residential parking five blocks south of Education Square.

    Every program of study requires students to build a foundation of General Education Learning Outcomes (GELOs) through courses in the SCC Core as well as required program classes. To complete an Associate degree, students must successfully complete a minimum of 22.5 quarter credits from the SCC Core. Please see the current catalog for a complete list of general education courses.

    In order to graduate with an Associate degree from SCC, students must take one class from GELO #1: Oral Communication and one class from GELO #2: Written Communication. Students will also need to take one class from three of the four other GELO categories. Students cannot take two classes from the same category and have both count towards the Gen Ed Requirement. For example, students could take a class from GELO #3, another from GELO #4, and one from GELO #5 but would not be able to take two GELO #3 courses and a GELO #4 class and have them both go towards the Gen Ed requirement.

    Please review our recommended general education courses. Students are not required to take them but they have been identified to relate to and assist the study of graphic design.

    Students can complete their general education courses while waiting for acceptance to the GD|MA program, during their time within the GD|MA program, or after they have completed the GD|MA core courses. We encourage students to complete their general education courses before or after completing the GD|MA core courses to allow them ample time to focus on their core course work. However, students do have time in the afternoon and evening to take general education courses after their GD|MA block. Students can complete general education courses at any SCC location or online for their convenience.
    No! General education courses can be completed at any time and many of them will apply to any associates degree a student pursues at Southeast Community College.
    No, students will need to wait for their start date to begin taking GD|MA courses. The only courses students can take before their start date for their degree are the general education courses.
    Yes, all GD|MA core courses are in one of our labs at the downtown Lincoln, Education Square, location.
    Each student is required to provide their own laptop, a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud to work with while in the GD|MA program, and a ‘Contributing’ membership to AIGA. Review the laptop requirements. First term books and art supplies can be purchased from the Lincoln Campus bookstore.
    GD|MA is looking for applicants who have a strong set of spatial skills: depth, dimension, perspective, composition. Once students have been accepted into the program, they can begin getting comfortable with their laptop. We will instruct students on how to work with the Adobe Creative Cloud software. However, students can become familiar with these tools by watching videos on Lynda.com (access if free with a Lincoln Public Library card). We do not expect our applicants to be designers before entering the GD|MA program.
    Once students have been accepted into the program, they can purchase their first term books. Students can purchase and install the Adobe Creative Cloud programs (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop) and watch Lynda.com tutorials (free with Lincoln Public Library card) to begin getting familiar with the tools they will be using during their first term. Students can look at the following magazines for inspiration and reference to current graphic design trends: How, Print, Communication
    Arts. Current students utilize websites such as Pinterest, Dribbble, Abduzeedo, FFFFound, and many others to view design work.
    GD|MA is a block-scheduled program to accelerate the learning process and emulate the working world. We believe in preparing students for life after graduation to the very best of our abilities. We have found that by structuring our courses and curriculum to reflect the time employees would be expected to be in the office as well as the type of projects they would be doing sets our graduates up for success. This dedicated method of study allows students to immerse themselves within design to advance their skills faster.
    Buying a laptop for college may seem like a rather large expense however, this is the primary tool of our trade. Having your own laptop capable of efficiently producing digital and print design work—in and out of the classroom— is not just an investment in your education but in your future.
    Students do not have to have the latest, greatest computer or an Apple machine. The laptop does need to be able to run the Adobe programs which requires 64-bit processing power. Please see the laptop requirements for more information.
    Since the cost of a laptop is considered an educational expense, it is included in the overall cost of attendance estimate for students who apply for financial aid. Review the program’s cost of attendance estimate.
    It is required to have your laptop purchased and ready for use by the first day of class. Planning ahead is crucial and you will want to purchase your laptop in advance of your intake into the program. We recommend students purchase their laptop after they’ve received their acceptance letter but before the first day of class.
    Because a majority of what designers create is done on the computer, we strongly encourage all students to become familiar and proficient with their computer before beginning the program. Students can take GELO #6 BSAD1010 Microsoft Applications I to become more familiar with their machines and complete a general education course. We do instruct students on how to work with and organize their machines during their first term with GD|MA. However, speed and proficiency with technology will be of benefit to you both as a student and a designer.

    Our primary tool within design is the computer. However, we still do a lot of sketching to get our ideas down on paper first. The industry standard computer is an Apple machine while Windows operating systems and other PCs are common within web development.

    Our students work very closely with the following Adobe Creative Cloud programs: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver. We lightly introduce students to Adobe After Effects and Dimension. Students will also work with other tools such as InVision, Balsamiq, Axure, Sketch, and Sublime. We frequently update the programs our students work with to reflect what’s current within the industry.

    Our students learn HTML & CSS within web development. They are also introduced to languages such as jQuery and PHP. We touch on the frameworks Bootstrap and Foundation and the content management system Wordpress.

    No, students do not need to be familiar with the Adobe Creative Cloud software before the first day of class. We will instruct all students on how to use the software from the ground up.

    AIGA is the profession’s oldest and largest professional membership organization for design—with more than 70 chapters and more than 25,000 members—AIGA advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force. GD|MA requires students to become ‘Contributor’ ($50/year) members of AIGA to become invested in their profession and the field as a whole. This membership provides students with discounted access to local and national events, a myriad of networking tools, and educational resources.

    AIGA membership also affiliates students with our AIGA SCC Student Group which creates an internal community within the GD|MA program. Backed by AIGA National, our students work closely with AIGA Nebraska to become involved with the local design community; student group members are given many opportunities to network with design professionals before they graduate. Students that serve on the student board will build leadership, time management, and long-term planning skills as they schedule and host events for their peers.

    Learn more about the design community and network with designers by attending locale events hosted by: AIGA Nebraska, AAF Lincoln, AAF Omaha, AMA Lincoln, AMA Omaha, DAOMA. Events are also frequently hosted by design agencies or by meet up groups which can be commonly found on Facebook or MeetUp.
    GD|MA does have required homework on a near daily basis. However, the homework for the GD|MA program is a continuation of what students have been working on during labs hours. We expect students to be working on their design projects both in and out of class. We do have quizzes/tests during the first few terms as students become familiar with design terminology. Students are also expected to present or pitch their concepts or finished design work throughout their time within GD|MA.
    The workload for the GD|MA core courses is intense. This is an accelerated program with the goal to graduate entry level designers. Students can expect to be in class anywhere from 30-35 hours a week and still have projects to complete outside of class. The GD|MA program is a technical program that is portfolio focused. It does require a good deal of dedication and hard work from its students.
    GD|MA does touch very lightly on Adobe After Effects, but we do not go in-depth into Motion Graphics. We do not work with programs such as Cinema 4-D. We are not video game designers or game developers. At no point do we discuss or talk about this field.
    While we don’t recommend it, we have seen students work a full-time job and complete the GD|MA program successfully. This does put a great deal of stress on the students which is why we advise students, if and when possible, to not work more than 15-20 hours a week while in the program.
  • After Graduation


  • No, many of our graduates are very successful with finding and securing employment after graduation with their Associates degree. If our graduates continue to further their education, it is to pursue a degree in a related field or because a higher degree is required, i.e. Bachelor’s degree is required to teach in high-school or post-secondary education.
    No, currently GD|MA does not have any articulation agreements with local 4-year colleges. Graduates would be responsible for contacting the Program Chair or Dean at their preferred college to inquire about accepting GD|MA classes. This could involve providing the preferred college with course syllabi and your portfolio to demonstrate your skills.

    GD|MA graduates have secured a variety of jobs with their AAS: graphic designer focused on print and publication design, interactive or UX/UI designers, front-end developers, package designers, branding/identity designers, and freelancers. Graduates enter the field as associate or entry-level designers, can work towards becoming junior and senior designers, followed by art and creative directors.

    Graduates have gained employment at both design agencies and in-house shops: Swanson Russell, Firespring, UNL, Hudl, Red Thread, Ebbeka, Don’t Panic Labs, Pixel Bakery, Evol Creative, Nelnet, Play Creative, State of Nebraska, Sandhills, and Open Harvest to name a few.

    Many graduates stay in the Lincoln and Omaha area after graduation. Graduates who have left the state have secured employment in: Oregon, Kansas, Texas, Michigan, Florida, and Missouri to name a few. Since GD|MA is a technical and portfolio driven program, graduates have the ability to secure employment not based on their degree, but on the quality of work that they can produce.

    The projected change in employment of graphic designers from 2016 to 2026 varies by industry according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of graphic designers is projected to grow four percent from 2016 to 2026. Employment of designers in traditional print positions (newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers) is projected to decline 22 percent during that same period. However, during that same period, employment of graphic designers in interactive design (websites, mobile applications, social media) is projected to grow 20 percent.

    As more companies focus on their digital presences, more jobs will be available for graphic designers with website and interactive media experience. Those with these skills will have more employment options and will be better able to compete among others in the industry. GD|MA is currently one of the few programs in the state to require graduates to complete 5 courses focused on the design and development of interactive media.

    We have a current 95% placement/transfer rate, and our most current salary report indicates an average starting salary of $15.92/hour, over $33,000 a year. We have also seen graduates with a focus on interactive design and front-end development skills make up to $60,000 six months post-graduation.

    Graphic designer (1-3 years):    $39,750–$56,750
    Graphic designer (5+ years):    $67,500–$93,000
    Package designer:    $59,500–$91,000
    Visual designer:    $66,000–$99,250
    Front-end web developer (3+ years):     $80,000–$119,500
    Web designer (5+ years):    $83,250–$118,000
    Interaction designer (5+ years):    $88,250–$124,500
    UX designer (1–3 years):    $52,000–$79,500
    UX designer (5+ years):    $92,750–$138,000

  • What Students Are Saying

    “The GD|MA program didn’t just teach me HOW to be a graphic designer, but also what it meant to BE a graphic designer. It’s much more than creating pretty pictures. It’s doing research, solving problems, thinking critically, and communicating a message. With the constant feedback from my instructors, I was able to improve drastically within the short time span of the program. In the end, I graduated with a strong portfolio and solid set of skills in a variety of fields, some of which aren’t even taught in other programs.”
    Miguel Muniz Fall 2016 - @ Firespring

    “Originally I was drawn to the affordability and brevity of SCC’s program. However, after classes began I realized this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill design program. The instructors are so supportive and knowledgeable. The course load was intense and required a lot of difficult problem-solving, but it was all worth it in the end. I learned so much through this experience, made great friends, became a better illustrator, challenged myself daily, and can honestly say I would happily do it all over again!”
    Evan Wood 2017 - @ Transformation Marketing

    “Southeast’s graphic design program, in a nutshell, was one the most difficult, and equally rewarding things I have ever done in my life. The rigorous and unrelenting schedule of treating school as a full-time job for 18 months was exhausting, but it has benefited me as a growing designer to continually push forward and make great design. The students within the program are not the only ones putting in the work! The instructors have such a love and eye for design, and it is clearly reflected through their efforts and in the quality of this program. I have left this program a much stronger designer and human being, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about my experience. I am so incredibly proud to say that who I am today as a designer is all due to this outstanding program.”
    Denon Feagin Spring 2017 - @ Ebbeka

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