Is Graphic Design Part of STEM?

Graphic design is a world all by itself. If you’re interested in graphic design, you might wonder what category it falls under as a career. One of the common beliefs is that graphic design is a part of STEM. Is this true? Is graphic design a part of STEM?

Graphic design is not a part of STEM. It’s a form of art that plays a critical role in helping stabilize businesses and other individuals. Graphic design would qualify as part of STEAM, but STEAM is not as widely known as STEM. 

If you’re curious to learn more about why graphic design isn’t a part of STEM, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to understand why many consider graphic design separate from the STEM world. There are many critical things to cover, so let’s jump right in.

Why is Graphic Design Not a Part of STEM?

Graphic design is not considered a part of STEM for a few reasons. Although they both involve work on computers, more things set them apart than bring them together. It’s critical to understand these differences if you’re interested in the field of graphic design and wonder if it’s a STEM career.

Graphic design is not part of STEM because:

  1. It doesn’t fit in any of the four STEM categories
  2. It focuses on visuals rather than behind the scenes research and math
  3. It requires different education

These outweigh any argument that graphic design is a part of STEM.

Next, we’ll talk about each of these differences in further detail. Graphic design may not be a STEM career path, but it falls under a category specific to itself.

1. It Doesn’t Fit Any STEM Category

STEM focuses on four categories of work – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These include careers such as data scientists, engineers, and chemists. Although some might say that graphic design fits into one of these, most would argue that graphic design is more focused on art.

To be part of STEM, graphic design would need to:

  • Collaboration and teamwork focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
  • Work on a computer or with other technology towards an end goal
  • Focus on math and science within the career path

These would make graphic design a STEM category.

Although graphic design involves lots of work on the computer, this is not enough to put it into a STEM category. If you’re getting a graphic design major at a university, you are likely part of their fine arts program or something close. You will use technology like to see how designs look, but you’ll rarely venture into mathematically-based technology for what you do.

2. It Focuses on Visuals

Rather than the specifics of technology, graphic design often focuses on visuals. A graphic designer’s job is to create visuals tailored to a company. These visuals work to send a message or prove a point, inspiring and captivating consumers. Though there might be logistics involved behind the scenes, the primary focus is what is seen.

On the other hand, someone in STEM focuses on math and technology. What they do often takes place behind the scenes. Their work includes lots of research, experimentation, and problem-solving in a team setting.

Both careers use computers in some capacity. Graphic designers need technology to create their designs, while STEM careers make use of technology for things like programming, documenting research, and inputting information. They’re both varying ways of using technology for what they love.

3. The Education is Different

Education for graphic design and STEM are often different. If you go to school for graphic design, you’ll probably go to an art school or learn within the school’s art program. If you get a STEM degree, you may go to a technology-focused school or learn in their technology department. They have separate designations.

If you’re majoring in graphic design, you’ll learn things like:

  • Editing and processing photos and images on the internet
  • Designing and drawing images
  • Color theory, or the examination of how color affects people and the world
  • Animation and other forms of online movement

These are typical for graphic design majors to learn as they work through their college degrees.

Education differs from graphic design for someone in STEM. If you’re a STEM major, you might learn things like:

  • Computer science
  • Web development
  • Information science
  • Computer programming

These are wildly different from a graphic design major. Education in STEM varies depending on what branch the student goes into.

The routes vary if you want to achieve either of these degrees. However, it’s still critical to note that both education routes are lots of work. You will need to go through at least four years of school to earn a STEM or graphic design degree, and sometimes even more.

What Category Does Graphic Design Fall Under?

We’ve clarified that graphic design doesn’t fall under the STEM category. What does it fall under? Is there a specific category graphic design can claim for itself?

Most often, graphic design is considered a visual communication art. Visual communication focuses on delivering a message through strategically placed artwork and text. It’s a form of art that works to convey a specific message. Graphic design is a form of art that works on objectivity rather than subjectivity.

Graphic designers play a role in the world, whether they’re designing color schemes for businesses or creating an Instagram strategy for an influencer. They’re not a STEM-based career, but they matter just as much.

To Conclude

Although most graphic design work happens on a computer, graphic design isn’t a part of STEM. It doesn’t fit the categories, focuses on visuals, and requires contrasting education. Most consider graphic design a visual communication art rather than a STEM career.

We hope this information was helpful! Even though graphic design isn’t a STEM career, it requires lots of hard work. Whether you’re seeing if your design works in or aiming to rebrand a client, it’s safe to say that the job of a graphic designer isn’t an easy one.