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School of Art + Art History

Graphic Design/Design & Visual Communications

Technology Requirements

Juniors and Seniors majoring in Graphic Design, Graduate Students majoring in Design & Visual Communications: you are required to have access to design-spefic hardware and software for your own use on a daily basis in class. For over two decades we have integrated computers into collaborative and community-centered studios rather than traditional classrooms. We find working together in the studio builds a vibrant community of learners. This sets you on a path of collaboration that has long-term benefits. Alumni will tell you that how they learn to work together positions them differently in the market and helps them learn to work with others in a constructive way.  We ask each upper-division student to install her or his computer in our student graphic design studio during the first week of class (see recommendations below).

First year students and sophomores: we anticipate these requirements will apply to all students enrolled in graphic design courses beginning in fall 2020. In other words, you will be required and expected to use your computers and software during class. 

Financial Aid for Computers

Because computer access is an institutional requirement, computer costs are allowable costs for students who qualify for Financial Aid. Accordingly, Student Financial Affairs has added costs for access to a computer into budgets. For more information, contact your financial adviser in the Office of Student Financial Affairs directly.  

Required Software

In the design courses, we use the Adobe Creative Cloud software suite. You are required to purchase a subscription for use in your design courses. This is discounted through UF ($140)—the normal academic cost is $19.99/month). 

Required Hardware

Laptop with specifications listed below. Apple products are dominant in the creative industries with about a 75% market share. Although the PC and Mac are quite comparable in both software, hardware, power and price, our technical staff (as well as faculty and fellow students) will not be able to easily assist or support the PC environment. The graphic design faculty members continue to strongly recommend Apple Macintosh systems. If you are purchasing a new computer, make sure to get education pricing through the UF Bookstore or Apple. Both offer payment plans. One advantage purchasing direct from Apple is their 14 day return policy so you can try without a commitment. You might want to check out options during the Florida Sales tax holiday period in August. 

When considering a purchase, keep in mind many computers are not easily modified after purchase so you should get the best computer you can afford for your needs. Below is a configuration that will work today. With care, a quality computer will last you through your college years. 

Sample Laptop Configuration—15 inch Mac book Pro
Apple Higher Education (HED) store and the UF Bookstore offer education pricing. If you are an AIGA member, this organization also offers an Apple Store discount that is sometimes better than the education pricing for individuals. The configuration specified is the minimum configuration. If you choose a PC, please look for its equivalent. 

2.8GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
512GB SSD storage
Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB memory
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports / US English Keyboard
+ Apple Care
+ USB-C adapter for peripheral devices if needed

A Good Idea

External Monitor
We recommend you purchase a monitor for your cold desk in the studio. There are many brands to choose from. We are recently considering the BenQ brand, available at B&H Online and other vendors. We recommend at least a 21" but 27" is better. It will save you significant time, increase your accuracy, and alleviate stress. 

Access to at least a 12MP Camera for project work and design research. 

Backing up your Data
It is important to back up your work regularly. Plan to back your computer up to an external hard drive and an Online service. You will find many economical options on the Apple website. Many students opt for drives with capacities starting at 1TB.

  • Western Digital makes a 1TB ultra portable external hard drive.
  • Drop box and iCloud are excellent for cloud storage options.
  • Carbonite and BackBlaze are Online backup systems that will backup your internal hard drive starting at $50/year per computer. This is not a cloud but a backup service. It is useful in case of loss, damage, or theft. 

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