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School of Art + Art History

Graphic Design/Design & Visual Communications

Technology Requirements

Updated July 13, 2020. 
We are delighted you are interested in the graphic design program. Since its inception as a modern/western discipline, graphic design has been a technology-centric field. In order for you to fully participate and meet course and program learning objectives, students taking graphic design courses are required to have appropriate hardware and software for coursework. This is defined below and updated annually. Our goal is that what we recommend for your first year will be relevant in your fourth and final year of study. Whether in remote or face to face courses, hardware and software access during course meeting times and beyond will support your growth and development as designers. 

Financial Aid for Computers

Because computer access is an institutional requirement, computer costs are designated as 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. See links in the sidebar. 

Required Hardware

Laptop with specifications listed below. Apple products are dominant in the creative industries with about a 75% market share. The graphic design faculty members continue to strongly recommend Apple Macintosh systems. Although the PC and Mac are quite comparable in both software, hardware, and power, our faculty, staff, and fellow students will not be able to easily assist or support you if you work in the PC environment. In this case, UFIT might be your best resource. 

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 which is usually 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. 

Where to Buy

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. 

Sample Laptop Configurations

Recommendations for GD and MXD Majors

16-inch MacBook Pro (Preferred)
2.3GHz 8‑core 9th‑generation Intel Core i9 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz
32GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory
AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory
2TB SSD storage
16-inch Retina display with True Tone

13-inch MacBook Pro
2.0GHz quad-core 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
13-inch Retina display with True Tone
Touch Bar and Touch ID
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
32GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory
2TB SSD storage

If you choose a 13" MacBook Pro, definitely plan to purchase an external monitor. Not only will you be able to better see what you are designing, but you will also save yourself considerable time and increase the accuracy of your design. 

GD Certificate Students 

13-inch MacBook Pro
1.4GHz quad‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
1TB SSD storage
13-inch Retina display with True Tone
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645

We think this is the minimum you will need to create design works but should you seek to do more robust work, including video, by all means check out our recommendations for majors.  

Good Ideas

External Monitor
We recommend you purchase a monitor. 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. As stated above, this 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.
— Dropbox and iCloud are excellent for cloud storage options. UF offers access to G Suite. 
— 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. 

Collaboration Apps

In addition to Microsoft Teams, GSuite, and Adobe apps, we also want to share other apps commonly used by designers, including Slack, Mural, Miro, Notion, Invision, Figma, and Trello. 


2019 Recommendations
2.8GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
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

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