Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Jane King


The purpose of this study was to identify 21st century skills, content knowledge, and tools needed in an effective university-level graphic design program. Inconsistencies in the graphic design curriculum, fueled by the increasingly large number of programs and concentrations and the inability to track graduates, were some of the issues that led to a need for this study.

This study was an expansion of a previous 2006 study conducted by Shyang-Yuh Wang, which took place in Kansas and Missouri. This current study used a modified Delphi Technique in which perceptions from university-level graphic design educators and industry professionals from North and South Carolina were collected. Data collection was both qualitative and quantitative in nature and consisted of four rounds of electronic surveying with the fourth round requesting participants to rank the top 20 skills, content knowledge, and tools. The final rounds resulted in a consensus among experts regarding the most desirable 21st century skills, content knowledge, and tools needed in an effective university-level graphic design program. The top five most needed competencies included apply the basic principles of graphic design aesthetics, including composition; perform graphic design creatively; apply the concepts of typography; exhibit interpersonal skills (problem solving, curiosity, motivation, innovation, conceptual thinking, communication); and write clearly, concisely, and correctly. The top five most needed tools as identified by experts included the Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, sketchbooks, Adobe Dreamweaver, and printers.

Based on findings, it can be concluded that results from Wang's (2006) study are consistent with findings from this current study. In addition, this study revealed that technology trends did not play a significant role in the identification of 21st century skills and content knowledge. To summarize, now that these specific competencies and tools have been uncovered, graphic design programs can evaluate their own curricula to determine if they are effective in terms of what educators and industry professionals indicate are most important.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.