School of Art + Art History

Graphic Design/Design & Visual Communications

Technology Requirements

Updated May 30, 2023
We are delighted you are interested in the graphic design program. To fully participate in courses and be competitive in the design world, we instituted a computer requirement for majors. This was back in 1996! Our model has proven successful because it has instilled a sense of autonomy and commitment because you have access to the technology you need to do your work 24/7. Our goal is that what we recommend for your first year will be relevant in your fourth and final year of study. Hardware and software access is required during course meeting times (bring your laptops to class) and beyond, and will support your growth and development as a designer. 

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 ($120)—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 of purchasing directly 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

We recommend adding an AppleCare extended warranty.

13-inch MacBook Pro


  •  Apple M2 chip with 8 core CPU, 10 core GPU, 16 core Neural Engine
  • 16GB unified memory
  • 1TB SSD storage
  • 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard - US English
  • Force Touch trackpad

16-inch MacBook Pro

  • Apple M2 Pro with 12‑core CPU, 19‑core GPU, 16‑core Neural Engine
  • 32GB unified memory
  • 1TB SSD storage
  • 16-inch Liquid Retina XDR display²
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
  • 140W USB-C Power Adapter
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard with Touch ID - US English

Good Ideas

External Monitor
We recommend you purchase a monitor. There are many brands to choose from. We like the BenQ brand, available at B&H Online and other vendors. We recommend at least a 21" but a 24" or 27" is better. As stated above, this will save you significant time, increase your accuracy, and alleviate stress. 

Access to at least a 20MP Camera for project work and design research. Depending on the course, the program has some cameras available for loan. Contact your instructor for more information. 

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 and LaCie each make a 1TB ultra-portable external hard drive.
— Dropbox and iCloud are excellent for cloud storage options. UF offers free access to G Suite. 
— Carbonite and BackBlaze are cloud backup systems that will back up your internal hard drive starting at $50/year per computer. This is not a cloud hard drive but a cloud backup service. It is useful in case of loss, damage, or theft — backing up in the background. 

Collaboration Apps

In addition to Microsoft Teams, GSuite, Zoom, and Adobe apps, other apps commonly used by designers, including Slack, Mural, Miro, Notion, Invision, Figma, and Trello. Should you use any non-UF apps, remember to use your personal email and a unique password (i.e, do not compromise your Gatorlink credentials). 

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